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Examining practices of asylum and the role of international and domestic courts in refugee protection

Syrian refugees line up to cross the border between Hungary and Austria © Mstyslav Chernov
Syrian refugees line up to cross the border between Hungary and Austria

This project aimed to identify the new dynamics in international refugee law whereby basic protective principles are under strain, yet courts, civil society and refugees reassert rights to protection. The project examined the role of international and domestic courts in refugee protection. It problematized the practices of asylum in some developed countries, sometimes of dubious legality, which undermine refugee protection in different ways. The first strand related to measures to preclude access to asylum; the second to measures to undermine the reliability of refugee status determination; the third sought to clarify the obligations to refugees beyond the 1951 Refugee Convention.

The first output was an article by Michelle Foster and Cathryn Costello for the Netherlands Yearbook of International Law on the role of jus cogens norms in refugee protection, which forms part of a special edition exploring jus cogens across different domains of international law. In particular, the piece examines the status of non-refoulement as a norm of customary international law, and potentially a peremptory norm of international law.

The project was seed funded by the Allan Myers Oxford-Melbourne Academic Exchange Programme, which has facilitated the collaboration between Cathryn Costello and Michelle Foster. Michelle Foster is a leading expert in refugee law. Her scholarship includes International Refugee Law and Socio-Economic Rights: Refuge from Deprivation (Cambridge University Press, 2007, Winner of the University of Melbourne’s Woodward Medal in 2009) and with James Hathaway, The Law of Refugee Status: Second Edition (Cambridge University Press, 2014).

The team


Formerly Andrew W Mellon Professor of International Refugee and Migration Law, RSC / now Full Professor of Global Refugee and Migration Law at the Sutherland School of Law, University College Dublin


Professor and Director, Peter McMullin Centre on Statelessness, Melbourne Law School

Selected publications