Donnerstag, 26. September 2019

Refugees’ Right to Work – Why so Elusive?

Presentation by Cathryn Costello

Article 23 (1) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights provides that ‘Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favorable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.’ In international human rights law, and many national constitutions, the right to work, just and decent conditions of work and free choice of employment are effectively merged. This talk examines the protection afforded to this ‘merged’ right to work in international human rights law, with particular reference to the position of asylum seekers and refugees.

Taking this strong normative backdrop into account, as well as relevant empirical studies, the widespread prohibitions on and barriers to refugees and asylum-seekers working will be problematized. A selection of attempts by refugees and asylum seekers to claim the right to work will also be examined, through case studies on strategic litigation on work rights, in selected states within Europe and beyond.

In contrast to these efforts 'from below', the talk also considers attempts to leverage work opportunities for refugees, in light of the increasing attention on refugee self-reliance in the Global Compact on Refugees, and other state led initiatives to leverage work rights, such as the Jordan Compact and EU-Turkey cooperation, which will be cast as both an opportunity to increase the effectiveness of the right to work and a threat to access to decent work.

Cathryn Costello is a DeZIM Fellow and is Andrew W. Mellon Professor of Refugee and Migration Law at the University of Oxford.


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