Paper: Negotiation at the Border: Humanitarian Response to People on the Move

Paper details

Paper authors Maura James
In panel on Migration Management and External Borders in the EU: Refugees and Forced Displacement
Paper presenter(s) will be presenting In-Person / Online


Since 2021, Maura has conducted over 200 qualitative interviews across the Western Balkans and Eastern Europe that examine local and regional response mechanisms, the role of civil society, international cooperation, and governance toward people on the move. Results of this research revealed divergent narratives on security and human rights emerging among state and regional policy makers. EU, national, and local responses often instrumentalize those supporting people on the move as states enact policies of containment and facilitation, sometimes simultaneously. Witnessing the effects of these policies on populations—such as exploitation, abuse, child labor, food insecurity, lack of access to medical care—leave activists and humanitarians feeling demotivated and conflicted.

Building on these interviews, Maura is launching a survey to assess grassroots responses to people on the move at borders globally. The project will gather, analyze, and distill practitioner experience to share with a global community of humanitarians. This paper will share findings from previous research while exploring the creation of a global migration community of practice.