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About the conference

This expert conference breaks new ground by exploring the role of international humanitarian law (IHL) in the protection of refugees and asylum-seekers. A high-level event, it brings together exciting new contributions from more than twenty leading specialists in the fields of IHL and refugee law - including experts from the ICRC and UNHCR - to take stock of recent developments in law and practice, and to cultivate new approaches to the topic. 

The seven thematic panels of the conference move beyond traditional approaches to IHL and refugee law by assessing the prospects for substantive legal interaction between the two fields. The first day of the conference will explore the extent to which IHL (and international criminal law) may provide interpretative guidance in the asylum context. The second day will be devoted to examining the potential of IHL for preventing refoulement to situations of armed conflict.

This conference will be of direct interest to everyone working in the refugee and humanitarian fields, including lawyers, judges, practitioners and scholars in the areas of IHL, refugee, human rights and EU law, as well as humanitarian workers and academics, military and civilian authorities, policy researchers and students. Substantial opportunities are provided for participants to join in debating and forging new approaches to the themes canvassed by this unique gathering.


Registration has now closed as there are no places remaining. 


Download the conference programme (PDF 144KB)

Day 1
09.50–10.00 Welcome by Jean-François Durieux (Refugee Studies Centre, University of Oxford)

Session I - Interpretation of definitions

This session explores how IHL may inform the interpretation of the ‘refugee’ concept in universal and regional instruments, as well as ‘person eligible for subsidiary protection’ in European law.


Panel I: Theoretical Perspectives

  • Professor Helene Lambert (School of Law, Westminster University) - Armed Conflict and Causation in International Protection: A Selective Role for IHL?’
  • Alice Edwards (Chief of the Protection Policy and Legal Advice Section, UNHCR) - ‘Lessons from Arusha and Cape Town: UNHCR’s Perspective on the Relationship between IHL and International Refugee Law’
  • Ramin Mahnad (Legal Adviser, ICRC) - ‘The Interplay between IHL and Refugee Law: an ICRC perspective’
11.15–11.30 Coffee

Panel II: Laws of War and the 1951 Convention ‘Refugee’ Definition

  • Vanessa Holzer (PhD Candidate, University of Frankfurt) - ‘Persecution and the causal link to a 1951 Convention Ground during Armed Conflict: Insights from International Humanitarian Law’
  • Professor Ryszard Piotrowicz (Department of Law and Criminology, Aberystwyth University); and Dr Stefanie Haumer (German Red Cross) - ‘The Concept of “Protection” under (the influence of) IHL’
  • Professor Geoff Gilbert - School of Law, University of Essex - ‘Exclusion is Not Just about Saying “No”: Taking Exclusion Seriously in Complex Conflicts’
13.00–14.00 Lunch

 Panel III: Regional Approaches to Refugee Protection and IHL

  • Dr Hugo Storey (Senior Judge, UK Upper Tribunal - Asylum and Immigration Chamber) - ‘The “War Flaw” and Why it Matters’
  • Tamara Wood (Law Faculty, University of New SouthWales) - ‘Protection from Aggression: Humanitarian Law and the Interpretation of the African Expanded Definition’
  • Diana Trimiño Mora (Regional Legal Unit for the Americas, UNHCR); and Dr David Cantor (Director, Refugee Law Initiative, University of London) - ‘A Simple Solution to War Refugees? The Latin American Expanded Definition and its relationship to IHL’
15.30–16.00 Coffee

Panel IV: Subsidiary Protection in EU Law

  • Lilian Tsourdi (Faculty of Law, Universite Libre de Bruxelles) - ‘Retaining Relevance? A Critical Analysis of the Impact of the ECtHR and CJEU Jurisprudence on Article 15(c) of the Qualification Directive’
  • Celine Bauloz (Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights) - ‘The (Mis)Use of International Humanitarian Law under Article 15(c) of the EU Qualification Directive’
  • Dr Violeta Moreno-Lax (Law School, Liverpool University) - ‘Back to Basics: Articulating the relationship between EU Asylum Law and International Humanitarian Law’
17.30–18.30 Wine reception
Day 2
09.00–09.15 Welcome by Dr David Cantor (Refugee Law Initiative, University of London)

Session I - Interpretation of definitions (continued)


