Refugee Caselaw Site
University of Michigan Law School

RCS Director

James C. Hathaway

James E. and Sarah A. Degan Professor of Law
Director, Program in Refugee and Asylum Law

Office : 970A Legal Research
Phone: 734.764.2359
Fax: 734.764.8309

James C. Hathaway is a leading authority on international refugee law whose work is regularly cited by the most senior courts of the common law world. He is the founding director of the University of Michigan's Program in Refugee and Asylum Law, Distinguished Visiting Professor of International Refugee Law at the University of Amsterdam, Senior Visiting Research Associate at Oxford University's Refugee Studies Programme, and Professorial Fellow of the University of Melbourne. Hathaway was on leave from 2008 to 2010 to serve as Dean of the Melbourne Law School, where he established Australia's first all-graduate (JD) law program. Before joining the Michigan faculty in 1998, he was Professor of Law and Associate Dean of the Osgoode Hall Law School (Toronto), and has been appointed a visiting professor at the universities of Cairo, California, Macerata, Toronto, and Tokyo. He regularly provides training on refugee law to academic, non-governmental, and official audiences around the world.

Hathaway's publications include more than 70 journal articles, a leading treatise on the refugee definition (The Law of Refugee Status, 1991), an interdisciplinary study of models for refugee law reform (Reconceiving International Refugee Law, 1997) and, most recently, The Rights of Refugees under International Law, 2005, awarded the American Society of International Law's Certificate of Merit. He is Counsel on International Protection to the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants and Founding Patron of Asylum Access, a non-profit organization committed to delivering innovative legal aid to refugees in the global South. Hathaway also sits on the editorial boards of the Journal of Refugee Studies and the Immigration and Nationality Law Reports and directs the Refugee Caselaw Site, a web site that collects, indexes, and publishes leading judgments on refugee law.

Recently taught courses

 bullets  International Refugee Law

Curriculum interest areas

 bullets  European Law
 bullets  Human Rights
 bullets  International and Comparative Law
 bullets  Public Interest Law
 bullets  Refugee and Asylum Law


 bullets "Leveraging Asylum." Tex. Int'l L. J. 45, no. 3
   (2010): 503-45.
Full Text: SSRN | Westlaw
 bullets "The Human Rights Quagmire of 'Human Trafficking'." Va.    J. Int'l L. 49, no. 1 (2008): 1-59.
 bullets "Why Refugee Law Still Matters." Melb. J. Int'l L 8, no. 1    (2007): 89-103.
Full Text: WWW
 bullets "Refugee Solution, or Solutions to Refugeehood?" Refuge.    24, no. 2 (2007): 3-10.
Full Text: WWW
 bullets "The Michigan Guidelines on Protection Elsewhere,    Adopted January 3, 2007." Mich. J. Int'l L. 28, no. 2    (2007): 207-21.
 bullets "Rejoinder." Refugee Stud. 20, no. 3 (2007): 385-90.
Full Text: WWW | Westlaw
 bullets "(Debate) Forced Migration Studies: Could We Agree Just    to 'Date'?" J. Refugee Stud. 20, no. 3 (2007): 349-69.
Full Text: WWW | Westlaw


Delivered inaugural address to the First Summer Institute of the Center for Forced Migration Studies, Northwestern University, Chicago, July 2011.

Delivered a three-day course on the refugee definition to all members and staff of the Refugee Commission, Malta Office of the Refugee Commissioner, Valletta, June 2011.

Presented "Saving International Refugee Law," Maltese Ministry for Justice and Home Affairs, celebration of the 60th anniversary of the Refugee Convention, Valletta, June 2011.

Presented "Keeping Faith with the Refugee Convention," Trinity College, Dublin, and the Irish Refugee Council, celebration of the 60th anniversary of the Refugee Convention, Dublin, June 2011.

Presented keynote address, "Responsibility Sharing: What the Refugee Convention Requires (and Allows)," University of Amsterdam Law School Expert Seminar on Shared Responsibility in International Refugee Law, Amsterdam, May 2011.

Presented keynote address, "Rebuilding International Refugee Law: The Next Nordic Legacy?", Nordic Asylum Law Seminar, Copenhagen, May 2011.

Presented "Why the Dublin Regulation is Illegal," Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, London, May 2011.

Presented "Common Principles for Advancing a Refugee Protection Framework," Non-Governmental Workshop on the Future of Asylum Law in Nepal, and, on behalf of the UNHCR, chaired a national consultation of non-governmental organizations to achieve consensus on a model refugee law for presentation to the Government of Nepal, Kathmandu, Nepal, May 2011.

Presented "Accession, Domestication, or a Continued Legal Patchwork: Thoughts on Nepal's Future Legal Relationship to Refugees, Tribhuvan University and Nepal Bar Association, Kathmandu, Nepal, May 2011.

