Special Issue "Refugees and International Law: The Challenge of Protection"

A special issue of Laws (ISSN 2075-471X).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 May 2019

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Prof. James C. Simeon

Head of McLaughlin College, 224 McLaughlin College, York University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M3J 1P3
Website | E-Mail
Interests: refugee and forced migration studies; international refugee law; international human rights law; international criminal law; international humanitarian law; public policy and administration

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The current global “refugee crisis” is unprecedented. According to the UNHCR, in 2017, the number of persons forcibly displaced from their homes averaged, incredibly, 44,400 per day, 16.2 million people were newly displaced, 52 percent of the world’s refugees were children, under 18 years, there were 3.1 million asylum-seekers worldwide, and, there were 68.5 million people forcibly displaced. The 2016 New York Declaration on Refugees and Migrants and the 2017 Global Compact on Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration are prime examples of how the United Nations and the international community have attempted to respond to the global “refugee crisis.” Ineluctably, the significance of international law is becoming ever more relevant and important to the protection of refugees and other forced migrants’ fundamental human rights and dignity. This Special Issue will complement the existing ever growing academic literature on refugees by focussing specifically on how international law, in general, can strengthen the protection of the world’s most vulnerable people, refugees. The Special Issue will be focussed primarily on international refugee law, but, it will also encompass how international human rights law, international humanitarian law, and, international criminal law can enhance refugee protection globally.

The unprecedented number of persons forcibly displaced in the world today, according to the UNHCR, has now exceeded 68.5 million. Astonishingly, more than two-thirds of the refugees worldwide came from five countries: the Syrian Arab Republic (6.3 million); Afghanistan (2.6 million); South Sudan (2.4 million); Myanmar (1.2 million); and, Somalia (986,400). All of these countries have been embroiled in protracted armed conflict for years. Most states, particularly in the Global North, are doing what they can to close their borders and restrict access to international protection, contrary to their obligations under international law. International refugee law is at the very core of our most fundamental human right to seek protection from persecution and the peremptory norm of non-refoulement. Other branches of international law are vitally important in the protection of refugees, including: international human rights law, international humanitarian law, and international criminal law.

This Special Issue provides a forum for addressing some of the critical legal issues involving refugees and international law. Possible legal issues include, but are not limited to the following: When and how can international humanitarian law and international criminal law advance the protection of refugees? What other branches of public international law can support and inform the application and interpretation of international refugee law while enhancing the protection of those seeking asylum? How can international human rights law best be applied to strengthen the protection of refugees at all stages of the refugee cycle? Given the fractured nature of international criminal law jurisprudence, how can it best be applied and interpreted to ensure that refugee protection is not compromised, the impunity gap is not widened, and, justice is done? What is required to ensure that international refugee law is uniformly and consistently applied across states and the UNHCR?

Contributions to this Special Issue of Laws on these and other related questions that deal with the central theme of “Refugees and International Law: The Challenge of Protection” are most welcomed.

Prof. James C. Simeon
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Laws is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charges (APCs) of 350 CHF (Swiss Francs) per published paper are partially funded by institutions through Knowledge Unlatched for a limited number of papers per year. Please contact the editorial office before submission to check whether KU waivers, or discounts are still available. Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


Betts, Alexander and Collier, Paul. Refuge: Rethinking Refugee Policy in a Changing World. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017.                       

Betts, Alexander and Collier, Paul. Refuge: Transforming a Broken Refugee System. London: Penguin Random House, 2017.

Chimni, B. S. ed., International Refugee Law: A Reader. New Delhi, Thousand Oaks, California: Sage Publications, 2000.

Clark, Tom. The Global Refugee Regime: Charity, Management and Human Rights. 2nd Edition, Victoria, B.C.: Trafford Publishing, 2008.

Clark, Tom. Singh to Suresh: Non-Citizens, the Canadian Courts and Human Rights Obligations, Victoria, B.C.: Trafford Publishing, 2006.

Dauvergne, Catherine. Making People Illegal: What Globalization Means for Migration and Law. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008.

Dauvergne, Catherine. The New Politics of Immigration and the End of Settler Societies. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016.

Edwards, Alice, Violence against Women and International Human Rights Law.  Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011.

Feller, Erika; Turk, Volker; Nicholson, Frances, (eds.) Refugee Protection in International Law: UNHCR’s Global Consultations on International Protection. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003.

Fiddian-Qasmiyeh, Elena; Loescher, Gil; Long, Katy; Sigona, Nando, eds. The Oxford Handbook on Refugee and Forced Migration Studies. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014.

Hathaway, James C. The Rights of Refugees in International Law. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005.

Hathaway, James C. and Foster, Michelle. The Law of Refugee Status. Second Edition, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014.

Goodwin-Gill, Guy S. and Lambert Helene (eds.) The Limits of Transnational Law: Refugee Law, Policy Harmonization and Judicial Dialogue in the European Community. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010.

Goodwin-Gill, Guy S. and McAdam, Jane. The Refugee in International Law. Third Edition, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007.

Jones, Martin and Baglay, Sasha, Refugee Law. Toronto, Irwin Law, 2007.

Kneebone, Susan. (ed.) Refugees, Asylum Seekers and the Rule of Law: Comparative Perspectives. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009.

Li, Yao. Exclusion from Protection as a Refugee: An Approach to Harmonizing Interpretation. Leiden: Brill Nijhoff, 2017.

Loescher, Gil, Betts, Alexander, Milner, James. United Nations Higher Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR): The Politics and Practice of Refugee Protection into the Twenty-First Century. London and New York: Routledge, 2008.

Price, Matthew E. Rethinking Asylum: History, Purpose, Limits. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009.

Simeon, James C. (ed.), Critical Issues in International Refugee Law: Strategies Towards Interpretative Harmony. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010.

Simeon, James C. (ed.), The UNHCR and the Supervision of International Refugee Law. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013.

UNHCR, Global Trends: Forced Displacement in 2017, Geneva, Switzerland, 2018, http://www.unhcr.org/5b27be547.pdf (accessed on 26 August 2018)

United Nations General Assembly, Resolution Adopted by the Assembly 19 September 2016, A/RES/71/1, New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants, http://www.un.org/en/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=A/RES/71/1 (accessed on 26 August 2018)

United Nations, Refugees and Migrants, “Compact for migration,” https://refugeesmigrants.un.org/migration-compact (accessed August 27, 2018)

van Sliedregt, Elies. The Criminal Responsibility of Individuals for Violations of International Humanitarian Law. The Hague: TMC Asser Press, 2003,

van Sliedregt, Elies and Vasiliev, Sergey. (eds.) Pluralism in International Criminal Law. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014.

Whittaker, David, Asylum Seekers and Refugees in the Contemporary World. London: Routledge, 2006.

Zambelli, Pia, Annotated Refugee Convention 2009. Toronto: Thomas Caswell, 2009.


  • Refugees and International Law
  • International Refugee Law
  • International Human Rights Law
  • International Criminal Law
  • International Humanitarian Law

Published Papers

This special issue is now open for submission.
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