Skip to main content

Secondary navigation:

Center for Human Rights and International Justice

Upcoming Events


Reimagining Refugee Law

Wednesday, March 29
East Wing 115A

BC Newton campus

With Alex Aleinikoff, Director of the Zolberg Institute on Migration and Mobility at the New School for Social Research, and former United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees in Geneva.

Co-sponsored by the Clough Center for the Study of Constitutional Democracy.  

Precís of forthcoming book on the topic:

The world is facing record numbers of persons displaced by violence and conflict, and the international regime put in place in the post-WWII era is fundamentally broken.  States have adopted policies to deny, deter and detain asylum-seekers; persons recognized as refugees are routinely denied rights guaranteed by international law; a humanitarian system established to provide emergency care is now called upon to render services for long and indefinite periods of time; and no formal process of international responsibility-sharing—vital to finding solutions to refugee situations—currently exists.   The result is that millions of refugees around the world experience a “second exile”—years spent in limbo with little opportunity to rebuild their lives or contribute to the communities that host them.

Adopting a revisionist and critical perspective, we examine the original premises of refugee regime and detail how the regime has evolved over the past seven decades. We identify compromises at the founding of the system that attempted to mediate between humanitarian and development principles as well as the sovereign control by states over borders and membership decisions, and note that, in the early years, the tensions inherent in the refugee protection system were avoided for a number of reasons (including Cold War imperatives and the European-focus of the Refugee Convention).  Today, however, these tensions have come front and center, and have helped to produce the systemic breakdown we are currently witnessing.  To repair and reform the current system, we suggest returning to some of the regime’s foundational principles and transcending others. We contend that the concept of “protection” has been fundamentally mischaracterized and that international protection, properly understood, should be extended to all persons who are “fleers of necessity” (a concept broader than the current definition of refugee). We further argue for a renewed focus on rights (including recognition of a right to enter), agency (to enable forced migrants to rebuild their lives) and mobility (as a “solution”). The necessary change in the international refugee regime will require structural and institutional innovation, a proper rendering of the role of development agencies and actors, and recognition of the important role that the private sector and new technologies can play. Most important, we suggest, will be to give meaningful and robust content to the concept of “international responsibility-sharing.”

About the speaker:

T. Alexander Aleinikoff, the former United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees, is a Senior Fellow at the Migration Policy Institute, where he works with the U.S. and International programs on asylum and migration and development topics. He is also Visiting Professor of Law at Columbia Law School and Huo Global Policy Initiative Research Fellow at Columbia's Global Policy Initiative. Prior to his service with the U.N., Aleinikoff was a professor at Georgetown University Law Center (1997-2010), where he also served as Dean and as Executive Vice President of Georgetown University (2004-10). He was a professor of law at the University of Michigan Law School from 1981 to 1997, and he served as General Counsel, and then Executive Associate Commissioner for Programs, at the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) from 1994-97. He was Co-Chair of the Immigration Task Force for President Obama's transition team.

A leading scholar in immigration and refugee law, Mr. Aleinikoff has published numerous books and articles in the areas of immigration law policy, refugee law, citizenship, race, statutory interpretation, and constitutional law.



Responding to the Travel Bans: An Immigration Lawyer's Role in Resisting

Thursday, March 30
Gasson 306

With Susan Church, immigration lawyer, Demissie & Church.  

In January, attorney Susan Church, with assistance from the ACLU and other law firms, successfully sued President Trump for his anti-immigrant travel and visa processing ban on Muslim immigrants from seven affected countries, obtaining a temporary restraining order from the Federal District Court in Boston. Then, with help from many volunteer lawyers, she spent weeks at Logan airport helping advocate for travelers who were at risk of being detained. She will talk about these experiences and respond to the latest developments related to both of President Trump's executive orders on  Access a recent Boston Globe article recapping the events of the weekend of January 27 in Boston, including Susan Church's role in organizing the lawsuit against the government.

About the speaker:

Susan Church is a partner at Demissie and Church, where she advocates for immigrants with criminal convictions facing deportation and immigrants seeking immigration benefits in the United States. She was named the Attorney of the Year by the National Lawyers Guild in 2014. Attorney Church also successfully represented the “Occupy Boston” protestors as the lead attorney. In 2015 she received the PAIR Project pro bono attorney of the year award.  From 2012-2018 she has served as a Board member of the American Immigration Lawyers’ Association of New England, taking the title of Chair in 2016-2017.

immigration form

Conference: State/Federal Tensions in Immigration Enforcement: Looking Back and Looking Forward

Tuesday, April 4
East Wing 120
Boston College Newton campus

A Rappaport Center for Law and Public Policy at Boston College conference co-sponsored by the Center.

