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ASILE - Global Asylum Governance and European Union's Role

Research project
Active research
Project size
29 000 000 SEK
Project period
2020 - 2023
Project owner
Gregor Noll

Financier
European Commission, H2020-programme

Short description

The ASILE project studies the interactions between emerging international protection systems and the United Nations Global Compact for Refugees (UN GCR), with particular focus on the European Union’s role and contribution. It examines the characteristics of international, country-specific and EU asylum governance instruments and arrangements and their gender and age specific impacts on individuals and sharing of responsibility from the perspective of their effectiveness, fairness and consistency with international and regional human rights and refugee law standards. ASILE ensures a ground-breaking interdisciplinary examination of the role of key policy and implementing actors, and the effects of vulnerability and status recognition assessments over the agency and rights of individuals in search of international protection.

About the project

The ASILE project studies the interactions between emerging international protection systems and the United Nations Global Compact for Refugees (UN GCR), with particular focus on the European Union’s role. Adopting an interdisciplinary perspective, it examines the characteristics of international and country- specific asylum governance instruments and arrangements, and their compatibility with international and regional human rights and refugee laws. A key objective of the project is to provide the cutting edge of academic knowledge, promising practices and a collection of evidence-based tools for the development of future asylum policies.

ASILE represents an advance in comparison to the current state of the art. It seeks to facilitate a ground- breaking understanding of the role and impacts of legal and policy responses - instruments and arrangements

- on refugee protection and sharing of responsibility from the perspective of their effectiveness, fairness and consistency with international and regional legal and human rights and refugee law standards. It will do so through an interdisciplinary examination and mapping of UN GCR actors1 and key policy and legal instruments on mobility and containment, and the impacts of vulnerability and status recognition assessments over individuals in search of international protection. The ASILE project will generate an international academic-policy dialogue and a robust scientific understanding of current and future global and EU asylum governance approaches within the scope of the UN GCR.

The UN GCR calls for more equitable and effective arrangements for responsibility sharing. It states that it is to be grounded in international refugee protection and international human rights instruments. The UN GCR places protection as an overall guide of application. The ASILE project will take the GCR guiding principles as points of departure. The basic research question is: What are the characteristics and impacts of emerging international systems and EU asylum governance regimes, and what are their policy implications for EU’s role in the implementation of the UN GCR?

The first objective of the project will be to advance the state-of-the-art by bringing about a new conceptual and ground-breaking understanding to refugee studies on the notions of containment2 and mobility,3 their intersections and their inclusionary and exclusionary effects from the perspective of international refugee protection. Scholarship on the global refugee regime has often entailed a generalized critique based on its principal failing – the containment of refugees in the Global South where they endure protracted human rights violations, including encampment and work rights restrictions. Rather than simply accepting this generalised critique, the project will provide an empirically grounded assessment of refugee protection through the lens of containment and mobility. It will research these two concepts, and their relationships in country or  context-specific  settings,  in light of  the characteristics  of policy and  legal instruments  and arrangements on refugees, asylum seekers and internally displaced persons (IDPs) and their mobility and protection. ASILE will facilitate a better understanding of the constitution of the asylum/refugee systems in

various countries and regions across the world. By this, it seeks to know more about the kinds of actors that are involved in international protection and global asylum governance, the relationships between them and the flow of ideas, information and resources within networks. It will also contribute towards a better understanding of the notion of ‘vulnerability’ through an assessment of the impacts of refugee status determination (RSD) processes on individuals’ rights and agency.

The second objective is to contribute with a ground-breaking understanding of current and future asylum governance regimes, and the characteristics and impacts of policy and legal instruments and arrangements, including those on responsibility sharing. The project has a global focus and offers comparison between countries/regions and over time. It has been designed around two main thematic streams. First, we shall provide an international comparative examination of existing complementary or legal pathways of mobility and admission for protection of people in search of international protection, and their interactions with containment instruments, in Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, Jordan, South Africa and Turkey. These countries offer different and context-specific responses and instruments of direct relevance for this project. Second, we will make an assessment of EU cooperation arrangements and EU-led support instruments for refugee protection in third countries, in particular those with Jordan, Serbia, Tunisia, Turkey and Niger.

ASILE will evaluate these legal and policy responses in light of their effectiveness, fairness and consistency with international and regional legal human rights and refugee protection standards. The project will expound models of responsibility attribution and legal, political and financial accountability of actors involved in the design, adoption and implementation of asylum governance instruments and arrangements. A third related objective will be to facilitate new ways to bring the voices of refugees in the conceptualisation of emerging international protection systems by examining the impacts of existing mobility policy and legal instruments and arrangements on individuals. ASILE studies the relationship between refugee recognition and vulnerability assessment regimes characterizing asylum governance regimes and their effects on individuals’ self-reliance, human rights and work rights.

The fourth objective of the project is related to drawing lessons learned for future global and EU policy responses. Based on the long-standing experience of the partners in similar actions, the project will implement a set of policy engagement activities securing effective linkages between the project research results and relevant policy processes, discourses and outputs in the scope of the UN GCR. In particular, the ASILE project operationalizes a set of think tank and policy engagement methods bridging the qualitative and quantitative findings to the development of future asylum policies. These will include regional Task Forces, Strategic Visioning and in loci Workshops aimed at identifying promising practices and exploring policy options with relevant stakeholders.

A fifth objective will be to provide a novel inter-disciplinary and gender-balanced international academic network of outstanding scholars – including project partners and members of international advisory academic board - in all the areas covered by the topics addressed in this Call. ASILE will be coordinated by CEPS, a leading Think Tank in the EU on the themes covered by the project, which offers the most advanced expertise on EU and international asylum policies and possesses a long-standing experience in the coordination of large-scale and collaborative international and EU research projects. The success of this international academic partnership will be further secured through strategic partnership with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) offices in Geneva and Brussels. The consortium includes one key civil society partner, the Danish Refugee Council (DRC) which will chair an ASILE Civil Society Group (CSG) composed of diverse civil society organisations representing big humanitarian organisations with international outreach, faith-based organisations and refugee-women led and other grass-roots organisations based in Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, Jordan, South Africa and the EU. CSG will play a pivotal role in reaching out and bringing on-the-ground empirical data and refugees, asylum seekers and IDPs voices. By design, the ASILE project assembles the collective expertise of a diverse range of all significant actors in this field.

The sixth objective is sustainability, outreach and impact. ASILE is, already at birth, inherently a global project, with strong links to academia across all continents, think tank communities, the policy and international organizations and civil society. It will involve relevant actors to ensure mutual learning, identification of promising practices and take-up of research findings. The project will set the foundations for the future development of a Global Academic Association on Refugee Studies and the UN GCR. A key innovative output of the project will be the setting up of the ASILE Global Portal constituting a one-stop web-based toolkit offering country-specific information/profile on asylum governance regimes and instruments and key developments in light of the priorities and targets enshrined in the implementation of the UN GCR. Other innovative elements are ASILE Training Schools and ASILE Fellowship programme for refugee scholars, and the ambition to set up a new Global Academic Association on Refugee Studies.

University of Gothenburg tasks

The University of Gothenburg assumes the lead responsibility for Work Package 2, and participates in the implementation of other work packages (mainly Work Package 5). Work Package 2 is about “Actors Networks and Responsibility Attribution”, of which Gothenburg University will mainly cover the issue of responsibility attribution under international law.