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Why Human Rights Treaties Matter: A Comparison of Judicial Responses to the Detention of Asylum-Seekers in the U.S. and the U.K.

February 10, 2015 @ 12:30 pm - 1:30 pm

February 10, 2015 12:30 PM – 1:30 PM
Location: Room 3-09, Fordham Law School, 150 W. 62nd St. New York, NY 10023
Contact: Zach Hudson | zhudson1@law.fordham.edu

Speaker: Stephen Meili, Vaughan G. Papke Clinical Professor in Law, University of Minnesota Law School

Human rights activists and scholars have long debated the efficacy of international human rights treaties: do they change state behavior in ways that advance human rights  or are they mere window dressing that states routinely ignore? This talk will look at a concrete example of where such treaties may, indeed, make a difference: the detention of those who seek asylum in a host country after fleeing persecution in their country of origin. The U.S. and the U.K. have drastically increased the detention of asylum-seekers, as well as other immigrants, over the past fifteen years, which has sparked legal challenges in both countries. U.S. courts rarely engage with human rights norms in the decisions flowing from these challenges, whereas courts in the U.K. have done so because such norms have been incorporated into U.K. domestic law. The different results in these cases thus illustrate both the potential and the limitation of human rights treaties as a means of affecting public policy.

Stephen Meili is on the faculty of the University of Minnesota Law School. His research focuses on the rights of non-citizens, particularly asylum-seekers and detainees. His most recent publications include “The Right Not to Hold a Political Opinion as the Basis for Asylum in the U.S. and the U.K.”, forthcoming in the Columbia Human Rights Law Review, and ‘Do Human Rights Treaties Help Asylum-Seekers?: Lessons from the U.K.”, forthcoming in the Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law. His findings on the impact of human rights treaties in Canada were published last year by the Osgoode Hall Law Journal. His research has been supported by grants from the National Science Foundation and the Robina Foundation. Professor Meili also supervises the University of Minnesota Law School’s Immigration and Human Rights Clinic, where students represent asylum-seekers and detainees in various immigration proceedings. He teaches courses on immigration law and human rights, as well as civil procedure, consumer law and legal practice.

Kosher pizza will be served.


February 10, 2015
12:30 pm - 1:30 pm
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Leitner Center for International Law and Justice


Fordham Law School
150 W. 62nd St.
New York, NY United States
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