Policy Briefs

Implementing the United Nations Global Compact on Refugees?

Global Asylum Governance and the Role of the European Union

CARRERA, Sergio; VOSYLIUTE, Lina; BRUMAT, Leiza; TAN, Nikolas Feith / June 2021

This Policy Brief presents the preliminary findings and policy recommendations emerging from the first 18 months of the ASILE H2020 project (Global Asylum Governance and the EU’s Role). It provides an analysis of asylum governance instruments that have been portrayed as ‘promising practices’ in countries like Brazil, Canada, Jordan, South Africa as well as in the EU. These include instruments like resettlement, community sponsorships, humanitarian admission programmes, and trade deals focused on refugee labour market integration in hosting countries. The Brief highlights that while these instruments present some relevant mobility and inclusionary components, they also display a set of exclusionary features which operationalise hierarchies of deservedness and temporariness. They also lead to discrimination that is incompatible with state commitments under international and regional human rights and rule of law standards. The Policy Brief provides a set of lessons learned in the implementation of the EU’s Pact on Migration and Asylum and the EU’s cooperation with third countries on migration and asylum management in light of the United Nations Global Compact on Refugees.


The EU Pact on Migration and Asylum in light of the United Nations Global Compact on Refugees

International Experiences on Containment and Mobility and their Impacts on Trust and Rights

CARRERA, SergioGEDDES, Andrew / March 2021

In September 2020, the European Commission published what it described as a New Pact on Migration and Asylum (emphasis added) that lays down a multi-annual policy agenda on issues that have been central to debate about the future of European integration. This book examines the new Pact as part of a Forum organized by the Horizon 2020 project ASILE – Global Asylum Governance and the EU’s Role.

In light of the ASILE project objectives, the chapters of the book pay particular attention to the scope of the mobility and containment components of asylum governance instruments and their implementing actors in Europe and other world regions, as well as their inclusionary or exclusionary effects on individuals’ rights and international protection.

Working Papers

Refugee Recognition and Resettlement

Cathryn COSTELLO, M. Sanjeeb HOSSAIN, Maja JANMYRNora M. JOHNSEN, & Lewis TURNER  / May 2022

This working paper explores refugee recognition processes, in particular refugee status determination (RSD), and resettlement processes, with the aim of opening up new lines of scholarly and policy enquiry. It opens with an overview of refugee recognition practices, RSD in particular, and then provides a thematic overview of scholarly literature on RSD. It then explores the very limited practice of resettlement (in terms of the few refugees offered resettlement places), and its nonetheless important role in the global refugee regime, followed by a literature review on resettlement.

The Right of Asylum in Comparative Regional Perspectives: Access, Procedures and Protection

TAN, Nikolas FeithKIENAST, Julia / May 2022

This working paper provides an account of regional standards on the right of asylum, with a focus on protection systems in Europe, the Americas and Africa – the three regions with binding regional and sub-regional protection regimes. In setting out regional protection regimes, the working paper focuses on legal standards governing the right of asylum in countries central to the ASILE project covered by these regional regimes, namely Brazil, Canada, South Africa and Turkey. As neither the Asia-Pacific nor the Middle East have binding regional instruments for the protection of refugees, relevant regional soft law
instruments are briefly addressed, with respect to ASILE focus countries Bangladesh and Jordan.

The EU grants temporary protection for people fleeing war in Ukraine: Time to rethink unequal solidarity in EU asylum policy

Sergio CARRERAMeltem INELI CIGER, Lina VOSYLIUTE & Leiza BRUMAT / March 2022

More than two million people have fled Ukraine since Russia’s invasion began on 24 February 2022. To respond to the sudden large-scale displacement from Ukraine, the 2001 EU Temporary Protection Directive has been activated for the first time. This paper examines the key issues and questions raised by the EU’s temporary protection regime to people fleeing Ukraine, and the medium and long-term issues which can be expected from its implementation. It draws on lessons learned or ‘not to be learned’ from policies adopted by countries such as Turkey that responded to large-scale displacement from Syria, and others in South America, such as Colombia and Brazil, that responded to large-scale displacement from Venezuela. The paper argues that the solidarity principle enshrined in the EU Treaties needs to be substantially rethought and revisited.

