Panel IX 

Comparative perspectives on migration governance

ORGANISERS | Nils Holtug, Karin Borevi and Soner Barthoma

This panel gathers papers studying governance of migration at different levels – state, local and the EU. The papers also involve studies of refugees’ agencies, activities, ideas and rights. Covering cross-country comparisons as well as different theoretical and methodological approaches the papers enable comparative perspectives on migration governance. 

Abstracts & Bios

Governance of Transit Migration – How is transit migration governed at different local, national, regional, and supranational scales?

Maria Koinova, University of Warwick and Centre for Global Cooperation, University of Duisburg

This introductory chapter to a developing book theorizes about the governance of transit migration as part of relationships among transit, sending, destination states, international organizations, and non-state actors. I draw leverage from theories in IR, integrating them with emerging literature on transit migration, mobility, and established work on polycentric governance. I propose that certain actors – such as states and the EU – could be mandated to provide solutions, but they are pressured to interact with stakeholders that govern in more informal ways, such as NGOs and private actors. Relationships among these agents form at and across scales, and develop informal structures of governance. Under such conditions, some mechanisms could be based on cooperation and trust, others on competition and conflict, and manifest themselves differently at various scales and across them.


Maria Koinova, Reader in International Relations at the University of Warwick in the UK. Since April 2019 I am a senior research fellow at the Centre for Global Cooperation at the University of Duisburg in Germany.

Neither refugee nor diaspora yet: Emerging transnational practices and capabilities of Syrian refugees in Turkey

Zeynep Sahin Mencütek, SRII & Centre for Global Cooperation at the University of Duisburg

Transnational activities of refugees in the Global North has been long studied, while those of in the Global South, where hosts the 80 per cent of displaced people, has not yet received adequate scholarly attention. Considering the research area of refugee studies can benefit from discussions about transnationalism and diaspora, the article focuses on the emerging transnational practices and capabilities of displaced Syrians in Turkey. Relying on qualitative data drawn from interviews in Şanlıurfa - the province in south-eastern Turkey with the longest border with Syria and hosts a half million Syrians - the paper demonstrates that variations in the types and intensity of Syrians’ transnational activities and capabilities. The paper describes the low level of individual engagements at the micro level in the forms of connecting with relatives and short visits to the hometowns. Also, intentional disassociation of young Syrians refugees from the homeland politics is apparent. At the level of Syrian civic actors, there has been mixed engagement initiatives emerging out of sustained cross-border processes. Syrians with higher economic capital and secured legal status form some economic, political, and cultural institutional channels focusing on Syrians’ empowerment and solidarity in the host country and plans for the post-conflict reconstruction of the home country. Institutional attempts are not mature enough, and can be classified as transnational capabilities rather than actual activities those may apply pressure on the host and home government. This situation can be attributed to the lack of political and economic security in the host country as well as no prospect for the stability in the home country. The study also concerns questions about the conceptual debates on issue of refugee diaspora. Although there are clear signs of diasporization of the Syria refugee communities, perhaps still premature to call Syrians in Turkey as a refugee diaspora group.


Zeynep Şahin Mencütek holds a PhD degree in the Politics and International Relations from the University of Southern California, US. Previously, she worked as a teaching assistant, lecturer and assistant professor in the International Relations departments in Turkey and in the US. for Global Cooperation Research, University of Duisburg, Germany as an Associate Fellow. Currently, she serves as the Senior Research Fellow in the Swedish Research Institute in Istanbul for the Horizon2020 project titled RESPOND: Multilevel Governance of Mass Migration in Europe and Beyond. Her research expertise lies in comparative migration, diaspora politics, and international relations of the Middle East in which she has an extensive publication record. Her first monograph titled Refugee Governance, State and Politics in the Middle East published in December 2018 by the Routledge Global Cooperation Series. Since September 2016, she has been affiliated with the Kate Hamburger Kolleg/Center. In March 2019, she joined the Centre to study as part of the Global Cooperation and Polycentric Governance research group that investigates the working of governance around the global issues.

