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Professor Geoff Gilbert LLB (Leicester), LLM, SJD (Virginia), Barrister

Staff positionProfessor
Telephone01206 872557
Academic support hoursOn Study Leave for Academic Year 2017/2018

Geoff Gilbert is a Professor of Law in the School of Law and Human Rights Centre at the University of Essex. He was Head of Department between 2000-2003 and 2011-13. In 2012, he was appointed a Professorial Visiting Fellow at the University of New South Wales in Sydney. He was Editor-in-Chief of the International Journal of Refugee Law from 2002-15; as the former Editor-in-Chief, he sits on the Advisory Board. He is author of ‘Current Issues in the Application of the Exclusion Clauses’ in Feller, Türk and Nicholson, Refugee Protection in International Law (2003), part of UNHCR’s Global Consultations on the 50th Anniversary of the 1951 Convention. He was founding Director of Studies for UNHCR’s annual Thematic Refugees and Human Rights course for judges, government officials and UNHCR staff at the International Institute for Humanitarian Law, Sanremo, Italy, from 2005 to 2007. In 2014 he was appointed a consultant to UNHCR (with Anna Magdalena Rüsch) on Rule of Law: Engagement for Solutions and is part of the Solutions Alliance Thematic Group on Rule of Law. In April 2016, the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung invited him to present papers in Manila and Canberra on refugee solutions in the region and in the September he was a speaker at the Festival of Dangerous Ideas at the Sydney Opera House. In 2017, again with Anna Magdalena, they were commissioned by the Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law, UNSW, to write Creating Safe Zones and Safe Corridors in Conflict Situations: Providing protection at home or preventing the search for asylum?

He was Specialist Adviser to the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights in its inquiry into the treatment of asylum-seekers, 2006-07. He was part of the Human Rights Centre's research programme on human rights in situations of acute crisis that was carried out on behalf of DfID and then directed Essex's residential training programme of human rights for DfID staff, 2006-07. He drafted a report in 2010 for the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe on a possible Protocol to the ECHR dealing with minority rights. He has carried out human rights training on behalf of the Council of Europe and UNHCR in the Russian Federation (Siberia, the Urals and Kalmykskaya), Georgia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia and Kosovo. He has advised governments on their laws in Central and Eastern Europe, the Balkans and the FSU, and was the Director of the OSCE training programme on combating torture for judges in Serbia and Montenegro. His areas of interest are international criminal law, the protection of refugees and other displaced persons in international law, the protection of minorities in international law, international humanitarian law and international human rights law. Since 1995, he has been involved in the annual simulated humanitarian exercise for human rights masters students and officers in 16 Air Assault Brigade, the UK's Rapid Reaction Force. In 2009 he was elected a Bencher of the Middle Temple and was called in February 2010.


LL.B. (Hons) (Leicester)

LL.M. (Virginia)

SJD (Virginia)

Barrister-at-Law (NP)

Principal FHEA

Current research

Protection and Jurisdiction - asserting competence when offering protection

Rule of Law and UN Interoperability

Safe zones, safe corridors

Research interests
  • International Refugee Law
  • Extradition Law
  • International Criminal Law
  • International Humanitarian Law
  • International Human Rights Law
  • International Minority Rights Law
Teaching responsibilities

LW805 International Criminal Law

LW907 The Protection of Refugees and Other Displaced Persons in International Law

