Blogposts by Isabelle Swerissen


Isabelle Swerissen

Isabelle is a PhD candidate in the SHARES Project. She is writing her thesis on the topic of the relationship between responsibility allocation arrangements and the protection of refugees. Her research seeks to answer the question if, and under what conditions, states may implement responsibility … Read more

19 February 2014

Olympic Games turned Blame Games: Responsibility for Abuse of Migrant Workers in Sochi

© Sochi 2014 Olympic Logo

© Sochi 2014 Olympic Logo

The 2014 Winter Olympics are in full swing. The games, which take place in the Black Sea coastal city of Sochi, should have been a prestige project of huge importance for Russia’s image at home and abroad. Instead, they are turning out to become the most criticized games ever. The controversies surrounding the Sochi games are many: flagrant discrimination against the gay community, forced evictions of homeowners to make way for Olympic venues and infrastructure, environmental destruction of the surrounding land and, of course, the staggering costs of the whole enterprise, totaling an estimated 50 billion dollars. An issue that has received far less media attention is the abuse of migrant workers on whose backs the Olympic sites are built. (more…)

12 September 2013

How We Can Do Something: Sharing the Responsibility to Protect Syrian Refugees

Cross posted on the website of the ESIL Interest Group on Migration and Refugee Law

With breath bated, the world has been waiting to see what will happen next in Syria. On Tuesday 10 September 2013, President Barack Obama said he would pursue a Russian proposal which has “the potential to remove the threat of chemical weapons without the use of force”. It’s too early to tell whether this diplomatic attempt will succeed, so in the meantime, the option of military action remains on the table. Without a Security Council mandate, any form of military engagement in Syria would violate international law on the use of force. And yet, this may not stop the United States and its allies from moving forward with military intervention. It is all but clear whether intervening will improve matters on the ground. In fact, it could easily make things worse, but that doesn’t seem to matter. What matters is that “we need to do something”. (more…)

12 December 2012

Syrian Refugees, Allocation of Responsibility and the Right to Choose: Beggars Can’t Be Choosers (or Can They?)

On 11 December 2012, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) announced that there are more than half a million registered Syrian refugees. That number is climbing by the day, as more refugees flood into neighboring countries. In Turkey, for example, 136,319 refugees are living in 14 government-run camps. From there, many of them try to make it into Greece, the gateway to Europe, only to be returned to Turkey. (more…)

16 February 2012

On Human Shields: Balancing the Responsibilities of Attackers and Defenders?

Professor Yoram Dinstein, a leading authority in international humanitarian law, has been making a whirlwind tour of the Netherlands, giving lectures on various legal issues pertaining to war and peace. One of those lectures featured the topic of human shields. Human shielding involves the use of persons protected by international humanitarian law, such as civilians, to deter attacks on combatants and military objectives.


30 October 2011

Dublin and Beyond: ‘Each According to Its Abilities’?

Refugees are legally and morally entitled to some form of protection. This is generally undisputed. The disagreement begins when we ask the question which state will be called upon to provide that protection? (more…)

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