World Refugee Day is marked each year on 20 June. Established by the United Nations, this day brings to the fore the rights, needs, and dreams of refugees around the world. The aim is not only to draw attention to the plight of those fleeing conflict or persecution, but also to help mobilize political will and resources so that refugees not only survive but thrive. Law plays a pivotal role in this regard and is therefore an important field of study for a number of researchers at Max Planck Law.
Take, for example, the research group ‘Technicization of exclusionary practices in the context of migration’, led by Dr Timm Sureau and co-funded by Department ‘Law and Anthropology’ at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology .
The research critically examines the expansion and impact of the EU’s legal and technological strategies to control migration. This is explored in the context of Kakuma and Kalobeyei, where supranational entities such as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the EU challenge the basic components of the Kenyan state and its presumed legitimate sovereignty over a given territory.
In a 2022 interview, Stefan Millar, a member of the research group, describes how the UNHCR and other organizations tend to overemphasize these camps as places of refugee resilience and entrepreneurship. However, this obscures the actual conditions in the camps, ignoring the prominent role of the Kenyan state and refugees in shaping the political structure of the camp.
Elsewhere, researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy recently published a paper entitled Exclusionary Intent and Effects in the Migration Area: Interdisciplinary Reflections, addressing the growing importance of ‘forced’ migration, particularly the movements of refugees, and emphasizing the need for a more nuanced understanding of legal residence status and its impact on exclusion and integration.
The researchers, among them Dr Constantin Hruschka and Tim Rohmann, describe an interdisciplinary collaboration between lawyers and sociologists that tries to tackle this research gap. By adopting an inclusion-exclusion framework, they develop different disciplinary viewpoints and engage in dialogue to eventually arrive at joint research questions. The research project is based on the observation that continuous legislative hyperactivity increasingly fragments residence statuses, and goes on to examine the effects of legal status on the expectations and integration experiences of Afghan migrants.
The plight of refugees has been of concern throughout history, and continues to be so today, especially given the war in Ukraine and climate change. On World Refugee Day 2023, Max Planck Law is committed to raising awareness through its research in this area, and to contributing to the efforts in mitigating the struggles of refugees worldwide.