Winner of the

Bordering Responsibility: The Unaccountable Politics of Migration Control in the Central Mediterranean

Kiri Olivia Santer


This PhD thesis investigates the practice of outsourcing migration and border control from wealthier countries to poorer countries in different parts of the world. It raises concerns about how these policies affect human rights and accountability.

The research specifically focuses on the Central Mediterranean region, where a system called ‘cooperative interdiction’ is in place. This means that migrants who try to cross the sea are intercepted by the Libyan Coast Guard and taken back to Libya, the country they were originally fleeing from. The thesis examines how these migration control policies are established and maintained through complex and fragmented decision-making processes, and how they respond to demands for accountability.

The study draws on information collected from various sources, such as a rescue NGO ship, courts, and European bureaucratic institutions, to understand the spatial organisation of these policies, and the changes this brings in the way they are viewed legally (i.e. who has jurisdiction to judge abuses). The thesis argues that the complicated legal structures and multi-level policies involved in outsourcing border control contribute to a lack of accountability for the violence experienced by migrants. It sheds light on the complexity of policy-making and legal systems and their impact on international migration control.

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