The Socio-Political Constructs of Human Transits: Trans-nationalism and the emerging perceptions of Security, Mobility and Identity

Noorulain Naseem, Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security studies

This paper aims to analyse the securitization concerns from mobility-either voluntary or forced- across international borders. Analysing the socio-political and cultural implications from these global transits, for the regions and states hosting significant migrant populations can help dissect the perception of insecurity around this phenomena. Lately the narrative and policy making around global migrations either voluntary or forced, legal or illegal, has been subject to great public and political scrutiny. With the world becoming more and more social in its construct it is fundamental to theorise and conceptualize the non-traditional nature of security threats that emerge from populations coming in contact through global migrations. While Asia witnessed two of the most significant contemporary refugee situations: the Afghan and Syrian refugees, Europe has for long been a favourite destination for economic migrants from across the world. By charting the commonality of threat and unrest associated with both these transits from relatively less developed or conflict prone societies to hosts states: the perceptions of insecurity, political instability, cultural frustration and unrest associated with these human transits may be rationalized. The analysis not only attempts to understand the nature of affiliations and networking, trans-nationalism and mobility, but also contextualizes the socio-political constructs of nation-state borders, emerging communities or identities as constructs that transpire in the wake of mass mobility. The question which is attempted to be addressed here is: what drivers of societal unrest have global migrations been able to diffuse, mobilize and materialize for states and regions hosting them? The nature of identity and interest placement which ensures political and societal security of states, whether or if migrations can be seen as an instrument to alter, realign, hijack or reorganize such markers of collective identity and national interest.


Noorulain Naseem has served as a researcher at the Institute of Strategic Studies Research and Analysis ISSRA, in Global and regional studies Branch. And has worked as an affiliate in the Faculty of Contemporary Studies NDU, with Dr. Rashid Ahmed. Recently she taught a seminar course at NDU on the “Securitization of Refugee movements in Contemporary Politics,” and has published an Article at Center of International Peace and Stability Islamabad under the same title. Area of interest are: Refugee movements, Spill over of violence from neighboring conflict zones, Identity and ethnic conflict, Trans-nationalism and security. Regions of interest are: Middle East and South Asia with special focus on Syria. Turkey, Afghanistan-Pakistan border and Tribal regions of Pakistan.

Limbo of Borders: self-determination, minority and ‘refugee’ rights

Kubra Kalkandelen, International Communities Organisation

This paper introduces an exploration of the nexus between self-determination, minority rights, and the rights of “refugees.” Through Hakawati (Storytelling) Research Project, I focus on stories and narratives of people living in Europe and coming from conflict-affected countries in the Middle East. This work acknowledges the complexity of past and current self-determination claims in terms of secession and self-governance, but also humbly challenges traditional literature on self-determination and re-thinks the concept based on horrendous atrocities related to current conflict and war crimes, such as Syria where more than half of the country’s population before the armed conflict began, approximately 13 million civilians, have been killed, displaced or forced to flee their homes. Human rights law becomes a board game that seeks to categorise people as ‘refugees’ to be able to promise people some fundamental rights, whereas this paper re-thinks it as a legitimate tyranny. Refugee law creates a paradox in human rights law, results in one Syrian identity and excludes the context from variables. This paper attempts to challenge conventional socio-legal approaches and propose an introduction to resilient thinking through self-identification and self-determination in forced displacement studies. The main objective of this research is to review both individual and group rights through a right to self-determination assessment, which contains various characteristics, both in theory and practice, in the 21st century. The research considers ‘self-determination’ in two distinct points of views that allows individual freedoms and community development, which are possible to achieve with mutual respect and working together for a shared future. First, self-determination means putting into practice individual social rights in terms of taking control of an individual’s own life for self-realisation and human dignity. Second, in theory, it enables the probability of effective self-government by groups would be granted for collective identity.


