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Listen to the podcast of the Annual Elizabeth Colson Lecture held on 10 May

The lecture

The European Union has responded to the 2015 'crisis' not by addressing the fundamental shortcomings of its Common European Asylum System, but by taking major steps in the externalization of migration control. Significant elements of this are the EU-Turkey deal; intensified cooperation with Libya; the military operation Sophia in the Central Mediterranean; and the Migration Partnership Framework. All these measures seek to regulate human movement towards the borders of Europe; and therefore, human movement outside Europe (e.g. from sub-Saharan Africa to North Africa). Although some of these measures are claimed to have been quite successful in reducing migration, a closer look at available data makes it very dubious whether these claims are correct. What these measures do achieve, however, is to establish that it is Europe’s right to determine the movement of third country nationals on the territory of third countries. They establish European hegemony over movement of non-Europeans outside Europe. Implicit in this is Europe’s hegemony over non-European states. This may be understood both as an expression of post-colonial nostalgia, and as seeking legitimacy for a certain idea of Europe.

The speaker

Thomas Spijkerboer is professor of Migration Law at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. He studied law at the Universiteit van Amsterdam. From 1982 to 1986 he worked as a volunteer at the Rechtswinkel Amsterdam (legal clinic), specializing in housing law. From 1986 to 1993, he worked at Advokatenkollektief Zaanstreek (lawyers’ collective), where he specialized in asylum cases. Between 1993 and 2000 he was a lecturer in Migration law at the Catholic University Nijmegen. In Nijmegen he wrote his dissertation Gender and Refugee Status (Ashgate 2000; Praemium Erasmianum 2001), combining qualitative, quantitative and purely legal approaches.

Since 2000 Thomas has worked at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, where he established the research group on migration law, which is today one of the largest research groups on the issue worldwide. From 2001 to 2006, he co-directed (together with Kees Groenendijk) the research project Transnationality and Citizenship: New Approaches to Migration Law, carried out with the Catholic University Nijmegen and funded by NWO (the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research). In 2010-2011, he carried out the research project Fleeing Homophobia. Asylum claims related to sexual orientation and gender identity in the EU, funded by the EU and initiated by COC Nederland. This project resulted in a report and an edited volume.

Since 2013, he has led the research project Border Policies and Sovereignty. Human rights and the right to life of irregular migrants, funded by NWO. In addition, he acts as head of the NWO-funded research project Migration Law as a Family Matter, which was initiated by the late Sarah van Walsum.