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Hélène did her PhD at the University of Exeter (UK) and her Licence en Droit and Maitrise de Droit Public at the University of Strasbourg (France). She joined Westminster Law School in 2007, first as a Reader (2007-2010), then as a Professor of International Law (2010-17) and the Law School Research Director (2014-217). She continues to hold a part-time professorship since she joined the University of Wollongong (Australia) as a part-time Professor of Law. She has also held academic posts at Brunel University (2006-2007), the University of Exeter (1993-2005) and the University of the West of England, Bristol (1991-1993). In 1996, she worked as a Protection (legal) Officer for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). She was also a stagiaire ad hoc at the Council of Europe (1997), a visiting fellow at the Refugee Studies Centre, University of Oxford (1999), and a Dyason Fellow at the University of Melbourne, Law School (2015).

She has acted as a consultant for the UNHCR, the Council of Europe, and the European Commission. In this capacity, she wrote the study that formed the basis of Recommendation 99(23) adopted by the Council of Ministers of the Council of Europe, and advised the Governments of Moldova, Ukraine and Serbia-Montenegro on their draft asylum legislation. She participated in the training of officials on behalf of the Council of Europe and UNHCR in Poland, Slovenia, Moldova, Romania and Serbia-Montenegro, as well as in Strasbourg and Bologna. She completed a study on 'Claim to Refugee Status based on Arbitrary Deprivation of Nationality' (UNHCR Legal and Protection Policy Research Series No33, Geneva 2014) seeking to develop doctrinal guidance on issues of nationality and statelessness. She has also acted as a consultant for the Swedish Ministry of Justice and trained judges and legal advisors in the Swedish immigration courts and foreign office on matters of asylum and refugee protection.

She is a member of the AHRC's peer review college; an ‘academic friend’ of the UN Human Rights Council Advisory Committee; a member of the Editorial Board, International Refugee  Law Book Series, published by Martinus Nijhoff; a Senior Research Associate at the Refugee Law Initiative, School of Advanced Studies, University of London; a Joint Case Editor of the International Journal of Refugee Law; and a member of the Editorial Board of the Refugee Law Reader, published by the Hungarian Helsinki Committee. She was the Convenor for the Migration Section of the Society of Legal Scholars (2004-2007).


  • When a full-time professor at Westminster Law School, Hélène taught:
  • International and European Refugee Law (LLM)
  • International Human Rights Law (LLM)
  • EU Law (LLB)
  • Human Rights Law in the UK (LLB)


Hélène’s research interests are in the areas of asylum, refugees and migration; statelessness and issues of nationality; international law and international relations; transnational law and comparative jurisprudence; socio-legal approaches to international law; EU law.

She is currently completing a monograph on International Refugee law and the Protection of Stateless Persons, co-authored with Professor Michelle Foster (University of Melbourne), to be published by Oxford University Press in 2018. She is also involved in a collaborative project on 'The Concept of "Imminence" in the International Protection of Refugees and Other Forced Migrants', funded by the Australian Research Council (ARC Discovery Grant) 2016-2019, with Prof Jane McAdam (University of New South Wales) and Prof Michelle Foster (University of Melbourne).

In 2013, she completed a collaborative project on The Global Reach of European Refugee Law with Prof Jane McAdam (University of New South Wales, Sydney), Prof Maryellen Fullerton (Brooklyn Law School, NYC) and seven other contributors. This was published by Cambridge University Press in 2013. The book examines Europe's advanced regional protection regime and its transnational diffusion and emulation around the world. The predicted impact of this body of norms, including the new Common European Asylum System, has been widely identified as one that will have a 'ripple effect' beyond the EU. However, very few studies have noted the fact that this regime has already influenced the law and practice of States around the world, for some time. The purpose of this book was to gather evidence that emulation is happening (if it is), to explore the extent and identify the processes through which it is happening, and to examine the implications of these findings. A review of seven case studies reveals that all but one of these cases provides clear evidence of emulation at some point in time. The EU protection regime, which has been most influenced by the European Court of Human Rights, is 'naturally' evolving transnationally and spreading internationally.

