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Unsustainable Systems: Externalization as a Nonviable Form of Migration Management in the Face of Climate Change

Climate change has recently emerged as a major factor informing people’s decision to migrate and has increased the urgency of traditional reasons behind migration such as economic hardship, political turmoil, repression, and unjust social conditions. Indeed, given the increasing gravity of climate change, every single individual could become a migrant and every single country could be a source of migration. Regarding the management of migration, which impacts more and more places, a more equitable sharing of responsibility would not only protect the rights of migrants but also create a fair system for all nations. This study addresses climate change along with the more traditional reasons behind migratory movements. It tackles the role of externalization policies, which are expected to gain further momentum due to the growing diversity of push factors, on migratory movements. It also analyzes the functions and implementation of border control, repatriation agreements, and other legal arrangements intended to make it harder for migrants to access international protection.

Unsustainable Systems Externalization as a Nonviable Form of Migration Management
Somalian refugee Muna Hasim Dra (L2) during a discussion with Chief Ombudsman of Turkey, Şeref Malkoç (R) at Harmandali repatriation centre in İzmir, Turkey, November 20, 2021. MEHMET EMİN MENGÜARSLAN / AA






In this century, humankind has witnessed the Chinese curse, “May you live in interesting times,” coming true in various areas and many ways. We all bear witness to the many dimensions of these strange times, including chaos, violent conflict, inequality, and injustice. The sign of the present times is in some ways a regression. The two world wars that broke out in the previous century led to millions of deaths and tremendous suffering, whilst encouraging humanity to pursue peace and stability. International institutions, such as the United Nations (UN), the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and the European Union (EU), emerged out of that pursuit. At the same time, the assumption that building walls along national borders would ensure any country’s safety ceased to be rational, a realization that resulted in the abolishment of many such physical borders. As multiple countries concluded visa liberalization agreements to facilitating the free movement of people, technological advances inspired hope that the twenty-first century was going to be better for humanity –more prosperous and more peaceful. The expectation and hope that geographical borders would disappear and give way to a new order, under which all individuals would receive their fair share of welfare, gave rise to an optimistic approach to the migration process and the migrant identity.

What actually happened in the twenty-first century, however, failed to meet expectations. Indeed, today’s global state of affairs does not inspire any hope for the future. Migration has come to be seen as one of the most important global issues within that context. Today, migratory movements occur simultaneously in different parts of the world, for ever-changing reasons. Migrants move from Mexico to the U.S., from Venezuela to Colombia, from Africa to Europe, from the Far East to Australia and New Zealand, from Near Eastern countries to Turkey and Europe, and from Eastern Europe to Western Europe. Although the origins and destinations of those migratory movements differ, the fact remains that they are all part of a single phenomenon. A closer look at the quantitative indicators of global mobility reveals that the total number of migrants reached 281 million in 2020. Meanwhile, the number of forcibly displaced persons exceeded 89 million –including 26.4 million refugees. During the same period, 55 million people were internally displaced. An unprecedented number of these –six million individuals– were compelled to relocate within their own country’s borders due to natural disasters; they accounted for 11 percent of all displaced persons in 2020.1

In terms of quantitative changes in recent decades, the migrant population soared from 150 million in 2000 to 214 million in 2010 –a 42 percent increase– indicating that migration is occurring continuously and at a higher rate. According to projections based on that historical trend, an estimated 400 million individuals will be migrants by 2050. It is to be noted, however, that the trajectories and patterns of migration, both at the local and global levels, need to be investigated carefully by academics and policymakers alike.2

Political developments on a global scale have tended to transform migration from a national issue to a fixed item on the international agenda

Although migrants account for just 3.6 percent of the global population, the rapid growth of this demographic hints at a contradictory situation vis-a-vis migratory movements. The first point is that migration has become an absolute necessity due to various economic, political, and social developments, even though people remain generally resistant to leaving their native countries. In addition to worsening economic conditions, wars and civil conflicts, political crises, and disagreements with political authorities, natural disasters –whose impact has been more and more prominent in recent years– are among the driving forces behind migration and contribute significantly to the pace and continuity of migratory movements. At the same time, political developments on a global scale have tended to transform migration from a national issue to a fixed item on the international agenda. Certain developments, such as the Taliban’s return to power and the subsequent economic collapse in Afghanistan, which has been the top source of refugees over the last three decades, as well as the military coup in Sudan and regime attacks in Syria, continue to increase the geographical area impacted by migration and exacerbate its attendant problems.

