Responsibility Allocation and UN GCR Implementation

Eleni Karageorgiou, Gregor Noll and Gamze Ovacık (University of Gothenburg) / December 2023

The effectiveness of the UN Global Compact on Refugees (GCR) depends on increased cooperation among various parties for the protection of refugees. One interest the EU pursues through its collaboration with third states such as Turkey, Tunisia, Serbia and Niger, and with international organisations such as UNHCR and IOM, is that of collectivised migration control. However such collaboration could lead to excessive complexity, making it difficult to discern the extent of each party’s involvement and to attribute responsibility for wrongful acts. Where collaboration rests on informal arrangements, attributing responsibility becomes more challenging. Reduced accountability may be one of the reasons for engaging in such conduct. However, when the EU collaborates through third parties, progressive developments in the law of international responsibility increase the likelihood of the risk of encountering arguments on responsibility attribution that were previously inaccessible. It is these risks that the present report seeks to identify.

Towards A Stylized Model of Dynamics on the Market for Smuggling Services

Gerard van der Meijden, Orçun Ulusoy, Erik Verhoef, Thomas Spijkerboer (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam) / December 2023

In 2015-2016, Europe witnessed a sharp increase and subsequent decrease (a ‘spike’) of migrants and refugees on the so called ‘Balkan-route’ from Turkey, via Greece and the Balkan countries, to the other EU Member States. The spike has led to considerable administrative and political challenges and revealed a systemic refugee protection crisis within the EU (Den Heijer, Rijpma & Spijkerboer 2016; Byrne, Noll, & Vedsted-Hansen, 2020). Therefore, it is important for policy makers to understand the processes leading to the beginning and end of the spike. This will allow them to assess the impact of policy interventions and possibly to prevent or reduce future spikes. It will also give insight into policy interventions which inadvertently may contribute to spikes.

The 2023 Italy-Albania protocol on extraterritorial migration management

A worst practice in migration and asylum policies

Sergio Carrera, Giuseppe Campesi, Davide Colombi / December 2023

In November 2023, the Italian government concluded a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), or Protocol, with the Albanian authorities envisaging extraterritorial migration and asylum management, including detention and asylum processing, in Albania. This Report examines the Protocol in light of EU, regional and international legal standards, and the main responses that it has attracted so far. It concludes that the MoU can be understood as a nationalistic and unilateral arrangement that, while not involving the EU, covers policy areas falling within the scope of European law. The MoU runs contrary to EU constitutive principles enshrined in the Treaties, including the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, as well as international law. It should be regarded as a non-model in migration and asylum policies as it is affected by far-reaching illegality and unfeasibility grounds undermining both its rationale and implementation.

Sergio Carrera (CEPS), M Sanjeeb Hossain (University of Oslo/Centre for Peace and Justice, BRAC University, Bangladesh), Lewis Turner (Newcastle University, UK), Fatima Khan (University of Cape Town), Andrew Fallone (University of Cambridge Institute of Criminology), Natália Medina Araújo (Universidade Federal do Oeste da Bahia, Brazil) and İlke Şanlıer (Çukurova University, Turkey) / October 2023

This Report presents the final synthesis results and comparative assessment of the country research findings of ASILE Project Work package (WP) 4 titled “Refugee recognition, self-reliance and rights”. WP4 is structured around two main components: A first research stream aims at providing an in-depth examination of refugee status determination, vulnerability and the right to work issues in two selected countries: Bangladesh and Jordan. A second research stream is dedicated to the examination of the same three thematic components – status, vulnerability and rights – in relation to specific instruments and/or arrangements in the following four countries: Brazil, Canada, South African and Turkey

Julia Kienast, Nikolas Feith Tan & Jens Vedsted-Hansen / October 2023

The paper interrogates key instruments, standards and trends in global asylum governance, exploring the compatibility of emerging asylum regimes with international and regional instruments and standards in this area. It takes a global view, while drawing on national and regional practice from the six countries central to the ASILE project, Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, Jordan, South Africa and Turkey, where relevant.

Sergio Carrera, Fatima Khan, Andrew Fallone, Natália Medina Araújo and İlke Şanlıer Yüksel / October 2023

How are refugee and other kinds of asylum statuses, and their attached set of rights, allocated and implemented in asylum governance instruments across various world regions and selected major refugee hosting countries? And how is the notion of ‘vulnerability’ understood, articulated and put into effect in these instruments? This Report examines key issues pertaining to refugee status determination, vulnerability and the right to work which characterise specific asylum governance instruments in Brazil, Canada, South Africa and Turkey.

Julian Lehmann / October 2023

In June 2023, the EU’s Justice and Home Affairs Council agreed to reform the Common European Asylum system and drastically change how asylum applications are handled at the EU’s external borders. In future, EU countries will be allowed to more easily reject asylum applications as inadmissible when they deem that an applicant could find protection in a non-EU country. The reform may have consequences beyond the EU, too, as Serbia’s case shows. The reform could incentivise pushbacks at Serbia’s borders, exacerbating a broader rule-of-law crisis, and counteract year-long political and financial efforts by EU institutions to build a functioning asylum system. It may also alter EU-Serbia relations and harm the accession process.

