Today many European citizens and many migrants into Europe live under fear and anxiety. Existing political structures dichotomize the two sets of insecurities and so contribute to perpetuate them. The insecurity of citizens is seen as attainable independent of and despite the insecurity of migrants, rather than as part of a common (shared) human security. In response, this essay presents ideas from human security analysis, as a partner, complement and extension of human rights thinking in relation to migration. It is argued that such an analysis, with concrete practical options, can contribute to the creation of structures through which interdependency of EU citizens’ security and that of migrants is recognised and upheld. Section 2 outlines the migration crisis that has been felt in Europe and some reasons behind it. Section 3 considers the responses of securitization of migration and militarization at the EU’s southern borders, and of supplementary humanitarianism. We analyse why the EU migration policy system, conceived outside of a conception of common human security, produces negative feedback and is counterproductive. In Section 4 we argue in general terms why human security analysis is a required partner to human rights thinking and practice. Section 5 then concretely suggests how a human security perspective could help to frame, balance and extend human rights analysis and contribute in migration policy and practice. These suggestions include generating legal channels for migration, addressing the conceptual confusions revolving around migration through introducing a more comprehensive concept of ‘protection-seeker’, developing a European-wide regularisation mechanism, using human security as a meta-legal figure in migration cases, and developing a perspective that combines human rights criteria with enlightened self-interest. Finally, Section 6 discusses the partial reflection of such a perspective in the 2018 Global Compact on Migration.

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International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University (ISS)
ISS Working Papers - General Series
ISS Working Paper Series / General Series
International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University (ISS)

Bilgic, A, Gasper, D.R, & Wilcock, C.A. (2020). A necessary complement to human rights: a human security perspective on migration to Europe. ISS Working Paper Series / General Series (Vol. 660). International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University (ISS). Retrieved from