Migrant Deaths


Marlene Dumas: Drowned (2003)

On the basis of globalization theories, as well as on the basis of developments in European migration policies, we  hypothesize that since 1990 migration law has witnessed a shift from migration control (reactive, focus on concrete individuals) to migration management (pro-active, focus on potential migrant populations). A second hypothesis is that the increased number of ‘irregular’ migrants dying on their way to Europe is an unintended side-effect of this shift. Thirdly, we propose that as a consequence of the shift to border management, the human rights protection previously available regarding migrant fatalities under border control, has become considerably less effective.

The research will:

  • examine the hypothesis that a shift from migration control to migration management has occurred;
  • examine the hypothesis that an increased number of migrants have died on their way to Europe, and that this can be linked to changes in border policies;
  • and develop an alternative human rights law approach. This alternative approach will be based on the presumption that innovations in the exercise of sovereignty should be matched by innovations in human rights law.

This research project (for the text, see below) is funded by NWO, the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research by means of a grant for Thomas Spijkerboer.

A major research output is the Deaths at the Borders of Southern Europe database, published 12 May 2015, made by Tamara Last with the assistance of 11 other researchers.

Academic Publications

Media publications

VU researchers working on related topics: Theodore Baird, Paolo Cuttitta, and Tamara Last.