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Postgraduate Seminars

School of Law Doctoral Research Seminar Series

The law doctoral research seminar series combines work-in-progress presentations from PhD students with workshops led by established scholars. Current second and third year PhD students get the opportunity to deliver a presentation on the subject of their thesis. Visiting scholars lead research seminars on key concepts and methods in legal studies. The seminars are intended to foster the research community at Queen Mary, so postgraduate students from Queen Mary as well as other institutions are welcome to attend.

The seminars are intended to foster the research community at Queen Mary, so postgraduate students from Queen Mary as well as other institutions are welcome to attend. For more information contact

Next seminar

Time: Monday 12 March 4-6pm

Venue: Room 3.1, Centre for Commercial Law Studies, Queen Mary University of London, 67-69 Lincoln's Inn Fields, London WC2A 3JB

Is causing displacement prohibited under international law?

Kathryn Allinson

This presentation will focus on the first chapters of my thesis that I am currently grappling with: whether third States causing forced displacement breaches international law under IHL, ICL, or IHRL. This research is interdisciplinary within the legal discourse, looking across the legal disciplines to understand how causing displacement is prohibited by international law.

The Refugee Convention and its framework does not hold States accountable for causing displacement, its purpose is to protect refugees upon arrival in a state of asylum. As a result, IRL itself will not provide a legal framework to hold states accountable for causing displacement. The gaps left are why it is necessary to look to other branches of international law. I will outline the law prohibiting displacement in each of the aforementioned branches of international law and highlight the challenges in finding States accountable for such a breach at each point.

Cooperation with Third Countries in Migration Management and Legal Consequences of Contribution to Human Rights Violations

Ceren Mutus Toprakseven

In today’s international migration management terrain, questions relating to shared responsibility of multiple actors increasingly gain importance. States are rarely acting in isolation and instead, prefer to engage in collaborative actions with other States or other subjects of international law to cope with large-scale movements of refugees and migrants. Whereas this cooperation might serve the common good and bring mutually beneficial outcomes for the actors involved, it also carries the risk of resulting in harm to third parties.

In the European context, one application for shared responsibility can occur where the EU, with the aim to curb irregular migration towards the European continent, delivers financial and/or technical assistance to a transit or origin country with poor human rights records, and this aid subsequently contributes to human rights violations suffered by the individuals in need of effective international protection. Such scenario raises the critical questions of (1) who is (are) responsible for those breaches of international obligations and (2) on what legal basis the responsibility could be allocated among multiple actors who have been involved at various stages leading to the eventual harm.

Taking the highly contested examples of migration cooperation with key transit countries, Libya and Turkey, this contribution will shed light on the deficiencies embedded in the current international legal framework for responsibility determination and allocation in multiple actor situations. The main focus of the legal analysis will be on the principles of ‘Aid or assistance’ and ‘Direction and control’, as envisaged by the ILC Articles on the responsibility of States and of international organisations.

Land grabbing and civil society resistance in Peru: A case of state crime

Lina Johansson

This thesis examines the illicit process of land dispossession conducted by states, in collaboration with corporations and domestic elites, in the name of development. It specifically focuses on land grabbing as a mechanism of illicit land dispossession. The process of land grabbing often includes state and state-corporate crime, yet criminologists have not adequately investigated the topic. This thesis aims at trying to fill this research gap by analysing how states have facilitated land grabbing and how civil society have resisted the process. In particular, it analyses how states use and abuse legal tools and strategies for the purpose of facilitating land grabbing. These issues are being examined in the context of Peru.

Uncertainty in the Asylum Law Knowledge Environment

Katharine Weatherhead

Access to information about asylum law is increasingly a topic of interest in research and policy across the European Union. On the one hand, concern about ‘abusive’ asylum seekers underpins calls to inform migrants of their legal obligations while in Member States and the consequences of irregular movement. On the other hand, concern about ‘vulnerable’ asylum seekers prompts calls for migrants to receive information on their rights and legal procedures. In autumn 2017, I undertook seven weeks of participant observation and interview fieldwork on the Greek island of Lesvos. The purpose of the fieldwork was to give me an insight into the development of knowledge about asylum law among recently arrived asylum seekers. In this presentation, I share my impression of the general sense of uncertainty that pervades the knowledge environment on Lesvos. I structure the presentation around three fault lines in the knowledge environment along which uncertainty materialises: communication, expertise, and interests. The findings prompt me to question certain discourses that appear in discussions of asylum-related information dissemination, namely that information dissemination is technical in nature and that information mitigates uncertainty.

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