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Complementary protection and the recognition rate as tools of governance: ordering Europe, fragmenting rights

Demetriou, Olga (2022) 'Complementary protection and the recognition rate as tools of governance: ordering Europe, fragmenting rights.', Journal of ethnic and migration studies., 48 (5). pp. 1264-1285.


Recognition rates measure how far states afford rights to refugees. Recent developments of the Common European Asylum System (CEAS) have supplemented this measure with factors such as population and wealth. Concurrently, laws have developed nationally and Europe-wide regulating ‘complementary protection’ for those not qualifying as ‘refugees’ under the 1951 Convention. These two parallel developments in migration governmentality, I argue, are part of a process that increasingly complicates the field of knowledge around refugeehood, raising the level of expertise needed to access protection. This article focuses on the use of complementary protection in Europe since 1999 to explore (i) the legal process of proliferation of protection categories and (ii) the political process of calculating rates. The paper employs a methodological mix of ethnographic observation and critical readings of law and statistics to map various ways of counting recognition rates. This highlights the importance of statistics in feeding a narrative of liberal, Western, European society that protects refugees. Yet it is evident that both protection and its denial are constitutive of a CEAS governmentality that is best described as ‘ordered fragmentation’. One of its basic assumptions is the denial of refugee agency, rendering states the subjects of the protection regime.

Item Type:Article
Full text:(AM) Accepted Manuscript
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Publisher statement:This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Journal of ethnic and migration studies on 7 November 2019 available online:
Date accepted:17 October 2019
Date deposited:18 October 2019
Date of first online publication:07 November 2019
Date first made open access:07 May 2021

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