Over the last decade, migration and international protection have gained significant relevance worldwide. Political instability in North Africa (with the Arab Spring) and in the Middle-East (with the ongoing war in Syria), along with enduring economic disparities between North and South, have spurred large numbers of people on the roads in hope of a safer life. Whilst the main burden of refugee protection lies on the shoulders of the economically disadvantaged global south, it is in the global north that the phenomenon has stirred the strongest nationalistic reactions. Governments prove significantly less inclined to resettle refugees in their territory. The successes of far-right and populist parties in elections worldwide exert pressures on states’ ability to contribute to refugee aid as well as development programmes. As a matter of fact, many signatories of the 1951 Geneva Convention have, in the midst of so-called “refugee crisis”, attempted to circumvent their international obligations. Such attempts take different shapes but may be classified in three categories: preventing asylum seekers from reaching their destination (externalization of borders, closed-ports policy); preventing them from lodging a credible protection claim; hindering the asylum applications from lodging an admissible stage.
In a world system (still) essentially governed by states, the entities that do not produce refugees have a joint moral duty to protect people fleeing persecution. It is in an effort to do just that that the Global Compact on Refugees (and that on Migration to some extent) was adopted in late 2018. The Compact aims to facilitate burden- and responsibility-sharing amongst UN member states. Yet, its actual implementation is, as of yet, uncertain. As a non-binding text, it does not provide an in-built accountability or enforceability mechanism, thereby leaving its effective implementation to signatory states’ political commitment. In a context marked hostility to progressive migration and asylum policies, the actual implementation of the Compact may fall short of expectations. As the negotiations over the Dublin reform illustrate, EU member states are more eager to collaborate to increase border controls than they are to share the burden and responsibility of unevenly distributed asylum claims.
This panel looks at the politics of international protection in a context marked by the tension between the rise of nativist ideologies and efforts to share the burden and responsibility of international protection at world scale. Prof. Sicakkan will first propose a new theoretical framework, based on Rokkan’s cleavage theory, to think and study the global governance of international protection. Dr. Mazzola engages with the political theory debate on the prospects of European Migration Governance, by casting light on the under explored impact of the Global Migration and Refugee Compacts. Prof. Longo analyses the external dimension of the EU’s asylum policy in the light of the adoption of the global compact. Mrs. Postelnicescu examines the causes for the popularity of populism and the risk they bear for global projects such as the Global Compacts.