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The Dean of Melbourne Law School, Professor James Hathaway, has been presented with an honorary doctorate from Belgium’s Université Catholique de Louvain, in recognition of his ongoing work into the rights of refugees.

The Dean of Melbourne Law School, Professor James Hathaway, has been presented with an honorary doctorate from Belgium’s Université Catholique de Louvain, in recognition of his ongoing work into the rights of refugees.

The Doctorate Honoris Causa is the highest honour the University can bestow.

While in Belgium, Professor Hathaway will speak to a variety of audiences. One of his themes will be how to make International Refugee Law meaningful again. In particular, he suggests moving towards a binding commitment for developed countries to provide funding and resources to less developed nations to assist those most in need. Professor Hathaway argues that the current discretionary framework does not allow for real burden sharing of the type that is needed to achieve the substantive attainment of fundamental human rights.

Professor Hathaway said he was humbled to receive the honorary doctorate and to share the conferral stage with such esteemed and accomplished individuals.

The Université catholique de Louvain, boasting a history spanning six centuries also honoured the Hon Justice Stephen G. Breyer, Supreme Court of the United States of America, Professor Emeritus Geneviève Viney of Université Panthéon Sorbonne Paris 1, and Professor Wolfgang Schön of the Max Planck Institute for Intellectual Property.

Professor Hathaway, the University of Melbourne’s William Hearn Chair of Law, is also Senior Visiting Research Associate at Oxford University’s Refugee Studies Programme and President of the Cuenca Colloquium on International Refugee Law.

Before joining Melbourne Law School, Professor Hathaway was the James E and Sarah A Degan Professor of Law and Director of the Program in Refugee and Asylum Law at the University of Michigan Law School (USA).

A leading authority on international refugee law, Professor Hathaway advises the US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (www.refugees.org), and Asylum Access (www.asylumaccess.org), a non-profit organisation committed to delivering innovative legal aid to refugees in the global South. Professor Hathaway also sits on the editorial boards of the Journal of Refugee Studies and of the Immigration and Nationality Law Reports and directs the Refugee Caselaw Site (www.refugeecaselaw.org), a website that collects, indexes, and publishes leading judgments on refugee law.

His work is regularly cited by the most senior courts of the common law world. Professor Hathaway’s publications include more than sixty journal articles, a leading treatise on the refugee definition (The Law of Refugee Status, 1991), an interdisciplinary study of models for refugee law reform (Reconceiving International Refugee Law, 1997) and, most recently, The Rights of Refugees under International Law (2005) - the first comprehensive analysis of the human rights of refugees set by the UN Refugee Convention, all linked to key international human rights norms and applied to the world's most difficult protection challenges.