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A buzzword or a standard for migration governance?


Key messages:

  • ‘Vulnerability’ is increasingly becoming a commonly used term within the legal and policy discourse on asylum and migration. It serves as a tool that guides the implementation of legal and policy frameworks in a way that addresses specific needs and prevents the emergence of new ones.
  • ‘Vulnerability’ has the advantage of contextualizing migration policy, since it draws attention to the concrete experiences lived by migrants, refugees and asylum seekers. 
  • ‘Vulnerability’ has hidden exclusionary effects. Such exclusionary effects may become problematic if they amount to a restriction on accessing existing rights. 
  • There is no common or systematic understanding of the ‘vulnerabilities’ faced by migrants, refugees and asylum seekers and of their evolution over time, indicating a need for interdisciplinary research. 



Hruschka, C. & Leboeuf, L. (2019): Vulnerability: A Buzzword or a Standard for Migration Governance? Population & Policy Compact 20, Berlin: Max Planck Society/Population Europe.