Kübra Kalkandelen leads the international research projects including consultants team and fellowship programme on self-determination at the International Communities Organisation, London. She recently led the organisation of a conference on self-determination and chaired its panels at Chatham House (its videos are available online here: She has been awarded the European Commission Scholarship for Masters in Human Rights Policy and Practice, taught jointly by the University of Roehampton, London, the University of Goteborg, Sweden, and the Arctic University, Tromso, Norway. Kübra is also founder of Mind the Life, where she provides consultancy services to companies and third sector. 

“Hosting to skim. Organized crime and the reception of asylum seekers in Italy”

Davide Luca, University of Cambridge - Paola Proietti, Gran Sasso Science Institute

Political crises and conflicts are pushing millions of asylum seekers towards the borders of Europe. This paper draws on the case of Italy, and investigates the shadow impact of organized crime in influencing the geography of reception centres, with the likely objective of skimming margins from the public resources devoted to reception activities. We gather data on the location of reception centres and on the presence of mafia across Italian municipalities. We exploit exogenous variation at municipal level to instrument mafia intensity, and provide evidence of how the presence of mafia affects both the likelihood of hosting a reception centre and the number of asylum seekers hosted. We then assemble an innovative dataset on public procurement for the set–up and management of reception centres. Statistical evidence and in–depth expert interviews suggest that the presence of organized crime is correlated to the use of direct procurement procedures over open calls.


Davide Luca, Research Associate at Cambridge University, Bennett Institute for Public Policy. I'm also affiliated to the Gran Sasso Science Institute and a Visiting Fellow at the London School of Economics. I previously was a Postdoctoral Fellow at Harvard University. My research combines Economic Geography with Political Economy and Public Economics. I specialize in the links between political institutions, territorial governance, and local economic development. My PhD thesis was awarded the 2016 Italian Regional Science Association's G. Leonardi Best Doctoral Dissertation Prize. In the past I worked for the European Commission, and consulted for the European Parliament. My research has been  published in international journals such as the Journal of Economic Geography, World Development, the Journal of Development Studies, Environment & Planning C, and the Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy, and Society."

Paola Proietti has a Bachelor and a Master Degree in Economic and Social Sciences from Bocconi University and a PhD in Urban Studies and Regional Science from Gran Sasso Science Institute and Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies. In the last years, she has been collaborating with several international institutions (e.g. OECD, Joint Research Center of the European Commission), universities, public and private organizations. Her research approach is multi-disciplinary combining statistical methods, policy analysis, geographical investigations and qualitative in-depths.

“Turnaround from irregular to legal migration. The case of Kosovo between 2014 and 2018

Michael Sauer, University of Applied Science Bonn-Rhein-Sieg

In 2014/2015 a massive migration movement was witnessed in Kosovo. This ‘wave’ began with a sharp increase in asylum applications by Kosovars in Germany at the end of 2014. In the period between December 2014 and May 2015 on average about 4,800 Kosovo citizens applied for asylum at German authorities per month. In total, more than estimated 50,000 Kosovars – equivalent to 2.5% of the country’s population – left Kosovo during this short period to migrate to one of the EU member states. EU member states as well as Kosovo authorities were found unprepared to respond to this migration movement, which has been coined by many media as “exodus” (e. g. Ernst, 2015). However, the steep reduction of asylum applications from Kosovo in Germany from May 2015 onwards has to be seen in direct connection with the actions taken by the Kosovo and the German Government. The joint objective of both countries has been to close illegal migration channels and make legal channels more viable. From 2016 onwards, the character of migration (from Kosovo to Germany) significantly changed: In 2017 an equivalent of 2% of Kosovo’s population received a work permit for Germany, while the number of applications for asylum was insignificant. The proposed paper will trace the process from massive irregular migration to legal labour migration focusing in particular the roles of governmental civil society and private for-profit actors in in Kosovo in shaping migration along the migration cycle. The paper will fall back on data taken from structured interviews with pivotal actors in the administration and civil society in order to explain the massive turn-around from irregular to regular migration in Kosovo and to highlight new challenges and opportunities stemming from this new mode of migration.