Julian Lehmann and Angeliki Dimitriadi (GPPI) / October 2023

In July 2023, the EU and Tunisia signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on a Strategic Partnership – among others to limit irregular migration, better coordinate search and rescue, and increase migrants’ return. Although the promises to provide Tunisia with stronger financial support are substantial, most of the MoU’s points on migration are not new. The MoU signals the end of ten years of EU efforts to support the development of a (formal) Tunisian asylum system, but makes no mention of how to improve the situation of asylum seekers and refugees within the current (informal) arrangements. Together with high-level reform proposals for EU asylum law, the partnership will leave Tunisia even less interested in improving the situation. The partnership trades longer-term interests and commitments on refugee protection in the EU neighbourhood for short-term interests brokered by a sub group. It should serve as a red flag, not a blueprint.

Bachirou Ayouba Tinni (GERMES, Université Abdou Moumouni, Niamey, Niger); Olga Djurovic and Rados Djurovic (Asylum Protection Center, Belgrade, Serbia); Abdoulaye Hamadou (Université Djibo Hamani, Tahoua, Niger); Meltem Ineli-Ciger (Süleyman Demirel University, Isparta, Turkey); Gamze Ovacık (Baskent University, Ankara, Turkey); Fatma Raach (Université de Jendouba, Tunisia); Hiba Sha’ath (York University, Toronto, Canada); Thomas Spijkerboer and Orçun Ulusoy (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Netherlands)

Since 2015, Europe has intensified its cooperation with third countries in the field of asylum and migration. This report synthesises four country studies concerning European political, legal and financial instruments in this field in Niger, Serbia, Tunisia and Turkey. These very different case studies allow for the identification of fundamental challenges of European external asylum and migration policy (i.e. challenges which are not specific to just one third country).



Depuis 2015, l’Europe a intensifié sa coopération avec les pays tiers dans le domaine de l’asile et de la migration. Ce rapport synthétise quatre études de pays concernant les instruments politiques, juridiques et financiers européens dans ce domaine au Niger, en Serbie, en Tunisie et en Turquie. Ces études de cas très différentes permettent d’identifier les défis fondamentaux de la politique extérieure européenne en matière d’asile et de migration (c’est-à-dire les défis qui ne sont pas spécifiques à un seul pays tiers).

Julia Kienast, Nikolas Feith Tan & Jens Vedsted-Hansen  / March 2023

The paper identifies specific forms of EU cooperation with selected third countries that give rise to questions of compatibility with binding norms of international, European and EU law. The paper further applies principles of responsibility attribution under international and European human rights law to often complex multi-actor migration management contexts.
In particular, the authors identify four types of EU arrangements with third countries that raise particular rights compatibility or responsibility attribution questions. The examination of these different forms of cooperation is based on recent ASILE Country Reports on asylum governance in Turkey, Serbia, Tunisia and Niger.

Borders, money, and a B&B – Policy drivers on the Global Compact on Refugees in Serbia

Julian M. LEHMANN / October 2022

Although the United Nations Global Compact on Refugees (GCR) has elaborated a clear set of shared policy objectives on addressing forced displacement, it is less evident how these objectives are best to be achieved politically. Using a lens of “political responsibility” for policies, this paper studies domestic and international policy actors, and their roles and interests for explaining policies relevant to the GCR in the Republic of Serbia since 2018.

Migration and asylum in Tunisia: Domestic interests, external influences, and policy outcomes

Angeliki DIMITRIADI / September 2022

The report shows how domestic preferences overlap with or supersede competing external interests. We argue that the financial and technical assistance that the EU offers Tunisia for border management corresponds to the country’s domestic priorities. In contrast, the development of protection, reception, and integration of refugees and migrants is less of a priority amidst ongoing economic, social, and political instability. Here, support from international actors (the European Commission, EU member states, and international organisations) has produced unintended negative outcomes.

Actors and their Networks: Scope for adaptation to and contestation of global norms for refugee protection

Leiza BRUMAT, Andrew GEDDES and Andrea PETTRACHIN / August 2022

This report analyses the research conducted in the framework of WP2 of the ASILE project. The Report develops an actor-centred perspective on the governance networks for asylum/refugee protection in the six ASILE case countries. The analytical focus in on both the composition of and the effects of variation in governance systems on the ways in which global norms and standards can have effects in our six case countries, particularly the impact of the Global Compact on Refugees (GCR).

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.

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

CARRERA, Sergio , INELI CIGER, Meltem, VOSYLIUTE, Lina  & BRUMAT, Leiza / 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.

Student Papers

Exclusive Refuge: Origins, Causes and Impacts of Exclusionary Nationality-Based Targeting in Refugee Protection and Aid

Shaddin Almasri, Danube University Krems / March 2022

The article provides a recent historical overview is on discriminations faced by refugees when seeking aid and protection, specifically those that relate to nationality and country of origin. It argues that discriminatory and differentiated practice is enshrined in the very origins of the refugee regime and continues to manifest in the selective and ad hoc nature of refugee policy in host states. ….

‘Flexible solidarity’ on the New Pact on Migration: Overcoming a collective action problem?

Diego Caballero Vélez, University of Warsaw  / March 2022

This research seeks to understand to what extent the Pact’s new approach to the concept of ‘flexible solidarity’ may be understood under a cost-sharing model. In the case of EU asylum policy, the V4 countries (Czechia, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia) mostly speak as one voice in the EU, usually opposing EU reforms in that policy field.  In the 2015 Relocation Scheme framework, Poland and Hungary were reluctant to relocate refugees on their own territories.

EU´s readmission deals under the light of Global Compact on Migration

Elsa Fernando-Gonzalo, University of Salamanca / March 2022

This paper analyzes the links between these relevant non-binding documents and new trends in the European Union readmission policy. The main focus of the analysis is Objective 21 GCM which calls for increased cooperation in readmission matters in full compliance with international human rights obligations.