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Migration and Human Rights Program Helps Launch Refugee Rights Organization


headshot of Ian Kysel

Ian M. Kysel

A first-of-its-kind Global Strategic Litigation Council for Refugee Rights comprised of more than two dozen refugee rights groups was launched today with leadership and support from Cornell Law School’s Migration and Human Rights Program and Professor Ian M. Kysel.

Until now, there has been no single group dedicated to developing strategic litigation and related legal advocacy to advance the protection of refugee or migrant rights. The formation of the Council comes at a time when the rights of people on the move—including nearly 21 million refugees—are being threatened around the world.

“We know that governments copy each other and that rights abusive practices migrate around the globe,” says Kysel, a visiting assistant professor of law, “the Council gives civil society a way to respond to that through legal strategies crossing countries and regions.”

Kysel, through the Migration and Human Rights Program, sits on the steering committee that will lead the Council and he recently founded and directs the Transnational Disputes Clinic at the Law School, which will allow students to work with partners worldwide in support of the Council.

The Council is led by a Steering Committee comprised of Asylum Access, the Cornell Law School Migration and Human Rights Program, HIAS, Kituo Cha Sheria, the Migration and Asylum Project, Refugiados Unidos, and the Zolberg Institute on Migration and Mobility at the New School. The group is supported by a Secretariat Kysel helps run, jointly housed at the Cornell Law School Migration and Asylum Project and the New School University.

“We are committed to pushing to have refugees at the table in efforts to push back on state failure to respect and promote refugee rights,” said Lublanc Prieto, president of Refugiados Unidos, “refugee leadership should be a key feature of affirmative litigation strategies.” Refugiados Unidos is a founding member of the Council’s Steering Committee.

The Council will also serve as a hub for peer mentorship and exchange of best practices across world regions.

“We have long seen how global collaborations can energize humanitarian work,” said Jessica Therkelsen, director of legal protection at HIAS, “the Council will create a space for synergy on legal advocacy, so sorely lacking until now.” HIAS is a founding member of the Council’s Steering Committee.


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