• Eva Baluganti
4. term, Global Refugee Studies, Master (Master Programme)
Drawing on the Italian-Libyan cooperation on migration control, the thesis sets out to answer
the following question: How has the implementation of current policy provisions and
practices for external migration control between Italy and Libya reinforced informal actors
on the ground, and what are the consequences on migrants’ lives? To answer the question,
the thesis examines the main policy provisions set in motion with the signature of the
Memorandum of Understanding in 2017. The latter is an agreement that reinforces and
consolidates bilateral cooperation on external migration control between the two countries. It
further aims to reconstruct the Libyan institutions and infrastructures responsible for border
and migration management with a view to completely outsourcing responsibility for
containing migrants to Libya. The main practices that will be analysed are the pull-back
operations carried out by the Libyan Coast Guards and the detention of intercepted migrants
in Libyan detention facilities. The thesis employs qualitative mixed research methods
including desk research, policy analysis, and case studies to collect and triangulate a different
array of data from various sources. Conceptually, I employ literature on policy
implementation to link border externalisation research with studies that aim to ground
externalisation policies in third countries. Therefore, at a theoretical level, the argument
guiding this thesis is that border externalisation literature can be enriched by the study of how
third countries implement externalised policies for border control. The key findings of the
research are the following. Firstly, by embedding the policies of external migration control in
the context where they take place, one can observe frictional encounters and discrepancies
between policy provisions and local dynamics. These are exemplified both by the way
informal actors in Libya influence and contest policy implementation, but also by the
controversial outcomes of this bilateral cooperation which ends up reinforcing networks of
informality and internal fragmentation in Libya. Secondly, cooperation between Libya and
Italy on external migration control contributes to dispersing governance and deflecting
accountability over migrants’ lives both in the Mediterranean and in Libyan detention
facilities. Indeed, these policies for externalised migration control engage various actors in
complex governance dynamics which blur questions over responsibility, transparency, and
respect for obligations. Ultimately, this impacts migrants’ lives negatively, as they are
increasingly exposed to degrading living conditions, violence, tortures, extortion, sexual and
physical violence, enforced disappearance, forms of border-induced displacement, and death.
LanguageEnglish
Publication date28 May 2021
Number of pages76
ID: 413005712