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Refugee Solutions or Solutions to Refugeehood

With the Heythrop Institute for Religion, Ethics & Public Life and the Jesuit Refugee Service (UK)

James C Hathaway, introduced by Leslie Vinjamuri
Tuesday 17 October 2006


Much current official rhetoric emphasises the primacy of finding 'durable solutions' to refugeehood, in particular by vigorous promotion of 'voluntary repatriation'. This seminar questions the soundness of that approach. In particular, it will be suggested that the goal of refugee law is not to pathologise refugeehood and hence single-mindedly to pursue means of "curing" that status. To the contrary, refugee law exists precisely in order to ensure that refugees enjoy true dignity and quality of life for as long as it takes them to decide for themselves how best to cope, to respond, and to rebuild their lives.

This seminar was jointly sponsored by the Heythrop Institute for Religion, Ethics & Public Life, the Centre for the Study of Human Rights, LSE, and the Jesuit Refugee Service (UK), to mark the 25th anniversary of JRS.

James C Hathaway is a leading authority on international refugee law, whose work is regularly cited by the most senior courts of the common law world. He is the founding director of the University of Michigan's innovative Program in Refugee and Asylum Law, in which students have the opportunity to study refugee law from international, comparative, and interdisciplinary perspectives. He is also Senior Visiting Research Associate at Oxford University's Refugee Studies Programme and President of the Cuenca Colloquium on International Refugee Law. Hathaway was previously Professor of Law and Associate Dean of the Osgoode Hall Law School (Toronto), and has been a visiting professor at the Universities of Cairo, California, and Tokyo. He regularly provides training on refugee law to academic, non-governmental, and official audiences around the world.

Hathaway's publications include more than fifty journal articles, a leading treatise on the refugee definition (The Law of Refugee Status, 1991), an interdisciplinary study of models for refugee law reform (Reconceiving International Refugee Law, 1997) and, most recently, The Rights of Refugees under International Law (2005) - the first comprehensive analysis of the human rights of refugees set by the UN Refugee Convention, all linked to key international human rights norms and applied to the world's most difficult protection challenges. He is a member of the Board of Directors of Asylum Access, sits on the editorial boards of the Journal of Refugee Studies and of the Immigration and Nationality Law Reports, and directs the Refugee Caselaw Site, a ground-breaking web site for refugee law judges, scholars, and practitioners that collects, indexes, and publishes leading judgments on refugee law.