Dr Sara Dehm teaches and researches in the areas of public international law, international migration and refugee law, and the history and theory of international law and institutions. She specialises in the international regulation of human mobility, specifically the past and ongoing techniques and practices that international organisations employ to regulate labour migration from states in the Global South. Sara completed her PhD at the Melbourne Law School in 2017, with a thesis entitled Ordering Human Mobility: International Law, Development, Administration. Her thesis offered a genealogy of the idea of 'migration and development' in international law.
Sara currently holds a UTS ECR development grant reseearching healthcare as border control in Australia's refugee offshore detention regime.
Sara joined UTS Law as a Lecturer in January 2017. She holds a BA/LLB (Hons) and PhD in International Law from the University of Melbourne. Prior to joining UTS Law, Sara was a Senior Fellow at the Melbourne Law School, where she taught in the Melbourne Law Masters program. She has also been a Junior Faculty member of the Institute for Global Law and Policy, Harvard Law School’s Doha Workshop in 2015; a Research Associate with the Australian Human Rights Centre, UNSW (2015-18) and a Visiting Fellow at the Faculty of Law, UNSW (2014).
Sara is currently a co-convenor of the advocacy network Academics for Refugees, a Member of the Institute for International Law and the Humanities, Melbourne Law School; and a member of the Emerging Scholars Network of the Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law, UNSW.
Member, Institute for International Law and the Humanities (IILaH), Melbourne Law School
Member, Australian and New Zealand Society for International Law (ANZSIL)
Member, Law and Society Association (LSA)
Alumnus and Junior Faculty (2015), Institute for Global Law and Policy, Harvard Law School
Co-convenor, Academics for Refugees
Can supervise: YES
- International law and institutions
- Migration and refugee law
- Law and economic development
- International legal history
- Principles of Public International Law
- International Organisations
- History and Theory of Public International Law
- Migration and Refugee Law
Vogl, A, Fleay, C, Loughnan, C, Murray, P & Dehm, S 2020, 'COVID-19 and the relentless harms of Australia's punitive immigration detention regime', CRIME MEDIA CULTURE.View/Download from: Publisher's site
© 2018, The Author(s) 2018. Witchcraft-related violence (WRV), in particular directed towards women and children, has become a source of increasing concern for human rights organizations in the current century. Yet for those fleeing WRV, this heightened attention has not translated across into refugee status. This research examines how claims of WRV were addressed in all available asylum decisions in English, drawn from five jurisdictions. We argue that WRV is a manifestation of gender-related harm; one which exposes major failings in the application of refugee jurisprudence. Inattention to the religious and organizational elements of witchcraft practices, combined with gender insensitivity in analysis, meant that claims were frequently reconfigured by decision makers as personal grudges, or family or community disputes, such that they were not cognizable harms within the terms of the Refugee Convention; or they were simply disbelieved as far-fetched. The success rate of claims was low, compared to available averages, and, when successful, claims were universally accepted on some basis other than the witchcraft element of the case. This article focuses in particular upon cases where the applicant feared harm as an accused witch, while a second related article addresses those fearing persecution from witches or through the medium of witchcraft.
In this article, we use two case studies – the admission of
skilled migrants under the Temporary Work (Skilled) visa
(subclass 457) scheme and the admission of refugees under
Australia's onshore humanitarian program – to understand
the gendered nature, operation and effects of Australian
migration law more generally. These two case studies reveal
that the gendered nature of migration to Australia is evident
in even the most cursory examination of particular visa
categories and forms of migration, even if the experiences of
and implications for women migrants differ across different
streams of migration and specific visa categories. For
example, female temporary skilled migrants are more likely to
be over-represented in low-paid or casualised care industries,
as nurses or carers, and women asylum seekers face risks
of gendered violence when crossing borders unlawfully.
Dehm, S 2012, 'Sovereignty, Protection and the Limits to Regional Refugee Status Determination Arrangements', Merkourios : Utrecht Journal of International and European Law, vol. 28, pp. 53-60.
