Humanitarian  Exception

Humanitarian exception is a partial or complete suspension of rights, or a state of legal uncertainty, which occurs through the creation of a special humanitarian space, outside, on the borders or within a territory regulated by law, by the application of humanitarian power. In the contemporary context, as shown by Didier Fassin and Paula Velasquez (2005) for the humanitarian state of emergency, it is a common occurrence and a part of legitimate state policies which suspend the legal order of a state for a certain length of time and in a certain area, or renders it ambivalent. Humanitarian exception can also come from the application of securitarian-humanitarian policies aimed at exacting control over irregularized migration. Such an exception was in force in the territories of several states in which the ad-hoc organized and internationally regulated Balkan refugee corridor was active in 2015 and 2016 (Petrović 2018). The humanitarian exception in the Balkan corridor was reflected, among other things, in the fact that its formation and purpose – the transit and detention of migrants – had no basis in the legislation of the European Union, nor in national legislation (cf., e.g., Kogovšek Šalamon 2016).



Fassin, Didier and Vasquez, Paula. 2005. "Humanitarian Exception as the Rule. The Political Theology of the 1999 Tragedia in Venezuela". American Ethnologist 32/3: 389-405.

Kogovšek Šalamon, Neža. 2016. „Legal Implication’s of ‘Humanitarian Corridor’“. In Razor-Wired. Reflections on Migration Movements through Slovenia in 2015. Neža Kogovšek Šalamon and Veronika Bajt, eds. Ljubljana: Peace Institute, 39–49.

Petrović, Duško. 2018. "Humanitarian Exceptionalism. Normalization of Suspension of Law in Camp and Corridor". In Formation and Disintegration of the Balkan Refugee Corridor. Camps, Routes and Borders in Croatian Context. Emina Bužinkić and Marijana Hameršak, eds. Zagreb and München: Institute of Ethnology and Folklore Research, Centre for Peace Studies, Faculty of Political Science University of Zagreb – Centre for Ethnicity, Citizenship and Migration, e.V., 43-63. 

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