Although migratory movements have different points of origin and destination, they have common causes and motivations. For example, economic considerations factor into migration from Central Asian nations to other countries, just as financial concerns fuel migration from Eastern European states to Western Europe. A closer look at political turmoil as a trigger for migration highlights the case of Myanmar, a Southeast Asian country, where massive human rights violations are causing the Muslim community in the Rakhine State to relocate to nearby countries, starting with Bangladesh. Currently, the largest group of stateless persons, the number of migrants and asylum seekers from the Rakhine State has reached 980,000. Meanwhile, many of the countries that host migrants are source countries themselves: Bangladesh, which hosted more than 860,000 migrants (mostly from the Rakhine State) in 2020, is at the top of that list.3 Indeed, many countries, including the Gulf States and Saudi Arabia, European nations, Australia and New Zealand, are considered popular destinations for migrants from Bangladesh. At the same time, Venezuela, a South American country, plays an important role in generating new migratory movements. According to June 2021 data, approximately 5.6 million Venezuelan citizens have left their country as part of what many observers consider one of the biggest migration crises currently underway. Those individuals have typically relocated to Colombia, Peru, Chile, Ecuador, and Brazil. And while migration toward surrounding countries has increased, it remains improbable for individuals who have already migrated to return to their native homelands due to ongoing political and economic crises.

All those experiences and examples of migration serve to demonstrate that a migratory process, spanning many countries, regions, and continents, is continuing globally at an ever-greater speed. As such, there is a worldwide debate underway, at national and international levels, regarding migration as a phenomenon and its proper management. It is necessary to take into consideration that a temporal criterion (e.g., before, during, and after migration) is needed to set priorities in migration management and to create a systematic structure for that purpose. By taking those steps, such as financial assistance for the source countries, resettlement and integration programs in host countries, etc, it would be possible to concentrate on the root causes of migration, to protect the fundamental rights of migrants as well as the rights of host countries during the process of migration, and to adopt practices to ensure that host countries are not disproportionately burdened and that migrants receive their fair share of welfare after resettlement. At this point, one ought to bear in mind that the reasons behind migration tend to be dynamic. Taking into account that a number of recent migratory movements have been triggered by natural disasters and climate change (in addition to economic, political, and social factors) would yield a more complete picture vis-à-vis migration management.



Climate Change: A New Impetus for Migratory Movements


Turmoil, civil strife, war, repressive regimes, and economic hardship tend to be considered the main reasons behind migratory movements. Yet in addition to those factors, natural disasters and climate change are increasingly triggering migration. In recent years, unexpected weather conditions, long periods of drought, and excessive rainfall caused by climate change have forced millions of people to relocate to other countries or other parts of their own state annually. As a result of the ten most financially damaging natural disasters recorded in 2021, more than six million people were compelled to flee their homes. The total cost of that forced relocation exceeded $1.5 trillion.4

Many experts predict that climate change will be an unignorable cause for migration when it comes to the approval of asylum requests

Climate change, which is already triggering migratory movements in the short term, is expected to be a prominent source of migration in the medium and long term. Given the quantitative size of the migrant population that has already been compelled to relocate due to natural disasters caused by global warming, and the fact that climate change is ongoing and potentially irreversible, the climate crisis shall be a driving force behind migration in the future. Indeed, many experts predict that climate change will be an unignorable cause for migration when it comes to the approval of asylum requests.

Figure 1 shows the number of persons displaced by violent conflict and natural disasters from 2010-2020. Notably, natural disasters accounted for more migrants than violent conflict during that time period. Moreover, although such migratory movements have been largely limited to internal displacement to date, they will inevitably cross national borders soon. Therefore, experts predict that climate change and natural disasters will trigger more migratory movements in the near future.

According to the 1951 Geneva Convention, the most authoritative international agreement on migration and asylum, the term ‘refugee’ refers to an individual who,

Owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself/herself of the protection of that country; or who, not having a nationality and being outside the country of his/her former habitual residence as a result of such events, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it.

The 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees expanded the scope of the original convention by eliminating all temporal and geographical restrictions. However, neither the fundamental texts of migration and refugee law nor national laws that are rooted in the aforementioned treaties, identify climate change and natural disasters as legitimate grounds for seeking refuge in another country. However, both natural disasters and climate change, which makes an ever-greater impact on the world and which the international community desperately seeks to stop, will inevitably be recognized under migration law very soon, and individuals who are compelled to leave their homes due to climate change or natural disasters are expected to be granted some kind of protection.

