Call For Participants



Border deaths and migration policies: state and non-state approaches



Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, 14-15 June 2018

organized by Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

(convenors: Thomas Spijkerboer and Paolo Cuttitta)

in collaboration with

International Organization for Migration (IOM), Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions 



Confirmed speakers: Agnes Callamard (Columbia University, UN Special Rapporteur), Edda Pando (Milano Senza Frontiere), Simon Robins (University of York), Vicki Squire (University of Warwick), Tineke Strik (Radboud University, Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe), Leanne Weber (Monash University), Mussie Zerai (Agenzia Habeshia), Kouceila Zerguine (Collectif des familles des harragas), Frank Laczko (IOM), speakers from MSF, No More Deaths and the UNHCR Regional Office for South-East Asia.

Extended deadline for abstract submission: 15 March 2018

Registration deadline: 15 May 2018


At the end of its research project on border deaths (, the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, in collaboration with IOM, MSF and the UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions invites researchers from across the disciplines, policymakers, state and non-state actors involved in border control and/or search and rescue activities, international organizations, non-governmental organizations, activists, civil servants and practitioners from across the world to engage in a dialogue and confront each other with their findings, experiences and insights about the issue of migration-related border deaths.


The conference will consist of:


  1. a) Three plenary sessions with invited speakers;
  2. b) Parallel workshops on specific issues;
  3. c) A final plenary session.


In the workshops, participants will discuss, from both theoretical and practical perspectives, different issues related to border deaths. A provisional, non-exhaustive list of such issues includes:

  1. a) Statistics (e.g. collection and use of data regarding dead and missing persons);
  2. b) Dead bodies: the recovered and the missing (e.g. search of the missing; identification, treatment and burial of corpses);
  3. c) Living bodies: survivors and families of the victims (e.g. grief, psychological issues, rights, claims etc.);
  4. d) Legal aspects (e.g. accountability for border deaths; legal causes of border deaths; legal avenues to prevent/address border deaths);
  5. e) Migration policies (e.g. relationship between border deaths and externalization, securitization, privatization, criminalization etc.);
  6. f) Actors and roles (e.g. the roles of different state and non-state, for-profit and non-profit actors in determining, preventing and/or managing border deaths);
  7. g) Narratives (e.g. the different rhetoric deployed by different actors in engaging with border deaths);
  8. h) Comparative perspectives (comparing border deaths issues in different countries/regions of the world, as well as on different migratory routes).

Workshops will consist of rounds of discussion among the participants – who will all have the opportunity to give brief inputs at the start – under the coordination of a workshop chair.


Participants who wish to circulate a paper (e.g. a research paper, a report, a policy brief etc.) can submit an abstract of 150-250 words. This can be done at the time of registration or later, but no later than the extended deadline of 15 March 2018. The authors of accepted abstracts will be invited to submit a paper by 1 May 2018. Submitted papers will be made accessible to all conference participants, and may be considered for publication projects.

Please note that papers will not be presented during the workshop sessions; instead, they will be circulated to conference participants, and will inform the discussions in the workshops.

Abstracts can be submitted in either of the following two ways:

  1. a) through the online registration form;
  2. b) after the registration, by sending an e-mail to


Participation is free (no fees) but subjected to registration before 15 May 2018. Registration can only be made online here. While registration forms can be submitted even after 15 March 2018, no abstracts will be accepted after that date. Submission of abstracts is encouraged, but it is not a condition for registration.

N.B.: Should the number of requests for registration exceed the capacity of the conference venue, priority will be given according to the order in which the requests were submitted (earlier requests will be given preference). In the registration form, participants are required to indicate the issue(s) they would like to discuss in the workshop.



Because it is very hard to find accommodation in Amsterdam, we have reserved a number of hotel rooms close to the conference venue. If you want you use one of these, please click here.


To download the call in pdf format, please click; Conference Call: Border deaths and migration policies: state and non-state approaches