Migrant Smuggling Observatory (MSO)

The Migrant Smuggling Observatory (MSO) at the Migration Policy Centre of the European University Institute provides evidence-based research on smuggling practices. Born from a collective effort to better inform policy makers, media and law enforcement, and to foster a community of smuggling scholars, MSO draws from the expertise of a global network of researchers to provide accurate, reliable and data-driven research and forecasts concerning smuggling and its actors. Furthermore, our social sciences approach also uses a human rights lens to understand the motivations of facilitators and the dynamics of the communities where they operate. We work in close collaboration with international organizations on policy and research development, hold research seminars and conferences, publish academic and policy pieces, and carry out in-depth analysis on smuggling around the world.

Project goals:

1. Build a strong empirical, ground-up framework on migrant smuggling research
2. Contribute evidence-based research to the dialogs on counter-smuggling, border protection and human rights policy
3. Strengthen the community of smuggling researchers at the global level, with a special focus on fostering the careers of junior, female and minority scholars.

MPC researchers associated with this project:

Gabriella Sanchez

  • Sanchez, Gabriella, Rezart Hoxaj, Sabrina Nardin, Andrew Geddes, Luigi Achilli, Sonja Kalantaryan. Study on the communication channels used by migrants and asylum seekers in Italy with a particular focus on online and social media. Migration Policy Centre, European University Institute. 2018.
  • Sanchez, Gabriella and Sheldon Zhang (2018) “Rumors, Encounters, Collaborations, Survival: The Migrant Smuggling-Drug Trafficking Nexus in the US Southwest.” The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 676, no. 1 (2018): 135-151.
  • Zhang, Sheldon, Gabriella Sanchez and Luigi Achilli, L. (2018) “Crimes of Solidarity in Mobility: alternative views on migrant smuggling,” The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 676(1):6-15.
  • Zhang, Sheldon, Gabriella Sanchez and Luigi Achilli (eds.) Migrant Smuggling as a Collective Strategy and Insurance Policy: Views from the Margins. Special Issue of THE ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Sciences, vol. 676, March 2018.
  • Sanchez, Gabriella. Children and irregular migration practices: Missing children or missing data? International Organization for Migration (IOM). Special Issue on Child Migration, Migration Policy Practice. 2018: 8(2):30-33.
  • Sanchez, Gabriella. “‘Circuit Children’: The experiences and perspectives of children engaged in migrant smuggling facilitation on the US-Mexico border.” Anti-Trafficking Review 11 (2018): 103-119.
  • Sanchez, Gabriella. “Five misconceptions about migrant smuggling.” Migration Policy Centre Policy Briefs, European University Institute (2018).
  • Sanchez, Gabriella. “Portrait of a Human Smuggler: Race, Class and gender among Facilitators of Irregular Migration on the US Mexico Border.” In Palma, A., Vasquez, Y. and Bosworth, M.. eds. Enforcing the Boundaries of Belonging: Race, Criminal Justice and Migration Control. Oxford University Press, London. (2018) 29-42.
  • Achilli, Luigi and Gabriella Sanchez (2017). “Methodological Approaches in Human Smuggling Research: Documenting Irregular Migration Facilitation in the Americas and the Middle East.” Special Issue: Measuring Irregular Migration Innovative Data Practices. Migration Policy and Practice Journal 7(2): 21-25. International Organization for Migration, Berlin.
  • Achilli, Luigi, and Gabriella Sanchez. “What does it mean to disrupt the business models of people smugglers?” Migration Policy Centre Policy Briefs, European University Institute (2017).
  • Sanchez, Gabriella (ed.) Special Issue on Child Migration, Migration Policy Practice. vol. VIII (2). Berlin: International Organization for Migration (IOM).
  • Sanchez, Gabriella. “Contemporary, Critical Perspectives on Migrant and Refugee Smuggling: An Overview.” Journal of Human Security and Migration, 2017: 5(1)9-27.
  • Sánchez, Gabriella. “Women’s Participation in the Facilitation of Human Smuggling: The Case of the US Southwest.” Geopolitics 21, (2016) 2: 387-406.