Interrogating the adaptability of asylum practices in the face of Sudanese political instability

Workshop of the Center for social studies on African, American, and Asian worlds
September 29th 2022

1. Presentation

Events in Sudan since the fall of former President al-Bashir in April 2019 have continued to redefine migration dynamics and legal asylum policies pertaining to this East African state. The August 2019 Constitutional Declaration and the October 2020 Juba Peace Agreement formally ended the continent’s longest-running internal armed conflict, radically altering the global perception of the risks of persecution and serious harm that Sudanese migrants face in their home country. The political, economic, social, and security situation in Sudan and the subregion remains, however, particularly volatile. The 25th of October Khartoum military coup and the degrading armed conflict in Ethiopia are just the latest examples of systemic instability. This instability bears heavily on the challenges that migrants face in their journey of exile and in their applications for asylum abroad. This is true both in Sudan with respect to Central African, Eritrean, Ethiopian, or South Sudanese migrants, and in the host and transit countries of Sudanese migrants (such as Chad, Egypt, Israel, Lebanon, Libya, or European Union member states). Whether it is a question of human trafficking on the changing migratory routes of East Africa, the conditions of access and care in host countries for asylum seekers and protected persons, or the circumstances of return and readmission to the country of origin or transit, migrants from this region deal with multiple constraints on their exile routes. Whether the focus is on the New European Pact on Asylum and Migration, the instruments developed within the framework of the African Union or the Arab League, the resettlement and relocation programs, or the cooperation agreements on the management of migration flows, how do existing institutional frameworks respond to Sudanese and regional political instability? Sudan offers an important case for analyzing the adaptability of asylum practices to regional and state political instability. This is especially due to its dual status as a state of origin and as a state of transit or reception for asylum seekers and protected persons.

A second and related question asked by this workshop using the Sudanese example, is whether asylum practices shape (sometimes inappropriately) the representations of unstable situations in countries of origin, to the point of sometimes modifying the identity composition of protected persons originating from the same state. In this respect, the temporality of asylum practices seems to play a fundamental role. Between the moment of flight from the country of origin and the moment when the asylum seeker is taken into care, political instability in the country of origin will often affect the representations made by the national or international bodies concerning the risks of persecution that motivated the initial flight of the applicants.

These two thematic frameworks (the effects of political instability on asylum regimes and practices of representations of unstable situations by asylum authorities) together raise questions about the potential for Sudanese asylum seekers to obtain protection, or to be ‘adequately’ protected. The same question arises for Eritrean, Ethiopian or South Sudanese migrants established in Sudan.

This workshop aims to address this double thematic framework by answering three main sets of questions:
– Is the inconsistency of reception practices and protection logics, both in Sudan and in neighboring countries (Chad, Egypt, Israel, Lebanon), simply symptomatic of this persistent political instability?
On the contrary, should one consider this inconstancy as constitutive of this instability?
– To what extent does the Sudanese example provide insight into the adaptability of protection
tools developed by various regional organizations (European Union, African Union, Arab League) or within the framework of the UNHCR’s strict and broad mandates? This list is not exhaustive and may include tools developed by some states alone (such as Israel).
– What are the practices, strategic or affective, adopted by Sudanese migrants, or Central African, Eritrean, Ethiopian or South Sudanese migrants arriving in Sudan, in an attempt to overcome the obstacles inherent in accessing and maintaining international protection?

This workshop is oriented towards asylum professionals, anthropologists, geographers, historians, legal scholars, political scientists, and sociologists. Proposals may deal with any issue that falls within the suggested thematic framework and relate to at least one of the three questions selected for this meeting. However, proposals should position themselves with respect to Sudan, considering this state either as a country of origin, or as a country of transit or reception of asylum seekers and protected persons.

The proceedings are intended to be published (Collection Cahiers Afriques, PUM).

2. Submitting a proposal:

Proposals and papers may be written in either French or English. Proposals should have a maximum total length of 4000 characters (excluding spaces) and be accompanied by a brief CV.
They must: 1) present the chosen topic of study; 2) highlight the interest of the subject regarding one or more of the three questions addressed by the workshop; and, finally, 3) include a short bibliography.

The text should be sent to the following e-mail address:
Deadline for submission: April 30th, 2022

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