JJUA55112U International Migration Law

Volume 2020/2021

Migration has become one of the most important challenges for the international community, as evidenced by the New York Declaration on Refugees and Migrants adopted in September 2016 by the UN General Assembly. The irregular migration flows towards Europe put the institutions of the EU under strain and test the political and social stability of the Member States. The course has the ambition to bring some clarity to this complex area of law and policy, and discusses the various policy alternatives that the European Union and the United Nations face. Moreover, it will discuss migration as a dimension of globalization, and will engage with the dimension of security. It will also explore related international legal institutions, such as diplomatic asylum and diplomatic protection. Overall, the course explores the international, European and human rights dimensions of immigration and refugee law and policy. Here are the themes that will be addressed in readings and will be discussed in class:


  1. Immigration under international law and European law, including the UN system, the European Union and its relevant legal acts, and the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR)
  2. Rights and status of refugees, including in particular under the 1951 Refugee Convention and the 1967 Protocol, the relevant EU law, and the Common European Asylum System (CEAS)
  3. The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) and the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) on asylum and immigration
  4. The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
  5. The current crisis in the Mediterranean, its root causes, and the foreign and defence policy response of the EU (CFSP/CSDP)
  6. The Syrian conflict, the collapse of authority in Libya, and poverty in Africa as major factors for the generation of migration and refugee flows
  7. Smuggling and trafficking of migrants
  8. Immigration and asylum in Asia, including, in particular, the flight from North Korea
  9. Migration in the Americas, the building of the wall across the US-Mexican border and the policies of the Trump Administration on migration and asylum
  10. Asylum institutions in Latin America, in particular diplomatic asylum
  11. The jurisprudence of the International Court of Justice on immigration and asylum law


The course offers an integrated and coherent guidance for the analysis of the multiple and interrelated normative systems of migration law, and reflects on the functions and significance of migration in the era of globalization.


This course is part of iCourts Excellence Programme (iEP) – International Law and Courts in a Global World, please see 'Remarks' below.

Learning Outcome


  • Students can explore questions of immigration and refugee law from the perspectives of international law, EU law, and human rights law;
  • They acquire a good knowledge of rules, principles, and methods of the above three systems;
  • Students familiarize themselves with both law and policy, and are expected to be able to distinguish between the two modes of analysis;
  • They will acquire a good knowledge on how different societies respond to the challenge of migration.


  • Students will be able to provide solutions in simple cases;
  • They will be able to analyze the policy consequences of selecting among more interpretive alternatives;
  • Students will be able to critically discuss future developments in the area of migration, distill facts from fiction, and make their own judgment on the issues.
  • Students will be able to make a reasoned balancing between the competing interests of protection of migrants, in particular refugees, and security.


  • Students will be able to handle new disputes and situations involving migration law and policy;
  • As practitioners, including independent lawyers, NGO professionals, or advisors in state agencies, they will be able to process new cases, identify the applicable norms and propose the appropriate policies;
  • Most importantly, they will be familiar with the methodological approach towards resolving new problems, and will be able to select the appropriate legal and policy framework for their analysis.

Course materials will comprise of around 750 pages, drawn from the core texts listed below and from journal articles, book chapters and press and policy pieces to be provided separately. Students do not need to buy any of the books.

Andreas Zimmermann (ed.), The 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol (Oxford University Press 2011)

Hailbronner/Thym (eds), EU Immigration and Asylum Law – A Commentary, 2nd edition (Beck/Hart/Nomos 2016)

Ryszard Cholewinski, Richard Perruchoud and Euan MacDonald (eds), International Migration Law: Developing Paradigms and Key Challenges (TMC Asser Press 2007).

Brian Opeskin, Richard Perruchoud and Jillyanne Redpath-Cross (eds), Foundations of International Migration Law (Cambridge University Press 2012)

Marc R Rosenblum and Daniel J Tichenor (eds), Oxford Handbook of the Politics of International Migration (Oxford University Press 2012).

James C Hathaway and Michelle Foster, The Law of Refugee Status (Cambridge University Press 2014).

Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh and others (eds), The Oxford Handbook of Refugee and Forced Migration Studies (Oxford University Press 2014).

Students should have a basic knowledge of public international law and European law, equivalent to BA-level. Those who have not taken these courses should be prepared to acquire such knowledge on their own prior to the beginning of the seminars, whereby they will be advised by the teacher on the materials.
Law and policy are twin pillars of the course. We will therefore discuss court cases, cases, policy papers, and scholarly positions, and we will comment on current developments. I am open to other possibilities, depending on the feedback by the students.
Please observe, this course is part of iCourts Excellence Programme (iEP) – International Law and Courts in a Global World. Students who sign up for the iEP become iCourts Student Fellows and will get a unique opportunity to become part of the research environment of iCourts – the only centre of excellence in law in Denmark. The iEP is open to all Danish and foreign BA and MA students at the Faculty. All iCourts courses may be taken as stand-alone courses but only students who complete a total of at least 45 ECTS courses offered by the centre or of 30 ECTS such courses plus write their MA-thesis with an iCourts Supervisor will receive a certificate confirming their participation in the iEP. Read more about the programme here: https:/​/​jura.ku.dk/​icourts/​education/​excellence-programme/​
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Preparation
  • 356,5
  • Seminar
  • 56
  • Total
  • 412,5
Continuous feedback during the course of the semester
Peer feedback (Students give each other feedback)
Type of assessment
Written assignment
Individual written assignment
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Exam period