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Re-examining refugee protection through a lens of mobility and migration

None © C Nalule
Kakuma Refugee Camp, Kenya, July 2019

Project aims

This project has two principal aims, the first being to re-examine refugee protection through a lens of mobility and migration, and secondly, to bring scholarship on refugee law into conversation with the practices of the refugee regime, in particular to subject the latter to legal scrutiny. It will re-examine three key aspects of the refugee regime – access to protection, refugee recognition, and refugee rights – and bring them into conversation with the refugee regime’s norms and practices on responsibility-sharing and solutions.

Crucially, the project takes a long and broad view of the refugee regime, in order to open up new possibilities and trajectories. It also brings critical new insights into the regime, by undertaking a legal assessment of the role of states that have not ratified the Refugee Convention, as well as a strong focus on non-state actors, including UNHCR’s role in refugee recognition, protection and containment. The Recognising Refugees strand will focus on the diverse modes of recognition in Kenya, Lebanon, South Africa and Turkey. The project also examines the role of international organisations in the global refugee and migration regimes, with a particular focus on the role of the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

Read the ERC Press release on the project.

Fieldwork countries

We will undertake interviews to examine law and practice relating to the refugee regime. The countries under study are:

  • Turkey
  • Lebanon
  • Kenya
  • South Africa


 EU flag

Our team

  • Cathryn Costello
    Cathryn Costello

    Andrew W Mellon Professor of International Refugee and Migration Law / Professor of Fundamental Rights and Co-Director, Centre for Fundamental Rights, Hertie School, Berlin

  • Caroline Nalule
    Caroline Nalule

    Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Refugees are Migrants

  • Derya Ozkul
    Derya Ozkul

    Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Refugees are Migrants

  • Bryony Varnam
    Bryony Varnam

    Project Administrator, Refugees are Migrants


●  Stakeholder workshops to build networks of interested scholars, practitioners & international organisation staff in Turkey, Lebanon, South Africa & Kenya and the UK

●  Our aim is to further develop a legal and institutional analysis of the International Organization of Migration (IOM) to: increase the empirical evidence base of IOM activities, trace and explain the development of the IOM’s mandate and activities, examine the IOMs legal obligations qua international organisations, analyse the role of the IOM in the UN system

●  A series of public seminars that will also be podcast to reach an international audience

●  A new series of working papers and policy briefs

●  A forthcoming special issue of Forced Migration Review on refugee status determination – published in English French, Spanish and Arabic with each issue being distributed in over 160 countries

●  We will develop new methodology to study institutional decision-making in the refugee status determination process, this will inform a book concerned with the Recognition of Refugees including comparative work on EU asylum procedures and processes in other regions

●  A book critically reviewing international refugee law


November 2018

Workshop – Accountability for Human Rights Violations in Migration Control: New Frontiers of Individual and Organisational Responsibility

February 2019

Workshop – The Global Governance of Migration - Spotlight on International Organization for Migration

December 2019

Workshop – Recognising Refugees

November 2020

Authors' workshop – Spotlight on the IOM: Obligations, Accountability and Ethos

January 2021

Authors' workshop – RefMig country reports

February 2021

Conference – Politics of the Migrant/Refugee Binary