An important aspect of the Geneva Convention relates to the principle of non-refoulment, which it recognizes alongside various types of protection offered to asylum seekers. According to that principle, migrants who left their country due to one of the reasons identified in the Convention and who fear that they would not be safe upon their return, cannot be forcibly repatriated. Keeping in mind that climate change will be included in the list of legitimate grounds for requesting asylum in the near future, the principle of non-refoulment shall inevitably cover migrants who leave their countries due to climate change and natural disasters.6

In connection with the increasing frequency and volume of international mass migration, human mobility has come to be viewed as a question of security

In addition to political, economic, and social developments, climate change is expected to make more people increasingly likely to migrate. Indeed, attempting to prevent migrants from relocating –as opposed to addressing the persistent push factors that force people to migrate– does not amount to a permanent solution. Climate change will encourage migration, on top of other current factors, and as such shall further increase migratory movements. It is thus essential to concentrate on the various reasons behind migration before such migratory movements occur.

As the volume of migratory movements and the number of migrants continue to grow, new push factors, including climate change, come into being. Despite the urgency of the situation, the international community has so far been unable to find solutions to the question of migration, because it does not opt for eliminating its root causes and allocating asylum seekers on a just basis as a lasting solution. Quite the contrary, the relevant authorities tend to focus on the aftermath of migration, exclusively prioritizing their own country’s well-being and attempting to keep migrants within the borders of other nations. That approach is implemented through externalization, which is defined as the extension of border and migration controls from receiving nations and into sending nations.7 By turning a blind eye to the ban on refoulement, a core principle of migration law, governments attempt to manage migration by resorting to various instruments of externalization. As a result of the externalization approach, borders are protected from immigrants without the need for refoulement.



Externalization: The Go-To Response to Migration ‘Management’


In connection with the increasing frequency and volume of international mass migration, human mobility has come to be viewed as a question of security. Accordingly, security has emerged as a frequently used concept in the academic literature on migration.8 The concept of the ‘securitization of migration’ was developed by the Copenhagen School, which plays an important role in the area of international security studies. Accordingly, securitization theory aims to clarify who (the securitizing actor) securitizes whom or what (the threat) to defend whom (the referent object). Concentrating on the process of defining threats, the Copenhagen School established that a given issue is transformed into a crucial security question through a linguistic process called a ‘speech act.’ According to the Copenhagen School, any issue could become a threat –and, thereby, be securitized– through political speech acts and discursive social construction.9 As such, Copenhagen School scholars conduct scientific research regarding the relocation of a given issue from the regular domain of politics to a special realm of security, whereby that issue morphs into a prioritized security problem that requires an urgent response.10 For example, a political leader’s remark that irregular migrants pose a threat to their society’s well-being is by means of this speech act transferred from the ‘non-politicized’ to the ‘politicized’ and, subsequently, to the ‘securitized’ domain.11

The externalization of migration management, in turn, is a phenomenon and method that emerges within the context of the securitization of migration. In the broadest sense, the externalization of migration controls refers to cross-border operations carried out by any given state to prevent migration.12 Technology transfer, training border security personnel, readmission agreements, and cross-border detention centers are among the main practices and institutions wherein governments engage the issue of migration within the framework of externalization. As a result of the construction of migration as a threat and its relocation to the ‘securitized’ domain, the apparent solution seems to be the prevention of migration at its source (or before migrants reach the relevant country’s borders) by taking necessary measures within the borders of source countries or third countries through whose territory migrants tend to transit. Those extraordinary precautions (as well as the use of threat, in the form of military instruments and armed forces, as needed) result in the countering of the threat outside of the targeting country. That situation mostly leads to tragic consequences in terms of the humanitarian dimension of migration.13

The range of practices that fall under the rubric of the externalization of migration management could include unilateral steps, yet are most frequently implemented through bilateral and multilateral agreements. As part of externalization, the responsibility of border management is transferred to third countries through indirect acts such as outright bans, preventive measures, and the provision of assistance/support to migration management practices.14 The perception of migrants as a threat results in the positioning of migration as a concept within the contexts of anti-human trafficking campaigns and efforts to prevent international crime. Therefore, certain goals, such as shutting down borders to prevent arms and drug smuggling or stopping illicit activities, come to be portrayed as the main reasons for closing borders. That portrayal, in turn, serves to legitimize interventions to migrants (asylum seekers as well) by law enforcement agents as well as military assistance.15

