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Centre for European Research

The Right to Rescue: A Human Rights Defender Framework

25 March 2019

Time: 7:00 - 8:30pm
Venue: Arts One Lecture Theatre, Queen Mary University of London, Mile End campus

Keynote Speaker: 
Dr Violeta Moreno-Lax (Centre for European Research, Queen Mary University of London)

Pia Oberoi, Advisor on Migration and Human Rights, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

Jan Engel de Boer, Senior Legal Officer at the Legal Affairs Office of the Legal Affairs and External Relations Division of the International Maritime Organization – IMO

Dr Sarah Wolff (Director of the Centre for European Research, Queen Mary University of London)



2018/2019 Debating Europe Seminar Series

The so-called migration crisis that Europe has witnessed in the past years has generated much political turmoil across the continent. While a great number of refugees lose their lives on sea routes or suffer due to inhumane circumstances awaiting them along the Schengen borders, European decision-makers seem to focus increasingly on defending the Union’s borders and less on protecting the lives of those arriving from other parts of the world. Should the EU have a different approach putting the lives and dignity of individuals in the focus of its attention during policy making? Is the protection of human rights and the provision of security to European citizens necessarily a zero-sum game?

About the speakers:


Dr Violeta Moreno-Lax is Senior Lecturer in Law, Founding Director of the Immigration Law programme, and inaugural co-Director and co-founder of the Centre for European and International Legal Affairs at Queen Mary University of London. She is also Visiting Professor at the College of Europe, Fellow of the Centre of European Law of King's College London, EU Asylum Law Coordinator of the Refugee Law Initiative of the University of London, Co-Chair of The Refugee Law Observatory, Co-convener of the Society of Legal Scholars (SLS) Migration Law Section, and member of the Steering Committee of the Migration Law Network. She has previously been a Lecturer in Law at the Universities of Liverpool and Oxford and held visiting positions at the Universities of Macquarie, New South Wales, Oxford, Nijmegen, and The Hague Academy of International Law. She has published widely in the areas of international and European refugee and migration law and regularly consults for the EU institutions and other organisations active in the field.


Pia Oberoiis the Advisor on Migration and Human Rights at the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, where she leads the work of OHCHR's migration team and advises the High Commissioner on policy and legal issues related to the intersections between migration and human rights. Prior to this, Pia led the migrants' rights work of Amnesty International's International Secretariat, and also advised NGOs and policy think tanks on migration and human rights in several regions of the world. An expert on international human rights law and policy related to migrants, Pia has written, lectured and published extensively on related issues, including in the context of the current challenges of migration governance. Pia holds an MPhil and a DPhil in International Relations from St Antony's College, Oxford University.

Profile image of Jan de Boer

Jan Engel de Boer is Senior Legal Officer at the Legal Affairs Office of the Legal Affairs and External Relations Division of the International Maritime Organization – IMO. Before joining the UN’s maritime agency, he served as Senior Legal Counsel at the Netherlands Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment. As Vice-Chairman of the IMO Legal Committee, he was involved in numerous international conventions and attended many Diplomatic Conferences, including on the revision of CLC and Fund Convention and the HNS Convention and Protocol. In 2007 he was elected Chairman of the Committee of the Whole of the successful International Conference on the Removal of Wrecks in Nairobi, Kenya. He acted as Chairman of the Signing Ceremony of the United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Carriage of Goods Wholly or Partly by Sea, ‘Rotterdam Rules’ in September 2009. Jan de Boer obtained Master of Laws at Univer­sity of Amsterdam and International Law at State University Leyden.

 sarah wolff

Dr Sarah Wolff is Director of the Centre for European Research and Lecturer in Public Policy at Queen Mary University of London. She is also a Senior Research Associate at the Netherlands Institute of International Relations (Clingendael). Dr Wolff is an expert on EU politics, Justice and Home Affairs (JHA), migration and border management policies, as well as EU-Arab Mediterranean relations and EU development aid. She is author of the monograph The Mediterranean Dimension of the European Union’s Internal Security (2012) and received the LISBOAN Research Award 2012 for her co-edited book Freedom, Security and Justice after Lisbon and Stockholm (2012). Her current research focuses on Secular Power Europe and EU engagement with Islam for which she was awarded a Fulbright-Schuman and a Leverhulme research grant in 2014/2015. Prior to joining the academia, Dr Wolff worked at DG Devco at the European Commission and as a parliamentary assistant at the European Parliament.

The discussion will be followed by a Q&A involving the audience.

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