A Critical Analysis of the European Union (EU) Securitization of African Migration as Societal Insecurity

  • Opeoluwa Adisa Oluyemi Ph.D. Lecturer in the Department of Politics and International Relations, Near East University, Turkey
Keywords: Securitization; Societal Security; Migration, Copenhagen School of Security (CSS); European Union (EU); Africa


This paper focuses on the version of EU constructed interrelation between migration and security whereby African migration (regular and mostly irregular) is perceived threatening to the European civilization and national security with the need for extraordinary measures to address it. This delineates how African migration to Europe becomes securitized and the basic tenets of the securitization substantiate how it has been one-sidedly portrayed. The EU securitization approach towards African migration and its counterproductive outcomes have attracted the attention of this research. This approach is criticized to have created a distorted stereotypical image about African migrants generally while it has failed to prioritize and address the different socio-economic and political conditions fueling irregular migration from the continent. This research has relied on secondary sources and employs a qualitative research method, which reviews current literature on the topic under study. It aims to critically analyze the EU securitization of African migration as societal insecurity with the use of Copenhagen School of Security Study (CSS) conceptualization of securitization and societal security as structural and theoretical framework of the study. CSS elucidates the possibility of transferring a non-political issue or event into the field of security through a speech act, which is known as securitization, and international migration is one of the common focus areas of securitization theory. This research keys on deconstructing the general perception of African migrants as existential threats to the European society compelling xenophobia and societal security issues, necessitating various strict migration policies adopted against African migrants.


Abebe, T. T. (2017). Migration Policy Frameworks in Africa. Institute for Security Studies. Retrievedfrom https://www.africaportal.org/documents/17958/migration_policy_frameworks.pdf. Accessed on 12, April, 2024.
Abebe, T. (2019). Securitization of Migration in Africa: The Case of Agadez in Niger. Retrieved from https://reliefweb.int/report/niger/securitization-migrationafrica-case-agadez-niger. Accessed on 15 April, 2024.
Achieng, M., El Fadil, A. & Righa, E. (2020). “What is Wrong with the Narrative on African Migration?” in Adepoju, A.; Fumagalli, C. and Nyabola, N.(eds.), Africa Migration Report. Challenging the Narrative, International Organization for Migration (IOM), 1-14. https://publications.iom.int/system/files/pdf/africa-migrationreport.pdf.
Ardittis, S. (2017). African Migration to Europe: How Can Adequate Data Help Improve Evidence-Based Policymaking and Reduce Possible Misconceptions? Global Migration Data Analysis Centre Data Briefing Series Issue no. 11, November 2017.
Barriga, W. (2013). Migration Trends in the Contemporary world. An Overview. Migration Policy Review, 5, 151–171. Retrieved from http://iminseisaku.org/top/pdf/journal/005/005_150.pdf. Accessed on 17 April, 2024.
Bisong, A. (2023). The Failure of European Policy on Africa and Migratory Movements. Migration and Mobility. External Borders of the EU, 42-45.
Bockel, F. (2021). Securitization of Migration in Europe Pushback Practices and the Role of the European Court of Human Rights. Retrieved from: file:///C:/Users/Lansman%20Computer/Downloads/FULLTEXT01.pdf Accessed on 11 April, 2024.
Brazzill, M. (2021). The Development of Higher Education in Japan and the United Kingdom: The impact of Neoliberalism. Higher Education Quarterly, 75(3), 381–397.
Browning, C.S. (2017) Security and Migration: A Conceptual Exploration. In: Bourbeau, Philippe, (ed.) Handbook on Migration and Security. Edward Elgar, pp. 39-59.
Browning, C.S., & Joenniemi, P. (2017). Ontological Security, Self-Articulation and the Securitization of Identity. Cooperation and Conflict 52 (1): 31–47.
Business Day, (2024). UK new visa rules coming in weeks as Nigerian immigrants fret. Retrieved from: https://businessday.ng/news/article/uk-new-visa-rules-coming-in-weeks-as-nigerian-immigrants-fret/ Accessed on 02 May, 2024.
Buzan, B., Wæver, O., Wæver, O., & De Wilde, J. (1998). Security: A New framework for Analysis. Lynne Rienner Publishers.
Castles, S. (2010). Understanding Global Migration: A Social Transformation Perspective. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 36(10), 1565–1586.
Castillejo, C. (2016). The European Union Trust Fund for Africa: A Glimpse of the Future for EU Development Cooperation (No. 22/2016). Discussion Paper.
Castles, S., De Haas, H., & Miller, M. J. (2013). The Age of Migration (5th ed.). New York: The Guilford Press.
Clare, C. (2018). EU Engagement with Africa on Migration: A Change of Approach Required. Briefing Paper, No. 9/2018, Retrieved from: https://www.econstor.eu/bitstream/10419/199821/1/die-bp-2018-09.pdf Accessed on 14 April, 2024.
