New York University Journal of International Law and Politics, Vol. 44:2 Online Symposium

New York University Journal of International Law and Politics, Vol. 44:2 Online Symposium

The NYU Journal of International Law and Politics is partnering once again with Opinio Juris for an online symposium.  The symposium will correspond with the simultaneous release this week of our Vol. 44, No. 2 issue, featuring a ground-breaking piece by Professor James Hathaway, a world-renowned leader in refugee studies and director of Michigan’s refugee law program, and Jason Pobjoy, a Ph.D. candidate in Law at Gonville and Caius College, University of Cambridge and a visiting doctoral researcher at NYU.  The article, Queer Cases Make Bad Law, serves as a point of departure for contributions by other leading scholars, who examine and expand on issues raised by the piece.  Here is a short summary of the article and an introduction by Editor-in-Chief Jeff Stein.

On Thursday and Friday, several of the print contributors as well as other international experts will engage on various topics intersecting with LGBT asylum and refugee law raised by Professor Hathaway’s article here at Opinio Juris.  Rather than taking a traditional Q&A approach, we felt that it would be more productive to actually use direct quotes from the Hathaway/Pobjoy article and responses to ignite conversation. The first two panels focus on the definition of “being persecuted”, while the second panel focuses on the issue of “nexus”.  The following is the schedule and roster of participants:


Panel 1: Thursday, March 8th, 8am – 12pm

James C. Hathaway and Jason Pobjoy, Queer Cases Make Bad Law, 44 N.Y.U. J. Int’l L. & Pol. 315, 388 (2012):

“No, there is no well-founded fear of exogenous harms, such as prosecution or beatings, where a gay man would in fact opt for seclusion to escape such threats. But, given the traumatic effects that normally follow from self-repression (anxiety, paranoia, disassociation, or worse) there is an alternative and solid basis, grounded in the traditional link between persecution and risk to core norms of human rights law, to affirm refugee status. Because the risk of severe psychological harm has been authoritatively interpreted to contravene the right to protection against cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, this is the persecutory risk that is most likely to be well-founded in such cases.”



Panel 2: Thursday, March 8th, 2pm – 4pm

John Tobin, Assessing GLBTI Refugee Claims: Using Human Rights Law to Shift the Narrative of Persecution Within Refugee Law, 44 N.Y.U. J. Int’l L. & Pol. 447, 454-55 (2012):

“[T]here is a need for a greater dialogue between refugee and human rights lawyers, scholars and judges. Distinctive interpretative communities have developed within each of these regimes, which have tended to develop somewhat autonomous meanings for terms that may be used within each regime.  This creates the potential for confusion when terms and concepts are interchanged across regimes and/or imported into one regime from another (some examples of the consequences of this approach will be discussed below). Thus, for example, it would be a mistake to rely too heavily on human rights law to reduce indeterminacy with respect to terms within refugee law given that the meaning of human rights standards is itself notoriously indeterminate and deeply contested.  This is not to say that dominant and more persuasive understandings as to the meaning of human rights standards do not exist.  It just requires an acknowledgement that the meaning of such standards is constantly evolving under international law. Thus, caution must be exercised when importing these terms as interpretative aids into refugee law.”


  • Bojana Asanovic, Lamb Building, Chambers of Ami Feder in London
  • Dr. Hugo Storey, Senior Judge of the U.K. Upper Tribunal Immigration and Asylum Chamber
  • John Tobin, Melbourne Law School


Panel 3: Friday, March 9th, 10am – 2pm

Jenni Millbank, The Right of Lesbians and Gay Men to Live Freely, Openly, and on Equal Terms Is Not Bad Law: A Reply to Hathaway and Pobjoy, 44 N.Y.U. J. Int’l L. & Pol. 497, 515 (2012):

“[T]here is no ‘line’ that can be definitively drawn between integral and marginal conduct associated with sexuality.”


Guglielmo Verdirame, A Friendly Act of Socio-Cultural Contestation: Asylum and the Big Cultural Divide, 44 N.Y.U. J. Int’l L. & Pol. 557, 570 (2012):

“Save for those living in the West End of London or Manhattan, open expressions of ‘affection for another man which went beyond what would be acceptable behaviour on the part of a straight man’ remain rare in the public sphere even in Western countries. These are not harm-inducing or authenticity-threatening modifications to social conduct, but reasonably tolerable inconveniences.  Life in society requires one to negotiate one’s way with society’s prejudices, customs, and beliefs.”


  • Rt. Hon. Sir Richard Buxton, Lord Justice of Appeal, Court of Appeal for England & Wales
  • S. Chelvan, No5 Chambers
  • Sabine Jansen, COC Netherlands
  • Jenni Millbank, University of Technology Sydney
  • Thomas Spijkerboer, VU University Amsterdam

The editorial board of the NYU Journal of International Law and Politics would like to deeply thank Opinio Juris and Professor Peggy McGuinness, as well as Professor Hathaway, Jason Pobjoy, Ryan Goodman, and all of the contributors for their work on this symposium.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Articles, General
No Comments

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.