Externalization has guided the European Union’s migration policy and its preferred approach to migration management. Through the process of externalization, authorities move the monitoring of migration away from target countries –specifically, outside the EU’s territory. In this regard, externalization also refers to the “relocation” of Europe’s borders in the context of migration.16 In truth, the practices of externalization tend to consolidate securitization policies. Externalization, which has been a cornerstone of migration management in EU member states since the 1990s, occurs through various practices, such as visa policy under the Schengen agreements, transportation penalties, and the mandatory assignment of airport contact persons. It has enabled the EU to relocate migration management to the borders of third countries.17 Externalization by a state actor to prevent migration beyond its borders and decrease the number of migrants heading to its territory occurs through deterrent measures. Such measures include non-admission policies limiting access to asylum procedures, non-arrival measures preventing access to the territory of asylum states through migration control, the relocation of refugees to third countries, and other practices intended to make the asylum country less attractive.18

Wrecked boats and thousands of life jackets, used by refugees and migrants during their journey across the Aegean sea, Mithimna, February 19, 2016. ARIS MESSINIS / AFP

Since the 1990s, migration management/control, which has traditionally been viewed as a key component of state sovereignty, was elevated to the inter-governmental level of the EU, which allowed policymakers to engage certain aspects of migration policy at the supranational level. That change in the EU’s internal policy came to play a significant role in foreign policy, too, as a result of the externalization of migration policy. The Union’s externalization approach, coupled with its deterrent practices designed to prevent migration, thus became a crucial part of migration management.

Another dimension of externalization in migration management emerged as part of the EU’s expansion. The establishment of its membership criteria, with which candidate countries must comply, enabled the EU to encourage the enforcement of harsh migration management rules outside its borders.19 In line with its migration policy, the EU outsourced its responsibilities and obligations to third countries, international organizations, and private companies in an attempt to control migratory movements beyond its borders. During the process of the externalization of the EU’s migration policy, third countries through which migrants transited en route to Europe were included in the European policy framework that sought to take migration under control.

The externalization of migration management, in turn, is a phenomenon and method that emerges within the context of the securitization of migration

The main question in the externalization of the EU’s migration policy relates to the extension of the Union’s restrictive policy choices to other places. That measure makes it easier to control migration toward the EU. However, externalization clearly leads to the exporting of responsibilities and problems related to migration management to other countries. After all, externalization represents a securitized response to the phenomenon of migration. The purpose of that approach is to transfer the responsibility of migration management to other states. That situation allows the European Union to avoid/dodge humanitarian responsibility, which migration management definitely entails, with the support of certain legal arrangements. As such, externalization in migration management must be viewed as a set of policy choices designed to deny entry to individuals seeking international protection, keep such individuals outside Europe’s borders, and ensure that those people, who must be granted protection under the 1951 Geneva Convention, stay in other places.



Externalization Policies


It is possible to define the policy of externalization as an attempt by countries that do not wish to assume responsibility in the area of migration management to use various tools to transfer this responsibility to other countries. The international community, which to date has proved unable to assume responsibility and find a solution to migratory movements that occur all around the world, has turned to externalization policies, especially in recent years. Members of the European Union, which pioneered the implementation of that policy, relocated migration management outside of the Union’s borders thanks to a series of bilateral agreements with third countries.20 The policy of externalization thus facilitates ‘burden shifting’ with regard to migration and migrants.

Under the externalization policy, the authorities effectively apply pushbacks to protect borders, keep migrants out, and deny migrants access to their sovereign territory

The first official proposal to that effect was made by the United Kingdom to the European Parliament in 2003. It called for the establishment of migrant camps outside the EU’s borders. However, the idea of shutting Europe’s doors to migrants by relocating processing camps to ‘offshore’ locations came under fierce criticism from non-governmental organizations (NGOs) as well as the EU’s own institutions, and the proposal was ultimately rejected by the European Parliament.21 Although the first concrete proposal regarding externalization policies was voted against, similar proposals are currently being made. Indeed, there are ongoing attempts to establish repatriation or processing centers in third countries which is a new trend and considered one of the most severe practices under the externalization policy. Meanwhile, the policy of externalization is intended to be legitimized with reference to its ostensible objectives, such as addressing security concerns and preventing crime. Border controls, readmission agreements, legal arrangements intended to make it harder to access international protection, financial aid schemes, and other programs that the EU, in particular, has implemented, are among the more frequently implemented policies of externalization.22