Michael Sauer (married, two kids, born 12/11/76 and resident in Cologne, Germany) is employed as professor for sustainable social policy at the University of Applied Science Bonn-Rhein-Sieg, where he is lecturing in particular political sciences and social policy. His research interests focus the intersection of social, migration, VET and development policies. Between May 2015 and July 2018, he was seconded to the Kosovo Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs and the Kosovo Employment Agency by the Center for International Migration and Development (CIM). He advised the Minister of Labour and Social Affairs on migration, labor market and vocational training policies. The following scientific papers are in preparation or have recently been published: Sauer, Michael & Meyn, Andreas (2019): Mobility and Skills Partnerships: Linking Labour Migration and VET Policies in Kosovo. In: Politics & Governance. In preparation. Sauer, Michael (2019): Kosovo Mobility Platform - a holistic and potential-oriented approach to circular migration. In Clewing, Konrad & Džihic, Vedran (ed.): The New Kosovo. Statehood, democracy and ""Europe"" in the recent state of the continent. Berlin: De Gruyter Oldenbourg. Sauer, Michael & Kllokoqi, Selatin (2017): Circular Migration as a Policy Tool to Foster Development in Kosovo. In: European Center for Welfare Policy and Social Research (ed.): Building Bridges in Social Welfare Policy in Eastern Europe."

The EU external migration policy with "third safe contries". The case of Tunisia.

Benedetto Antonino Trapani & Alessandra Pera, Palermo University

The migration crisis should be seen as a crisis of the European solidarity: what should have been treated as a European dilemma became a national one, especially for the Mediterranean Countries. The question that naturally arises is, can Dublin III meet its objectives in such conditions? The reform of the Common European Asylum System (CEAS) is one of the priorities of action of the European Parliament, and the European Commission, as the proposal of 2016 (so-remained) confirms. Given that the national-led restrictions, especially coming from the “Visegrad Group Countries”, are stopping this process, European institutions are promoting the so called “external dimension of the CEAS”, aiming to address migration management dilemmas through a cooperation with Third Countries. Nowadays, the main objective of this strategy is to establish agreements which externalize the migration control, outsourcing “migration management” to Third Countries in order to prevent irregular migrants, including asylum seekers, from reaching Europe. The aim of this work is to analyse the effects of this non-well-structured cooperation: the creation of a pre-frontier “buffer zone” in Countries where illegal practices are employed. In order to explain this the first section, from a juridical point of view, will analyse the relations between EU and Tunisia, historically a “transit Country”. The second section will show how Europe is often relying on systemic violations of Human Rights to protect its borders. Despite being bound by international law and its new constitution, Tunisia remains without an asylum law and the UNHCR is the sole authority adjudicating asylum requests, when it’s possible. In fact, as will be shown addressing Tunisian domestic law and international reports, “push-backs”, the criminalization of irregular migration, illegal military practices and measures violating refugee’s rights adopted by Tunisian authorities are strongly limiting UNHCR operations, avoiding the possibility of creating a real humanitarian corridor.


Antonino Trapani, Doctor in Economic Development and International Cooperation, he's currently studying in a Cooperation and Development Master at Palermo University. Always interested in migration policy, its bachelor thesis concerned the “migration crisis” in Europe from a juridical point of view. Following its interest he published two articles upgrading its first work. Currently studying in Tunis for a double degree in International Relations.

Alessandra Pera is PhD Dr. in Comparative Law and Associate Professor at Palermo University- Department of Political Science and International Relationship. She teaches Comparative Law and Legal Traditions of the World in Courses of Economic Development and International Cooperation. Her main research interests are on comparative law, family law, migration and social change, legal tools to protect weak individuals in modern societies. She is an active member of the International Society of Family Law (ISFL), the Italian Association of Comparative Law (AIDC), and Juris Diversitas. She is author of many articles and papers in books and reviews and monographic books. She is member of the Scientific board of the Italian Review “Comparazione e Diritto Civile”, and of the reviewing board of Global jurist, journal of Mediterranean Studies and the Athens Journal of Social Science. She has completed many national and international research projects about different themes, concerning social inclusion, new forms of slavery, collective interests and consumer law and adr systems.

