Professor Marie-Bénédicte Dembour was awarded a Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship (2009-2012) to pursue her research into migrants’ rights in a project entitled: Migrants have human rights too! Critical perspectives on the Strasbourg case law.
Dembour has studied and advocated for migrants’ rights extensively for many years, exploring conceptual critiques of human rights and the case law of the European Court of Human Rights. She has published widely in this field, most prominently a monograph entitled Who Believes in Human Rights? Reflections on the European Convention (2006) and an article 'What are human rights? Four schools of thought' which appeared in Human Rights Quarterly (2010). By introducing new, theoretical mapping of human rights scholarship, Dembour has managed to reframe approaches and debate within the field.
With this research project, Dembour considered whether the European Court of Human Rights has struck the right balance when it comes to protecting the human rights of migrants.
This research project commenced in 2009 and is ongoing.
The objectives of this research project were to:
Research findings have been included in Professor Dembour’s book, When Humans Become Migrants published by Oxford University Press in February 2015 and have inspired a blog, which looks at specific elements in detail.
Professor Dembour’s book compares the treatment that claims lodged by migrants receive at the European Court of Human Rights and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. One of the key findings of the book is that the European Court of Human Rights treats migrants as ‘aliens’ first and human beings second. By contrast, Marie argues that the Inter-American Court of Human Rights takes a fundamentally more human rights-driven approach to this issue.
Professor Marie-Bénédicte Dembour won the Best Publication Prize (2016) from the Odysseus Academic Network for this monograph. The prize recognises outstanding academic research contributions to the field of European Immigration and Asylum Law.
When Humans Become Migrants was published in 2015 by Professor Marie-Bénédicte Dembour
Since the outbreak of the civil war in March 2011, an estimated 11 million Syrians have fled their homes. Currently, 13.5 million are in need of humanitarian assistance within the country. Among those escaping the conflict, the majority have sought refuge in neighbouring countries or within Syria itself. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), 4.8 million have fled to Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt and Iraq, and 6.6 million are internally displaced within Syria. Meanwhile about one million have requested asylum to Europe. Europe needs to find a systematic, just and equitable method of distributing displaced populations. Professor Marie-Bénédicte Dembour discusses the UK government's response to the fate of those affected by the closure of the Calais migrant camp in her blog post.
Professor Marie-Bénédicte Dembour
Dembour, M-B. (2015) When Humans Become Migrants: Study of the European Court of Human Rights with an Inter-American Counterpoint. Oxford, Oxford University Press.
Dembour, M-B. and Kelly, T. (Eds.) (2011) Are Human Rights for Migrants? Critical Reflections on the Status of Illegal Migrants in Europe and the United States. London, Routledge.
Dembour, M-B. (2010) 'What are human rights? Four schools of thought' Human Rights Quarterly, pp. 1-20.
Dembour, M-B. (2006) Who Believes in Human Rights? Reflections on the European Convention. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (Law in Context Series).