Border Control

The most common features of the externalization policy include border control measures and physical obstacles placed at national borders. It is perfectly understandable for states to control their borders and, in particular, the attempt to prevent illegal entries into their territory due to heightened security concerns. However, crossing into another country’s sovereign territory for the purpose of seeking refuge is not considered a criminal act under international law.23 Notwithstanding, border control measures concentrate on ‘protecting’ the country from migrants, rather than ensuring the safety of the nation’s borders. For example, ‘pushbacks,’ a frequently used method of preventing people from crossing national borders, are often portrayed as a type of border control. However, they are carried out in a way that places the fundamental rights of migrants at risk.

The most recent practices in Libya, in particular, suggest that financial assistance has moved away from a humanitarian act and has become a source of pressure to ensure the prevention of irregular migration

Countries like Croatia, Hungary, and Greece,24 which resort to pushbacks more often than others in order to prevent migrants from crossing their borders, turn a blind eye to a key priority, i.e. respecting the fundamental rights of refugees, –and thus sacrifice that priority for protecting their borders. This issue has been raised in many international reports. In 2021, the Greek Coast Guard and Frontex operators were involved in 629 pushbacks that affected 15,803 migrants. And the problem is getting worse. In 2021, the number of pushbacks increased by 94 percent compared to the previous year.25 On March 3, 2020, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights issued the following statement –an early sign of international recognition that pushbacks had reached a dangerous level: “I am alarmed by reports that some people in distress have not been rescued, while others have been pushed back or endangered.”26 The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) issued a statement on June 20, 2020, to stress that pushbacks violated the fundamental rights of migrants and to call on the relevant authorities to find a solution:

[The] UNHCR has continuously addressed its concerns with the Greek government and has called for urgent inquiries into a series of alleged incidents reported in media, many of which were corroborated by non-governmental organizations and direct testimonies. Such allegations have increased since March and reports indicate that several groups of people may have been summarily returned after reaching Greek territory.27

The data presented here merely provide a glimpse into the pushbacks occurring at national borders across the world. Notwithstanding, it is important to note that the number of pushbacks continues to increase steadily. In other words, under the externalization policy, the authorities effectively apply pushbacks to protect borders, keep migrants out, and deny migrants access to their sovereign territory. Migrants are consequently deprived of their most fundamental right to seek asylum. Through the practice of pushbacks, which was legitimized through externalization, many governments continue to violate international law, starting with the 1951 Geneva Convention.


Deterrents: Readmission Agreements and Other Legal Arrangements

Readmission agreements –particularly the deportation of migrants whose asylum requests are rejected– to their native country are a frequently used instrument of deterrence in the management of irregular migration. However, practical problems often lead to unfair and unjust consequences under readmission agreements. The most common example is the excessively long time that the authorities take to review international protection applications. In other words, that practice reflects a policy to wear down migrants. In many cases, applicants eventually withdraw their asylum requests due to the prolonged waiting period and unfavorable interim housing conditions. In the end, those individuals are sent back to their native country under readmission agreements. A case in point involves the U.S., where some 1.6 million immigration cases were pending as of December 2020 and the average case was reviewed in 58 months. That example sufficiently demonstrates the length of the waiting period and the level of uncertainty involved in the process.28

In addition to pushbacks, Greece implements certain legal regulations designed to make it harder for applicants to receive international protection. Under a new rule that came into effect in November 2019, Greece made it significantly harder to request international protection and added new items to the list of migrants’ obligations as part of the asylum process. That arrangement came under fierce criticism from human rights organizations as well as many official and non-official human rights bodies operating in Greece, including the Ombudsman and the Greek National Commission for Human Rights (GNCHR). The UNHCR issued a statement regarding the legal arrangement, stressing that Greece placed at risk the right of individuals who need assistance to request international protection:

The proposed changes will endanger people who need international protection… [the law] puts an excessive burden on asylum seekers and focuses on punitive measures. It introduces tough requirements that an asylum seeker could not reasonably be expected to fulfill…As a result, asylum seekers may be easily excluded from the process without having their international protection needs adequately assessed. This may expose them to the risk of refoulement.29

Greece further restricted the asylum process in May 2020 by making certain amendments to the existing law and taking additional steps, including the mandatory placement of migrants under administrative supervision, to signal that it did not take that line of criticism seriously. That the rights of asylum seekers are ignored and, to make matters worse, the stakeholders of migration management at the international level have not faced any consequences, puts asylum seekers at a growing disadvantage. Indeed, criticism by countless officials and institutions, including the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, seems powerless to prevent those practices from violating the rights of asylum seekers. As such, the policy of externalization in the area of migration management serves to minimize the cost of the migration process for certain countries, rather than put in place a mechanism to enable all countries to share the burden of migration and migrants.