LW807 Acute Crises and Displacement

LW902 Public International Law

  • Creating Safe Zones and Safe Corridors in Conflict Situations: Providing protection at home or preventing the search for asylum? (with Anna Magdalena Rüsch)
  • Undesirable but Unreturnable - Extradition and Other Forms of Rendition, 15 JICJ 55-74 (2017).
  • UNHCR and Courts: Amicus Curiae … Sed Curia Amica est?’, 28 IJRL 623-36 (2016).
  • ‘Refugees, Minorities and International Law’, KAS Monitor (SE Asia), 5000 words, June 2016
  • ‘Jurisdictional Competence through Protection: To What Extent Can States Prosecute the Prior Crimes of Those to Whom They Have Extended Refuge?’, 12:5 Journal of International Criminal Justice 1093-1114 (with AM Rüsch)
  • ‘International Criminal Law is not a Panacea - Why Proposed Climate Change ‘Crimes’ Are Just Another Passenger on an Overcrowded Bandwagon’ 14 International Criminal Law Review 551-87 (2014)
  • ‘Exclusion is Not Just about Saying ‘No’: Taking Exclusion Seriously in Complex Conflicts’ in Cantor and Durieux, Refuge from Inhumanity, pp.155-75, Martinus Nijhoff, 2014
  • ‘Terrorism and International Refugee Law’ in Saul, Research Handbook on International Law and Terrorism, 470-85, Edward Elgar 2014
  • ‘Exclusion under Article 1F since 2001: two steps backwards, one step forward’, pp.519-40 in Chetail & Bauloz, Research Handbook on International Law and Migration, 519-40, Edward Elgar 2014.
  • ‘The Protection of Minority Rights under the ECHR: is a Protocol Needed? 10 European Yearbook of Minority Issues 179-199 (2013)
  • ‘Cross-Border Conflict and International Law’ 22 Accord: an International Review of Peace Initiatives (January 2011) 20-24. (with Clara Sandoval)
  • The Delivery of Human Rights (edited with Françoise Hampson and Clara Sandoval), Routledge, 2011
  • Strategic Visions for Human Rights (edited with Françoise Hampson and Clara Sandoval), Routledge, 2011
  • ‘Hierarchies, Human Rights and Refugees’, in de Wet and Vidmar, Hierarchy in International Law - the Place of Human Rights, OUP 2012, pp.176-205.
  • ‘Implementing protection: what refugee law can learn from IDP law … and vice versa’, in The Delivery of Human Rights (above), pp.183-98.
  • ‘Law and human rights rather than international human rights law’, in Strategic Visions for Human Rights (above), 19-33.
  • 'The Contribution of the European Court of Human Rights to the Promotion of the Effective Participation of National Minorities: Groping in the Dark for Something that Might Not Be There' International Journal of Minority and Group Rights, 16:4, 611-19 (January 2010)
  • Running Scared Since 9/11: Refugees, UNHCR and the Purposive Approach to Treaty Interpretation in Simeon, Critical Issues in International Refugee Law, CUP (2010).
  • 'The Cultural and Political Autonomy of Minorities', L'Observatuer des Nations Unies, 2007-2, vol.23, 225-50 (March 2008).
  • 'Extradition' in Grant and Barker, The Harvard Research in International Law: Contemporary Analysis and Appraisal, pp.247-74, William S. Hein (2007).
  • Responding to International Crime Martinus Nijhoff, October 2006 (550 pages).
  • 'What Price Justice? Prosecuting Crimes Post-Conflict' in Dolgopol and Gardam, The Challenge of Conflict, (refereed) Brill 2006, pp.421-42.
  • 'The Role, Rights and Responsibilities of UNHCR in Situations of Acute Crisis' in Dolgopol and Gardam, The Challenge of Conflict, (refereed) Brill 2006, pp.569 82.
  • 'Individuals, Collectivities and Rights' in Hercock and Xanthaki (eds), Minorities, Peoples and Self Determination: Essays in Honour of Patrick Thornberry (refereed festschrift), Brill (2005), pp.139-61.
  • 'Article 5' and 'Article 6' in Weller, Commentary on the Council of Europe's Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, (refereed) Cambridge University Press (2005), pp. 149-71 and pp.172-86.
  • 'Exclusion and Evidentiary Assessment' in Noll, Proof, Evidentiary Assessment and Credibility in Asylum Procedures, pp.161-78, Martinus Nijhoff (2005).
  • The chapter on 'Expression, Assembly, Association' for Weller and Moucheboeuf, Universal Minority Rights: A Commentary on the Jurisprudence of International Courts and Treaty Bodies Oxford University Press (2007), pp.149-77.
  • 'Current Issues in the Application of the Exclusion Clauses', Feller, Türk and Nicholson, Refugee Protection in International Law, (CUP, 2003), pp 425-78. This 30,000 word paper was commissioned by UNHCR as the discussion paper for an expert roundtable discussion on exclusion organised as part of the Global Consultations on International Protection in the context of the 50th anniversary of the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees. Cited with approval by the Canadian Federal Court of Appeal in Zrig v Canada (The Minister of Citizenship and Immigration) [2003] FCA 178. Translated and published in French by Larcier, 2008, pp.479-548
  • 'The Burgeoning Minority Rights Jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights' 24:3 Human Rights Quarterly 736-80 (2002)
  • 'Autonomy and Minority Groups - A Right in International Law?' 35:2 Cornell International Law Journal, 307-53 (2002)
  • 'Religio-Nationalist Minorities and the Development of Minority Rights Law', 25:3 Review of International Studies 389-410 (1999).
  • 'Rights, Legitimate Expectations, Needs and Responsibilities: UNHCR and the New World Order', 10:3 International Journal of Refugee Law 349-88 (1998).
  • 'The Northern Ireland Peace Agreement, Minority Rights and Self Determination', 47 International and Comparative Law Quarterly 943-50 (1998).
  • Reports to the United Nations Working Group on Minorities, 'Thematic Analysis of the Jurisprudence of the European Court and Commission of Human Rights and Minority Groups', UN Doc. E/CN.4/Sub.2/ AC.5/1999/CRP.1 and E/CN.4/Sub.2/AC.5/2000/CRP.4


