School of Social and Political Sciences - Theses

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    Responsibility, Refugees, and Crisis: An Analysis of the German Government’s Response to the 2015-2016 Asylum Governance Crisis
    Soderstrom, Kelly Michelle ( 2022)
    This thesis examines how the German government responded to the arrival of asylum seekers in 2015 and 2016, focusing on changes in German asylum policy as the result of a profound reconsideration of state responsibilities. The administrative, political, and social pressures associated with the arrival of 1.2 million asylum seekers created a crisis of governance for the German government. This “asylum governance crisis” challenged the German government’s management of asylum and forced displacement. In response to these pressures, the German government introduced a combination of expansive and restrictive changes to asylum legislation. By developing a typology of state responsibilities and associated state obligations in asylum governance, the thesis analyses how shifts in the German government’s management of tensions among responsibilities shaped German asylum governance. The thesis compares responsibilities and related obligations underlying German asylum governance in the pre-crisis (1945-2014) and crisis-response (2015-2018) periods to identify how state responsibilities shaped asylum legislative innovation and redesign. The thesis finds that the German government’s management of tensions among state responsibilities altered policy goals and delineated the boundaries of policy instrument development in responding to the crisis. The government sought to achieve an equilibrium among a number of often overlapping and often competing policy options using a logic of deservingness and a utilitarian rationale, which ultimately shaped asylum governance. The thesis contributes to the asylum governance literature by developing an innovative framework for analysing policy change through the lens of responsibility. Furthermore, the findings of this thesis are significant because they demonstrate how strategies and instruments of governance are used to navigate among the many responsibilities in asylum governance. Such insights are useful for understanding how states might respond to asylum governance crises in the future.
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    The Challenges to Reforming the Dublin System: A Critical Assessment of the Institutional Constraints on EU Asylum Policy-Making
    Tubakovic, Tamara ( 2020)
    The EU’s current system for distributing responsibility for asylum seekers, known as the Dublin Regulation, has failed to fulfil its core objectives of preventing secondary movement and ensuring swift and equal access to protection procedures for all asylum seekers. The system has had a harmful effect on refugee protection and human rights in EU member states. The system has also been widely denounced for unfairly disadvantaging frontline member states by concentrating the ‘burden of responsibility’ on countries that are geographically located as countries of first entry. Despite its problematic operation, relatively few studies have examined why the Dublin system has been maintained. This thesis seeks to explain why EU policy-makers continue to maintain the core responsibility principles of the Dublin system. Further it examines what have been the main impediments to pursuing policy change. The thesis investigates the factors contributing to policy continuity regarding the Dublin system by tracing the decision-making process across three negotiating periods (2001-2003; 2008-2012; 2016-). The thesis conceptualises the Dublin system’s history of policy failure as a case of institutional failure. It argues that the Commission, the Parliament and the Council failed to agree to durable solutions at key points of re-negotiation. This thesis argues that the institutional context within which decision-making takes place has shaped policy outcomes by constraining actor behaviour and strategies during the policy-making process. Institutionalist explanations of policy continuity regarding the Dublin system have been relatively under-explored in comparison with preference-based and rational choices approaches (Armstrong 2016; Thielemann and Armstrong 2013; Mouzourakis 2014; Bosso 2016). The thesis focuses on two features of the EU institutional context that acted as drivers and impediments to reform: the formal distribution of power and resources among the policy actors; and the inter-institutional norms, procedures and customary practices that structure the decision-making process. A major finding of this thesis is that decision-making regarding the Dublin system continues to be characterised by a culture of intergovernmentalism, which has privileged national governments and their interest in the policy process. This has prompted the Commission, Parliament and successive Council Presidencies to adopt pragmatic approaches to reform aimed primarily at accommodating the various national interests. As a result, the re-negotiations have been characterised by continuity regarding the responsibility principles of the Dublin system