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Report on means to address the human rights impact of pushbacks of migrants on land and at sea

12 May 2021
Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants
To the Human Rights Council at its 47th session, June 2021


Pursuant to Human Rights Council Resolution 43/6, the Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants is mandated “To examine ways and means to overcome the obstacles existing to the full and effective protection of the human rights of migrants, recognizing the particular vulnerability of women, children and those undocumented or in an irregular situation (paragraph 1 (a), A/HRC/RES/43/6)”. In carrying out his mandate, the Special Rapporteur has decided to dedicate his forthcoming report to the 47th session of the Human Rights Council to explore ways and means to address the human rights impact of pushbacks of migrants on land and at sea.


Through examining current practices and trends, the Special Rapporteur wishes to provide recommendations to States on how to better protect the human rights of migrants at international borders, in line with existing international human rights standards. He is also interested in learning from States any challenges or obstacles they face in ensuring access for migrants to international protection at international borders, as a means to prevent pushbacks; as well as views on how States’ efforts can be better supported by other stakeholders to ensure that their operationalization respects and protects the human rights of migrants.

Key questions and types of input sought

In the absence of an internationally agreed upon definition of “pushbacks” in the context of global migration and for the purpose of the present research, the Special Rapporteur describes “pushbacks” as “various measures taken by States which result in migrants, including asylum seekers, being summarily forced back to the country from where they attempted to cross or have crossed an international border without access to international protection or asylum procedures or denied of any individual assessment on their protection needs which may lead to a violation of the principle of non-refoulement.” Pushback practices demonstrate a denial of State’s international obligation to protect the human rights of migrants at international borders. Pushbacks result in human rights violations such as forced returns without individual assessment and often collective expulsions with high risk of refouelment, including chain refoulement. The Special Rapporteur would be grateful for submissions from Member States, civil society, academia, NHRIs and other stakeholders.

Download the questionnaire (PDF): English | Français | Español

Inputs received (non-exhaustive list)

Member States

United Nations institutions and other international organizations

NHRIs and other national institutions

Civil society organizations and academia