Financial Assistance

Whereas developing nations host 85 percent of refugees globally, developed countries host just 15 percent. Meanwhile, 74 percent of refugees have sought shelter in neighboring countries.30 Those numbers encourage the provision of financial assistance to ensure that asylum seekers stay where they are currently. In other words, providing financial aid to those countries that already host asylum seekers, in order to ensure that they do not seek resettlement to other countries, represents part and parcel of the externalization policy. Specifically, the EU provides financial incentives to countries hosting refugees and to governments with which it has concluded readmission agreements. That policy is often portrayed as a type of legitimate support to host nations and an instrument of burden-sharing.

It is necessary to concentrate on the root causes of migration, instead of trying to push migrants away under the policy of externalization, to make international migration management more just, equitable, and humane

The most recent practices in Libya, in particular, suggest that financial assistance has moved away from a humanitarian act and has become a source of pressure to ensure the prevention of irregular migration. Between 2015 and 2021, the EU provided €455 million in financial aid to Libya in an attempt to stop migration from that country to its member states. That amount, transferred to the Libyan authorities through the EU Trust Fund, did not prevent the human rights violations that migrants frequently suffer in that part of the world. Furthermore, the EU continued providing financial assistance even though such violations were recorded and reported. Earlier this year, the NGO Adalah for All (Adalah is Arabic for justice) filed a petition with the International Criminal Court, calling for an investigation into human rights violations suffered by migrants in Libya. A series of reports by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) documented many human rights violations as well as the poor and unfavorable conditions at housing centers for migrants.31 Those findings included the ill-treatment of migrants by the Libyan authorities, the unsuitability of housing centers for migrants, the capture of migrants in international waters before being unlawfully taken back to Libya, and the prevention of rescue operations by various NGOs in the Mediterranean. Furthermore, NGOs and the press have revealed the existence of slave markets in Libya, where migrants had been auctioned off as slaves.32 Despite those horrific developments, and amid growing awareness that financial aid leads to the externalization policy being implemented in a way that violates human rights, the EU has continued –and even increased– its financial support.





The intensity of migratory movements, which are often triggered by economic, political, and social developments, has steadily increased since 2000. There has also been a significant increase in the number of people who migrate due to economic considerations, turmoil, civil strife and wars, repressive governments, and climate change. Failure to adopt an approach geared toward resolving these push factors will mean that both the number of migratory movements and the number of migrant persons will continue to grow. Moreover, the increasing diversity of push factors make it more likely for any given individual to become a migrant in the future and indicate that what are considered destination countries today have the potential to become origin countries tomorrow. The growing impact and frequency of migration thus require a reconfiguration of migration management at the international level in a more just manner. As such, a global, holistic approach to solving the question of migration is absolutely necessary.

To accomplish this, the international community must take more responsibility with regard to developments in the area of migration and concentrate on eliminating its root causes. Equitably sharing the burdens that emerge as a result of migratory movements and currently fall predominately on the shoulders of developing nations would create a lasting solution for chronic problems vis-à-vis migration. As such, the international community is expected to deliver lasting solutions, as no single nation or small group of nations can do it alone.

By contrast, the current policy of externalization aims merely to protect the borders and welfare of developed nations. Indeed, the European Union’s endorsement of externalization practices, as part of its security-centered approach, only provides a temporary and superficial remedy. Since externalization practices do not address the fundamental problems in origin countries nor serve to eliminate the push factors that drive people to migrate in the first place, they represent a defense mechanism for developed nations.

The idea of keeping migrants out of one’s sovereign territory (as a type of remote control) represents but a temporary solution. However, that arrangement does keep migration away for a limited period of time. Yet, due to climate change, in particular, each and every country has the potential to become an origin country in the future. Therefore, externalization cannot prevent the spread and upsurge of migration –despite being the preferred method of ensuring the safety and welfare of developed nations at this time. Failure to eliminate the push factors that compel people to leave their home countries in the first place will only serve to perpetuate the continuation of migratory movements.