Panel V: The Protection of Refugees as Civilians

  • Maja Janmyr (Faculty of Law, University of Bergen) - ‘Revisiting the Civilian and Humanitarian Character of Refugee Camps’
  • Stephane Jaquemet (Representative to Nepal, UNHCR) - ‘Expanding Refugee Protection through International Humanitarian Law: Driving on a Highway or Walking near the Edge of the Abyss?’
  • Eric Fripp (Barrister at Law, Lamb Building, Chambers of Avi Feder Esq) - ‘Inclusion of Combatants and Ex-combatants, Child Soldiers, and War Refugees’
10.45–11.00 Coffee

Session II - Protection obligations of States

This session explores the non-refoulement potential of IHL principles and rules, notably those considered part of international customary law, ie the extent to which IHL entails a prohibition to return aliens to territories at war in which their lives, physical integrity or personal security would be at risk.


Panel VI: The IHL Framework on Non-refoulement

  • Professor Françoise Hampson (School of Law, University of Essex) - ‘The Scope of the Obligation Not to Return Fighters’
  • Professor Vincent Chetail (Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies) - ‘The Principle of Non-refoulement at the Crossroads of Humanitarian Law and Human Rights Law: The Transfer of Civilians’
  • Professor Kate Jastram (Berkeley Law Faculty, University of California) - ‘Forced Migration in Non-international Armed Conflict: IHL's Contribution to Protection against Refoulement’
12.30–13.30 Lunch

Panel VII: Perspectives on Protection against Refoulement under IHL

  • Professor Jennifer Moore (Law Faculty, University of NewMexico) - ‘R2P for CivilWar Refugees: Humanitarian Non-refoulement as the Essence of the Responsibility to Protect’
  • Ruvi Ziegler (Lecturer in Law, Reading University) - ‘Grave Breaches of IHL: A “Responsibility to Protect” Refugees’
  • Professor Guy S Goodwin-Gill (All Souls College, Oxford) - ‘Non-refoulement and the “New” Asylum-Seekers’
15.00–15.15 Coffee
15.15–16.30 Final plenary discussion
16.30–16.45 Convenors’ closing thanks



Annual Harrell-Bond Lecture

The Annual Harrell-Bond Lecture is named in honour of Dr Barbara Harrell-Bond, the founding Director of the Refugee Studies Centre. It is held each year in Michaelmas term.

Annual Elizabeth Colson Lecture

The Annual Elizabeth Colson Lecture is held in Trinity term. It is named after Professor Elizabeth Colson, a renowned anthropologist.

Public Seminar Series

Each term the RSC holds a series of public seminars, held on Wednesday evenings at Queen Elizabeth House. Click here for details of forthcoming seminars.

Connect with us

To keep up to date with our events and activities, sign up for email alerts from the RSC and Forced Migration Review, and connect with us on social media.

Forthcoming events

University of Sanctuary Fair, Part 1: University of Oxford as a University of Sanctuary

Wednesday, 24 April 2024, 2pm to 6pm @ Sultan Nazrin Shah Centre, Worcester College, Walton St, Oxford OX1 2HB

Humanitarian extractivism: the digital transformation past, present, future

Wednesday, 08 May 2024, 5pm to 6pm @ Seminar Room 1, Queen Elizabeth House, 3 Mansfield Road, Oxford, OX1 3TB

Film screening and discussion: Missing in Brooks County

Wednesday, 15 May 2024, 5pm to 7pm @ Seminar Room 1, Queen Elizabeth House, 3 Mansfield Road, Oxford, OX1 3TB

Forced Migration on Film: A Conversation with Marc Isaacs | Annual Elizabeth Colson Lecture 2024

Wednesday, 22 May 2024, 5pm to 6.30pm @ Tsuzuki Lecture Theatre, St Anne's College, 56 Woodstock Road, Oxford, OX2 6HS

Book launch: The Politics of Crisis-Making: Forced Displacement and Cultures of Assistance in Lebanon

Wednesday, 29 May 2024, 5pm to 6pm @ Seminar Room 1, Queen Elizabeth House, 3 Mansfield Road, Oxford, OX1 3TB

Skilled worker visas for refugees – a qualitative evaluation of the UK’s Displaced Talent Mobility Pilot

Wednesday, 05 June 2024, 5pm to 6pm @ Seminar Room 1, Queen Elizabeth House, 3 Mansfield Road, Oxford, OX1 3TB