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Colloquium on Challenges in International Refugee Law and the Michigan Guidelines

The Program in Refugee and Asylum Law gives Michigan students the opportunity to play a direct part in reshaping the substance and structures of international refugee law. Every other year, the Program hosts the Colloquium on Challenges in International Refugee Law, which brings leading academic experts from around the world to Ann Arbor to identify a strategy for reform of the criminal exclusion provisions. The purpose of the Colloquium is to tackle a single, cutting-edge concern via preparatory study and a three-day debate and policy formulation meeting, thus producing the Michigan Guidelines on that particular issue. Students are actively involved in the drafting of background research for the Colloquium through their enrollment in specialized seminars, and participate as colleagues with the invited experts, many of whom become lifelong friends and mentors.

The Colloquium has met six times since 1999; the Sixth Colloquium on Challenges in International Refugee Law convened March 22-24, 2013, and took up the question of the exclusion of terrorists and other international criminals from refugee status. Participants included Michel Bastarache (retired Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada; Jennifer Bond (University of Ottawa Faculty of Law); Won Kidane (Seattle Law School); Audrey Macklin (Toronto Faculty of Law); William Schabas (Middlesex University); James Sloan (Glasgow Law School); Elies van Sliedregt (VU University Amsterdam Faculty of Law); and Matthew Zagor (Australian National University College of Law). View an image gallery of the 2013 Colloquium.

Michigan Guidelines on the International Protection of Refugees, 1998-2007Michigan Guidelines

The Colloquium has produced five sets of unanimously agreed Michigan Guidelines on cutting-edge concerns related to asylum and refugee law. The Guidelines, which are published in English, French, Russian, and Arabic, are frequently cited by courts around the world and help shape the way judges, lawyers, and other decision-makers look at a refugee issue.

Michigan Guidelines on the Right to Work (2009) Addressed the right to work for refugees and asylum seekers in the country of arrival.

Michigan Guidelines on Protection Elsewhere (2006) Took up the question of the lawfulness of rules and procedures that purport to assign the responsibility to protect refugees to some country other than that in which the refugee has sought, or intends to seek, protection (e.g. "country of first arrival," "safe third country," and extraterritorial processing rules and practices.)

Michigan Guidelines on Well-Founded Fear (2004) Addressed why the focus of this aspect of the refugee definition is fundamentally objective, even as it requires that account be taken of the particular circumstances of each applicant for refugee status.

Michigan Guidelines on Nexus to a Convention Ground (2001) Defined the meaning and application of the "for reasons of" clause in the Convention refugee definition.

Michigan Guidelines on the Internal Protection Alternative (1999) Determined under what circumstances state parties to the Convention and Protocol may lawfully compel a refugee claimant to seek or accept protection in a state not of his or her own choosing.

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