This case note explores the recent Australian High Court decision of Plaintiff M70/2011 v Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, which declared a proposed regional refugee status determination arrangement between Australia and Malaysia to be unlawful under Australian law. While the decision was determined by the specific statutory construction of Australian's migration legislation, it nonetheless draws attention to the legal character of what constitutes 'protection' under international refugee law and suggests the necessary legal and factual conditions that must exist in a 'third country' in order for any transfer of refugee processing and recognition procedures to be seen to satisfy Convention obligations. It thus represents a significant judicial challenge to the contemporary trend pursued by wealthy industrialised nations in the Global North towards erecting barriers for accessing domestic asylum regimes and adopting policies that in effect outsource and extraterritorialise asylum processing under the guise of 'burden sharing' or regional 'harmonisation'. This case note reads the decision as a particular re-articulation of sovereign authority, borders, belonging and place-making.
Dehm, S 2020, 'Contesting the Right to Leave in International Law: The Berlin Wall, the Third World Brain Drain and the Politics of Emigration in the 1960s' in Craven, M, Pahuja, S & Simpson, G (eds), International Law and the Cold War, Cambridge University Press, UK, pp. 159-188.View/Download from: Publisher's site
In 1963, the UN Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities published a study that found that more people were 'effectively confined behind their national boundaries today than in previous periods of history'.2 The study, written by Filipino Judge José D Inglés in his capacity as Special Rapporteur, represented the first attempt within UN institutions to examine the emerging right under international law of individuals to leave any country including their own, and to systematically document how various states were recognising — or failing to recognise — this right in their domestic laws and regulations. Deeply critical of what he saw to be a 'retrogressive' trend towards ever more restrictive forms of state control over human mobility and drawing on the language of self-determination that animated earlier and ongoing struggles for national independence across the newly-decolonised or decolonising parts of the world, Inglés framed the legal basis of a person's ability to emigrate from a state as a fundamental human right, namely a 'right to personal self-determination'.3 This right, he concluded, was 'under attack from many directions', including the 'desire of some Governments to keep their nationals out of touch with rival ideologies' and other reasons of 'alleged national interest'
Dehm, S 2020, 'International Law at the Border: Refugee Deaths, the Necropolitical State and Sovereign Accountability' in Chalmers, S & Pahuja, S (eds), Routledge Handbook of International Law and the Humanities, Routledge.
Dehm, S 2020, 'Outsourcing, Responsibility and Refugee Claim-Making in Australia's Offshore Detention Regime' in McGuirk, S & Pine, A (eds), Asylum for Sale: Profit and Protest in the Migration Industry, PM Press.
In this chapter, I locate the struggles around the closure of the Manus Island RPC in the context of broader legal, political and economic contestations surrounding Australia's punitive offshore refugee detention regime in PNG. I argue that Australia's draconian policies of offshore processing have increasingly sought to place the economics of immigration detention outside of the realm of domestic political debate and to obfuscate the Australian state's obligations under international refugee law. These policies have done this through two key strategies of outsourcing and offshoring that have both, in different ways, devolved legal and practical responsibility for the management and processing of asylum seekers to private corporations and external state authorities. In the most recent iteration of Australia's offshore detention regime, this mix of external public and private actors has included two neighbouring island states (PNG and Nauru), transnational private companies (G4S, IHMS, Transfield, and Wilson Security) and non-governmental organisations (Salvation Army and Save the Children). However, as the events of October 2017 demonstrate, the Australian government's practices of exclusion and expulsion have been met with a series of mass refugee protests and practices of claim-making from the men held within the Manus Island RPC that instead insisted upon articulating relationships of political, legal and moral responsibility towards the authorities that exercise control over their lives and futures. One site where such forms of refugee claim-making have been articulated is in court litigation, both in Australia and PNG. I examine two recent legal challenges initiated by and on behalf of the affected refugees that have shaped the political struggle around the legality and legitimacy of Australia's regional offshore detention regime. At the time of writing, these series of legal litigations have not (yet) been successful in bringing about an end to Australia's ...
Dehm, S 2020, 'Transnational Migration Law: Authority, Contestation, Decolonisation' in Zumbansen, P (ed), Oxford Handbook on Transnational Law, Oxford University Press.
