About us

Cities of Refuge aims to explore and explicate the relevance of international human rights, as law, praxis and discourse, to how local governments in Europe welcome and integrate refugees. In doing so, it will:

  1. Contribute to a sustainable long-term, localized solution of the refugee crisis
  2. Strengthen human rights law with new, empirically grounded, insights

The localized understanding of human rights will be developed via a three-stepped approach:

  1. A legal analysis
  2. The development of local-level human rights indicators on the freedom of movement, participation, education and work
  3. Grounded, explorative empirical analysis in ‘cities of refuge’/’cities that refuse’ on the (lack of) relevance of human rights for refugee welcome and integration in the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Greece and Turkey.

This is urgent, as human rights can theoretically provide legal clarity on local government responsibilities, practical standards and a discursive frame but are not always invoked. It is also innovative as it concerns the explicit recognition of local governments as human rights actors in a multilevel context. Additionally, Cities of Refuge combines law, sociology and anthropology to develop the localized understanding of human rights.

The 5-year research project lead by prof. B. Oomen and funded by the Innovational research incentive Vici program of the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research NWO. The research team works for Utrecht University and is based at University College Roosevelt, UU’s Liberal Arts and Sciences honours college in Middelburg. More on the senior researcher Dr M. Baumgärtel and the 3 PhD researchers Elif Durmuş, Sara Miellet, Tihomir Sabchev can be found here.

The full project proposal can be found here.