Border Policies and Sovereignty. Human rights and the right to life of irregular migrants.


On the basis of globalization theories, as well as on the basis of developments in European migration policies, I hypothesize that since 1990 migration law has witnessed a shift from migration control (reactive, focus on concrete individuals) to migration management (pro-active, focus on potential migrant populations). A second hypothesis is that the increased number of ?irregular? migrants dying on their way to Europe is an unintended side-effect of this shift, border policies being part of migration policies. Thirdly, I propose that as a consequence of the shift to border management, the human rights protection previously available regarding migrant fatalities under border control, has become considerably less effective. My research will develop an alternative human rights law approach, which will be more broadly relevant for externalities (in this context: extraterritorial and indirect policy effects in a globalized context). This alternative approach will be based on the presumption that innovations in the exercise of sovereignty should be matched by innovations in human rights law.

In order to achieve this, I will
- Contribute to social theory by making globalization theories falsifiable;
- Create aggregate databases on migrant deaths and European border policies;
- Test three hypotheses, relating to (1) a shift in the ?organizing logics? of European migration policy; (2) human rights law and externalities; (3) the relation between European policies and migrant mortality.

This will contribute to social theory on the role of the state in globalization; to theories on how human rights law can respond to new ways of exercising sovereignty; and to the analysis of European migration law and policy ? one of the great issues of our time.


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Prof. mr. T.P. Spijkerboer

Verbonden aan

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Faculteit der Rechtsgeleerdheid, Staats- en Bestuursrecht


Dr. T.E. Baird, P. Cuttitta, T.K. Last, Prof. mr. T.P. Spijkerboer


01/09/2013 tot 03/07/2019