A tentative agenda for the conference here

RSVP for the conference here.

Rev. Kim

Stop THAAD Missile Deployment in Korea: Seongju City People's Protest

Monday, April 10
Devlin 101


  • Reverend Sounghey Kim, Won Buddhist minister; Director, Samdong Educational Retreat Center, Seongju City, South Korea
  • Theodore Postol, PhD, Professor, Science, Technology, and International Security, Massachusetts Institute of Technology 
  • Juyeon Rhee, Korea Policy Institute; Solidarity Committee for Democracy and Peace in Korea, New York


Moderators: M. Brinton Lykes, Co-Director of the CHRIJ, and Ramsay Liem, Emeritus Professor of Psychology, Boston College 

In the midst of political upheaval and transition in South Korea, advances in North Korea’s nuclear program, and uncertainty about the Trump administration’s policy in Northeast Asia, citizens in Seongju, South Korea, have stepped up their eight-month opposition to the installation of a U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile system in their city.  The U.S. and South Korea claim THAAD is necessary to defend against North Korean ballistic missiles but locals fear its environmental effects, claim that the real target is China, and believe it makes them ground zero for counterattacks.  Learn about this struggle from the front line activism of Reverend Sounghey Kim, a Won Buddhist minister whose temple is staunchly opposed to THAAD and has been leading the resistance together with citizens groups.  Also hear the views of Ted Postol, professor of Science, Technology, and International Security at MIT, about THAAD and US missile defense systems.  Professor Postol has written widely about these systems and participated in high-level consultations with government officials in South Korea. 

The program is part of a U.S. national tour, Stop THAAD in Korea, sponsored by the Task Force to Stop THAAD in Korea and Militarism in Asia and the Pacific with support from the Korea Policy Institute, Channing and Popai Liem Education Foundation, and Global Network against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space.  Juyeon Rhee, an organizer for the Solidarity Committee for Democracy and Peace in Korea, is accompanying Rev. Kim and will comment on the broader U.S./Korea alliance that forms the context for this latest conflict.

The Stop THAAD in Korea website can be found here.

About the speakers:

Rev. Sounghey Kim

Reverend Kim has served as a Won Buddhist minister for 34 years, lives in Seongju, and directs the Samdong Educational Retreat Center, in addition to serving as a minister at the Seongju Temple. She has been a part of the Reunification Working Group called “Moryu” within the Won Buddhist order.  Since July 13, 2016, her days have revolved around the candlelight vigils against THAAD Deployment, standing with the residents of Seongju.  Currently she is a co-chair of the Seongju Struggle Committee to Stop THAAD Deployment and she is a member to the executive committee of the Task Force to Protect the Sacred Ground of Seongju within the Won Buddhist order. She dreams of reunification through peaceful dialogue, and is working for it. Most recently, she has been participating in an overnight sit-in at the bridge to the Lotte Golf Course.  

Theodore Postol

Dr. Postol received his undergraduate degree in physics and his PhD in nuclear engineering from MIT. Postol worked at Argonne National Laboratory, where he studied the microscopic dynamics and structure of liquids and disordered solids using neutron, X-ray and light scattering techniques, along with molecular dynamics simulations . He also worked at the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment, where he studied methods of basing the MX missile, and later worked as a scientific adviser to the Chief of Naval Operations.

After leaving the Pentagon, Postol helped build a program at Stanford University to train mid-career scientists to study weapons technology in relation to defense and arms control policy. In 1990, Postol received the Leo Szilard Prize from the American Physical Society. In 1995, he received the Hilliard Roderick Prize from the American Association for the Advancement of Science and in 2001, he received the Norbert Wiener Award from Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility for "uncovering numerous and important false claims about missile defenses." On September 28, 2016 the Federation of American Scientists awarded Professor Theodore Postol from MIT their annual Richard L. Garwin Award for his work in assessing and critiquing the government's claims about missile defense.

Juyeon Rhee

Juyeon is a first generation immigrant, living in metropolitan New York area.  She is a volunteer organizer of the Solidarity Committee for Democracy and Peace in Korea.  Juyeon is a member of Nodutdol for Korean Community Development and a board member at Korea Policy Institute.  Her work is focused on de-militarization of the U.S. and peace and unification of Korea.


Event sponsored by the Center for Human Rights and International Justice and the Channing and Popai Liem Education Foundation.

Co-Sponsored by the BC Asian American Studies Program, International Korean Students Organization, Korean Students Association, and BC Peace Action.

Other supporting organizations: American Friends Service Committee Peace & Economic Security Program; Massachusetts Peace Action; United for Justice with Peace.

For additional infomation on Stop THAAD or the event, contact:  M. Brinton Lykes at, or Ramsay Liem at

RSVP for this event here: