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In collaboration with Professor Maja Janmyr (University of Oslo), Cathryn Costello leads a work package in the Horizon 2020 project ASILE, a scholarly network on European and global asylum policies. The project studies the interactions between emerging international protection systems and the United Nations Global Compact for Refugees (UN GCR), with particular focus on the European Union’s role and contribution. Our work package is titled ‘Refugee Recognition, Self-Reliance and Rights’. Postdoctoral scholars working on this work package include Dr Lewis Turner (University of Newcastle) and Dr M Sanjeeb Hossain (University of Oslo).

Objectives and outcomes

The work package on Refugee Recognition, Self-Reliance and Rights will facilitate a better understanding of how refugee protection is allocated and the rights enjoyed by refugees, in particular by providing critical insights into institutional practices employing the concepts of 'vulnerability' and 'self-reliance'.

It will provide knowledge on Refugee Status Determination (RSD) practices in six case study countries, and in-depth comparative case study on the refugee recognition regimes in Jordan and Bangladesh.

Particular focus will be given to RSD, its links with resettlement, and the risks that refugee protection will be undermined by treating refugees instead as 'vulnerable migrants', or rationing refugee protection only to those deemed 'vulnerable'. Given the focus on self-reliance and work rights, the links between these issues and 'vulnerability assessments'. will be explored in the case-studies.

Questions that will be explored include: How does having the right to work, and obtaining work, potentially both mitigate and create exposure to different harms? How is this different for refugees of different genders, nationalities, skill levels, and class statuses, who all often experience different conditions, rewards, and harms at work? How do refugees themselves understand 'vulnerability' and the gains and harms that might accrue from the right to work?

In-depth case studies

Jordan and Bangladesh are chosen as in-depth case studies for four reasons:

  1. They are on the list of the world's top ten refugee-hosting countries and are currently dealing with deeply protracted refugee situations.
  2. They have informal and weak refugee recognition processes.
  3. They have weak refugee rights protection, as evidenced by mobility and work restrictions. 
  4. The EU and its Member States have a role in sustaining the status quo, and perhaps leveraging better protection.


ASILE is funded by the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 870787.


Team members

Professor Cathryn Costello (formerly RSC, now now Full Professor of Global Refugee and Migration Law, Sutherland School of Law, University College Dublin)

Professor Maja Janmyr (University of Oslo)

Dr M Sanjeeb Hossain (University of Oslo)

Dr Lewis Turner (University of Newcastle)

Nora Milch Johnsen (University of Oslo)