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The AFAR project is a collaborative research project between five institutions across Europe, led by Professor Cathryn Costello.

The project is funded by the Volkswagen Foundation in the frame of its "Challenges for Europe" programme. It will investigate the usages of  new technologies in migration and asylum governance, in particular the automation or part-automation of decisions normally taken by humans, as well as more complex machine learning and artificial intelligence systems, and related uses of digital identity mechanisms. 

At its heart, AFAR is an exploration of the concept of ‘fairness’ as a legal, normative and political concept. The project will explore fairness as a multidimensional concept, and consider whether existing legal standards appropriately institutionalise fairness, in particular when decision-making in these fields is increasingly automated. The project includes work packages to map the use of new technologies in migration and asylum in Europe; explore the evolving overlapping legal standards in this domain; consider how fairness perceptions impact on practices; and develop proposals to reform practices for fairness.


Professor Cathryn Costello (University College Dublin, formerly RSC)

Dr Derya Ozkul (Warwick University, formerly RSC)

Professor Thomas Gammeltoft-Hansen (University of Copenhagen)

Professor Iris Goldner-Lang (University of Zagreb)

Professor Martin Ruhs (European University Institute)

Project news

April 2022: Stakeholder workshop with civil society members

Dr Derya Ozkul has shared findings and insights from her mapping research at two events organised by the University of Essex and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in the context of their collaborative project, Strengthening Human Rights Protection in the Use of AI Technologies at Borders – one an online meeting in July 2022 and a second in-person event in October 2022.

On 24-28 October 2022, Dr Derya Ozkul participated in a workshop titled ‘How digital technologies are changing human mobility and migration’ in Tunis, organised by the Robert Bosch Foundation. The event gathered experts, including researchers and practitioners, working at the intersection of migration and digital technologies. The group discussed existing practices around the use of new technologies in the area of migration and ways to re-think modes and mechanisms of mobility in the digital age.

Dr Derya Ozkul presented some of the findings from her mapping report, Automating Immigration and Asylum, at a hybrid workshop organised by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in collaboration with the Big Data for Migration Alliance (BD4M) on 21-22 February 2023. Presenters in this workshop discussed state of the art in research on big data and Artificial Intelligence based technologies that are used in the migration sphere. Dr Ozkul explained specifically the existing uses of (preference) matching tools and their potential implications for migration policy.

On 7 August 2023, Dr Derya Ozkul delivered a lecture titled “Using AI for Immigration and Asylum” as part of the Oxford Media Policy Summer Institute Programme held at Jesus College, University of Oxford.

On 26 September 2023, Dr Derya Ozkul presented her paper titled “Data-Driven Constructed Objectivity: How New Technologies Are Reshaping Asylum Decision-Making”, at the Interdisciplinary Workshop, “Re-thinking Digital Justice in Forced Migration.” This workshop was organized by Dr Benedetta Zocchi and Prof Nicole Stremlau from the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies, University of Oxford.

On 6 October 2023, Dr Derya Ozkul shared her research findings at the workshop titled “Fair and Fast: Maximising the benefits and safeguarding against the risks of AI in asylum decision-making”. The event was organized jointly by the Helen Bamber Foundation and the Centre for the Study of Emotion and Law at Royal Holloway University of London.