Vacancies: PhD and Pre-Doc positions at the Institute for European Studies (Vrije Universiteit Brussel)

The Institute for European Studies at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel has currently two vacancies in the field of migration studies: a PhD position (4 years) on ‘Europe’s Migration and Migrant Integration Policies in Uncertain Times’ and a one-year Pre-Doc position on ‘Migration Governance in West Africa’ in cooperation with the UN University Institute on Comparative Regional Integration Studies. The deadline for both vacancies is 30 April 2017. More info can be found here.

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Blog by IG member: Kinshasa Flooding & the UN Development Goals: State & Corporate Responsibilities

by Tom Syring

(Originally posted on the webpage of the American Society of International Law)

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March 22, 2017 marks the 24th annual World Water Day [1] – an appropriate occasion to reflect upon the connection between environmental pollution, general health and living conditions, and forced migration in the broader context of the responsibility of states and businesses to improve the current global state of affairs. The recent inundations in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), exemplify the importance of this juncture.

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Publication by IG Member – Access to Socio-Economic Rights for Refugees: A Comparison Across Six African Countries

Sergio Carciotto and IG member Cristiano d’Orsi have published a report for the Scalabrini Institute For Human Mobility In Africa titled ‘Access to Socio-Economic Rights for Refugees: A Comparison Across Six African Countries’. The comparison covers the DRC, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, South-Africa and Sudan.

In 2015, according to the UNHCR, more than 65 million people across the globe had left their homes in search of protection from conflicts, wars and persecutions. At the end of the same year, on the African continent (Central and Great Lakes, East and Horn, Southern Africa, and Western Africa) the UNHCR counted a total of 4 431 500 refugees, 1 293 014 asylum-seekers and 10 762 882 internally displaced persons (IDPs). Furthermore, Ethiopia is the African country hosting the highest number of refugees (736 086), South Africa is the country with the highest number of asylum-seekers (1 096 063) and Sudan is the country with the highest number of IDPs (3 218 234).

Despite the fact that human mobility in Sub-Saharan Africa is driven more by economic factors than conflicts, the continent is home to millions of refugees and IDPs who are forced to flee their homes because of persecutions, social unrests and climate change. The current state of forced displacement in Africa presents a number of socio-economic and political challenges which need to be addressed in order to reverse this trend and reduce the number of people in need of international protection.

The report is available here.

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Call for papers: ‘Migration and International Law: Beyond the Emergency?’

The Italian Society of International Law and European Law issued a call for papers for its XXII Annual Conference to be held at the University of Trento (8-9 June 2017). The theme is ‘Migration and International Law: Beyond the Emergency?’. Aside from three plenary sessions, there are two rounds of parallel sessions which are open to participation through this call for papers. Submissions / contributions are particularly welcome around the following thematic areas: 1) main solutions, 2) role of international institutions and their agencies in managing migration, 3) responsibility of States and of international organisations, 4) conditions of migrants in the host country, 5) relationships of migrants with those remaining in countries of origin as well as with the host society. The deadline for abstracts is 15 April 2017. More details can be found here.

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Publication by IG member: ‘Human Trafficking and Slavery Reconsidered. Conceptual Limits and States’ Positive Obligations in European Law’

By Vladislava Stoyanova

Interest Group member Vladislava Stoyanova (Postdoctoral fellow at Lund University) just published her book Human Trafficking and Slavery Reconsidered. Conceptual Limits and States’ Positive Obligations in European Law at Cambridge University Press. By reconsidering the definitions of human trafficking, slavery, servitude and forced labour, she demonstrates how, in embracing the human trafficking framework, the international community has sidelined the human rights law commitments against slavery, servitude and forced labour that in many respects provide better protection for abused migrants. Stoyanova proposes two corrective steps to this development: placing a renewed emphasis on determining the definitional scope of slavery, servitude or forced labour, and gaining a clearer understanding of states’ positive human rights obligations. This book compares anti-trafficking and human rights frameworks side-by-side and focuses its analysis on the Council of Europe’s Trafficking Convention and Article 4 of the European Convention on Human Rights. With innovative arguments and pertinent case studies, this book is an important contribution to the field and will appeal to students, scholars and legal practitioners interested in human rights law, migration law, criminal law and EU law.

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Publication by IG member: ‘Against All Odds: Turkey’s Response to “Undesirable but Unreturnable” Asylum-Seekers’

By Didem Doğar

Interest Group member Didem Doğar, PhD candidate at McGill University, recently published an article in Refugee Survey Quarterly entitled: ‘Against All Odds: Turkey’s Reponse to “Undesirable but Unreturnable” Asylum-Seekers’. This piece critically analyses Turkish legislation and practice regulating the status of “undesirable but unreturnable” asylum-seekers, who are suspected and/or convicted of criminality but cannot be removed from Turkey due to the principle of non-refoulement, questioning how the issue is tackled by the Turkish State. The current political situation in the region having forced it to change and update its legislation, it has created a temporary protection regimen to handle refugee influxes, a subsidiary protection regime, and other categories of staying permits for foreigners who cannot be removed from Turkish territory. Beyond the political situation, its legal and judicial initiatives are, however, affected by its international and regional legal obligations, as European Court of Human Rights case law demonstrates. There is limited information as to how many exclusion-triggered cases are processed and how many refugees are excluded and what happens to those who are excluded after this decision. Furthermore, Turkey’s situation might be untenable, as it is the main transit hub for foreign terrorist fighters and people fleeing the Syrian and Iraqi conflicts.

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Blog: Ill-Treatment of Migrants in Greek Law Enforcement – Are the Strasbourg Court Judgments the Tip of the Iceberg?

