The Evolution of the Principle of Non-Refoulement in International Law: What Role for New Types of International Law-Making?


In the framework of the 16th Annual Conference of the European Society of International Law (ESIL) (Stockholm, 8-11 September 2021), the ESIL Interest Group on Migration and Refugee Law, the ESIL Interest Group on International Criminal Justice, and the Human Rights Research League will organize a workshop on the evolution of the international legal norm prohibiting refoulement.

It is a fundamental principle of international refugee law that refugees and asylum-seekers shall not be expelled or returned to persecution. Yet this principle has also become incorporated in international human rights law and international humanitarian law, prohibiting states from transferring or removing individuals within their jurisdiction when there are substantial grounds for believing that this would expose the individual to irreparable harm upon return.

The aim of the joint workshop is to discuss and analyze the evolution of the prohibition of refoulement within and beyond the traditional context of forced migration: How is the scope of non-refoulement evolving within the forced displacement context? How is the balance struck between non-refoulement and state cooperation in the fields of criminal justice and combatting terrorism? How is and can the principle of non-refoulement be used in other contexts? Can one speak of an evolution of non-refoulement as a general principle prohibiting the exposure of individuals to other types of human rights violations or harms that go beyond, for example, torture and inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment?

The co-organizers welcome contributions relating to any of the questions above. Abstracts not to exceed 400 words, written in English or French, should be submitted to by 10 July 2021, accompanied by a short curriculum vitae containing the author?s name and institutional affiliation. PhD students, Early Career Researchers, senior academics, and practitioners alike are invited to contribute.

Up to five eligible authors from low-income economies will, if their abstracts are selected for presentation, receive a one-year ESIL membership, including an online subscription to the European Journal of International Law, sponsored by the Human Rights Research League.

Date and Location

Wednesday, September 8, 2021 - 5:00am to 8:30am