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Refugee & Asylum Seeker Law Research Guide: Global & Comparative Refugee Law

Finding & Comparing the Asylum / Refugee Laws of Multiple Jurisdictions

The Kluwer Online International 
Encyclopaedia of Laws: Migration Law (UniMelb staff & student access) is an excellent tool for comparing jurisdictions. It contains individual country monographs, which include useful introductory / background information on asylum law - generally in the chapters on 'Rights of Residence for Specific Categories of Migrants'. This database currently contains individual country monographs: for China, Canada, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Serbia, Slovenia, and the USA. There are plans to add more countries.

Please note: while the Kluwer chapters are a good starting point for your research, some of the country monographs are a few years old, so the law may have changed. Therefore, be aware that you may need more up to date sources to ensure currency.

To compare European countries, use the Asylum Information Database's Comparator: it compares legal frameworks and practice between 23 European countries (2 of which are EU Member states) in relation to the themes of asylum procedure, reception, detention, and content of protection. See more on the European Union page in this guide.

Global Asylum Trends from UNHCR

The latest Asylum Levels and Trends in Industrialized Countries 

The latest Global Trends: Forced Displacement provides worldwide statistics on displaced people as a result of war, persecution, violence  and human rights violations.

The latest Refugee Resettlement Trends and Resettlement Factsheets 

The latest Resettlement Handbook and Country Chapters - includes 22 countries


Global Caselaw Portal

Finding refugee decisions is not easy - particularly those from refugee boards and tribunals. No one source is comprehensive in coverage, so locating decisions from specific jurisdictions may require using multiple free and subscription sources, such as the tribunal websites, the LIIs (NZLII, SAFLII etc), and subscription sources which include lower courts and tribunals on eg: Lexis.

As a great starting point, we recommend using multijurisdictional case finders such as Refworld's Cases database, which can be used to find a specific case, cases from a specific jurisdiction and court,  and/or cases on a particular topic. Refworld includes full text cases from more than 45 national jurisdictions, as well as international judgments and decisions from the International Court of Justice, the European Court of Human Rights and other international and regional courts.

You can browse to relevant cases by continually narrowing by country, type of information, topic etc, or you can perform an advanced search. Use the 'search tips' page for help in searching. Refworld is a massive database, and it is easy to get lost, so you need to be strategic in using it. 

Example: if you are looking for refugee cases in domestic courts in Norway, or to which Norway was a party:

  • Start at the Refworld Home page.
  • Select 'Jurisprudence' from the top menu and click on the down arrow - click on caselaw.
  • Click on the 'narrow results by' Country tab, and scroll through the alphabetical list and click on Norway.
  • You will then see the list of courts in which the cases have been heard.
  • You can then select a court, or scroll through the list of cases at the bottom of the page, or further narrow the search by using the 'topic' tab.
  • The individual case links take you to the full text decisions in PDF.

If you still can't find that elusive case, ask a librarian!  

Global Legislation Portal

RefWorld can be used to find domestic legislation on nationality/citizenship/statelessness and refugees/asylum seekers. Select 'Law' from the top blue menu bar and select National Legislation or Nationality Law. You can then narrow the search by type, country and topic.

Domestic Refugee Courts & Tribunals

To identify the courts and tribunals that deal with refugee and asylum seeker issues in a particular country, use the jurisdiction tabs in this Guide for Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the UK and the US.

For countries not included in our guide, use the National Refugee Law page on the RefLaw blog - this provides an alphabetical list of countries and courts.

Finding Worldwide Citations of Cases

LawCite is a free worldwide citator that will link to cases provided on the LII databases (PacLII, NZLII, LII of India etc) in all jurisdictions worldwide that have cited your case, as long as those jurisdictions have LIIs.   

New UNHCR Refugee Research Papers

The UNHRC Refugee Research Papers provide in-depth coverage of specific asylum / refugee issues in particular countries or regions.