Violations of the principle of non-refoulement, or pushbacks, at the European border have been discussed by international institutions and civil society. Refugees and other migrants are being arbitrarily arrested, detained, and eventually pushed back. Little research has been conducted analyzing this illegal practice and no research has been carried out analyzing the discourse produced around this phenomenon. Therefore, this thesis studies the discourse around pushbacks. Four discourses are being used to analyze the discourse around pushbacks, namely the security threat, national identity, victimization, and human rights discourse. Congruence analysis has been applied to the cases of Greece and Hungary. Moreover, realism and constructivism have been used as the theoretical approaches within this congruence analysis. The security threat discourse falls under realism, and the national identity, victimization and human rights discourse have been discussed under constructivist theory. The results analyze which theoretical approach can best explain the discourse around pushbacks. Discourse produced by governmental actors, NGOs, and international media has been considered. The analysis shows that the human rights and victimization discourse were identified most often, meaning that constructivism, with NGOs as the dominant actor, can best explain the discourse produced. However, since the security threat discourse was also identified, realism plays a complementary role

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Dr. Asya Zhelyazkova, Prof. Dr. Darren McCauley
Public Administration
Erasmus School of Social and Behavioural Sciences

Madelon van Diepen. (2022, June 29). Illegal pushbacks in Europe: Morally unacceptable, yet widely occurring. Public Administration. Retrieved from