It is important to note that people seek to relocate because they have given up on their native lands. The unfavorable circumstances in origin countries, therefore, will continue to increase migration toward other parts of the world until and unless they are resolved. Therefore, it is necessary to concentrate on the root causes of migration, instead of trying to push migrants away under the policy of externalization, to make international migration management more just, equitable, and humane.  



1. Marie McAuliffe and Anna Triandafyllidou, “World Migration Report 2022,” International Organization for Migration, (2021).

2. For a thorough discussşon of the matter see, Mathias Czaika and Hein de Haas, “The Globalization of Migration: Has the World Become More Migratory?” International Migration Review, No. 48 (2014), retrieved from, pp. 283-323.

3. “Key Displacement Figures, Myanmar Emergency,” UNHCR Regional Bureau for Asia and Pacific, (January 2022).

4. Kat Kramer and Joe Ware, “Counting the Cost 2021: A Year of Climate Breakdown,” Christian Aid,
(2021), retrieved January 12, 2022, from https://

5. “2020 Internal Displacement,” The Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, retrieved from

6. Bengüsu Fal, “Analysis of the EU-Turkey Statement within the Scope of Externalization of Migration Policy of the EU,” Middle East Technical University, Master’s Thesis, (2021).

7. Bill Frelick, Ian M. Kysel, and Jennifer Podkul, “The Impact of Externalization of Migration Controls on the Rights of Asylum Seekers and Other Migrants,” Journal on Migration and Human Security, Vol. 4, No. 4 (2016), pp. 190-220.

8. Doğuş Şimşek and Ahmet İçduygu, “Introduction: International Migration, Politics and Security,” Society and Science, No. 140 (2017), pp. 6-10.

9. Sinem Akgül-Açıkmeşe, “Perception or Discourse? The Copenhagen School and Security Threats in Neoclassical Realism,” Journal of International Relations, Vol. 8, No. 30 (2011), pp. 43-73.

10. Ole Wæver and David Carlton, Identity, Migration and the New Security Agenda in Europe, (London: Pinter Publishers, 1993).

11. Bahar Rumelili and Sinem Karadağ, “Migration and Security: Critical Approaches,” Society and Science, 140 (2017), pp. 69-92.

12. Frelick et al., “The Impact of Externalization of Migration Controls on the Rights of Asylum Seekers and Other Migrants.”

13. Gonca Oğuz Gök, “Whose Security? Analyzing the Relationship between International Migration and Security through the Role of International Organizations,” Kocaeli University Journal of Social Sciences, No. 31 (2016), pp. 65-82.

14. François Crépeau, “Report of the Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants: Regional Study: Management of the External Borders of the European Union and its Impact on the Human Rights of Migrants,” United Nations General Assembly, (2013).

15. Frelick et al., “The Impact of Externalization of Migration Controls on the Rights of Asylum Seekers and Other Migrants.”

16. Andrew Geddes, “Borders, Territory and Migration in the European Union: From the Politics of Migration in Europe to the Politics of Migration” in Oliver Shmidtke and Saime Özçürümez (eds.), Of States, Rights and Social Closure: Governing Migration and Citizenship, (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008), p. 217.

17. Hasan Canpolat and Hakkı Onur Arıner, “Global Migration and the Evolution of the European Union and Turkey’s Migration Policies,” ORSAM, No. 123 (2012), pp. 1-30.

18. Thomas Gammeltoft-Hansen and Nikolas Feith Tan, “The End of the Deterrence Paradigm? Future Directions for Global Refugee Policy,” Journal on Migration and Human Security, Vol. 5, No. 1 (2017), pp. 28-56.

19. Sandra Lavenex, “Shifting Up and Out: The Foreign Policy of European Immigration Control,” West European Politics, Vol. 29, No. 2 (2006), pp. 329-350.

20. Kristina Hallvik, “The Externalization of EU Migration Policy: A Path Dependent Institution?” Department of Political Science, University of Oslo, (2019), Master’s Thesis.

21. Ounia Doukoure and Helene Oger, “The EC External Migration Policy: The Case of the MENA Countries,” Migration Policy Centre, CARIM Research Report, (2007), retrieved from

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