Curtin, P. (1997). Africa and Global Patterns of Migration. In W. Gungwu (Ed.), Global History and Migration (pp. 63–94). Boulder: Westview Press.
De Haas, H. 2008. Irregular Migration from West Africa to the Maghreb and the European Union: An Overview of Recent Trends. Geneva: International Organization for Migration (IOM), Vol. 32.
Demirkol, A. (2022). An Empirical Analysis of Securitization Discourse in the European Union. Migration Letters, 19(3), 273–286.
Demirkol, A. (2023). A Perspective on Critical Security Concept and International Migration Nexus through Copenhagen School: The Quest for Societal Security. Lectio Socialis, Vol. 17(1), 23-32.
Flahaux, M.-L., & De Haas, H. (2016). African Migration: Trends, Patterns, Drivers. Comparative Migration Studies 4 (1): 1–25.
Giménez-Gómez, J.M., Walle, Y.M. & Zergawu, Y. Z. (2017). Trends in African Migration to Europe: Drivers beyond Economic Motivations. Centre for European, Governance and Economic Development Research, Number 330 – December 2017. Retrieved from http://wwwuser.gwdg.de/~cege/Diskussionspapiere/DP330.pdf Accessed on 15 April, 2024.
Herbert, M. (2019). The New European Union Leadership Must Rethink Approaches to Migration from the Maghreb. Retrieved from: https://issafrica.org/iss-today/changing-the-migration-horizon-from-north-africa-to-europe. Accessed on 17 April, 2024.
Horwood, C., Forin, R., & Frouws, B. (Eds.). (2018). Mixed Migration Review 2018. Highlights. Interviews. Essays. Data. Geneva: Mixed Migration Centre. Retrieved from http://www.mixedmigration.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/Mixed-Migration-Review-2018.pdf. Accessed on 13 April, 2024.
Hunt, L. (2015). EU-Africa Migrant Plan Raises Worrying Questions. Retrieved From: https://www.refworld.org/docid/5645b41b4.html. Accessed on 22 April, 2024.
International Organization for Migration (IOM). (2018). A Brief on IOM Nigeria’s Projects. IOM. Retrieved from: https://www.iom.int/countries/nigeria. Accessed on 15 April, 2024.
Kinnvall, C. (2004). Globalization and Religious Nationalism: Self, Identity, and the Search for Ontological Security. Political Psychology 25 (5): 741–767.
Kirisci, K., Erdogan, M. and Eminoglu, N. (2020). The EU’s “New Pact on Migration and Asylum” is Missing a True Foundation. Retrieved from: https://www.brookings.edu/blog/order-from-chaos/2020/11/06/the-eus-new-pact-on-migrationand-asylum-is-missing-a-true-foundation/. Accessed on 20 April, 2024.
Kotz, D. M. (2015). Neoliberalism, Globalization, Financialization: Understanding Post-1980 Capitalism. The Restructuring of Capitalism in our Time.
Kouhossounon, B. (2017). Societal Security in the Context of Migration. Security Dimension, No 23, 213-220 DOI 10.24356/SD/23/13.
Kupe, L. (2019). Populists Keep Winning the Messaging War in Europe over Migration. Retrieved from https://www.worldpoliticsreview.com/articles/27279/populistskeep-winning-the-messaging-war-in-europe-over-migration. Accessed on 20 April, 2024.
Laine, J (2018b). The Ethics of Bordering: A Critical Reading of the Refugee ‘Crisis’. In How to Deal with Refugees? Europe as a Continent of Dreams, ed. G. Besier and K. Stoklosa, 278–301. Berlin: LIT Verlag.
Laine, J. (2020). Reframing African Migration to Europe: An Alternative Narrative. In Moyo, I., Nshimbi, C.C. and Laine, J.P. (eds.), Migration Conundrums, Regional Integration and Development. London: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 94-106.
Lalić, V. & Ćeranić, P. (2019). Securitization of Migration in European Union and the Role of Private Security Firms. Dialogues Security, 47-54.
Langford, L. M. (2013). The other Euro Crisis: Rights Violations under the Common European Asylum System and the Unraveling of EU Solidarity. Harvard Human Rights Journal, 26, 217–259.
Lazaridis, G. & Wadia, K. (eds.). (2015). The Securitization of Migration in the EU: Debates Since 9/11. Berlin: Springer.
Mafukidze, J. (2006). A Discussion of Migration and Migration Patterns and Flows in Africa. In C. Cross, D. Gelderblom, N. Roux, & J. Mafukidze (Eds.), Views of Migration in Sub-Saharan Africa. Cape Town: HSRC Press.
Malka, H. (2018). Destination Maghreb. Changing Migration Patterns in North Africa. Washington, DC: Center for Strategic & International Studies. Retrieved from: https://csis-prod.s3.amazonaws.com/s3fs-public/publication/180502_Malka_DestinationMaghreb_Web.pdf. Accessed on 15 April, 2024.
