Breaking Free - Local Governments' Boundary-Defying Engagement with Human Rights and Migration
PhD student: Mrs Dr E. Durmuş
Promotor: B.M. Oomen
Duration: 1/9/2017 - 31/8/2021
PhD defence: Utrecht, 29/9/2022
Traditionally, it is states who have the authority to determine policies of migration, citizenship, and human rights. However, recently, there have been many frustrations about states’ inability or unwillingness to make good, fair migration and human rights policies – within Europe and worldwide. It the meantime, cities, towns, and their local governments have been observed to step up above and beyond their traditional responsibilities (and sometimes even competences) and make better, more inclusive and rights-based policies for all, including for those most vulnerable. Many local governments have also shown a determination to defend international law and human rights, even when their own national governments are violating them. Moreover, cities have also been mobilising and cooperating with civil society actors, international organisations, universities, citizens – locally, nationally and even internationally – to participate in the making of international law and policy. Sometimes, they seek a seat at the table with states, sometimes they simply gather in their own institutions and networks, but they demonstrate high skill and capability in using the language of international law and navigating international diplomacy. In my thesis, I show the important role local governments play in making inclusive societies and human rights for all a reality on the ground. In addition, I argue that local governments have become actors in international law, influencing the development of international law and policy, as demonstrated in their activities in the field of migration and human rights. Any actor working towards rights-based, inclusive and just societies should consider local governments an important partner, as well as an invaluable forum for advocacy, creative and effective cooperation, and the cultivation of a culture of human rights.