The Rights of Refugees Under International Law (2nd edition)


James C. Hathaway


£74.99, Cambridge University Press



Broadly speaking, there are two important questions for refugee rights lawyers: first, who is a refugee, and second, what rights do refugees have? In his latest book, James C. Hathaway addresses the second of these questions (having addressed the first in The Law of Refugee Status). 

Rights of Refugees

There can be no doubt that this is an impressive and well-researched book, addressing an array of topics from the more run-of-the-mill questions such as entitlements to work and welfare benefits, and rights to family reunion, to the more niche questions such as tax equity and exclusion from professional practice (who knew refugees in Israel and Uganda faced additional tax burdens, and refugees in Jordan could not practise law or accountancy?).

The less obscure – in fact very relevant and current – question of discrimination between and among refugees provides an illustration of the depth of analysis. Refugee rights lawyers will be giving this question some thought following the home secretary’s announcement to treat differently those refugees who arrive clandestinely (a significant proportion) to those who arrived through government-approved schemes (hardly any), by introducing a new temporary protection status with less generous entitlements and limited family reunion rights. Consideration of this topic in the 25-page (130 footnoted) sub-chapter includes examples of where governments have applied discriminatory practices to refugees before; a very thorough analysis of the drafting history of the non-discrimination clauses in the Refugee Convention; along with a comparison with other international instruments.

For those interested in the rights of refugees under international law, it would be surprising if there were any authors who had given this topic more detailed consideration than Professor Hathaway.


Paul Keeley is a solicitor at South West London Law Centres, where he represents people seeking international protection