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Europe-Africa Cooperation: Refugee Rights and the New Frontiers of Externalization of Migration Controls

International Justice and Human Rights Unit – Research in Action

As a Principal Investigator, Dr Giuffré has been awarded a Grant by the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) to lead an international research team working on “Europe-Africa Cooperation: Refugee Rights and the New Frontiers of Externalization of Migration Controls”. The project (2019-2021), which includes fieldwork in Ethiopia and Tunisia, has been conducted together with Professor Fatma Raach (University of Jendouba, Tunisia) and Dr Chiara Denaro.

In the framework of this research, Dr Giuffré has co-authored with Dr Denaro an article on ‘UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the ‘Refugee Gap’: Leaving Refugees Behind?’ (Refugee Survey Quarterly 2021)

The Global indicator framework for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) identifies seventeen goals with related targets and indicators of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and only one target includes an explicit reference to migration processes and policies. Under Goal 10 ‘Reduce inequality within and among countries,’ target 10.7 concerns the facilitation of ‘orderly, safe, regular and responsible migration, and mobility of people, which includes the implementation of planned and well-managed migration policies’ that should be measured through four related indicators, three of which are potentially relevant to refugees.

After exploring what the International Rescue Committee defines as ‘refugee gap’ concerning SDGs (2019) in their report ‘Missing Persons: Refugees Left Out and Left Behind in SDGs,’ this paper reconfigures this gap as a multidimensional concept, and thus purports to provide insights on which further steps could be undertaken to bridge it. The main analytical threads identified in this process include: a) the partial availability of data concerning refugees’ progress towards SDGs due to current data disaggregation policies and practices, b) the limited presence of refugees in voluntary reporting activities by States, and c) the conceptual framework behind target 10.7, as well as the methodology used to measure progress of three (out of four) indicators toward this target.

The focus on target 10.7 and related indicators is aimed at checking their ability to provide information on how refugees’ access to fundamental rights and wellbeing are taken into account in the assessment of so-called ‘well managed migration policies.’ From a methodological point of view, our analysis has also been supported by semi-structured interviews with the main experts on the issue, having key roles both in the conceptualization of the SDG refugee gap and in the definition and proposal of three selected indicators.

To conclude, this paper asks whether and to what extent the refugee gap is still present despite the inclusion of a new refugee dedicated indicator in 2020 and despite the UNHCR’s advocacy efforts to include the forcibly displaced dimension in disaggregation policies. Moreover, it investigates how such a gap can potentially be closed and whether the definition of ‘well-managed migration policies’ is sufficiently comprehensive, is able to involve refugees in the assessment of progress towards SDGs and is consistent with the SDGs-linked principle of ‘leaving no one behind.’