This chapter trace how "transnational migration law" has come to construct human mobility. It argues that "transnational migration law" is best conceived of as a useful methodological approach, rather than a distinct spatial domain of law, that can reveal the juridical assemblage of practices, subjects and relations for regulating migration. This chapter illuminates some of these core contested and potentially rival sites, forms and practices of transnational migration law-making, drawing attention to the productive and coercive forces of transnational migration law that have resulted in the maintenance of a "global hierarchy of mobility". Yet, recognising that state attempts to monopolise "the legitimate means of movement" are incomplete and contest, the chapter argues that scholars of transnational migration law must pay attention to diverse and situated Indigenous legal traditions as sources of authority. In doing so, the chapter critically unpacks the relationship between migration and struggles for decolonization and global justice.
Dehm, S 2018, 'Accusing 'Europe': Articulations of Migrant Justice and a PopularInternational Law' in Brynes, A & Simm, G (eds), Peoples' Tribunals and International Law, Cambridge University Press, UK, pp. 157-181.View/Download from: Publisher's site
This chapter examines a recent civil society initiative, Tribunal 12, as an internationalised articulation of migrant justice.1 Tribunal 12 was held in Stockholm in May 2012, and sought to put 'Europe' on trial for the systematic violations of the rights and dignity of refugees, asylum seekers and migrants. By adopting a legal and aesthetical framework, the initiative aimed to draw attention to the increased global securitisation of borders, criminalisation of unauthorised migrants and systemic exploitation of undocumented people in Europe. It also intended to generate support for migrant struggles within Europe by highlighting the morally unjust and harmful effects of European border practices. Although the Tribunal differed significantly from earlier international peoples' tribunals in that it did not hear any witness testimonies from migrants themselves, I nonetheless locate Tribunal 12 within a legacy of peoples' tribunals and their entanglement with international law and institutions.
Dehm, S 2018, 'Passport' in Hohmann, J & Joyce, D (eds), International Law's Objects, Oxford University Press.
This chapter explores the passport both as an object of concern for international law and as an object that has been shaped through international action and institutions. It unpacks this dynamic relationship along four registers: first, as a historical object that functions as a technology of statecraft and emerged with the consolidation of the modern territorial nation-state; second, as an object of government that works towards the control of individuals, the construction of border regimes, and the global segregation of populations; third, as a jurisprudential object that crafts a particular juridical human; and finally, as an object of resistance taken up in political struggles to challenge the nation-state's asserted monopoly on territorial authority. Along each of these registers, the passport reveals how the deeply state-centric order produced through international law shapes and regulates human mobility and identity.
Dehm, S & Walden, M 2018, 'Refugee Policy: A Cruel Bipartisanship' in Gauja, A, Chen, P, Curtin, J & Pietsch, J (eds), Double Dissolution The 2016 Australian Election, ANU Press, Australia, pp. 593-617.
Facing the media after a reported 5.6 per cent swing against him in the Brisbane seat of Dickson, Australian Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Peter Dutton defiantly declared that the Coalition was 'a victim of our own success'.1 'The fact that we stopped boats and got children out of detention', Dutton asserted, meant the 'issue' of 'border protection' and people arriving in Australia unauthorised by boat to seek asylum 'had gone off the radar' (quoted in Hutchens 2016). The minister's assertion was certainly provocative, if a little misleading. While Australia's policies towards refugees and asylum seekers did not appear to feature prominently in the 2016 election campaign, this was largely due to a confluence of circumstances, not all of which were of the Coalition's making. These circumstances primarily included the bipartisan support for the three key pillars of Australia's increasingly draconian deterrence model (namely, boat turn backs, regional processing and the mandatory detention of certain asylum seekers) and the exceptional government censorship of information from inside immigration detention centres and the official secrecy surrounding the implementation of Australia's military-led Operation Sovereign Borders (OSB). This meant that the Coalition and Labor had both orchestrated a situation where there seemed to be little political mileage to be gained from foregrounding the issue of Australia's refugee laws and policies during the campaign. Instead, the election contest predominantly played out across more traditional issues of economic and social policy, such as job creation and the funding of healthcare. Despite being a highly volatile political issue, refugee policy could rarely be seen to determine the outcome of elections—perhaps with the exception of the Coalition's major 2001 electoral victory in the wake of the Tampa affair. Since 2004, fewer than 10 per cent of surveyed voters have ranked the issue of 'refugees and asylum see...
