Call for Papers

UNHCR MMC Policy Workshop

Protection Challenges on the Central & Western Mediterranean Routes

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Protection in Mixed Movements: Policy Workshop on Protection Challenges on the Central & Western Mediterranean Routes

A. Background

The movement of refugees and migrants along the Central and Western Mediterranean routes, from Sub-Saharan Africa to North Africa and onwards to Europe, often encompassing a multitude of step-wise, circular and return movements, is a longstanding, historic phenomenon. Driven by persecution, insecurity and conflict, and socioeconomic instability and stagnation in their home countries, and seeking security, better lives and opportunities elsewhere, thousands of people continue, annually, to risk their lives on dangerous, irregular journeys by land and sea on these routes, or take advantage of limited legal pathways such as visa-free entry to countries like Morocco and Tunisia.

Mixed movements span many countries in East Africa, West Africa, the Sahel and North Africa. Significant effort has and is being placed by humanitarian and development actors as well as actors focused on peacebuilding to address the drivers of conflict and instability in countries of origin and to promote the effective realisation of the SDGs. Extensive political and media attention on the cross-Mediterranean dimension of these mixed movements has led to a pointed lack of dedicated fora for analysis of the protection challenges facing those who do not cross to Europe from North Africa. This also extends to a lack of focus on how to engage with and support concerned States to understand and contribute effectively to a more inclusive, visible and solutions-oriented management of the issues and the people involved.

B. Objectives

UNHCR and the Mixed Migration Centre (MMC) will convene a virtual policy workshop from 15-17 February 2021, to help address these gaps. The workshop will bring together approximately 30 academics, practitioners, civil society advocates and policy influencers to: 1) highlight protection challenges and 2) identify opportunities for advocacy, policy development and reform of asylum and protection in the context of broader migration management.

The workshop will result in a set of strategic recommendations to engage asylum and migration policymakers at the local, national and international level, reflecting discussions at the workshop and validated by participants. Hence, submissions should be tailored to pose key questions, cite key challenges, generate evidence or knowledge, and put forward recommendations for advocacy, policy and reform. Leading up to and following the workshop, UNHCR and MMC will support participants to publish a collection of papers, articles, media pieces, and other open access publications.

C. Call for submissions: papers, articles, and media pieces

UNHCR and MMC would like to invite researchers, practitioners, advocates, decision-makers and refugees and persons of concern[1] to submit papers, articles, media pieces, and other open access publications analysing the challenges and opportunities for protection for people on the move along mixed movement routes. The workshop shall focus on three thematic areas:

(i) Good practices and gaps in the formulation, implementation, monitoring, and adaptation of legal and social protection frameworks impacting people of concern on the move along the Central and Western Mediterranean routes. Submissions can consider:

  1. Protection frameworks at the local, national, regional or international level;
  2. Instances in which change, adaptation or rupture in policy frameworks occurred;
  3. Evaluations of how such change occurred and what demonstrable impacts they had;
  4. What or who successfully drives change in policy frameworks?

(ii) The effectiveness and challenges of strategic, cross-regional cooperation on asylum and its relation to migration management between Sub-Saharan Africa, North Africa and Europe. This includes bilateral partnerships, regional organisations, international organisations and other partners and stakeholders (for example, within the Khartoum and Rabat Process, Joint Valletta Action Plan, and addressing needs in the future EU-AU strategic partnership).

  1. What has been achieved by these cross-regional processes?
  2. What needs to be improved to increase the protection of people on the move?
  3. How do we measure the impact of these multi-stakeholder processes, including on protection issues?
  4. To what extent do such ‘policy regions’ correspond with and capture intra and inter-regional movement patterns and dynamics?
  5. How have the asylum and migration policies and procedures of individual countries shaped and been shaped by such processes?

(iii) Examining coordination between and among local, national and international actors on human trafficking and the smuggling of asylum seekers, refugees and migrants. This includes information-sharing protocols and pursuing judicial remedies across regions to strengthen the access of victims of trafficking to protection and solutions.

  1. How do policies and procedures account for the propagation of and complexity within smuggling networks and the varied relationships between smugglers, smuggling intermediaries, host communities, refugees, and migrants?
  2. How should refugees’ and migrants’ own perceptions of smugglers and smuggling intermediaries feed into policy development?
  3. How do international actors, governments, and local communities fight human trafficking and bring to justice the perpetrators of protection violations without placing greater risks upon people on the move?
  4. What are some examples of policies which have effectively targeted the trafficking, smuggling and other forms of organised criminal exploitation and abuse of refugees and migrants?

Contributions may draw upon academic disciplines including refugee law, international relations, political science, public policy, sociology, international/regional organisations theory, and refugee and migration studies. They may also be based on operational perspectives from humanitarian and development organisations or draw upon experiences from national and international policy development and advocacy. Submissions from refugees and other persons of concern on their first-hand experiences, work, or research as it relates to the aforementioned themes and sub-questions are highly encouraged.

Geographic areas of interest include all countries and regions along the Central and Western Mediterranean routes. Particular attention will be paid to submissions from North African countries, especially Morocco, Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt, as places of origin, destination, transit, and return; and submissions from West Africa and the Sahel as well as East and the Horn of Africa, especially Ethiopia and Eritrea, as they reflect on their connection to these broader routes.

Selected papers providing background on the workshop themes and the routes are available online here.

D. Submission of proposals

Researchers and authors are invited to submit, by 30 November 2020, an abstract of up to 500 words outlining the research or analysis they wish to present at the workshop. The abstract should explain how the work relates to the themes described above. In so doing, submissions should take special note of the workshop objectives to highlight protection challenges and identify opportunities for advocacy, policy development and reform. Successful abstracts will outline how their proposed papers, articles, media pieces, etc. will pose key questions, cite key challenges, generate new evidence or knowledge, and put forward recommendations for advocacy, policy development and reform. In addition to the abstract, in your email please clearly indicate your name, current affiliation/title, and country/region of focus or work; and send a professional bio of no more than 150 words.

Papers should be policy-relevant and need not be full academic research articles. Papers taking the form of policy briefs, media pieces, and first-hand account are also welcome. Research and analysis which is suitable to inform the development of advocacy work and operational engagement, by both UNHCR and civil society actors, will be well regarded.

A selection of papers will be made from the submitted abstracts, based on relevance to the workshop themes, with the goal of covering a range of issues/geographies and promoting voices from the regions in question. The authors of selected abstracts will be asked to submit a complete paper/article/piece of work (between 1500 and 3000 words, as appropriate for the paper format) and to present their work as part of a panel at the workshop.

Abstracts and professional information should be submitted by 30 November 2020 to and

E. Timeline

26 October – CfP released

9 November – Virtual Q&A session on CfP

30 November – Deadline for abstract submission

7 December – Notification of selected abstracts

15-17 February – Policy Workshop

[1] Persons of concern to UNHCR are those whose protection and assistance needs are of interest to UNHCR. This includes refugees, asylum-seekers, stateless people, internally displaced people and returnees.

Contribute your knowledge and experience to the policy workshop:
If you are interested in applying to be one of the 30 delegates who will take part in the UNHCR and MMC’s policy workshop and contribute to identifying opportunities for advocacy, policy development and reform of asylum and protection in the context of broader migration management, please see our call for papers. The deadline to apply is 30 November 2020.

Access all relevant documents here:
UNHCR MMC Policy Workshop CfP
UNHCR Background Note to Policy Workshop
Background Materials list
Website Article

On Monday, 9 November at 10am CET, MMC hosted a Q&A related to the policy workshop, find the recording here.

For questions related to the policy workshop, please contact: and