Workshop: Refugees and vulnerability. How vulnerability is addressed and shaped in the Norwegian asylum policy and practices

March 29, 2023

On February 2023, 8, Hilde Liden, leader of the VULNER Norwegian team, organized a workshop to launch their second research report, which analysed the experiences of vulnerabilities among migrants seeking protection in Norway.

The event was introduced by Tanja Storsul, and the discussions were led by Jan-Paul Brekke. It included presentations by Hilde Liden and Jessica Schultz. Marry-Anne Karlsen, Gro Anna Persheim, and Pål Nesse, acted as discussants, before an open exchange with the room.

The audience consisted of representatives from the immigration authorities (Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Children and Families, Ministry of Labour and Integration, Directorate of Immigration UDI, Directorate of Integration IMDI, Directorate of Children, Young people and Families Bufdir), volunteers’ organisations (NOAS, Save the Children, Red Cross, organisation for legal guardians and representatives of unaccompanied minors), practitioners (in reception centres for refugees), and researchers (including researchers in Bergen and Tromsø).

After the exchanges on the report, a research seminar was organized to further discuss and question whether the current policy focus on ‘vulnerability’ strengthens, or limits, migrants’ rights.

The discussions focused on the malleability and ambiguity of the concept of ‘vulnerability’; its juridification and the implications for migrants (as it particularizes protection); the role 'vulnerability’ plays in shaping the discretionary practices of decision-makers, and the possible mismatch between policy intentions and concrete results on the ground; how different actors in the field understood and applied the concept of ‘vulnerability’ in relation to protection seekers’ needs; how ‘vulnerability’ may mask structural forms of injustice, as well as the violence of contemporary legal regimes; how ‘vulnerability’ may apply to describing the experiences of Ukrainian protection seekers, who are often (misleadingly) described as resourceful; and, lastly, the challenges that practitioners meet when catering for migrants’ protection needs, given their complex identities and experiences.

The event included presentations from Hilde Liden, Marry-Anne Karlsen, Jessica Schultz, Erlend Paasche, Kathinka Fossum Evertsen, Dorina Damsa, Nerina Weiss, Oleksandria Deineko, and Berit Berg.

The seminar showed the need for academic engagement with the concept, particularly given its popularity among policy makers and politicians, with consequences for protection seekers’ lives.

The second VULNER research report on Norway can be found here (

Go to Editor View