Migratory Crises and Human Security

Replay the panel discussion and read the summary below



Migratory Crises and Human Security (Panel 4)

Chaired by: Sergio Carrera, Senior Research Fellow, Center for European Policy Studies (CEPS). | Student Greeter: Kathrin Walter, PSIA student, Master in Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs.

  • Amanda Alden, PSIA student, Master in Human Rights and Humanitarian Action
  • Pascal Brice, former Director-General of the Office français de protections des réfugiés et apatrides (OFPRA); President, Federation of Solidarity Actors
  • Fabienne Keller, Member of the European Parliament; former Mayor of Strasbourg, France; former Senator, France
  • António Vitorino, Director-General, International Organization for Migration
  • Catherine Wihtol De Wenden, Senior Researcher Emeritus at CNRS - CERI,  Sciences Po


Migration is at the center of attention and of many political and societal debates. The student greeter, Kathrin Walter, opened the floor of this panel by describing the increasing number of refugees around the globe. Indeed, while migration is an age-old phenomenon, more people are on the move than ever before, making it “one of the most pressing issues of our time,” to which global and multilateral solutions need to be found.

Sergio Carrera, the panel chair, put the new generation at the center of such debates by asking: “which kind of leadership are we aiming for when bringing youth to the table?” In the name of human security, co-constructive policies of crises rather than lasting solutions have been implemented, and this needs to change, he argued.

Migration: between security and human dignity

Mass migration can come with security issues; states use such rhetoric in order to evacuate migrant camps on their territory and exonerate themselves from the violence. Some children were gazed with pepper spray while other migrants refused medical attention, all in the name of human security, argued Amanda Alden. “Migrants are framed as agents of harm,” the student panelist declared, “while a 1% increase in migrant population corresponds to a 2% rise in GDP.”

As stated by Catherine Wihtol De Wenden, “there is a paradox in the European migration and asylum policies between values – solidarity, hospitality, defense of human rights – and its mechanisms: a policy driven by security concerns.” She argued that the current crisis was not necessarily one of migration, but a crisis of implementation of those European values. Pascal Brice agreed, adding that “welcoming migrants is a challenge for human dignity and the values of our societies, especially in Europe.” To him, policies based on deterrence are at the heart of the problem, by creating a social and administrative mess, especially for charities and organizations that are on the frontline providing housing, food, and social and medical care.

Dublin Protocol: what next?

The EU’s Dublin Protocol on migration is often criticized, and a consensus appeared at varying degrees during the panel on its inability to solve the current challenges in Europe. In particular, Fabienne Keller conducted a study on the Dublin Protocol. On the ground, she concluded that the situation was poorly handled, as migrants and social actors were left alone, transfers back to the countries where migrants should have applied for asylum originally only amounted to 11% of what they should have, and they received little to no care, suitable housing, or schooling.

Her proposal was thus to improve the protocol by including the human aspect in it. Regarding governance, dialogue and cooperation have to be improved in order to build trust between EU member states. Furthermore, she argued for better family reunification, which is included in the Dublin regulation but not applied. Finally, Keller called for a harmonization and mutual recognition of asylum procedures among member states.

Different migration incentives, different paths

Wihtol De Wende argued not only for a clear reform on asylum policy harmonized across the EU, but also for the creation of a path towards work migration in Europe. According to the speaker, this would help reduce the number of inadequate asylum requests that slow the administrative processes.

António Vitorino agreed with this notion. While some people may not be qualified for a refugee status, they still required protection. Refugees often flee abroad from conflict and human right violations, but “some realities remain out of the treaties.” Internally displaced people and people living in areas that are not under any state control face other challenges. Thus, for each type of migration flow, an adequate solution should be found, namely with the help of the Global Compacts for Refugees and for Migration.

Common external borders

All panelists agreed on the establishment of common and clear external European borders, where the burden would be shared. For now, Eastern and Central Europe face little challenges, whereas Southern Europe witnesses arrivals daily. Brice highlighted the need for all European countries to help their southern neighbors to be able to treat migrants humanly and to swiftly determine whether they can stay in Europe. Indeed, while deterrence does not work, all borders cannot open either: each application needs to be studied, and if it is unsuccessful, the person must be sent back to their country of origin, all speakers explained. Answering a question from the audience, Alden called for more collaboration between the state and civil society actors to improve welcoming capacities. Vitorino added that unsuccessful migrants to Europe needed not only to be taken back to their country, but also to be reintegrated into their society in order to foster local sustainable development. Some things, however, do not depend on regulation, the panelist explained: “it all starts by rebuilding trust.”

To conclude on Carrera’s question at the start of the panel about the new generation’s involvement in debates on migration, Alden shared a few words. Since  many have made the choice to cross borders to study, live and work, young people are decisive actors in tomorrow’s policies on migration. Technology, coalition building, and innovation will be their tools to adapt to changing realities, she declared.


(c) An article written by Emylie Bobbi, PSIA student in the Dual Degree program with MGIMO, 2021


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