This international collaborative project was the follow-on from a pan-European project on The Limits of Transnational Law: Refugee Law, Policy Harmonization and Judicial Dialogue in the European Union with Prof Guy S. Goodwin-Gill (All Souls, University of Oxford) and ten other contributors. This was published by Cambridge University Press in 2010 (paperback edition 2012). The book examines the assumption that state authority and power have become diffused in an increasingly globalized world characterised by the freer trans-border movement of people, objects and ideas. In particular, it challenges the idea that a new world order is emerging based on a complex web of transnational networks. Such a transnational legal order requires a sufficient dialogue between national courts. The book explores the prospects for such an order in the context of refugee law in Europe, focusing on the use of foreign law in refugee protection cases. Judicial practice is critically analysed in nine EU member states, with case studies revealing a mix of rational and cultural factors that lead judges rarely to use each others’ decisions within the EU. Conclusions are drawn for the prospects of a Common European Asylum system and for international refugee law.

Hélène has also been involved in a number of activities with stakeholders outside academia. For instance, she participated in:

- an Expert Roundtable on Article 31 of the UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees (organised by UNHCR and the Refugee Studies Centre, University of Oxford, 2017)

- a Scoping Meeting on statelessness in the European refugee context (organised by the Institute on Statelessness and Inclusion and the European Network on Statelessness, London, 2017)

- a Regional Expert Roundtable on nationality rights of Syria’s displaced persons (organised by the Norwegian Refugee Council and the Institute on Statelessness and Inclusion, Amman, Jordan, 2016)

- an Expert Discussion on accelerating legal pathways from Greece (organised by the International Rescue Committee with support from TrustLaw and Latham & Watkins, London, 2016)

- a Roundtable on Challenges to the Regulation of Armed Conflict, King's College London (2012)

She has given addresses to the Presidency of the Council of the European Union, Conference on the Common European Asylum System and the 60th Anniversary of the adoption of the Refugee Convention, Warsaw, 2011; Dutch Refugee and Migration Law Judges at a Conference in honour of Judge Hesther Gorter (Utrecht, 2011); the International Association of Refugee Law Judges, European Conference (Berlin 2009, Berlin 2008, Edinburgh 2004); the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers, CAHAR, 47th Plenary Session, Council of Europe (Strasbourg, 1999).

She submitted an expert submission to the Israeli Supreme Court on the right to family reunification and non-discrimination in UK law (2008), in the case H.C. 830/07, Adalah v. The Minister of the Interior, et al., judgment of the Israeli Supreme Court of 11 January 2012 (http://www.adalah.org/eng/pressreleases/12_1_12.html) [with R. Wallace].

She has given expert testimonies to the Council of Europe, Parliamentary Assembly Hearing, Committee on Migration, Refugees and Demography, Council of Europe (Paris, 2007 and 1999) and the Council of Europe, Second Colloquy on the European Convention on Human Rights and the Protection of Refugees, Asylum-Seekers and Displaced Persons, Council of Europe (Strasbourg, 2000).


She is the recipient of research grants from the British Academy (2005, 2007), Nuffield Foundation (2005), UNHCR (consultancy 2014), University of Melbourne (Dyason Fellowship 2015), and the Australian Research Council (Discovery Grant 2016-2019).

PhD students

Elisavet Mavropoulos, ‘Cooperation-based migration control measures and the law of state responsibility’ (starting date 01/01/2017)

Rebab Nor Al-Din, 'The European Neighbouring Policy and its Southern Partners' (starting date 01/10/2015)

Eliza Watt, 'International Law on the Use of Force and Cyber Warfare' (awarded 2017)

Barbara Sonczynk 'Attacking peacekeeping personnel and objects: the anatomy of a war crime'  awarded 2014)

Anna Blachura 'State Failure and International Law' (awarded 2015)

Sherif Elgebeily 'The UN Security Council and an International Rule of Law' (awarded 2015)

Laura Niada 'Access to and Financing of Essential Medicines in Sub-Saharan Africa' (awarded 2010).

Engin Saygin 'Improving Compliance with International Human Rights Law through Non-Judicial Human Rights Institutions: An Ombudsman for Turkey?' (awarded 2007)