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Colloquium on Challenges in International Refugee Law and the Michigan Guidelines


 Video: Preview of the Colloquium on Challenges in International Refugee Law

VIDEO: View a preview of the Colloquium on Challenges in International Refugee Law.​

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 and practitioners from around the world to Ann Arbor to identify a strategy for confronting a cutting-edge problem in refugee protection. The purpose of the Colloquium is to tackle one difficult issue 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 seven times since 1999; the Eighth Colloquium on Challenges in International Refugee Law will convene March 31-April 2, 2017, and look at the right of refugees to freedom of movement. Participants will include Marjoleine Zieck (Amsterdam Law School); Ali Bilgic (Bilkent University); Susan Glazebrook (Justice, Supreme Court of New Zealand​); Yunsong (Bill) Huang (Sichuan University); Sarah Joseph (Monash University); Satvinder Juss (King's College London); Nora Markard (Hamburg University​); and Ross Pattee (Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada)​.


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

The Colloquium has produced seven sets of unanimously agreed Michigan Guidelines on cutting-edge concerns related to asylum and refugee law. The Guidelines 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 Risk for Reasons of Political Opinion (2015) | French Addressed the proper interpretation of "political opinion" in a manner that ensures both fidelity to international law and the continuing vitality of the Refugee Convention.

Michigan Guidelines on the Exclusion of International Criminals (2013) | French​ | Spanish Analyzed the circumstances in which persons who have committed crimes against humanity and other international offenses are to be excluded from refugee protection.

Michigan Guidelines on the Right to Work (2009) Addressed the right to work for refugees, including those seeking asylum, in the country of arrival.

Michigan Guidelines on Protection Elsewhere (2​0​06) | Arabic | French | Russian 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) | Arabic | French | Russian​ ​​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) | Arabic | French | Russian Defined the meaning and application of the "for reasons of" clause in the Convention refugee definition.

Michigan Guidelines on the Internal Protection Alternative​ (1999) | Arabic | French | Russian 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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