Vera Wriedt, Hertie School Berlin

Law at the Border

During push-backs, people on the move across borders are forcibly returned without the possibility to explain their individual circumstances - meaning that any protection or other needs remain unexamined and unmet. My interdisciplinary research examines this denial of due process and asks: To what extent can human rights law, in particular the prohibition of collective expulsion, counteract such exclusion and injustice at the border? Answering this question requires an assessment of the pertinent jurisprudence developed in the European, Inter-American and African human rights systems. My proposal is to dissect these highly topical cases through the prism of legal and post-colonial studies in order to critically appraise the applicable human rights provisions and uncover the mechanisms underlying the denial of access to allegedly universal protection. Thus, the research brings together two pertinent but often disconnected bodies of literature: While legal analyses on migration tend to overlook postcolonial theory and its insights into the colonial logics shaping continued exclusion, postcolonial approaches to borders often downplay the law and its complex role in the contestation of injustice.


Keywords: borders, expulsion, due process, postcolonial theory, human rights, exception