2022/ 2023

Aleksandra Ancite-Jepifánova

Mobility Phase: Polish Association for Legal Intervention, Warsaw | Amsterdam Centre for Migration and Refugee Law

Beyond the ‘Hybrid Threat’ Paradigm: EU-Belarus Border Crisis and the Erosion of Asylum-Seeker Rights in a Comparative Perspective

Dr. Aleksandra Ancite-Jepifánova (formerly Jolkina) is an interdisciplinary scholar working in the field of European and comparative migration and asylum law. She is currently a Visiting Fellow at the Centre of Law and Society at Cardiff University and a Research Affiliate with the Refugee Law Initiative, University of London. In 2022/23, she was a re:constitution Fellow and a visiting researcher at the Centre for Migration and Refugee Law at VU Amsterdam. She holds a PhD in law from Queen Mary University of London and has taught and given guest lectures at numerous institutions, including LSE, Queen Mary, and the University of Amsterdam.

Her research has a strong empirical dimension and centers on the nexus between migration, conflict, security and human rights. Her ongoing project focuses on the EU-Belarus border crisis by critically engaging with the concept of ‘migrant instrumentalisation’. Apart from the legal analysis of the relevant domestic and EU-level measures, it builds upon her fieldwork in Poland, Latvia and Lithuania where she interviewed NGO representatives, lawyers and volunteers who have been providing legal and humanitarian assistance to individuals crossing from Belarus. She has also interviewed over 40 non-EU nationals affected – predominantly from the MENA region.

Beyond the ‘Hybrid Threat’ Paradigm: EU-Belarus Border Crisis and the Erosion of Asylum-Seeker Rights in a Comparative Perspective

Throughout the second half of 2021, the situation at the EU’s external border with Belarus had continuously remained one of the topics dominating the European public and political agenda. In response to the rising numbers of asylum-seekers trying to cross into the EU from Belarus, three EU Member States – Poland, Latvia and Lithuania – declared a state of emergency on the Belarus border and introduced changes to domestic asylum legislation. In the local media and political discourses, the issue has been widely framed as a security threat and a ‘hybrid attack’ orchestrated by Minsk. The legislation adopted in Poland, Latvia and Lithuania comes into considerable tension with the EU asylum acquis and international law, particularly where it concerns access to the asylum procedure and the compliance with the non-refoulement principle. Although the three Member States have reacted to the perceived crisis in a similar manner, their responses have not been identical. The present study aims to systematically examine the relevant legislative measures imposed and their practical implications for the non-EU nationals involved from a comparative perspective. It will also access the EU-level response to the events at the border and its wider implications for the rule of law in the EU.