Research Seminar in Sociology of Law with Sarah Scott Ford
The Sociology of Law Department arranges a series of research seminars inviting local and international social scientists to present state-of-the-art research within various areas of law and society.
Entangled Asylum in the Nordic Region: Human rights and institutional brokers
This talk is based on my recently completed PhD thesis at the University of Copenhagen, which tackles human rights oversight and usage within asylum decision-making. I will share the main puzzle and ideas of this project, and also get into the sometimes challenging process of studying this fast-paced and complex legal area.
It presents a case study of asylum adjudication in the Nordic countries – a region that has seen extensive policy experimentation and anti-immigrant politics. This political context exists against an overall compliance culture and rights-protective national legal infrastructures, which make this a unique site where international law becomes highly tested. The project's socio-legal perspective is on the institutional contexts that shape the interactions between national and international law. Thereby, it centres the judicial middlemen behind the common account of state backlash to international court interventions in the area of immigration.
By identifying the legal framework that asylum appeal bodies navigate as an entangled regime, the approach offers another image of interactions within international law. This approach takes into account the circumscription and contestation of different international norms at the national level. I further argue that how decision-makers use and relate to human rights norms cannot be seen in isolation from their efforts to safeguard their institutional identity. The dynamic and uncertain brokering role of national appeal institutions comes to the forefront in an illustrative example of the turn towards revocation of protection, which has recently become a new battleground of restrictionism.
Sarah Scott Ford is a postdoctoral researcher at Mobile: The Center for Global Mobility Law at the University of Copenhagen.