Public event

The right to work of asylum seekers and refugees: Leveraging and litigating for effectiveness?

This joint webinar is hosted by RefMig and ASILE in association with the Centre for Fundamental Rights at the Hertie School. 

The right to decent work is an important human right, one often denied asylum seekers and refugees across the globe. This webinar will explore the right to work in international law, and examine various attempts to render it effective across diverse contexts, both through litigation and political processes. It will assess attempts to leverage the right to work transnationally, and consider whether such processes pay due attention to decent work, in particular in contexts where informal work predominates.

Please find the full programme here

The event falls within the scope of the ASILE Project (project which has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 870787).

Prior registration is required. To register please visit the event page on EventbriteRegistered attendees will receive the login details via e-mail prior to the event.


  • Colm Ó Cinnéide is Professor of Constitutional and Human Rights Law at University College London (UCL). A graduate of University College Cork, the University of Edinburgh and King’s Inns in Dublin, he has published extensively in the field of comparative constitutional, human rights and anti-discrimination law. He has also acted as specialist legal adviser to the Joint Committee on Human Rights and the Women & Equalities Committee of the UK Parliament, and advised a range of international organisations including the UN, ILO and the European Commission. He also was from 2006-16 a member of the European Committee on Social Rights of the Council of Europe (serving as Vice-President of the Committee 2010-4), and since 2008 has been a member of the academic advisory board of Blackstone Chambers in London.    

  • Cathryn Costello is a Professor of Fundamental Rights at the Hertie School and Co-Director of the Centre for Fundamental Rights. She is a leading scholar of international and European refugee and migration law and also explores the relationship between migration and labour law in her work. She is also Professor II at the University of Oslo and is on special leave from her previous post as Professor of Refugee and Migration Law at the Refugee Studies Centre, University of Oxford. She is currently the Principal Investigator of RefMig, a five-year ERC-funded research project exploring refugee mobility, recognition and rights. She has undertaken research for UNHCR, the Council of Europe and the European Parliament. She holds a DPhil in Law from the University of Oxford.

  • Feline Freier is an Associate Professor of Political Science at the Universidad del Pacífico (Lima, Peru). Her research focuses on migration and refugee policies and laws in Latin America, south-south migration and the Venezuelan displacement crisis. Prof. Freier has published widely in both academic and media outlets, and has been interviewed on the Venezuelan displacement crisis in international media, including BBC, El País, La Presse, and The Economist. Prof. Freier has provided advice to various international institutions and organisations such as Amnesty International, ICRC, IDB, IOM, UNHCR, the World Bank and the EU. She is Migration Research and Publishing High-Level Adviser of the IOM.

  • Jennifer Gordon is Professor of Law and has been on the faculty at Fordham University School of Law in New York City since 2003, where she teaches immigration law and labor and employment law, as well as an introductory course on legislation and regulation. Her research and writing on migration, trade, and labor standards in the context of globalisation has appeared in top academic journals in the United States, and her book, Suburban Sweatshops: The Fight for Immigrant Rights, was published by Harvard University Press. She has also written on these topics for the New York Times, Foreign Policy, and numerous other media outlets. Earlier in her career, she founded and directed the Workplace Project, a pioneering immigrant workers’ center in the United States. Gordon has received a MacArthur Prize Fellowship and an Open Society Fellowship, and was named one of the “Outstanding Woman Lawyers in the United States” by the National Law Journal. 

  • Fatima Khan is an Associate Professor at University of Cape Town’s law faculty where she convenes and teaches Refugee and Immigration Law to under­graduate students and Refugee Law and Human Rights to postgraduate students. She also co-teaches and coordinates a course in Public Interest litigation. She researches and writes in the area of refugee law with a specific interest in the local integration of refugees into the host community. She has co-authored and edited two books, Refugee law in South Africa (2014) and Immigration Law in South Africa (2018). Her current research focusses on burden-sharing as envisioned by the Global Compact on Refugees. Fatima is an admitted attorney of the High Court of South Africa and is the principal attorney at the Refugee Rights Clinic at the University of Cape Town. Both the research conducted and the teaching is informed by the extensive experience in the practice of refugee law at the Refugee clinic. She holds a PhD in Law, a BA, HDE, LLB and LLM degrees from the University of Cape Town. She is currently the head of the Refugee Rights Unit and the Director of Internationalisation at the UCT law faculty.

  • Lewis Turner is Lecturer in International Politics at Newcastle University, UK. He is a political ethnographer of humanitarianism in ‘the Middle East’ – particularly Jordan. His work investigates questions of gender (especially men and masculinities), and – as part of the ASILE project - refugee recognition, vulnerability and labour market integration. His research on the Syria refugee response has appeared in journals including International Feminist Journal of Politics, Middle East Critique, and Review of International Studies, and has received prizes from the British International Studies Association and the Political Studies Association.


  • Natalie Welfens is a postdoctoral researcher working on the project ‘Refugees are Migrants: Refugee Mobility, Recognition and Rights’. Natalie’s research focusses on questions around categorisation practices and resulting inequalities, inclusion and exclusion in refugee recognition processes, particularly in Europe and the Middle East. She completed her PhD in Political Science at the University of Amsterdam in 2021.