Research project

AFAR: Algorithmic Fairness for Asylum Seekers and Refugees

About the project

The AFAR project is a new 4-year collaborative project commencing in autumn 2021.  It is led by Cathryn Costello, Professor of Fundamental Rights at the Hertie School and Co-Director of the School's Centre for Fundamental Rights and is based at the Centre for Fundamental Rights.  

The project includes four other institutions across Europe, led by Professor Thomas Gammeltoft-Hansen, Professor with special responsibilities in migration and refugee law, iCourts Center for Excellence on International Courts, Faculty of Law, University of Copenhagen; Iris Goldner-Lang, Jean Monnet Professor of European Union Law, Faculty of Law, University of Zagreb; Derya Ozkul, postdoctoral research fellow, Refugee Studies Centre, University of Oxford; and Martin Ruhs, Professor of Migration Studies and Deputy Director of the Migration Policy Centre, Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies, European University Institute.

The project is funded by the Volkswagen Foundation in the frame of its "Challenges for Europe" programme. It will investigate the usages of  new technologies in migration and asylum governance, in particular the automation or part-automation of decisions normally taken by humans, as well as more complex machine learning and artificial intelligence systems, and related uses of digital identity mechanisms. 

At its heart, AFAR is an exploration of the concept of ‘fairness’ as a legal, normative and political concept. The project will explore fairness as a multidimensional concept, and consider whether existing legal standards appropriately institutionalise fairness, in particular when decision-making in these fields is increasingly automated.  The project includes workpackages to map the use of new technologies in migration and asylum in Europe; explore the evolving overlapping legal standards in this domain; consider how fairness perceptions impact on practices; and develop proposals to reform practices for fairness.

Project lead at the Hertie School

  • Cathryn Costello, Professor of Fundamental Rights at the Hertie School and Co-Director of the Centre for Fundamental Rights. 

Researchers at the Hertie School

  • Francesca Palmiotto, Postdoctoral Researcher at the Centre for Fundamental Rights

  • Eliot Ross, PhD Researcher at the  Centre for Fundamental Rights

International Advisory Board

  • E. Tendayi Achiume, Professor of Law at the University of California, Los Angeles School of Law, and the UN Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance.

    Jeremias Adams-Prassl, Professor of Law, Fellow of Magdalen College, and Deputy Director of the Institute of European and Comparative Law. 

    Fleur Johns, Professor, School of Global & Public Law, Faculty of Law & Justice, UNSW Sydney, Australian Research Council Future Fellow, and a Visiting Professor at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden.

    Lorna McGregor, Professor of International Human Rights Law, Director of ESRC Human Rights, Big Data and Technology Project, Essex Law School and Human Rights Centre, University of Essex.

    Thomas Moeslund, Professor and Head of Center for AI for the People, Technical Faculty of IT and Design, Aalborg University.

    Petra Molnar, Dr, Associate Director of Refugee Law Lab, York University.

    Matthias Spielkamp, Co-founder and Executive Director of AlgorithmWatch.

    John Tasioulas, Professor of Ethics and Legal Philosophy, Director of the Institute for Ethics in AI, Faculty of Philosophy, University of Oxford.

    Alexander Teytelboym, Associate Professor in Economics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford.

    Sandra Wachter, Associate Professor and Senior Research Fellow, Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford.

In partnership of:

The AFAR project is funded by the Volkswagen Foundation within the programme „Challenges and Potentials for Europe"