Facilitating Mobility and Fostering Diversity: Getting EU Migration Governance to Respect the Human Rights of Migrants

Wednesday, 4 May 2016
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Authors: François Crépeau and Anna Purkey

Series: CEPS Paper in Liberty and Security in Europe No. 92    No. of pp: 42

Migration towards Europe has surged over the past few years, overwhelming government authorities at the national and EU levels, and fuelling a xenophobic, nationalist, populist discourse linking migrants to security threats. Despite positive advances in the courts and worthy national initiatives (such as Italy’s Operation Mare Nostrum), the EU’s governance of migration and borders has had disastrous effects on the human rights of migrants. These effects stem from the criminalisation of migrants, which pushes them towards more precarious migration routes, the widespread use of administrative detention and the processing of asylum claims under the Dublin system, and now the EU–Turkey agreement. Yet, this paper finds that with the right political leadership, the EU could adopt different policies in order to develop and implement a human rights-based approach to migration that would seek to reconcile security concerns with the human rights of migrants. Such an approach would enable member states to fully reap the rewards of a stable, cohesive, long-term migration plan that facilitates and governs mobility rather than restricts it at immense cost to the EU, the member states and individual migrants.

François Crépeau is Hans & Tamar Oppenheimer Professor of Public International Law, Faculty of Law, McGill University, Director of the McGill Centre for Human Rights and Legal Pluralism (2015–20) and United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants (2011–17). Anna Purkey is Gordon F. Henderson Postdoctoral Fellow at the Human Rights Research and Education Centre at the University of Ottawa.