CUREJ - College Undergraduate Research Electronic Journal

Rethinking Refugee Mobility: Passports as Pathways to Protection

Stephen G. Damianos, University of Pennsylvania

Division: Social Sciences

Dept/Program: Political Science

Document Type: Undergraduate Student Research

Mentor(s): Eileen Doherty-Sil

Date of this Version: 01 March 2019



Issues of migration and border management are a dominant part of political discourse, particularly in Europe where countries grapple with high-profile drownings in the Mediterranean Sea. These tragedies and subsequent discourse reflect a move towards restricted territorial access, governed by stringent policies and concerns of national security. Migration literature often focuses on the barriers that prevent forced migrants from safely and legally accessing territory, but less often considers the ability of institutions to overcome these barriers. This thesis seeks to understand the conditions that allow institutions to facilitate mobility through the issuance of travel documents. Employing a comparative case study that analyzes the Nansen Passport scheme of the 1920s against the Humanitarian Corridors initiative launched in 2015, this thesis teases out tentative conclusions regarding facilitated refugee mobility. Specifically, while many factors are case-specific, institutions have historically succeeded in facilitating movement for refugees when the beneficiaries are restricted on a country-of-origin basis, when reacting to a proximate threat, and when the program serves a key interest of the benefactor. Furthermore, mobility can be facilitated even in the absence of clear legal frameworks or mandates. Given the dearth of scholarly attention to this issue, and the current prominence of the Humanitarian Corridors initiative in discussions of European policy, this study suggests important implications for future research both on the domestic determinant of facilitated mobility programs as well as the possibility of program replication.

Suggested Citation

Damianos, Stephen G., "Rethinking Refugee Mobility: Passports as Pathways to Protection" 01 March 2019. CUREJ: College Undergraduate Research Electronic Journal, University of Pennsylvania,

Date Posted: 24 May 2019




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