Peripheries on the rise. Hungarian and Turkish migration policy in a comparative perspective

Tamas Dudlak, Corvinus University of Budapest

Although recently, both the Turkish and the Hungarian governments in many respects (illiberal tendencies, confrontation with Europe, more focus on the East) developed the same policies, their stance on the question of migration is largely different. My presentation intends to compare the circumstances that shaped the Fidesz and the AKP governments’ policies and narrative on the recent mass movement of people to their respective countries.

Although Hungary and Turkey are relatively far from each other, their cases are comparable as both have contact with popular migration and trafficking routes. Moreover, both countries are situated next to unstable regions (such as the Balkans, East Ukraine for Hungary and Iraq, Syria, Iran and Afghanistan for Turkey) and are wide open to the repercussions of these conflict areas as they lack natural borderlines from the south and the east.

Concerning the differences, the paper focuses on the analysis of three questions:

1. What are the reference points (the narrative background) for the two governments and to what level do they thematize the issue of migration in their political agenda? (securitization, sovereignty, humanitarianism)

2. What were the main factors that indicated changes in governmental policies (from open doors to closed doors)? I refer to 2010 as the control year for Turkey and 2014 for Hungary as there was no mass inflow of people at that time.

3. What effects do Hungary and Turkey have on each other’s migration policies? (such as the EU–Turkey agreement March 2016)

This research is based on English, Hungarian and Turkish literature, policy papers, international and local NGO reports, publications of the Turkish press and interviews conducted by different organizations. I also rely on my involvement in the Hungarian migration policy and some personal experience with Syrians in 2016 and 2017 in Ankara, Istanbul, Hatay, Gaziantep, and Şanlıurfa.


Tamas Dudlak is a Ph.D. candidate studying International Relations and Geopolitics based in Budapest, Hungary. He previously studied History, Arabic, and Turkish. His research focus is mainly on Turkey and its role in the Middle East in various fields: migration and refugees, domestic and foreign policy, energy policy (also with regard to Africa and Central Asia). Moreover, he conducts research on the bilateral relations of Hungary and Turkey as well. In his dissertation, he deals with the paradigm shift of the Turkish foreign policy in 2011 with relation to Syria.

A Historical Consciousness and Political Memory Lens on Migration Governance

Radu-Cristian PETCU, University of Craiova

The proposed paper explores the challenges of migration governance in what concerns the difficulty of setting normative approach into memory-discursive rationales of change and ensuing interpretations and perspectives on frameworks of reception, protection, accommodation and integration regimes. The central argument of the paper pursues to validate connection between narratives of identity and memory politics with the development of different modes of historical consciousness (based on the models put forward by Jörn Rüsen), by perspective, context and form of collective, public and political memory institutionalisation, in bi-directional feed, from host polity to receiving communities, based on the logic that where there is change, there should be institutionalised forms of memory: of what is changed (recent past, trigger event meanings), of change itself (transition, liminality), and of direction or destination of change (future state or condition). An additional argument is introduced with regard to historical consciousness and dimensions of change during migratory transitions in relation to approach and practice of European memory integration, bringing together multiple identities and memories in a network of loci and foci of memory institutionalisation; this line of reasoning implies that any institutional arrangement and related policy seeking to support migration governance needs to provide meaning in the way transition change and induction process justice are addressed and reflected in collective memory. Integration policies (considered at both national and supra-national level) require dealing with entangled memories and, to this end, their equal participation and articulation in the public sphere ranges from strategies to forget to duties to recollect and truth-seeking memory initiatives, remembrance, reconciliation (of different meanings of historical experiences), toward construction of identity (from memory multiplicity and mutual identities to shared meaning and common identity). The paper is concluded with ways in which making sense of migration governance through identity and memory politics opens up perspectives on their possible connection as co-constitutive to and of their security and European integration.


