Refugee and Asylum Law: Towards the Centrality of Human Rights

I am pleased to announce that the UN Audio Visual Library of International Law has released my second lecture titled “Refugee and Asylum Law: Towards the Centrality of Human Rights”. It is available here

The lecture first gives an overview of the definition of a refugee according to the 1951 Convention on the Status of Refugees, including the elements of well-founded fear of persecution, nexus to protection categories, the principle of non-refoulement, and exclusion and cessation clauses. It then addresses the cost of seeking asylum, examining the risks of refugees at sea, the phenomenon of “crimmigration”, urbanization, and warehousing of refugees. This followed by a presentation of the elements of the “return turn”, including application of “safe third country/first country of asylum”, reference to internal flight alternatives, and stringent credibility analysis. There is brief presentation of the challenges regarding contemporary causes of flight, such as climate change and natural disasters. It concludes by referring to the contribution of the human rights courts and commissions from the Inter-American, European, and African human rights systems in articulating the procedural and substantive rights of refugees and migrants- who are all human beings.

Adoption as Secondary to Childbirth: India’s Maternity Benefit Act

The joyous moments of childhood often include parents cheering on their children on their simplest yet the most beautiful achievements. Sadly, not all children are able to share ‘firsts’ or experience the thrill of their gleaming parents on their achievements. These children who are left abandoned or have lost their parents often feel a disconnect with the world, the feeling of not belonging. According to a recent report of National Commission for Protection of Children’s Rights (NCPCR), at least 10094 children were orphaned during the pandemic. Adoption, thus, presents an opportunity for these children to live a happy and secure life. 

Framework of Maternity law in India

In India, firstly, there is no scope of paternal or paternity leave and the leave is limited to the extent of mothers. The Indian legislation is drafted in such a way that it is believed only women have the sole duty of nurturing and taking care of their child. Thus, fathers are kept out of the purview of the legislation of granting paternity benefits. On the other hand, it is often seen that employers refuse maternity leave for adoptive mothers because the law does not mandate it. Adoptive mothers are treated to be a class apart from biological mothers and provide an absolute legislative cover to the latter and an exceptional layer to the former.

Under the current Maternity Benefit Act (1961), according to Section 5(4), a woman is allowed a maternity leave of 12 weeks only if the adopted child is below 3 months of age. If a woman adopts a child who is more than 3 months of age, she is not considered for maternity leave at all. On the other hand, biological mothers are allowed a maternity leave of 26 weeks. The most unsettling aspect is the age limit of the adopted child that is set in the Act. 

After the 2017 amendment, The Maternity Benefits Act has considered adoptive mothers to be deserving of a maternity leave, but the amendment doesn’t solve the cause. Not only is it treating adoptive mothers unequally, but is also snatching away a secured life of the adopted child. Firstly, the age limit of 3 months of the adopted child is keeping adoptive mothers outside the purview of the Act because the adoption process itself is very time-consuming. Secondly, it is disincentivizing adoption of children who are not a newborn baby. Thirdly, it is remiss to think that only children in the 0-3 months of age require continuous care and support. 

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Introducing Sunidhi Kashyap

It is our great pleasure to introduce our new IntLawGrrls contributor Sunidhi Kashyap. Sunidhi Kashyap is a law student at Rajiv Gandhi National University of Law, Punjab. Her interests include reading, writing and debating. With her passion for standing up for women’s rights, she aims to create awareness about the gender stereotypes that are prevalent in the society. She strongly believes in service before self and has interned with the State Legal Services of Punjab wherein she assisted in providing free legal aid to the needy. Her research area is criminal law, constitutional law and human rights law. 

Heartfelt welcome!

UN Special Rapporteurship on Afghanistan

On Friday 1 April, the UN Human Rights Council relinquished an opportunity to put talk into action and send an important message to the Taliban by appointing what would have been the first woman UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Afghanistan.   (All those who held the position during its previous existence from 1984-2005 were men.)  

The UN Consultative Group, the body that screens Special Rapporteur applications (made up this year of three men and a woman, representing El Salvador, Malaysia, South Africa and Canada), had short-listed five candidates: four women — three of whom are Muslim or of Muslim heritage — and a man.  As the candidates’ applications show, all five short-listed candidates were well-qualified, all five had relevant experience, and several had considerable direct experience in Afghanistan and other conflict zones.   

Short-listed Candidates for the Position of
Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Afghanistan

First nameLast nameNationalityGender
LeilaALIKARAMIIslamic Republic of IranF
RichardBENNETTNew ZealandM
KarimaBENNOUNEUnited States of AmericaF
Kimberley Cy.MOTLEYUnited States of AmericaF

Despite having such highly qualified women candidates for the position . . . the Human Rights Council appointed the only man on the shortlist.  Curiously, in sending its recommendations of candidates to the Council president, the Consultative Group significantly understated relevant experience in its bios of the two women finalists among the final three (Leila Alikarami and Karima Bennoune), even omitting any mention of one candidate’s direct experience in Afghanistan.

Moreover, there was virtually no mention of women’s human rights in the Consultative Group’s entire report on this mandate (except for a brief reference in Alikarami’s bio) — including no mention of any experience at all that the candidate they ranked first might have in this area.   This despite the fact that the Council resolution creating the mandate emphasizes women’s rights and calls on the use of a gender perspective throughout the work of the mandate.    

