This opening chapter introduces the UN concept of ‘human security’ before theorizing a transformative vision of security for the unfolding Mediterranean refugee crisis. It offers an alternative envisioning of a people-centred security, and calls for investment in intervention of a different kind: in protecting human rights; in offering humanitarian assistance; in cooperatively sharing governmental expertise; and in enabling security mechanisms that are ultimately human-centred. The chapter outlines the key challenges of enacting human security, paying particular attention to mobilizing human securitization discourses progressively and collaboratively. It outlines the contributions of the book’s leading international authors from a range of disciplines in documenting the core political, economic and social issues of the crisis, before concluding by showing how a human security approach to the crisis can instructively conceptualize the intricacies of the challenges faced, and also build a politics of solidarity in proffering integrated solutions.
Taking as its starting point the importance of ensuring that those who seek refuge in Europe are both protected and empowered, this chapter focuses on reclaiming a people-centred ethics of human security. It begins by exploring how human security and refugee rights have been framed as ethical concerns in a global public policy context. The second section demonstrates how critical approaches to human security demand cosmopolitan harm conventions that protect those who are most vulnerable to suffering and distress. Against this normative backdrop, the chapter argues that the kinds of securitization discourses that have become common to refugee policy practice actually encode a politics of invisibility and (non)recognition. The final section offers some thoughts on ways to ensure that refugee policy and strategies for intervention are grounded in a commitment to emancipation and dignity.
This chapter examines the notion of a refugee crisis from the perspective of Ireland. It argues for a broad understanding of refugee and it notes the political manipulation of a sense of crisis. It follows this scapegoating into the treatment of asylum seekers. Exploring the structural preconditions of the production of refugees, the chapter develops an historical perspective that leads towards the consideration of a moral economy of migration. From this perspective, the obligations of rich countries include an element of reparations for past wrongs, including slavery and colonialism. Alongside the right to security there might be an obligation to repair that could be discharged in the form of migration rights. These points are all illustrated from the social and political history of migration, asylum, slavery and colonialism in Ireland.
Focusing on human security and protection, this chapter examines EU state responses to the Mediterranean migrant crisis. It specifically highlights a normalizing of state securitization practices across the EU which has not only impeded refugee safety, but has also given rise to a type of ‘crisis’ mentality that evokes a dehumanization of the refugee. As such, the chapter advances the need to prioritize human security measures and seeks to provide a counter-narrative to political discussions that affirm state securitization. In contrast, the chapter promotes a refugee-centred approach, promoting a deepened understanding of the lived experience of the refugee. This requires directing the conversation away from state security and border control to a concern for human life and more specifically the right to freedom, dignity and respect, promoted in the mandate of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
This chapter draws attention to the continuous political and institutional marginalization of the asylum seeker/refugee community in Ireland. Situating the role of Direct Provision within the broader discursive space of the global refugee regime and the Mediterranean refugee crisis, it envisions a localized human security approach to forced displacement. In addition, the chapter draws attention to the applicable value of human security in resisting and reshaping geographical imaginaries of the asylum seeker/refugee in Ireland. Insisting upon ‘geographies of solidarity’, in a human security context, the chapter presents a framework that resists existing articulations of precariousness. Centrally, attention is placed on the necessity to reframe notions of ‘grievability’ and ‘agency’ that contest normative perceptions of what such precariousness means. By reframing the narrative of displacement and precariousness, the chapter argues that a human security approach to forced displacement situates asylum/refugee communities to the forefront, where a rejuvenated solidarity can flourish.
Jennifer Hyndman and Alison Mountz
This chapter examines border-crossings as a strategy of human security between Canada and the United States to understand the fraught role of Canada in relation to its powerful neighbour. The 2004 Safe Third Country Agreement prevents most asylum seekers from crossing the land border at designated ports of entry between the two countries. In 2017, President Trump enacted an entry ban on specific nationalities and increased enforcement against undocumented migrants. Asylum seekers from the US began walking across the border to Canada at non-designated ports of entry. While Canada has not generally accepted refugees who are US citizens, people fleeing military conscription during the Vietnam War were accepted. More recently, soldiers refusing to serve in the US occupation of Iraq have made refugee claims, albeit with less success. The chapter illustrates how Canada and the US restrict access to asylum, forcing people to forge their own forms of human security.
The human smuggler is a vital link in the irregular migrant’s journey. This chapter seeks to deconstruct narratives and received wisdoms around human smugglers and to examine the impact of increased militarization and border securitization on migrants, smugglers and their networks. Using case studies of Libya and Niger, the chapter interrogates the evolving and increasingly lethal migration context in these countries. It explores how EU-driven securitization policies that are attempting to control migrant flows serve to exacerbate institutional violence that migrants experience and to criminalize smuggling networks, which leads to riskier encounters and a decline in trust between the migrant and the smuggler. The chapter advocates for a radical change in approach to human migration that would centre human rights and human security at its core.
In April 2015, a major loss of life at sea spurred European leaders to take a stance against the developing migrant crisis in the Mediterranean Sea. Ireland’s response was to deploy Irish Naval Service ships to the Mediterranean Sea in an operation known as Operation PONTUS. In the summer of 2015, Michael Brunicardi deployed to the Mediterranean on board L.É. NIAMH. This is his account of the Irish Navy’s operations there in their efforts to aid the most precarious. The chapter discusses how some would argue that one cannot be both military and humanitarian, reflecting a dominant narrow definition of ‘security’ and one preoccupied with military concerns. This reflective chapter suggests that we need to think of security more broadly and to allow humanitarian concerns to centrally inflect what ‘interventionism’ should and can address.
Ryan Browne and Kathy Reilly
Focused on campaign footage from five international non-governmental organizations (INGOs), this chapter examines how the contemporary ‘refugee crisis’ is constructed and represented in the media. In highlighting the range of responding interventions, discourse around migrants and refugees has become increasingly politicized within a security context. The impact of this labelling ensures the maintenance of a status quo that supports ideas of Western superiority and further entrenches imagined global divisions between the West and ‘the rest’. Analysis of the campaign footage considers how limited understandings of the contemporary crisis are produced through a series of exclusionary practices. These practices operationalize a limited number of representational tropes that ultimately disrupt critical understandings of current migration patterns in Europe.
Teo Bicchieri and Valerie Ledwith
Focusing on the themes of securitization, advocacy and exclusion, this chapter examines how militarized border control and population management systematically silences migrants, asylum seekers and refugees within Hungary’s migration-security nexus. This nexus is underpinned by powerful Orientalist narratives of threat, culminating in both symbolic and material violence against those seeking asylum. Evidence from field-based research illustrates the ways in which Hungary’s practices of securitization and biopolitical control operate as de facto restrictions on the right to asylum. The chapter also illuminates the liberal paradox of intervention, whereby the humanitarian work of NGOs and CSOs operates alongside the punitive border control apparatus of the Hungarian state. Thus, the efficacy of intervention is negated, laying bare the incongruity between state security and human welfare needs. Ultimately, the chapter bears witness to the hostility and denial of human security that greeted migrants, asylum seekers and refugees as they sought asylum in Europe.