Radu-Cristian Petcu is a Lecturer at the University of Craiova and a member of the Faculty of Social Sciences, teaching and researching International Relations Theories, European Studies, Contemporary Philosophical Thought and Political Ideologies. His academic interests further extend to Globalization and Cultural Identity, Transition Regimes, and Memory Studies. Radu-Cristian Petcu graduated the Faculty of Political and Administrative Sciences, University of Bucharest, in 2003, and as of 2014, he holds a PhD in Political Philosophy, awarded by the National School of Political and Administrative Studies in Bucharest (SNSPA) in Bucharest, Romania, for the PhD thesis entitled “Institutions of Change and Collective Memory in Post-Communist Transitions - A Normative Approach to the Theory and Practice of Lustration”.

Refugees as Political Subjects: Exploring the Political Ideas and Worldviews of Kurdish-Syrian Refugees in Germany

Thomas Jeffrey Miley, University of Cambridge

Dominant representations in mainstream Western media either demonize refugees or at best treat them as helpless victims, politically passive, and uninformed. But in fact, refugees are political subjects, often with highly sophisticated political convictions. This is in no small part because of their first-hand experience on the front-lines of the global “war on terror” and in the liminal spaces of the global border regime. Based on 30 in-depth, qualitative interviews gathered by one of the co-authors, himself a Kurdish refugee from Kobane, during 2016 and 2017, this paper focuses on the distinctive political ideas and worldviews of Syrians and especially Kurdish-Syrian refugees in Germany. It pays special attention to their views about contemporary politics in the Middle East, to their criticisms of Turkish and EU state policies in framing and responding to the so-called “refugee crisis,” and to the alternatives they espouse for resolving the ongoing and interconnected crises in the Middle East and beyond.


Thomas Jeffrey Miley is a Lecturer of Political Sociology at the University of Cambridge. He is a member of the executive board of the European Union Turkey Civic Commission (EUTCC) and is a patron of Peace in Kurdistan. His scholarship focuses on comparative nationalisms, religion and politics, and empirical democratic theory. He has published broadly on the dynamics of nationalist conflict and accommodation in Spain and, increasingly, in Turkey. He is co-editor, with Federico Venturini, of Your Freedom and Mine: Abdullah Öcalan and the Kurdish Question in Erdogan's Turkey (Montreal: Black Rose Books, 2018). He is currently working on a project on struggles for self-determination in the twenty-first century."

From International to Domestic Law – How the Principle of Attachment Organizes Membership

Ashley Mantha-Hollands, WZB Social Science Centre - Berlin

At the centre of debates surrounding migration across Europe and North America is a concern about immigrants’ integration, allegiance, and belonging. Under contemporary law and theory, formal recognition of membership for new citizens requires a bond of some kind. Over the last century, there has been a growing appeal to use “attachment” as a condition for naturalization and even, denaturalization. Part I of the article is theoretical and offers an approach to defining the principles of attachment through a typology for: i) the nature of the bond (behavioral, emotional, or physical); ii) the object of attachment (constitution, persons, culture, etc.); iii) the time of attachment; and, iv) the method of approval. Part II traces the shifting criteria of naturalization in two case studies (France and the United Kingdom) to reveal how the attachment paradigm has organized membership within these states. Finally, Part III looks at denaturalization law in the two case studies to offer a discussion on whether attachment, or lack thereof, can be used as a criterion for citizenship deprivation. The focus of this article is to explore the attachment principle, and how it guides citizenship policy – a topic which has become one of the most complex issues in citizenship theory and political philosophy.


Ashley Mantha-Hollands is a Research Fellow with the International Citizenship Law Project Group at the WZB (Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin für Sozialforschung) Social Science Center in Berlin. Her research focuses on the nexus between attachment and belonging and how it relates to citizenship allocation, naturalization, and civic integration policies. She received her BA (Honors) in Political Science and History from Concordia University and Master of Public Policy collaboration Sexual Diversity Studies from the University of Toronto. Before joining the WZB, Ashley worked as an Analyst for both the Government of Canada and the OECD.