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Making International Refugee Law Relevant Again: How to Move Beyond Crisis Thinking

Monday, October 02, 2017,
  • Location: Vanderbilt University Law School, Renaissance Room 036

In this presentation, Professor Hathaway suggests that the language of crisis is overstated. There is of course little doubt that the international refugee regime as presently implemented is an abject mess; it does not meet the needs of developed countries, of the poorer states that host the overwhelming majority of the world’s refugees, much less of refugees themselves. Yet the regime as implemented bears little resemblance to the approach actually agreed to by international treaty. The challenge, then, is not to come up with new law, but is rather to adopt insurance-style mechanisms to do what we have already promised to do in a dependable and managed way.   

James C. Hathaway, the James E. and Sarah A. Degan Professor of Law and Director of the Program in Refugee and Asylum Law at the University of Michigan since 1998, 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 also Distinguished Visiting Professor of International Refugee Law at the University of Amsterdam. Hathaway earned law degrees from the Osgoode Hall Law School (Toronto) (LL.B. Honours) and Columbia (LL.M., J.S.D.), and has received doctoral degrees honoris causa from the Université catholique de Louvain (2009) and University of Amsterdam (2017).

This event is free and open to the public. Lunch will be served. The event is co-sponsored by the International Legal Studies Program, the College of Arts and Sciences, the Robert Penn Warren Center’s Law and Literature Seminar, and the Department of Political Science.


Visitors should park in the Terrace Place Garage, spaces 41-92, at the corner of 21st Ave. South and Terrace Place, or the Wesley Place Garage, spaces 52-170, at the corner of 21st Ave. South and Scarritt Place. Parking costs range from $4.00 to $12.00 at these garages. Both are within walking distance of the law school.