According to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, there were more than 79.5 million people across the world who were forcibly displaced at the end of the year 2019, including 26 million refugees and 4.2 million asylum seekers.
Dr. Noha Shawki is co-author of a new book that explores the debate over asylum and refugee protection in the European Union. Advocating for Refugees in the European Union: Norm-Based Strategies by Civil Society Organizations (Lexington Books, 2020) looks at strategies employed by pro-refugee, non-governmental organizations to influence the debate on asylum and refugee policy in Europe following the European refugee crisis of 2015.
“This book brings together different areas of research and issues that have captured my attention for a long time,” said Shawki, a professor of politics and government at Illinois State University. “It examines advocacy efforts that challenge the securitization of asylum policy, reframe the discussion around refugee protection, and define it as a human rights and humanitarian issue.”
Shawki studies civil society groups—organizations that are not associated with government, such as advocacy groups, professional associations, churches, and cultural institutions—as well as transnational advocacy networks (TANs) that seek to advance human rights, global justice, and sustainable development globally. “The book aims to provide a deeper understanding of how civil society groups use norm-based strategies to shift the debate on asylum and refugees,” said Shawki.
Working with co-author Dr. Melissa Schnyder of American Public University, Shawki explores the intentional ways civil society groups and TANs have worked to incorporate norms in framing discussions of refugee protection and making the case for less restrictive asylum policies. Schnyder and Shawki argue that the contrasting points-of-view surrounding refugee and asylum policy in Europe reveal a fundamental normative difference in what is considered the most appropriate standard of behavior to guide actions and policies in the wake of the European refugee crisis.
Advocating for Refugees in the European Union analyzes the discourse in the European Union overall and in five countries whose politics are characterized by different levels of contestation surrounding asylum and refugee policy: Austria, France, and Germany, three countries with higher levels of contestation, and Spain and Luxembourg, two countries with lower levels of contestation.