Migration and human security – Prince Claus Chair Holder 2017-2019

Boat with refugees on water
  • How does the interaction between economic and political structures in Europe produce violence, fear and anxiety for individuals?
  • How do European external relations produce or obscure human security?
  • How can the human security of migrants, EU citizens and citizens of neighbouring regions be addressed together, and not regarded as being opposed to one another?

These are some the questions Professor Ali Bilgiç examined during his tenure as Prince Claus Chair (PCC) Holder 2017-2019.

Understanding migration as a social, political and economic process

Professor Ali Bilgiç focused his research on migration and the human security approach.

While a lot of research on migration is conceived within a narrow perspective, often economic or administrative-legal, Professor Bilgic looked at migration from a holistic person-centred perspective. His research tried to gain a more comprehensive understanding of migration as a social, political and economic process. 

It explored concepts like trust and how it contributed to how people classify and relate to each other. This is valuable in that it offers deeper understanding and which in turn may also contribute to the development of more fruitful responses.

The overall objective of the research, conducted together with postdoctoral fellow Dr Cathy Wilcock and Professor Des Gasper, was to to understand how people work within, around and against policy regimes that are hostile to migrants, and how security can be reimagined to benefit European citizens as well as migrants.

Life-vests washed up on beach
Life-vests washed up on beach
Jim Black-Pixabay

In the findings, they stressed the need for a human security approach as a realistic approach to immigration, as it looks into the fears and insecurities of European citizen’s with regards to migrants.

By opening up discussions about migration, European citizen’s sentiments can be understood. Taking a human security approach allows us to gain a different perspective into migration policy and allows us to re-establish a relationship based on trust between migrants and Europeans, and not fear.

More on Professor Bilgiç and previous ISS-nominated chair holders

Why is this research relevant?

Migration and human security are one of the most pressing contemporary global challenges.

Though forced immigration to Europe has happened for centuries, it has become an increasingly politicized issue over the past decade. European migration management policies in fact make both European citizens and migrants coming to Europe more insecure. They also make the journeys by migrants increasingly more perilous.

A human security perspective can serve as a more realistic approach to migration, as its principle states that the human security of one social group cannot be sustainably and effectively addressed at the expense of another social group.

European flag waving above crowd
Gerd Altmann-Pixabay


With Dutch Research Council (NWO-WOTRO) funding, Professor Bilgiç worked with ISS researcher Dr Cathy Wilcock  (postdoctoral fellow) using Dutch Research Council (NWO-WOTRO) funding. He also collaborated with Professor Des Gasper.

  • Dr Cathy Wilcock is a postdoctoral researcher based at ISS. Her research examines the role of the diaspora in post-conflict peacebuilding, as well as citizenship practices of migrants in home and host states.
  • Professor Des Gasper is a professor emeritus of human development, development ethics and public policy at ISS, and the Chair of the Prince Claus Chair Search Committee 2017-2019.



Professor Ali Bilgiç was Prince Claus Chair (PCC) Holder 2017-2019.

The Prince Claus Chair in Development and Equity was established by Utrecht University and the International Institute of Social Studies (ISS).

The ISS and Utrecht University alternate in selecting an outstanding young academic from a developing country to the Prince Claus Chair, for the advancement of research and teaching in the field of equity and development and to stimulate the career of young academics from different parts of the world.

For more information about Professor Bilgic, the Prince Claus Chair and previous ISS-nominated chair holders, please visit the PCC page.

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