HomePhysical and mental vulnerability in populations in need of international protection

HomePhysical and mental vulnerability in populations in need of international protection

Physical and mental vulnerability in populations in need of international protection

Vulnérabilité physique et psychique des populations en quête de protection internationale

From the recognition of the category to social practices

De la reconnaissance d'une catégorie à ses usages

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Published on Monday, July 01, 2019


Ce symposium interdisciplinaire vise à réunir des contributions pluridisciplinaires, académiques comme professionnelles autour de la prise en compte de la vulnérabilité physique et psychique des personnes en demande de protection internationale. Il vise à explorer les mobilisations et modalités de reconnaissance de la vulnérabilité dans le droit d’asile contemporain mais aussi les usages sociaux et spatiaux de cette catégorie dans un contexte caractérisé par la suspicion d’un détournement de procédure et une administration de la preuve accrue. Comment la vulnérabilité physique et psychique est-elle « dépistée » et prise en compte dans l’accès aux droits, notamment à l’hébergement, durant la procédure d’asile ? Quelles sont les modalités d’évaluation de la vulnérabilité par les médecins des institutions publiques ou par des acteurs associatifs engagés dans leur accompagnement et quels en sont les effets sur l’accès aux droits et la prise en charge différenciés des publics ?


Friday, 18 October 2019, University of Nantes (France)


The European laws on asylum give increasing importance to the notion of “vulnerability,” a phenomenon also identified over the past 15-plus years in other areas of social life (Brodiez- Dolino 2016). New directives impose the identification of vulnerable asylum seekers, especially unaccompanied minors, people with disabilities, and victims of human trafficking and even torture, as well as imposing adaptations in reception facilities1 and asylum procedures to the “special needs” of these populations (Pétin 2017). While European law aims to “protect against vulnerability,” numerous studies on migration show that it can also “produce vulnerabilities” (Aumond et Robin 2017). These legal developments however call on us to reflect on the concept’s polysemy (Carlier 2017), the emergence and entrenchment of the paradigm, and the social uses of this category. This reflection involves examining the genesis and evolution of the evaluation mechanisms and the specific treatment of the physical and mental vulnerabilities of populations in need of international protection (Boublil et Wolmark 2018).

This interdisciplinary symposium will combine contributions from historians, legal experts, sociologists, geographers, anthropologists, political scientists, and European legal and medical professionals. Coming from a historical standpoint, contributions should deepen our understanding of the mobilisations and procedures involved in recognizing physically and mentally vulnerable subjects in contemporary asylum rights, particularly in the European Union, as might explore the mobilisations and controversies around the criteria for vulnerability (d’Halluin 2016). From a legal standpoint, contributions could explore the different doctrinal positions and ways in which vulnerability has been treated, as shown by various decisions taken

by European institutions in response to appeals to the courts. From a social sciences point of view, the idea is to understand the social and spatial uses of this category in a context characterized by a suspicion towards asylum seekers and increased burdens of proof for people looking for international protection. In the asylum process, how are physical and mental vulnerabilities identified and considered when it comes to access to rights, especially to shelter? What methods for evaluating vulnerability are used by doctors in public institutions or by association actors involved in their accompaniment? How do these effect access to rights and differential care of populations (for example the interview arrangements for asylum petition evaluations, Dublin Regulation exemptions from the ruling procedure, vulnerable populations identified and removed from squats enrolled in treatment by a network of actors, etc.)? The focus will be on these identification and assistance activities at the level of the European Union and occurring in the “classic” asylum process, the asylum seeker relocation scheme (2015- 2017), and the resettlement schemes for protected persons.

The symposium will be structured around three themes:

  • Theme 1. Recognizing vulnerability in the field of asylum
  • Theme 2. Detecting vulnerable populations in the field of asylum
  • Theme 3. Treating vulnerable populations in the field of asylum

Submission guidelines

The proposals (600 words maximum, plus a bibliography for the literature cited) should include the author name(s), institutional affiliation(s), paper title, and five keywords. They should indicate the research question, theoretical issues debated, and/or the main results produced. Mention should be made of the data underpinning the analysis, the methodological and disciplinary approaches used, and the theme.

All proposals should be sent no later than 8 July 2019

via email to estelle.dhalluin@univ- nantes.fr and symposium-vulnerabilite@univ-nantes.fr (in Word .doc format). The authors of the proposals selected will be informed by 19 July 2019, and the deadline for sending the completed materials is 8 October 2019.

Organizing committee

  • Estelle d’Halluin,
  • Clélia Gasquet,
  • Anne-Cécile Hoyez,
  • Julien Long,
  • Sylvie Morel,
  • Isabelle Siffert

Scientific committee

  • Carole Billet,
  • Alexandra Clavier-Mercier,
  • Jean-Marc Chapelain,
  • Samuel Delépine,
  • Estelle d’Halluin,
  • Clélia Gasquet,
  • Emilie Hétreau,
  • Anne-Cécile Hoyez,
  • Hélène Leroy,
  • Sylvie Morel,
  • Isabelle Siffert,
  • Bérangère Taxil


Aumond, Florian, et Nelly Robin. 2017. Young people and Children on the Move. Dossier Parcours migratoires, privation de liberté et vulnérabilité. Vol. 3. Poitiers: Université de Poitiers, Migrinter.

Boublil, Elodie, et Laure Wolmark. 2018. « Vulnérabilité, soin et accueil des demandeurs d’asile ». La Revue des droits de l’homme. Revue du Centre de recherches et d’études sur les droits fondamentaux, no 13. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/revdh/3502.

Brodiez-Dolino, Axelle. 2016. « Le concept de vulnérabilité ». La vie des idées. https://laviedesidees.fr/IMG/pdf/20160211_vulnerable-2.pdf.

Carlier, Jean-Yves. 2017. « Des droits de l’homme vulnérable à la vulnérabilité des droits de l’homme, la fragilité des équilibres ». Revue interdisciplinaire d’études juridiques 79 (2): 175‑204.

Halluin, Estelle d’. 2016. « Le nouveau paradigme des «populations vulnérables» dans les politiques européennes d’asile ». Savoir/Agir, no 2: 21‑26.

Pétin, Joanna. 2017. « La notion de personne vulnérable dans le droit européen de l’asile ».

Jeunes et Mineurs en Mobilité. Young people and Children on the Move 3: 25‑37.


  • Université de Nantes
    Nantes, France (44)


  • Monday, July 08, 2019


  • vulnérabilité, santé, droit d'asile, protection internationale


  • Estelle D'Halluin
    courriel : symposium-vulnerabilite [at] univ-nantes [dot] fr

Information source

  • Isabelle Siffert
    courriel : isabelle [dot] siffert [at] univ-rennes2 [dot] fr


CC0-1.0 This announcement is licensed under the terms of Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal.

To cite this announcement

« Physical and mental vulnerability in populations in need of international protection », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Monday, July 01, 2019, https://calenda.org/646835

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