2020 International Workshop on Responsibility-Sharing or Responsibility-Shedding?

18 - 19 February 2020
Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia

The world is currently experiencing refugee movement on an unprecedented scale. In an attempt to prevent refugees from reaching their territory, many wealthy Western states have adopted externalisation policies which transfer and dilute signatory state responsibility for refugee protection. At their most destructive, externalisation policies can prevent refugees from reaching safety, and breach their human rights. Externalisation policies reshape the boundaries of sovereignty and blur the lines of responsibility among states. By avoiding their legal and political responsibility, many states violate their legal obligations. Externalisation deflects responsibility, transforming the governance of refugee protection and border control. Regional cooperation for refugee protection is weakened, and human rights protections are undermined. At a global level, migration pathways are disrupted and refugees are often trapped in transit, placing them at risk.

These themes will be examined in our forthcoming interdisciplinary Workshop in Melbourne on 18 -19 February 2020 (download the flyer (290kb pdf)).

The Workshop will focus on the broader implications of externalisation policy in the regions of North Africa and Southeast Asia. It will assess the impact and responses of regional organisations, such as the European Union, the African Union and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. It will examine the role of other organisations including the role of for-profit corporations; international organisations such as the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM); non-governmental organisations (NGOs); and civil society organisations. Finally, it will examine the impact of these policies on the people seeking asylum. Specific case studies from North Africa, the Balkans, Eastern Europe, Southeast Asia and the Pacific will facilitate a deeper examination of the political and social context of externalisation policies, and their human impact. The Workshop will also aim to develop and deepen both scholarly and policy-research dialogue.

Themes to be examined at the conference will include:

  • Broader implications of externalisation in North Africa, Balkans, Eastern Europe, Southeast Asia and the Pacific regions
  • Regional governance
  • Civil society and international organisations
  • The political and social context of externalisation policies, and their human impact