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Unaccompanied minors, migration control and human rights at the EU’s southern border: The role and limits of civil society activism

Unaccompanied minors, migration control and human rights at the EU’s southern border: The role and limits of civil society activism
Unaccompanied minors, migration control and human rights at the EU’s southern border: The role and limits of civil society activism
Civil society movements can play an important political role in advocating for human rights, including the rights of migrants and migrant children. But successfully asserting their rights is difficult in the domain of migration, even in democracies, and any victories that are achieved can be short-lived. This article examines an initially successful episode of civil society advocacy on behalf of unaccompanied child migrants, drawing on evidence from Spain. We argue that pro-rights civil society organizations were initially able to force the Spanish state to act in accordance with its international human rights obligations in relation to repatriation. But states can learn and adapt. States might seek new venues for migration control and enlist new allies, thereby multiplying the numbers of gate-keepers, for example. In this case, the Spanish state reacted energetically to regain control by working closely with countries of origin, regional governments within Spain, private actors and service delivery NGOs to reassert its authority with regard to repatriation. We use the case to reflect on the difficulties of civil society activism in this issue-area and the obstacles to claiming the legal rights of this community of highly vulnerable children, even in advanced democracies.
child migrants, unaccompanied minors, human rights, civil society, immigration control, repatriation, Spain
2049-5838
1-20
Barbulescu, Roxana
f150d666-9816-4533-ba1a-c17d52363e17
Grugel, Jean
11807d62-c315-4527-a3dd-d5f135f2d307
Barbulescu, Roxana
f150d666-9816-4533-ba1a-c17d52363e17
Grugel, Jean
11807d62-c315-4527-a3dd-d5f135f2d307

Barbulescu, Roxana and Grugel, Jean (2016) Unaccompanied minors, migration control and human rights at the EU’s southern border: The role and limits of civil society activism. Migration Studies, 1-20. (doi:10.1093/migration/mnw001).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Civil society movements can play an important political role in advocating for human rights, including the rights of migrants and migrant children. But successfully asserting their rights is difficult in the domain of migration, even in democracies, and any victories that are achieved can be short-lived. This article examines an initially successful episode of civil society advocacy on behalf of unaccompanied child migrants, drawing on evidence from Spain. We argue that pro-rights civil society organizations were initially able to force the Spanish state to act in accordance with its international human rights obligations in relation to repatriation. But states can learn and adapt. States might seek new venues for migration control and enlist new allies, thereby multiplying the numbers of gate-keepers, for example. In this case, the Spanish state reacted energetically to regain control by working closely with countries of origin, regional governments within Spain, private actors and service delivery NGOs to reassert its authority with regard to repatriation. We use the case to reflect on the difficulties of civil society activism in this issue-area and the obstacles to claiming the legal rights of this community of highly vulnerable children, even in advanced democracies.

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e-pub ahead of print date: 24 February 2016
Keywords: child migrants, unaccompanied minors, human rights, civil society, immigration control, repatriation, Spain
Organisations: Sociology, Social Policy & Criminology

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 397576
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/397576
ISSN: 2049-5838
PURE UUID: 7fec7c90-df9b-4fdd-87ba-ed957d2401fd

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Date deposited: 04 Jul 2016 11:00
Last modified: 09 Jan 2018 18:01

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