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This course introduces students to the international legal regime for forcibly displaced persons. The first part of the course focuses on the 1951 Refugee Convention, including who qualifies for refugee status, the protections afforded to refugees and the procedures for refugee status determination. The second part of the course considers the capacity of the current international legal framework to respond to displaced persons who do not fall within the Refugee Convention, such as internally
displaced persons, persons fleeing human rights abuses or civil war, and those whose movement is a result of climate change or environmental catastrophe. The course considers the theoretical underpinnings of the international forced migration regime and queries why States have agreed to protect certain categories of persons and not others, and whether this is legally and/or ethically sound.

This course considers the legal obligations of States and international organisations to assist and protect forced migrants. While the focus of the course is on international law responses to issues of forced migration, consideration will also be given to the relationship between the international legal regime and domestic law. In particular, this course will provide an opportunity to discuss current issues in forced migration regulation in Australia.

This course relates to and extends learning from other courses in the Law School, including Public International Law, International Humanitarian Law, Asia Pacific Migrant/Refugee Rights Intern Program, Australian Immigration Law and Practice, International Human Rights Law and Advocacy, Public Interest Internship Program, and the Social Justice Intern Program.

Main Topics

  • Conceptualising 'forced migration'
  • The international refugee law regime
  • Climate-induced displacement
  • The role of human rights law: complementary protection
  • Protection in mass influx situations
  • The role and function of UNHCR
  • The ethics and politics of humanitarian assistance
  • Development-induced displacement
  • The asylum-migration nexus
  • The right to seek and enjoy asylum
  • Statelessness
  • Smuggling and trafficking
Faculty Faculty of Law
Study Level


Offering Terms

Term 2



Indicative contact hours


Course Outline

To access course outline, please visit:


Pre-2019 Handbook Editions

Access past handbook editions (2018 and prior)

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