Abstract art composition using elements of a passport
Photo: Zhang Peili

Navigating the legal liminalities of an unrecognized state: Migrant precarity and placeholder identity papers in Northern Cyprus


Bart Klem and Emmanuel Achiri present their work on refugees in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus

5 Dec 2022
13:15 - 15:00
C417, School of Global Studies

This research attempts to shed light on the status of international protection for asylum seekers and refugees in the unrecognized Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC). The study takes as vantage point the unresolved status of ‘protection’ for asylum seekers and refugees in the TRNC and seeks to investigate how this group navigates the convoluted legal landscape of this unrecognized state. As such this article juxtaposes two burgeoning fields of academic scholarship. The first concerns the legal and political geography of refugee mobility, borderlands and enforcement strategies. The second concerns the interstitial and convoluted sovereignty of unrecognized states , a field that has gained new impetus with the Russian-Ukrainian war. 

photo of Emmanuel achiri

Emmanuel Achiri is a human rights advocate and a PhD candidate at the Eastern Mediterranean University, in Northern Cyprus.  His focus is on forced migration, refugees, international human rights law, & EU-Africa relations. In his PhD dissertation he calls for the need to reassess the ‘voluntariness’ of repatriations and argues that the insistence on voluntary repatriation as the ‘preferred option’ for refugees is born out of the securitization of refugeehood. He also researches the intersection between forced migration, new AI and racialized migration policies, and is currently engaged in mapping the journeys of migrants and refugees at the borders of Europe, in particular, in Cyprus and the effect EU externalization and experimental border technology has on people on the move.

In 2018, he co-founded and is project lead for VOIS Cyprus – an association representing over 60,000 foreign students and migrants in Northern Cyprus. He is also co-founder of the Stop-the-War-in-Cameroon-Coalition Think-tank, part of the European Programme for Integration and Migration’s special advisory group, and is a member of Urban-A’s research team.

Bart Klem is associate professor in Peace and Development Studies

photo of Bart Klem

at Gothenburg University, Sweden. His research focuses on questions of legal and political order in societies undergoing or emerging armed conflict. This includes the everyday functioning of state institutions, de facto sovereignty of rebel movements and public authority. Most of his work concerns Sri Lanka, where he has twenty years of research experience, but he has conducted qualitative field research on Kalimantan (Indonesia) and North Cyprus. Klem holds a PhD in Political Geography (University of Zurich, 2012) and has published in a range of journals across the fields of Conflict Studies, Development Studies, South Asia, Anthropology and Geography. He is completing a book on the performative politics of the Tamil nationalist insurgency during and after Sri Lanka’s civil war.