The winter session will be hosted by the School of Governance, Law and Society at Tallinn University, Estonia, from the 11th of March to the 13th of March 2016

Contact Information for Coordinators:

Oleg Bresky

Mogens Chrom Jacobsen

The deadline to submit proposals is November 15 2015. Please send title and abstract to both coordinators

Preliminary program announced: December 15, 2015 on where you can also find more information about NSU. (See

Table of contents

1) Opening Focus: Human Rights and Migration

2) Presentation of Keynote: Professor Yves Charles Zarka

3) Other Themes

4) Practical Information

5) Presentation of European Humanities University, the Nordic Summer University, Tallinn University and Tallinn University School of Governance, Law and Society

For the winter session 2016 we would propose a special opening focus on:



An opening focus will only head the program of the winter session sincerely inviting papers on other subjects related to our six themes in the program to follow.

At the time of writing, media are speaking about the refugee crisis. At the moment hundred thousands of people are coming in from war torn or poverty stricken areas to the Middle East and North Africa and some goes on to Western Europe. This is an enormous challenge to human rights. The shear amount of misery and despair calls for actions. Do human rights have anything to say?

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that everyone has the rights to leave any country, including his own, and that everyone has a right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution. (§ 13 & 14). This formula does not imply that any particular country has a duty to grant asylum to anybody, and this was not the intention. The question was much discussed during the drafting process, and it was clear that few states would bind themselves in this way. Both UDHR and the Refugee Convention speak about people being persecuted and the Convention adds “persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion” (§ 1)

Few migrants are refugees in this sense. Most of them flee from mortal civil wars, despairing refugee camps or life situations with few prospects for a decent life. How do human rights apply here? Does the right to food, health, personal security apply? How? What are the duties of the states? According to some sources 25 % of the population of Lebanon is refugees. Do they have a right to say stop? Do other countries have a duty to relieve them?

How will this vast movement of people impact regional and global relations between states and the societies internally? To take the example of Lebanon again; how will a country already composed of different ethnic, religious and social groups in a delicate balance cope with a new population of this size? European populations seem divided on the prospect of sustained immigration. How will this impact European societies and their cooperation? Can human rights provide any answers or guidelines? Even if people smugglers have a hand in this migration wave there must be a large spontaneous element. Some migrants and refugees use the language of rights. What role does human rights has in this phenomenon? Has human rights discourse been an enabling or triggering element?

Will Europe just absorb these newcomers and grow stronger? Will a new, highly motivated segment of the population boost European economy? Leaving neighbouring countries even weaker with a less resourceful population? Are we risking even more failed states and pervasive instability in the European neighbourhood? What will this mean for the right to development?

Could Europe use its own experience concerning migration and refugees faced with this new wave of migration? How do issues of citizenship cross with the migration problem? How do legal practices and social policy towards immigrants and refugees develop in Europe today?

Hannah Arendt and Giorgio Agamben has discussed these questions from a philosophical point of view. The question is also discussed within analytical philosophy (see summery here ). One should also mention Seyla Benhabib, Dignity in Adversity. Human Rights in troubled Times, 2012, and Yves Charles Zarka (ed.), Pour un monde habitable, 2014. An interesting analysis of new models of migration is provided by Ayten Gundogdu in the book “Rightlessness in an Age of Rights. Hannah Arendt and the Contemporary Struggles of Migrants”. Oxford University Press, 2015.


We are very honoured to announce that Professor Yves Charles Zarka has accepted our invitation to speak at the seminar. The precise title of his contribution will be announced later.

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