Catharina Caspari, Universität Bremen

Recently the notion of vulnerability has been increasingly used in legal policy discussions as well asby international bodies and in judicial decisions. The dissertation project will analyze in which contexts of international law the notion is used and whether a legal dimension unfolds in its use. Thus, it aims to answer the question of which legal concept underlies the vulnerability notion, whether it can be legally defined and, in consequence, whether its use may possibly limit international human rights protection. 

The analysis will be based on a systematic evaluation of binding and non-binding documents of international law that refer to vulnerability. In particular, the general comments of the UN human rights treaty bodies will be included in the evaluation. Accordingly, the study focuses on international human rights protection and its neighboring fields as far as they relate to vulnerability, such as international migration and refugee law or international climate change law. The analysis will be based on a theoretically derived notion of vulnerability.