Complex harms of migration externalisation: EU policy ‘creep’ processes into domestic counterterrorism at the Turkey‑Iran border

Karolina Augustova, Ethem Ilbiz, Helena Carrapico*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article examines the overlap between European Union migration controls and internal counter-terror measures in the Kurdish populated region at the Turkey-Iran border. It highlights the development of an ‘externalisation creep’ in the context of this overlap. We discuss how the EU’s external measures aimed at people classed as ‘irregular migrants and smugglers’ creep into local internal border security, leading to the prioritisation, on the ground, of measures against people broadly labelled as supporting ‘terrorism’. This development has resulted in the expansion of borderwork, which is associated with unexpected border control outcomes beyond those originally intended by the EU. The article draws upon an ethnographic data collection at the Turkey-Iran border, a geographical area that has seldom featured in EU-supported border controls studies. Our analysis seeks to contribute to the academic literature on externalisation by moving away from an EU-centric perspective, and instead focusing on border governance dynamics that are situated in the local histories and domestic sites of conflict, as understood by diverse border crossing survivors. This approach allows us to foreground how EU migration externalisation co-opts domestic practices in the context of borders with pre-existing forms of insecurity, and targets migrants as well as residents.
Original languageEnglish
Article number00319
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of International Relations and Development
Publication statusPublished - 23 Dec 2023


  • Conflict
  • Counterterrorism
  • EU externalisation
  • Migration
  • Turkey


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