Externalization and the Global Compact on Refugees: Responsibility Shifting and the role of the EU

2 February 2022


The end of 2021 marked three years since the adoption of the Global Compact on Refugees (GCR), an international agreement for ‘predictable and equitable responsibility-sharing’, and two years since the Global Refugee Forum, which brought together a diverse range of actors who collectively committed to contribute to better protection outcomes for refugees around the world through concrete pledges. A first stocktaking event, the High-Level Officials Meeting, was held in December 2021 to assess progress and maintain momentum towards the achievement of the objectives of the Compact. In the face of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, new and re-emerging crises and a clear trend towards more protracted displacement situations, the urgency of translating GCR commitments into action has not diminished.

At the same time however, developing countries continue to shoulder the majority of the responsibility and hosting of more than 85% of the world’s refugees, and lack of political will and leadership remains an impediment for the achievement of more equitable global responsibility sharing. In some developed states, the last three years have seen hardening of positions and negative rhetoric towards refugees, and an acceleration of attempts to externalize protection responsibility to other countries.

The Danish and British moves to create a legal basis for external asylum processing outside the EU and the recent humanitarian crisis at the EU’s external borders to Belarus, including efforts to legalize push-backs in the Baltic countries and Poland and the proposed changes to the EU legal framework that the crisis has triggered, are clear examples of a tendency that contradicts the letter and spirit of the Global Compact on Refugees and the commitments towards responsibility sharing made at the Global Refugee Forum two years ago.

This seminar, organized by the ASILE project, discusses the relationship between these recent externalization practices and proposals and the implementation of the Global Compact on Refugees. The seminar has a particular focus on recent externalization efforts affecting the EU’s implementation of the Compact.


Kathrine Starup

Head of Unit, Protection, Danish Refugee Council (DRC) 


Jens Vedsted-Hansen

Aarhus University

Jeff Crisp

Chatham House and Refugees Studies Centre 

Monika Matus

Grupa Granica

Nikolas Feith Tan

The Danish Institute for Human Rights – DIHR

Sitarah Mohammadi

Juris Doctor Candidate and Refugee Advocate

Sergio Carrera

CEPS – Centre for European Policy Studies

Event details

Date: 02.02.2022, Wednesday

Time: 10:00 – 11:30