By Nikolaos Sitaropoulos

This blog was originally posted on the Blog of Border Criminologies, Oxford University.

A number of reports by international human rights organisations, like CPT and Amnesty International, have recorded  numerous cases of ill-treatment, including torture, suffered by migrants while under the control of Greek law enforcement officials. Despite the frequent reporting of such incidents there have not been any major cases brought before the European Court of Human Rights (‘Strasbourg Court’ or ‘the Court’) until recently. In 2003 the first application (Alsayed Allaham), concerning the ill-treatment of a Syrian migrant by police in Athens, was lodged. The 2007 judgment against Greece in Alsayed Allaham was followed by another judgment in 2012 in the Zontul case condemning Greece once more for failing to investigate the rape of a Turkish asylum-seeking detainee by a coast guard officer in Crete. Both cases demonstrated the need for structural changes in Greek law and practice in order to eradicate impunity and ill-treatment in the law enforcement sector.

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Call for papers: ‘Migration and the Environment: Some Reflections on Current Legal Issues and Possible Ways Forward’

The Department of Law of the University of Naples “Federico II” and the Institute for Research on Innovation and Services for Development of the National Research Council of Italy are working jointly on the analysis of the link between Migration and Development. In the context of this cooperation,and following the publication (open access) of the collective volume Migration and Development: Some Reflections on Current Legal Issues, Rome, 2016, they have decided to issue a call for papers for a second volume intended to address the specific issue of the relationship between human migration and the environment. The deadline for abstracts is 30 March 2017.

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Blog: An African Protocol on Mass-Influx of Refugees

by Cristiano D’Orsi

This blog was originally posted on the International Refugee Law Interest Group Blog (IRLIG) on the American Society of International Law (ASIL) website.

According to a 2004 Conclusion (No. 100) adopted by the Executive Committee (ExCom) of the Programme of the United Nations High Commissioner of Refugees (UNHCR)[1], the following characteristics can be attributed to the phenomenon of ‘mass-influx’ of refugees:

  1. “considerable numbers of people arriving over an international border;
  2. a rapid rate of arrival;
  3. inadequate absorption or response capacity in host States, particularly during the emergency phase;
  4. individual asylum procedures, where they exist, which are unable to deal with assessment of such large numbers.”

This description contains very broad references that can be applied to Africa, which is often referred to as a ‘continent of mass-influx.’

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Recent publications by Interest Group members

Nikolaos Sitaropoulos wrote a paper entitled ‘Migrant Ill-Treatment in Greek Law Enforcement: Are the Strasbourg Court Judgments the Tip of the Iceberg?’, which is available on SSRN. The paper provides an analysis of the first major judgments of the Strasbourg Court which usefully shed light on the underlying, long-standing systemic failures of the Greek rule of law. The author argues that these judgments are in fact only the tip of the iceberg. For this the paper looks into the process of supervision of these judgments’ execution by Greece, which is pending before the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers, as well as into alarming reports issued notably by CPT as well as by the Greek Ombudsman. The paper also highlights the question of racial violence that has not been so far the subject of analysis in the Court’s judgments concerning ill-treatment in Greece. However, a number of reports, especially the annual reports of the Greek Racist Violence Recording Network since 2012, record numerous cases of racist violence by law enforcement officials targeting migrants and the ineffective responses by the administrative and judicial authorities.  The paper’s concluding observations provide certain recommendations in order to enhance Greek law and practice and eradicate impunity.

We also want to bring three publications of another member, Vincent Chetail, to your attention. ‘Sovereignty and Migration in the Doctrine of the Law of Nations: An Intellectual History of Hospitality from Vitoria to Vattel’, appeared in the European Journal of International Law (Vol. 26, No. 4) and is also available on SSRN. In this article, the author reminds us that the movement of persons across borders is a permanent feature of history that has been framed by international law for ages. Insights on the dialectic between sovereignty and hospitality, offer us innovative ways for rethinking migration, the author argues. In ‘Is There Any Blood on My Hands? Deportation as a Crime of International Law’ (Leiden Journal of International Law, Vol. 29), available here, Vincent Chetail sets out how deportation – although traditionally a prerogative of the state – may degenerate an international crime. Vincent Chetail also wrote ‘Migration and International Law: A Short Introduction’ for his edited volume on International Law and Migration. In this short intro, the author offers a general overview of the international legal framework governing migration, while taking stock of key issues and academic debates.

Boldizsár Nagy produced a study entitled ‘Hungarian Asylum Law and Policy in 2015-2016: Securitization Instead of Loyal Cooperation’, which appeared in a special issue of the Germal Law Journal (Vol. 17, No. 06) on Constitutional Dimensions of the Refugee CrisisThe study describes  Hungary’s policy towards asylum seekers  and refugees in the tense period of 2015–2016 before and after the erection of fences at its southern borders of Hungary. It offers a theoretical explanation of the legal measures and practical  actions.  After briefly reviewing the factual basis,  that is the  magnitude of the movements and the number of decisions taken in the EU and in Hungary and the pertinent legal changes in 2015– 2016  it elaborates the theoretical fundaments.  Securitization  majority identitarian populism and crimmigration are invoked as explanatory frames. The paper then  reassembles the factual elements under six headings showing them in a new light. These are: denial,  deterrence, obstruction, punishment, free riding constituting  lack of solidarity and breaching the law (international, European, domestic). Finally the question is raised if all these moves are compatible with the duty of loyal co-operation of Member States with eachother and the EU as prescribed by  article Article 4 (3) TEU.


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