Travel Regime over Refugee Regime: How the EU Circumvented its Duties to Accept Refugees During the Migrant Crisis

Anna-Lena Rüland

In: PolisReflects 1(1), pp. 16-27

For the past decades, global migratory pressures have
steadily increased and provided both the Global North and
South with several new challenges. Using the concept of regime
complexity as a theoretical framework, this article examines
how states of the Global North and South have dealt
with these challenges. On the basis of an in-depth study of
the 2015 European migration crisis, this article argues that
the European Union (EU) has drastically restricted access
to asylum for refugees by addressing the crisis through
the travel regime instead of through the refugee regime. It
further contends that this has had an important impact on
the mandate of the United Nations High Commissioner for
Refugees (UNHCR), the main body governing the refugee
regime. Further research should investigate whether other
states of the Global North have reacted similarly to growing
migratory pressures and investigate what impact this has
had on the institutions at the heart of the refugee regime.
Keywords: Refugee Crisis, Regime Complexity, Regime
Shifting, UNHCR, IOM

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