Cookies on this website
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Continue' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Convenor: Professor Michelle Foster
IILAH Programme Director 'International Refugee Law', Associate Dean (Research)
Melbourne Law School

Various forms of externalised border controls impede access to asylum, requiring refugees to undertake increasingly perilous journeys in order to access protection, particularly in Europe and in other developed countries.  Although diverse, these practices share their externalised focus – the functional border has shifted beyond the territorial one, yet asylum continues to be distributed territorially.  It is often assumed that legal duties need to be (re)asserted over these practices.  In particular, it seems to be assumed that these legal duties will enhance access to asylum. This talk seeks to explore that premise, by seeking to understand the impact of the European Court of Human Rights in Hirsi Jamaa v. Italy (Application no. 27765/09, Eur. Ct. H.R. 10 (2012)) to see whether one example of the reassertion of legal duties over extraterritorial border rejection (interdiction at sea) has increased access to asylum.

It reveals the particular multi-level, multi-actor context of the Council of Europe and the European Union, tracing the impact at an individual and institutional level.  At the institutional level, it canvasses the general responses by Italy (the respondent government), and at the various European levels. A range of diverse actors are implicated by the ruling, not merely the Italian state, which is in any event evidently a disaggregated constellation. The ruling’s political impact is refracted through a complex set of institutions, and changed regional politics. The paper thus provides the opportunity to consider the complex institutional constellation at play in the Mediterranean, and has been evident in on-going debates on rescue at sea, safe access to asylum, and further moves to delink responsibility and territory.

Enquiries: (03) 8344 6589; email:

about the speaker

Cathryn Costello is Andrew W. Mellon Associate Professor in International Human Rights and Refugee Law, at the Refugee Studies Centre, Oxford, with a fellowship at St Antony's College. From 2003-2013, she was Francis Reynolds Fellow & Tutor in EU & Public law at Worcester College, Oxford, during which time she also completed her DPhil studies on EU asylum and immigration law. Cathryn has published widely on many aspects of asylum, migration and human rights law, including the EU Common European Asylum System, EU migration regulation, the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, EU Citizenship and third country national family members, family reunification and immigration detention.  She has co-edited a collection (with Mark Freedland) on the intersection of labour and migration law, Migrants at Work:  Immigration and Vulnerability in Labour Law (OUP, 2015). Her monograph on the Human Rights of Migrants in European Law will be published by OUP later in 2015.

related content

Cathryn Costello People