Comparative Network on Refugee Externalisation Policies (CONREP)

The Jean Monnet Erasmus+ Network grant CONREP is an international, interdisciplinary network of experts from six universities in Australia and Europe.

The Comparative Network on Refugee Externalisation Policies


CONREP researches the impact and effects of the externalisation of refugee policies in two regions: Australia’s activities in Southeast Asia and the Pacific; and the European Union and its member states’ activities in North Africa. 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. 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. Nationally, some governments gain electoral advantage by being ‘tough’ on border protection. The accelerating phenomenon of externalisation characterising these ‘tough’ border protection policies requires a comprehensive analysis by researchers, civil society actors, refugees and policy makers.

The Comparative Network on Refugee Externalisation Policies (CONREP) will develop a transnational, interdisciplinary examination of the scope, methods and impact of externalisation policies of Australia, the EU and its MSs. CONREP’s five core themes are:

  • Governance: implications of policy delivered by state and non-state actors at different levels of governance; militarisation and securitisation of migration control; the role and lack of solidarity among states and regions
  • The legitimacy of externalisation policies and implications for the legitimacy of states and regional bodies deploying them, and the implications for sovereign authority
  • The exercise and delegation of legal and political responsibility for refugees affected by externalisation, in state and non-state actor settings
  • Democracy: how externalisation shifts the ‘problem’ away from domestic scrutiny processes of states, and political narratives of control are deployed for political gain
  • Human rights implications of externalisation policies which disrupt migration pathways to refugees

Outcomes / activities

Upcoming events

CONREP Seminar Series: Externalisation of Refugee Policies – Evading responsibility, spreading poor practice, weakening refugee protection?. This series will commence in October 2020.

From September 2020, CONREP will be running a series of online seminars that seek to facilitate a new and enhanced relationship among scholars, early career researchers, civil society, policymakers and refugees on refugee externalisation practices and consequences. Speakers will be invited from Europe, Africa, Australia and Asia, ensuring that CONREP includes the perspectives of the Global North and South. The seminar series will also provide a vital opportunity for PhDs and ECAs to present their research. It provides an occasion for participants to receive supportive and critical feedback on their projects. For more information please contact Tamara Tubakovic.

Past events

The Network has organised several key international events:

  • Public Lecture: Border Externalisation, Climate Change and Refugees (Online Seminar), 16.15pm (Central European Time), 23 September 2020
  • Second CONREP International Workshop on Responsibility-Sharing or Responsibility Shedding?, 18-19 February 2020, Deakin Downtown, Melbourne, Australia
  • Policy Forum: Australia’s Refugee Policies in the Asia Pacific, 18 February 2020, Deakin Downtown, Melbourne, Australia
  • CONREP Masterclass: Researching Refugee Externalisation: Approaches and Challenges, 17 February 2020, University of Melbourne
  • Public Lecture: Conversation on Refugees – International and Australian Perspectives on Responsibility, 25 November 2019, University of Melbourne
  • First CONREP International Workshop on Responsibility, Legitimacy and Accountability, 14 June 2019, Prato, Italy
  • CONREP Masterclass: Rethinking Borderlands – (In)visible borders in Europe and Australia, 12 June 2019, Bologna University

For further information about these and other past events please visit the CONREP news and events web page.


The Network has resulted in a number of refereed publications, books, book chapters, and policy reports by academics of the Comparative Network on Refugee Externalisation Policies and highly esteemed academics working on refugee policy and externalisation.

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The core objectives of the Network Blog are to facilitate an informal dialogue and public debate on the challenges and implications of externalisation policies and to provide analysis on existing and new literature around the five core themes of CONREP. The Network Blog provides an important outlet for CONREP members, other scholars, including early career researchers and PhD students, policy makers, civil society actors and refugees to disseminate their research findings, expert analysis and experiences on the topic of refugee externalisation. A list of recently published articles by early career academics, civil society representatives and highly esteemed academics can be found on the blog.

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CONREP will generate knowledge about the impact of refugee externalisation upon EU and Australian governance practices; engage with civil society, state and non-state actors to shape future policy-making; and disseminate to scholars and policymakers in regional integration. It will sharpen our understanding the dynamics of externalisation with an analysis of two regions: North Africa and Southeast Asia. There is a compelling need for rigorous analysis of the legal, political, governance and human rights implications of externalisation in these regions, which comprise the world’s most comprehensive externalisation policies and the most significant migration routes. Two case studies – the policies of the EU and its mission in Libya, and Australia in Indonesia – focus the analysis.

The Network’s key objectives are:

  • to gather and build knowledge on how externalisation policies impact on governance practices, democracy and the legitimacy of regional integration processes, particularly in Europe and Southeast Asia
  • to establish a dialogue for exchange of practice among academics, civil society, refugees and policy-makers
  • to create a truly interdisciplinary and cross-sector research-policy Consortium on refugee externalisation in the European and Asia Pacific region
  • to foster the participation of young researchers and provide mentoring opportunities for early career academics and PhDs
  • to disseminate research on refugee externalisation to a wider public audience

More information

Visit the CONREP website

Project details


The project is co-funded by the European Union under the Erasmus+ Programme – Jean Monnet Activities (599660 EPP-1-2018-1-AU-EPPJMO-NETWORK)

Research partners

University of Melbourne
Deakin University
Monash University
Western Sydney University
University of Bologna
University of Geneva
University of Gothenburg

Project team

Professor Philomena Murray
Dr Margherita Matera
Dr Claire Loughnan
Dr Tamara Tubakovic
Kelly Soderstrom
Dr Amy Nethery
Dr Maria O'Sullivan
Associate Professor Azadeh Dastyari
Asher Hirsch
Associate Professor Pierluigi MusarĂ²
Associate Professor Marco Borraccetti
Adjunct Professor Federico Ferri
Dr Elena Giacomelli
Professor Sandra Lavenex
Professor Gregor Noll