Presented "Learning from the Protection of Bhutanese Refugees in Nepal," UNHCR Community Forum, Chandragadi, Nepal, May 2011.

Taught an intensive LLM course, International Refugee Law: Refugee Status, Melbourne Law School, May 2011.

Presented "Why Refugee Law is the Best," Melbourne Law School Guest Lecture Series, Melbourne, May 2011.

Presented keynote address, "Saving International Refugee Law," Research Workshop on Critical Issues in International Refugee Law, York University Centre for Refugee Studies, Toronto, April 2011.

Presented "Constraints on the Choice of a Country of Asylum," Inaugural Professorial Fellow Lecture, Melbourne, December 2010.

Gave the lead paper, "What Does International Law Require of a Refugee Status Determination Procedure?", at a national symposium on refugee law reform, Toronto, October 2010.

Distinguished visiting professor of law at the University of Toronto, where he taught an advanced symposium on international refugee rights and delivered papers at the Constitutional Law Workshop ("The Lawfulness of Refugee Boat Arrivals") and at the Globalization Workshop ("Dictating Asylum: What Does International Law Allow?"), September 2010.

Delivered the keynote address, "Saving International Refugee Law," University of Tokyo's Human Security Symposium, and lectured on refugee law in the university's Human Mobility Studies Program, September 2010.

Invited to Oslo to provide three days of refugee law training to 500 members of Norway's Immigration Appeals Board, Immigration Directorate, and Department of Justice, April 2010.

Presented "The Influence of the U.S. Legal Education Paradigm on Legal Education Abroad" at the Harvard Law School and New York Law School Conference on the Future of Legal Education, New York, April 2010.

Presented "Taking the Proactive Path: The Need for Refugee Advocates to Advance a Protection Alternative" at the Refugee and Immigration Legal Centre's annual general meeting, Melbourne, November 2009.

Presented "The Forgotten Freedom – Freedom From Fear: A Response to Chief Justice James Spigelman" at the Australian Academy of Law, Sydney, November 2009.

Presented "Australian Cooperation in Southeast Asia: Opportunity or Disaster?" to the Refugee Council of Australia, Melbourne, November 2009.

Presented "Do We Really Believe in Human Rights?" at the Humanitarian Crisis Hub Launch, November 2009.

Presented "The Risks of Regionalism in Refugee Law" at the Cuenca Colloquium on International Refugee Law, Cuenca, Spain, September 2009.

Presented "Making International Refugee Law Relevant Again" at the Victorian Foundation for Survivors of Torture Annual Oration, Melbourne, June 2009.

Presented "Why Non-Refoulement is Resisted by States, and What We Can Do About It" to the Faculty of Law, University of Leiden, Netherlands, April 2009.

Presented "Our Dirty Little Not-So-Secret: Thoughts on the Economics of Legal Education in Australia" at Australian National University College of Law, Canberra, March 2009.

Presented "Well-Founded Fear: The Challenge of Refugee Status Determination" at the Law Institute of Victoria, Melbourne, March 2009.

Presented "La Protection Contre L'Arbitraire" at Université Catholique de Louvain, Lovain, Belgium, March 2009.

Presented "Making International Refugee Law Relevant Again" at Université libre de Bruxelles, Belgium, March 2009.

Presented "Does It Really Make Sense to Fight 'Human Trafficking'?" at AUSAID, Canberra, February 2009.

Presented "Whatever Happened to the Fight to End Slavery?" during the Annual Human Rights Day Lecture, Mallesons Stephen Jaques, Melbourne, December 2008.

Presented "The Human Rights Quagmire of 'Human Trafficking'" at Australian National University, Canberra, November 2008.

Presented "The Influence of the U.S. Legal Education Paradigm on Legal Education Abroad," Harvard Law School and New York Law School Conference on the Future of Legal Education, New York, April 2010.

Presented "Assessing the Prospects for Australian Compliance with International Refugee Law" at the Human Rights and Civil Law Conference, Victoria Legal Aid, Melbourne, November 2008.

Presented "Leveraging Asylum" to the Auckland University Faculty of Law, September 2008.

Presented "Charting the Future Course of International Refugee Law" at Chuo University Law School, Tokyo, April 2008.

Presented "Refugee Law: Human Rights Made Real" at the Hong Kong Refugee Advice Center, April 2008.

Presented "The Future of Asylum Law: Lessons from the Saga of the Tampa" at the Council of Australian Administrative Tribunals, Melbourne, March 2008.

Presented "Challenges for Australian Legal Education in a Globalized World" at the Council of Australian Law Deans, Sydney, February 2008.

Presented "The Muddled State of 'Membership of a Particular Social Group'" at the Australian Migration Review Tribunal and Refugee Review Tribunal Member Conference, Melbourne, February 2008.

Delivered talk at Westminster Abbey entitled "Why Refugee Law Still Matters" to a group of official and non-governmental policymakers concerned with human rights and migration concerns, April 2007.