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EU Externalization of Migration and Border Management to Libya: the Role of Non-Governmental Organizations and Human Rights Implications

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - LIBORG (EU Externalization of Migration and Border Management to Libya: the Role of Non-Governmental Organizations and Human Rights Implications)

Periodo di rendicontazione: 2019-05-03 al 2021-05-02

Libya, besides being itself an immigration country, is also a transit country for migrants attempting the irregular sea crossing to Europe. Since the 1990’s, European countries, such as Italy, as well as the European Union, have tried to involve the Libyan authorities, as well as non-state actors, in the process called ‘externalisation’ of migration control, meaning that controls are carried out by proxy in Libyan territory in the interest and on behalf of European destination countries. In Libya, most undocumented migrants live in extremely harsh conditions. This is the case of those held in detention facilities but also of most of those that are not detained. Abuses and exploitation are perpetrated by state and non-state actors alike. In this context, part of the activities aimed at ‘managing’ migration in Libya are carried out by NGOs (non-governmental organisations). The research question was therefore: what do NGOs do in Libya in the field of migration? Who is funding them? In how far do do they work in the interest of their (mostly European state) donors? In how far do they contribute to the externalisation of European migration control policies? How do their migration-related activities in Libya impact on the human rights of migrants? Which human rights are supported, and which ones are not, through the work of NGOs in Libya? And how does this relate to EU externalisation?
The project aimed at: a) mapping the different NGOs operating in the field of international migration in Libya; b) analyzing their mandates and activities, as well as the relevant funding sources; c) analyzing the relations they have to one another as well as to state authorities and IOs; d) assessing the relationship NGOs have with externalization and with human rights.
This is an important issue for the European society because the externalisation of migration and border controls is part of the EU’s external action. According to article 21 of the Treaty on European Union, “[t]he Union’s action on the international scene shall be guided by the principles which have inspired its own creation, development and enlargement, and which it seeks to advance in the wider world: democracy, the rule of law, the universality and indivisibility of human rights and fundamental freedoms, respect for human dignity, the principles of equality and solidarity, and respect for the principles of the United Nations Charter and international law”.
Moreover, NGOs, as an essential part of civil society, and their work thus represents a cornerstone of the principle of participatory democracy enshrined in article I-47 of the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe.
Project activities consisted in: a) document and literature analysis; b) continuous training through diverse activities (internal meetings with colleagues, attending seminars and conferences, etc.) c) preparation of the fieldwork (workshop; preparation of semi-structured interviews; preparation of a provisional list of potential interview partners); d) short visits to Tunisia (where international organisations and international NGOs operating in Libya, as well as embassies to Libya, had to relocate their Libya offices due to Libya’s instability) and Italy (where many of the international NGOs operating in Libya have their headquarters); e) remote interviews even after