Europe in a changing world - PROTECT


frankcaestecker.jpg‘PROTECT The Right to International Protection. A Pendulum between Globalization and Nativization?‘ is an EU-funded research project studying international refugee protection and governance. The vision of PROTECT is to discover ways of advancing the international protection system within today’s turbulent political context. We consist of 11 partner universities in Europe, Canada, and South Africa. The project is led by Professor Hakan G. Sicakkan on behalf of the Department of Comparative Politics at the University of Bergen, Norway.

Project descriptionprotect.jpg

PROTECT studies the impacts of the United Nations’ Global Refugee Compact and Global Migration Compact on the functioning of the international refugee protection system. This investigation will be done from the perspectives of political theory, legal theory, cleavage theory, public sphere theory, multilevel global governance, and ethnography.

The entities focused on are the UNHCR and IOM (the global level), the European Union and the African Union (regional level), EU countries, Canada and South Africa (state level), and Canadian, South-African and South-European border zones (the local level).

Empirically, PROTECT engages in extensive legal, institutional, attitudinal, and media content data collection. As part of its empirical work, it aims to identify the changes in the notion of refugee protection due to the introduction of the two UN Global Compacts.

Conceptually, PROTECT endeavors to develop a notion of refugee protection that is sensitive to the current political realities. Theoretically, it aspires to develop a theory explaining why a notion of refugee and refugee protection governance, and not other competing notions, wins the race at the global level.


These are the objectives of PROTECT

  1. develop the conceptual, theoretical, and methodological tools needed to understand the right to international protection as a multilevel and trans-level phenomenon,
  2. identify whether or how the objectives and substance of the Global Compacts are aligned with the right to international protection (the rights dimension),
  3. assess which governance modes (actors, structures, and networks) serve best the goal of aligning the Global Compacts with the right to international protection (the governance dimension),
  4. detect societal discourses which promote the recognition of the primacy of human rights and the right to international protection (the recognition dimension), and
  5. based on the above, discover ways of aligning the Global Compacts with human rights and the right to international protection.

Role of Ghent University

Ghent University co-leads work package three of the project: ‘The impacts of the GRC and GMC on the governance of international protection: institutional architectures of asylum determination’. We investigate the historical origin of the asylum institutions in Europe and their effectiveness and efficiency in providing protection to refugees. The main purpose of our investigation is to give policy advice on how to improve the recommendations of the United Nations’ Global Refugee Compact and Global Migration Compact for an optimal refugee protection.

Prof. dr. Frank Caestecker who is a historian of training and has published extensively on immigration and refugee policy in 20th century Europe is assisted in this research by drs. Eva Ecker, master in public administration.

In addition to this main task, Ghent University also contributes to the implementation of work package one: ‘Developing theoretical, conceptual and methodological approaches to international protection’, work package nine: ‘Dissemination, Communication and Exploitation of Knowledge’, and work package ten: ‘Coordination and Management’.



Prof. dr. Frank Caestecker
Department Department of Economics
Phone number: 09 231 04 76