McDonald, M. (2012). Konstruktivizam. In Paul Williams (Ed). Uvod u studije bezbednosti (107–122). Beograd:.
Mbiyozo, A. (2019). Pressure Grows on Africa to Take Back its Migrants. Retrieved from https://issafrica.org/iss-today/pressure-grows-on-africa-to-take-back-itsmigrants. Accessed on 01 May 2020.
McAuliffe, M. & Ruhs, M. (2018). World Migration Report 2018. International Organization for Migration (IOM). Retrieved from: https://publications.iom.int/system/files/pdf/wmr_2018_en.pdf. Accessed on 18 May 2024.
Mitsilegas, V. (2014). Solidarity and Trust in the Common European Asylum System. Comparative Migration Studies Vol.2(2), 181–202. https://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.5117/CMS2014.2.MITS.pdf.
Mlambo, V.H. (2020). Externalization and Securitization as Policy Responses to African Migration to the European Union. AHMR African Human Mobility Review, Vol.6(3), 95-105.
Moreno‐Lax, V. (2018). The EU Humanitarian Border and the Securitization of Human Rights: The ‘Rescue‐Through‐Interdiction/Rescue‐without‐Protection’ Paradigm. Journal of Common Market Studies, 56(1): 119-140.
Okunade, S.K. & Awosusi, E.A. (2023). The Japa Syndrome and the Migration of Nigerians to the United Kingdom: An Empirical Analysis. Comparative Migration Studies, Vol.11 (27), 2-6.
Palm, E. 2020. Externalized Migration Governance and the Limits of Sovereignty: The Case of Partnership Agreements between EU and Libya. Theoria, 86(1): 9-27. Retrieved From: https://doi.org/10.1111/theo.12224. Accessed on: 18 July 2020.
Rodney, W. (1972). How Europe Underdeveloped Africa. London: Bogle-L’Ouverture. Retrieved from http://abahlali.org/files/3295358-walter-rodney.pdf. Accessed on 16 April, 2024.
Rumelili, B. (2015). Identity and Desecuritisation: The Pitfalls of Combating Ontological and Physical Security. Journal of International Relations and Development 18 (1): 52–74.
Rumelili, B., & Karadağ, S. (2017). Göç ve Güvenlik: Eleştirel Yaklaşımlar. Toplum ve Bilim, 140, 69–92.
Sansus, L., Troitiño, D.R. & Kerikmäe, T. (2020). Migration to Europe: A Threat or an Opportunity? In D.R Troitiño, T. Kerikmäe, R. Martín de la Guardia, G.A.P. Sánchez (Ed). The EU in the 21st Century: Challenges and Opportunities for the European Integration Process. Springer Nature Switzerland.
SchengenVisaNews. (2022). Sweden, Norway, France & Denmark were most likely to reject Schengen Visas in 2021. Retrieved from https://www.schengenvisainfo.com/news/sweden-norway-france-denmark-were-most-likely-to-reject-schengen-visas-in2021/ Accessed on 17th April 2024.
Schlentz, D. (2010). Did 9/11 Matter? Securitization of Asylum and Immigration in the European Union in the Period from 1992 to 2008. Refugee Studies Centre. Working paper series no. 56. (1-42) Retrieved from repository.forcedmigration.org/pdf/?pid=fmo:5570 (July 28, 2018) Accessed on 16 April, 2024.
Schöfberger, I. (2019). The EU’s Negotiation of Narratives and Policies on African Migration 1999-2019. European Foreign Affairs Review, Vol. 24(4), 513-532.
Štefančík, R., Némethová, I., & Seresová, T. (2021). Securitization of Migration in the Language of Slovak Far-Right Populism. Migration Letters, 18(6), 731–744.
The Guardian (2019). Nigeria Tops Schengen Visa Denials for African Countries. Retrieved From https://guardian.ng/news/nigeria-tops-schengen-visa-denials-for-african-countries/ Accessed 17th April 2022.
Wæver, O. (2008). The Changing Agenda of Societal Security. In H. G. Brauch, Ú. O. Spring, C. Mesjasz, J. Grin, P. Dunay, N. C. Behera, B. Chourou, P. Kameri-Mbote, & P. H. Liotta (Eds.), Globalization and Environmental Challenges: Reconceptualizing Security in the 21st Century (pp. 581–593). Springer. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-540-75977-5_44.
Whitty, G., Power, S., & Halpin, D. (1998). Devolution and Choice in Education: The School, the State, and the Market. Australian Education Review No. 41. Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) Limited, 19 Prospect Hill Road, Camberwell, Melbourne, Victoria 3124, Australia.
Wolfsfeld, G. (2004). Media and the Path to Peace. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
How to Cite
Oluyemi, O. A. (2024). A Critical Analysis of the European Union (EU) Securitization of African Migration as Societal Insecurity. International Journal of Social Science Research and Review, 7(6), 14-27. https://doi.org/10.47814/ijssrr.v7i6.2149