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This term's series is convened by Dr Cathryn Costello in association with the Oxford Human Rights Hub

Lines of people sleep rough on Petrou Ralli Street in Athens in a queue to apply for asylum © UNHCR / K. Kehayioy
Lines of people sleep rough on Petrou Ralli Street in Athens in a queue to apply for asylum

It is now widely accepted that refugee protection is a form of human rights protection and that refugee law should be interpreted in light of developments in international human rights law. Yet, the relationship between refugee and human rights law and institutions is more complex than often supposed.

The series will explore the confluences, constraints and contradictions between human rights commitments, asylum and refugee protection. Human rights law is often invoked to prompt progressive developments in refugee law, as will be explored in relation to LGBTI and child refugees. However, the series will also consider the potential risks inherent in subsuming refugee law into human rights law, such as unsettling the particular compromise between refugee protection and border controls embodied in the Refugee Convention, and undermining the specificities of the concept of persecution. Moreover, such a move may be risky at a time when the institution of asylum, and refugee protection more broadly, are under increasing strain. States continue to seek to limit or evade their responsibilities, and UNHCR must ration its scarce protective resources.

In light of this reality, how should we interpret the apparent consensus that refugee protection is a matter of human rights obligation? Does a human rights approach help address contemporary challenges to refugee protection, such as the increasing criminalisation of migration and the culture of disbelief tainting refugee status determination? Does it help inform developments in UNHCR's mandate and practice, such as its contested role in providing security in the context of humanitarian crises? These and many other questions will be addressed in this series.

Hilary term seminars

22 January 2014
At the end of the rainbow: where next for the LGBTI refugee?
S Chelvan (No5 Chambers)

29 January 2014
Turning wrongful convictions into rights? Asylum seekers and the criminal law
Dr Ana Aliverti (Warwick School of Law)

5 February 2014
The child in international refugee law
Jason Pobjoy (Blackstone Chambers)

12 February 2014
Three asylum paradigms
Jean-François Durieux (RSC and The Graduate Institute, Geneva)

19 February 2014
Refugees, forced migrants and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights
Dr David Cantor (Refugee Law Initiative)

26 February 2014
The right to seek and obtain asylum under the African human rights system
Dr Chaloka Beyani (London School of Economics)

5 March 2014
Creation, imagination, speculation: age assessment and the asylum procedure
Professor Gregor Noll (Lund University)

12 March 2014
The rise and decline of a global security actor: UNHCR, refugee protection and security
Dr Anne Hammerstad (University of Kent)


The Hilary term Public Seminar Series is convened in association with the Oxford Human Rights Hub. Seminars take place at 5pm every Wednesday in Seminar Room 1, Oxford Department of International Development, 3 Mansfield Road, Oxford OX1 3TB. All welcome.

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