The European Union And The African Migrants: Dilemma Of Balancing Security And Human Rights

Project and Seminar Material for Political Science

Project and Seminar Material for Political Science


With objective of examines the response of the EU toward the rising number of African migrants in the light of human rights principles, this study assess whether the policy as well as practical measures of the EU is parallel with the international obligation under human rights law in the protection of African migrants. The paper also assesses how the economic, social and political condition in Africa has forced Africans to be immigrants. Also examines the EU‟s migration-security concern and how it has increasingly connected with the African migrants. To study these issues, the study has used qualitative research methodology. Data have been collected both from primary and secondary sources. Available literatures were highly reviewed to study the recent intertwined themes of migration, security and human rights trends in Europe with the particular emphasis of the African migrants. Furthermore, key informant interviews were conducted with various scholars and officials in the Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, African Union and with various personnel in the institutions such as Institute for Peace and Security Studies, Centre for Human Rights Studies and Institute for Security Studies.

Due to quite number of reasons, Africans have been migrating to Europe. Their reasons range from economic impasse in their countries to political persecutions, human rights abuses and intra and interstate conflicts.
Recently the issue of migration in Europe is progressively viewed more from „a security-based approach‟ and
EU governments increasingly have chosen a “more restrictive approach” in policy and practice towards third country nationals. The actual challenge and dilemma that the EU faces currently is the politics of migration with relation to the protection of the migrants‟ human rights. Finding from this study show the responses of the EU towards the African migrants is contradict with internationally accepted human rights standards. EU‟s border control patrols respond in denying the migrants to enter the Union without any inspection of migrants‟ case and the treatment during transfer to „third states‟ and condition of the detention centers all appears in contradiction with the fundamental international norms vis-a-vis migrants‟ human rights. Also the policy of externalization and the approach of FRONTEX often contradict with “movement-related rights” according to article 13 (1) of the UDHR and article 12(2) of the ICCPR.

Chapter One


1.1 Background of the Study

Migration has been part of human from antiquity to the present days. It is logical to accept that when our earliest ancestors became fully human they were already migratory, ―moving about in pursuit of big game‖. The velocity with which hunting groups occupied the entire continents, ―(except Antarctica) in about 50,000 years attests this propensity‖.1

Migration has constantly been a part of human history, but never did it play a prominent role as it did in the last half-century, when more humans decide or were forced to migrate than before.2

Currently we live in the age of ―unprecedented human mobility‖ within the boundaries of countries and beyond that. This large sacale human mobility seems to be continuing and to be a ‗megatrend‘ in the twenty-first century.3

Due to different reasons, the geography of migration has been changing. For example, Europe altered from a land of emigrants to a land of immigrants. Between 1500 and the mid-twentieth century Europeans were major emigrant populations and millions of them immigrated to of the America, Australia, New Zealand, and part of Africa. Conversely, in the late twentieth century, this steadily flow nearly stopped and Europe has turned into a destination for migrants from the Middle East, the Caribbean, Africa and Asia. Several factors are attributed to these changes such as growing economic inequalities between the rich and poor nations; demographic patterns like slow-growing, aging populations in developed states and younger, fast-growing populations in Africa, Latin American, and South Asia; ethnic hostility and political unrests in many parts of the world; cheaper and faster means of transportation; new technologies that make possible to instant communication between immigrants and family and friends at home and other factors has reshaped the societies.

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