Dehm, S 2018, 'Panel Remarks on Doing 'Southern Histories' of International Law(s) in our Times', Third World Approaches to International Law, Singapore.
Dehm, S 2018, 'Panel Remarks on Migration in International Legal History', Law and Society Annual Meeting, Toronto, Canada.
Dehm, S 2017, 'The Screening of Suffering: Film as a Technique of Government in Anti-Asylum Campaigns', International Meeting on Law and Society: Walls, Borders, and Bridges: Law and Society in an Inter‐Connected World, Mexico City.
Vogl, A & Dehm, S UTS Faculty of Law and Academics for Refugees 2017, An Unfair and Dangerous Process: A Legal Analysis of the Ministerial Deadline to Apply for Asylum and Use of Executive Power in the Legacy Caseload, pp. 1-19, Sydney.
Dehm, S Australian Human Rights Centre 2014, Ingram Workshop on Migrant Labour Recruitment in the Asia Pacific Region: Workshop Report.
Seguel González, A, Aconley-Jones, R, Adam, D, Dehm, S, Dehm, J & Buckley, E 2012, Occupy Policing: A Report into the Effects and Legality of the Eviction of Occupy Melbourne from City Square on 21 October 2011.
Dehm, S 2020, 'The Entrenchment of the Medical Border in Pandemic Times', Border Criminologies blog (Oxford University).
The COVID-19 pandemic has starkly intensified the deeply-entrenched intersections between the multi-sited regulation of public health and the nation-centric control of state borders. COVID-19 responses make visible the global and local articulations of what John Mckiernan-González and others have termed the 'medical border'. The concept of the 'medical border' helps us to attend to the specific ways that medical personnel, practices, knowledges and logics become enmeshed in the performance, function and ends of state border regimes. In recent months, the rapid reorganisation of life on a global scale in response to COVID-19 has seen the overt medicalisation of both state borders and refugee lives.
Pressure is growing to release people from immigration detention, with lawyers from Australia's Human Rights Law Centre mounting a court case on behalf of a refugee seeking protection from COVID-19. They argue the federal government has a duty of care to refugees, which cannot be met in immigration detention due to the crowded conditions there. This test case illustrates the urgency of the need to release people from detention.
Dehm, S 2019, 'The evidence is clear: the medevac law saves lives. But even this isn't enough to alleviate refugee suffering', The Conversation.
The complexity of refugee determinations cannot be reduced to a soundbite. Legal decisions about refugee status are not an inevitable reflection of the truth or merits of a person's asylum claims. They are made in the context of a legal system that has been deliberately set up to accelerate asylum decision-making, to deny acces to legal advice to people seeking asylum and to limit the legal options of those who have arrived by boat.
Vogl, A & Dehm, S 2019, 'The Ethics of Academic Publishing and International Migration's 'Policy Interview' with Australia's Minister for Home Affairs', Border Criminologies (https://www.law.ox.ac.uk/research-subject-groups/centre-criminology/cen…).
The imposition of a non-negotiable, non-discretionary and blanket deadline to a group of asylum seekers – where the failure to meet the deadline extinguishes any form of claim – is an exceptionally unfair, arbitrary and dangerous measure.
Dehm, S 2013, 'Cholera in Haiti: Is UN immunity now impunity?', Lowy Institute for International Policy.
Dehm, S 2013, 'Cholera in Haiti: Is UN immunity now impunity?', The Interpreter.
Dehm, S 2013, 'Refugees and Hunger Strikes: The need to appeal ASIO assessments', The Conversation.
Dehm, S & Storr, C 2013, 'Unreasonable Refusal to Adjourn: Minister for Immigration and Citizenship v Li', Melbourne Law School.