The role of security and defence companies in EU migration and border control and the impact on the protection of the rights of refugees, migrants and asylum seekers.


Contemporary border control and migration management policies and practices of the European Union are structured within a framework characterised by an intimate collaboration between public and private interests, with public interests broadly represented by EU agencies and member states, and private interests by security and defence companies, lobbying consultancies, law firms, universities and research institutes. Particularly defining about the public-private collaboration is the increased reliance on advanced and innovative border technologies which are developed and deployed with the dual aim of controlling irregular migration, and simultaneously, sealing off and securing the European borders. These advanced and innovative border technologies range from pre-screening technologies like biometrics comprising of facial features and fingerprints, to land and maritime surveillance by technologically advanced systems like early warning radar systems and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that can detect suspicious movements or vessels from a certain distance. This has created a market for technologically advanced software, technologies and equipment that is shaped, supported and provided primarily by major security and defence companies such as Airbus (formerly known as EADS and henceforth Airbus/EADS), Finmeccanica (now known as Leonardo), Thales, BAE Systems, and Safran, in collaboration with software companies, universities, research centres and think-tanks making migration control a profitable and viable option.


Richa Kumar, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), September 2020.

Date Published

September 1, 2020

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