Roundtable for launch of 'Safe Zone, Safe Corridor', UNSW June 2017, with Australian DFAT and Director of Protection Standby Capacity Project (ProCap)

(Radio interview on Australian Broadcasting Corporation's World Today, 6 June 2017)

Speaker at 35th Refugee Studies Centre Conference, Oxford

Panelist at the Festival of Dangerous Ideas, Sydney Opera House, on Refugee Solutions (sponsored by The Guardian), September 2016

Speaker at symposia in Manila and Canberra at invitation of Konrad Adenauer Stiftung on refugee solutions and responses in the region, April 2016

Plenary Pufendorf Lecture at University of Lund, February 2015 on Rule of Law and UN Interoperability

Panel member in the televised "Asylum Debate" at the University of New South Wales, September 2010

Plenary speaker to the International Association of Refugee Law Judges meeting in Berlin in October 2009 on exclusion

Lectures on international criminal law at Chuo Law School, Tokyo, August 2009

Plenary speaker at Lund Principles Tenth Anniversary Conference on Effective Participation of Minorities, May 2009

Additional information

Member of Solutions Alliance UNHCR/ UNDP) since 2014

Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (D4)

Editor-in-Chief, International Journal of Refugee Law, from 2001 onwards

Editorial Board, International Criminal Law Review, 1999 to 2010

Editorial Board of the Refugee Survey Quarterly 2003-12. Guest Editor, Special Issue 2005 on Human Rights and Refugees (volume 24:2).

Founding member of the AHRC Peer Review College in 2004 and renewed until 2013. Ad hoc member of the Philosophy, Religious Studies and Law Panel (8) Spring Term 2008, replacing panellist applying for funding in that round. Commissioning Assessment Panel member for ESRC’s Global Uncertainties Fellowship proposals, Autumn 2008

Elected as Bencher of the Middle Temple 2009 (called February 2010)

Director, ELENA Annual Refugee Law Training Programme, Madrid, 27 February – 1 March, 2009, and Lisbon, June 2013; Expert for ELENA Conference on Cessation and Exclusion Clauses, National Security and Non-Refoulement, Athens, 22-24 February 2008.

Retained by REDRESS to argue the refugee related issues of their application before the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights in Washington DC on behalf of a Chilean victim of torture – October 27th-28th 2008

Co-Director since 2006 with Clara Sandoval of the Human Rights Centre’s two biannual training programmes (General and Specialist) for Amnesty International (International Secretariat) in international human rights law and organizations

Founding Director of Studies for UNHCR Annual Thematic Course on Refugee Law and Human Rights for judges, government officials and UNHCR staff at the International Institute for Humanitarian Law, San Remo, Italy, November 2005 to September 2007

OSCE Expert on torture for training session for Serbian judges and prosecutors, December 2004 and April, September and December 2005 (sponsored by OSCE and British FCO).

Part of Human Rights Centre team providing Human Rights Act training to the FCO, 2003-05 and Human Rights and Development training to DfID 2006-08.

Appointed by International Bar Association to provide expert commentary on new Serbian law on war crimes for Serbian Ministry of Justice, May 2003. 

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