The new mandate-holder, Richard Bennett, does have considerable experience on and commitment to human rights in Afghanistan, and deserves support in his critically important work.  The statement in his application that if appointed he would give priority to the human rights of women and girls is welcome indeed.  One wonders about the message the Human Rights Council sends, though, as it joins a long list of countries and organizations that are sending all-male delegations to Kabul.  The timing is especially unfortunate coming a week after the Taliban refused to reopen secondary schools for girls, reneging on an earlier pledge to do so.     

Go On! Summer School ‘Human Rights and Persons Deprived of Liberty’

Go On! makes note of interesting conferences, lectures, and similar events.

► The Programme for Studies on Human Rights in Context, Human Rights Centre, Ghent University (Belgium) and the Global Campus on Human Rights are accepting applications to the Summer School ‘Human Rights and Persons Deprived of Liberty’. The Summer School is a 4 day program that will be held over Zoom from July 5 – July 8, 2022 and is open to Master students, LLM students, PhD students and postdoctoral researchers with a background in law, political science, public health, or criminology, as well as staff of civil society organizations and policymakers. 

Curated by Professor Dr. Clara Burbano Herrera (Ghent University) and Professor Dr. Manfred Nowak (University of Vienna), the course aims to provide participants with suitable expertise on structural problems around prisons from the perspective of international human rights law, public health, criminal law, and to contribute to the improvement of human rights of persons deprived of liberty in their homeland and around the world.  Participants will have the opportunity to interact with world-leading academics from Europe, Africa, and North & South American, gaining awareness of complex issues related to the human rights of persons deprived of liberty.  

The call for applications is now open until May 2, 2022.

For more information on the program, click here. To apply for the program, click here. Please email with any questions!

Write On! Call for Papers: University of Jyväskylä (Finland)

This installment of Write On!, our periodic compilation of calls for papers, includes calls for abstracts for the University of Jyväskylä (Finland), as follows:

The University of Jyväskylä (Finland) invites abstract submissions for the online seminar entitled Lights and Shadows in the Ongwen Case at the International Criminal Court: Inter- and Multi-Disciplinary Approaches to be held on October 13-14, 2022.  

Authors (individually or jointly) can examine the issues from one or more of these disciplines: law, language and communication studies, anthropology, philosophy, political science, psychology, journalism, and religious studies. It is aimed that each contribution identifies and discusses the novel and problematic issues that the ICC and other actors had to deal with in the Ongwen case. The organizing committee plans to publish selected seminar papers in an edited collection or in a special issue in a peer-reviewed international journal. 

The deadline for abstract submission is May 2, 2022. For more information on the webinar and abstract submission process, click here.

Write On! Call for Papers: American Journal of International Law

This installment of Write On!, our periodic compilation of calls for papers, includes calls for papers for the American Journal of International Law, as follows:

The American Journal of International Law is issuing a worldwide call for papers for an Agora symposium to be published in the October 2022 issue of the Journal. The topic – “The War in Ukraine and the Future of the International Legal Order” – recognizes that the present crisis raises foundational questions about the international legal order that extends beyond the facts of this case.

Papers should not exceed 5,000 words, inclusive of footnotes. The deadline for submissions is June 20, 2022. More information about the Agora and the submission process can be found here.

Go On! Registration for the 2022 Leitner Summer Human Rights Institute (SHRI) at Fordham Law School

Go On! makes note of interesting conferences, lectures, and similar events.

►  The Leitner Center for International Law and Justice at Fordham Law School is pleased to be accepting registration to the 2022 Summer Human Rights Institute (SHRI). This year the SHRI is glad to be back on its Lincoln Center campus in the heart of NYC, and is also offering an online course for students who prefer it. Designed for students and professionals from around the world, this immersive program provides participants with an in-depth understanding of international human rights law and practice. Live lectures with Fordham Law School Professors and human rights professionals are supplemented by practice workshops and materials. The SHRI provides a unique opportunity to equip yourself with the tools of human rights practice and participate in conversations with practitioners and academics about the world’s most pressing human rights concerns. The course will take place June 13-June 24 (in-person) and June 13-July 1 (virtual program). Participants receive a certificate in International Human Rights Law.

Limited scholarships are available. The deadline for scholarship requests is April 15th. 

For more information on the program, click here. To register for the program, click here. Please email with any questions!

Go On! EULab Summer School on Labour Migration in the European Union Opportunities

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Go On! makes note of interesting conferences, lectures, and similar events.

►  EULab Summer School announced calls for application to the Summer School on Labour Migration in the European Union, which will be held from June 27 – July 8, 2022, at the Department of Law of the University of Napoles Federico II. The program is open up to 30 postgraduate students in the fields of Law, International Relations and Social Science who intend to develop a solid knowledge on labour migration to Europe from the specific lens of international and EU law. For more details on the program, click here.

To apply, send your CV and a motivation letter to by April 14, 2022. Applicants are kindly asked to specify if they prefer to participate in person or remotely.

Temple Law School Symposium – Cyber Attacks

Temple University Beasley School of Law, Institute for International Law and Public Policy, will hold an online Symposium on “Holding Private Companies Accountable for Cyber Attacks” on Friday, March 24, from 12- 1 p.m. EST. The Symposium will take place virtually, on Zoom (Zoom Meeting ID: 974 5383 8211). Speakers include: Professor Duncan Hollis (moderator); Harvey Rishikof, Professor and Former FBI Counsel; Laura Bate, Senior Advisor, Cyberspace Solarium; and Tim Maurer, Legal Counsel, DHS. Topics to be covered at this Symposium include preventing ransomware hacks, U.S. and foreign practices, and the Cyberspace Solarium Report.