Annick Pijnenburg is a new visiting PhD researcher at the Raoul Wallenberg Institute. She comes from Tilburg University in the Netherlands, where she is doing her PhD under the supervision of Conny Rijken and with Thomas Gammeltoft-Hansen as co-supervisor. Recently, she sat down with us to explain why we should know more about cooperative migration control policies.
Her project is titled “At the Frontiers of State Responsibility: do cooperative migration control policies reach beyond the limits of refugee and human rights law?”
She says her project examines what responsibility States have, under international law, for human rights violations that occur as a result of policies whereby a State cooperates with one or more other States to prevent migrants, including refugees, from reaching its territory, such as the case with the EU-Turkey deal.
“It is important to explore cooperative migration control policies because they can have an impact on the human rights of migrants and refugees,” says Pijnenburg. “They also raise a number of thorny legal issues in terms of attributing responsibility to the various States involved which need to be further looked into.
The project is located at the intersection of international human rights law, refugee law and the law of State responsibility.
Pijnenburg has an interdisciplinary background, combining social sciences (BA) and law (LLB, LLM), with a strong focus on international human rights law.
We recently sat down with her to ask her a few questions.
Where are you from?
The short answer is Tilburg, the Netherlands, which is where I am doing my PhD. The long answer is that I live in Utrecht and grew up in France. I spent 18 years there and then I went to the UK for studies and moved between the Netherlands and the UK for several years. And now I landed in the Netherlands again.
Why did you choose RWI and Lund to continue your work? What made you interested in coming here?
My reason is very pragmatic. My second supervisor is Thomas Gammeltoft-Hansen, who is based here at the institute. He suggested I should come here for a short time for close supervision and to interact with the people here. I was writing my proposal and Conny, my first supervisor, and I hadn’t decided who my second supervisor should be. She went to a seminar in Copenhagen where she met Thomas, and told me before going that she would meet Thomas and ask him if he wanted to read my proposal since it’s very related to his field of expertise. She came back and said he was happy to read it and to also be my second supervisor, while at the same time inviting me for a research stay in Lund. It all occurred very suddenly.
What do you want to get out of the experience of working at RWI?
Closer supervision from Thomas, meaning to get his insights to help me further with the writing, the methodology and hopefully the structure and design of the PhD. Additionally, getting to meet people that work with similar topics, which I have already done in my first weeks here, talking to them about their projects and bouncing ideas off them will help me. Not being in my home institute is also an advantage since I get to really focus on my project and not be distracted by tasks you have to do when you are at home.
What is your previous work experience?
When I finished my studies, I went to the Fundamental Rights Agency, at the time Morten Kjaerum, RWI’s director, was director there. I did a traineeship there for six months in Vienna and thereafter went to Colombia for an internship at an organization called Dejusticia. I also worked for various NGOs, including Impunity Watch, and at the I have also done some unrelated jobs such as exporting books to Africa.
How come you decided to pursue a career in the human rights and law field?
When I started my studies, I decided that I did not just want to study but also do something practical and do volunteer work. My housemate had been involved with Amnesty International and asked me if I wanted to join her. If she had been involved with Greenpeace then I might have been working with environmental law. After this experience I started taking courses on international law and human rights and I also really liked the theory of it.
What are your first impressions of RWI and Lund?
I have been here for two weeks and the weather has been very summerlike so I have the illusion that it is always like this. Both Lund and the institute are very nice places. I am amazed how friendly people are and how open they are to discuss my project and helping me with it.
What is your favorite book right now?
The one I’m reading at the moment is a fantasy book called Fool’s Assassin by Robin Hobb. It’s the third part of a very good trilogy series.