Between politics and inconvenient evidence: Assessing the Renewed EU Action Plan against migrant smuggling

VOSYLIUTE, LinaFALLONE, AndrewARROUCHE, Kheira / December 2021

Following the European Commission’s recent release of its Renewed EU Action Plan Against Migrant Smuggling (2021-2025), the authors take stock of key insights arising from recent and ongoing research on the facilitation of irregular migration. The EU’s counter-smuggling policies equate irregular migration to a crime, while disregarding that safe, orderly and regular pathways for refugees and other migrants are hard to access. The Renewed EU Action Plan Against Migrant Smuggling (2021-2025) exacerbates the risks that refugees and other migrants face by penalising those who assist them. Civil society actors, family members and communities that act out of compassion or provide basic services in transit and destination countries continue to be investigated and prosecuted as ‘migrant smugglers’.

Walling off Responsibility? The Pushbacks at the EU’s External Borders with Belarus

CARRERA, Sergio / November 2021

This paper examines the EU and international responses to the situation on the EU’s external borders between Poland, Lithuania and Latvia with Belarus. It studies the scope and human rights impacts of current EU and national discourses framing the controversy as a ‘hybrid war’ and the set of restrictive national measures implemented on the EU-Belarusian frontier since July 2021. The Paper argues that border fencing and containment policies do not ‘wall off’ or exempt EU Member States from their own responsibility and liability for illegal pushbacks – summary expulsions without individual circumstances assessments, access to asylum procedures and due process or effective remedies -– of third country nationals.

Catalogue of International and Regional Legal Standards: Refugee and Human Rights Law Standards Applicable to Asylum Governance


This working paper sets out those international and regional legal standards of relevance to international asylum governance and policies of containment and mobility. The working paper’s primary purpose is providing a state-of-the-art overview of legal standards drawn from international and regional conventions on human rights and refugee instruments. In particular, the working paper focuses on those standards governing the asylum governance of six countries central to the ASILE project, Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, Jordan, South Africa and Turkey.

The Right to Work of Asylum Seekers and Refugees

COSTELLO, Cathryn; O’CINNÉIDE, Colm / May 2021

This working paper analyses the right to work to asylum seekers and refugees. First, it briefly sets the scene, with an account of the reality of work rights restrictions for asylum seekers’ and refugees. It also analysis the right to work of asylum seekers and refugees, specifically examining the right under international human rights law of global and regional scope. Concerning the former, the paper examines the right under international human rights law of global scope, in particular under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. While that instrument is often perceived as being normatively weak, due in part to a misunderstanding about the ‘progressive realization’ standard, a chapter highlights States’ immediate ‘minimum core’ obligations under the right to work.

Inventory and Typology of EU Arrangements with Third Countries

TAN, Nikolas Feith VEDSTED-HANSEN, Jens / March 2021

This working paper maps and analyses EU arrangements with selected third countries of transit with a focus on the role of instruments and actors in the implementation of such arrangements. The working paper hones in on EU cooperation with Turkey, Serbia, Niger and Tunisia, with particular attention afforded to arrangements since the European migrant and refugee ‘crisis’ of 2015. In mapping such arrangements, which encompass international relationships between the EU and third countries, the working paper provides a country-bycountry overview and inventory of relevant political, legal and financial instruments. The paper also takes particular note of the role of both EU and third country actors in implementing these instruments. The term ‘arrangements’ here is used to refer to a set of binding and non-binding cooperation modalities undertaken between the EU and third countries of transit.

Pushbacks and lack of accountability at the Greek-Turkish borders

CORTINOVIS, Roberto / February 2021

Amid escalating geopolitical tension with Turkey, in March 2020 the Greek authorities announced a hardline approach towards asylum seekers attempting to cross its land and sea borders with Turkey. The framing of cross-border movements as a ‘threat’ to the country’s national security served to justify a derogation from the human rights standards and procedural guarantees that are granted to people seeking protection under EU law. Since then, a pattern of systematic pushbacks at the border and informal returns represents the most visible expression of this hardening of border policies at the EU’s south-eastern borders.