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The right to asylum is not just one of many human rights. At its core, asylum is an institution that has been known since antiquity, granting the protection of a sovereign, secular or religious, to those who have lost their place in the general order. In its present form, based on the Geneva Refugee Convention of 1951, this principle is expressed above all in the conviction that persons who lose the protection of one state are thereby not excluded from the entire organised humanity, but should find access to protection in other states. The right to asylum thus aims to overcome the rightlessness of refugees.

However, an inquiry of the past decades of asylum policy in the EU shows that more and more creative legal and political measures are being sought to avoid responsibility for upholding the right to asylum. This development has worsened in recent months and years, up to the very perversion of asylum law: The right of individuals is redefined as an act of grace and asylum seekers are accused of corrupt motives and being intrinsically unwilling to integrate. A range of administrative, police, social and legal measures are designed to restrict the freedom of movement of refugees in order to prevent access to asylum in the EU. Development funds are used to subordinate the legitimate aspirations of other regions of the world to creating a space of internal mobility to the goal of Fortress Europe. Protection from refugees replaces the protection of refugees. Rescuing human lives becomes a crime.

It is therefore of particular importance to our institute to pay considerable attention to questions of asylum law within the framework of our research activities. The current focus of our work is on access to asylum in Europe and the external dimension of European asylum policy. Moreover, we are working on the application of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and the access of asylum seekers to the labour market.

Invitation for themed event "Challenges & Opportunities in the European Asylum System"

EU Member States are bound not only by international refugee law, but also by EU law on refugees and asylum. Despite this common normative framework, asylum practices in the individual EU countries vary widely. This can lead to a refugee seeking international protection being granted asylum in one Member State but subsidiary protection or even a negative decision in another. Experts from the European and Austrian asylum systems will examine these questions at length and discuss the challenges and opportunities in the European asylum system.

Programme (Excerpt):

Albert Schweitzer Haus, Großer Saal - Schwarzspanierstraße 13, 1090 Wien

Why we should not play hide and seek with states

In this contribution to the Verfassungsblog, Adel-Naim Reyhani addresses the question of how asylum law discourse should deal with the creative efforts of states to prevent the entry of asylum seekers. He explains why the tension between human rights and the aim of nation-states to shape asylum policy can only be resolved with a clear view of the shortcomings of the international order.

Legal Opinion on "Employment of Asylum-Seekers in Shortage Occupations and the Admissibility of Return Decisions"


In this legal opinion, Adel-Naim Reyhani (BIM) and Manfred Nowak (BIM) deal with the balancing of interests in the context of interferences with the right to respect for private and family life in Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

BIM Position No.11 | 2018: The right to asylum and EU asylum policy

BIM POSITION NR.11 The right to asylum and EU asylum policy

The new BIM POSITION aims at outlining the perspective of the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute of Human Rights on critical elements of the European Union’s (EU) approach towards the institution of asylum. For this purpose, it examines selected aspects of EU policy and presents reflections on a possible way forward based on a conceptualization of the right to asylum.


Seminars for Legal Practitioners and the Charter of Fundamental Rights

In the framework of the project Judging the Charter the BIM is organising several seminars for legal practitioners.

Two basis trainings for judges on the Charter and its application in judicial have been held on 25.04.2017 in Wels and on 11.05.2017 in Vienna by the BIM in cooperation with the Federal Ministry of Justice.

Further seminars will be conducted on more specific issues of

The Charter and its application in practise - possibilities of application in concrete in the field of equality on 24.04.2018

Working Conferences - The Charter of Fundamental Rights and its Application in Judicial Practice

Two Working Conferences have been organised in the framework of the project Judging the Charter in 2017. Both Conferences targeted judicial practitioners and aimed at providing platforms for the exchange of experience on questions of applicability and the challenges of implementing Charter rights in practice.

A first Working Conference on 29/30 March 2017 in Vienna was organised by the BIM in cooperation with the Federal Ministry of Justice.

The conference addressed the following issues: