Maja Janmyr

Image of Maja Janmyr
Norwegian version of this page
Visiting address Kristian August gate 17 Domus Juridica 7.etg 0164 OSLO
Postal address Postboks 6706 St Olavs plass 0130 OSLO

I study international law from below, and I am interested in how refugees and other migrants understand and engage with legal norms and institutions, and in how international refugee law in particular is interpreted and implemented in local contexts. I’ve previously studied the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees’ (UNHCR) human rights responsibilities in refugee camps, as well as Norway’s readmission agreements and forced return in the broader context of EU migration policies. In Egypt, I’ve studied how Nubian activists have mobilized for recognition of indigeneity and for return to their ancestral lands along the Nile, and how they’ve strategically used international law and institutions to do so.

My most extensive work to date is focused on the situation of refugees and other migrants in Lebanon, where I’ve explored how national and local actors, as well as refugees and other migrants themselves, engage with the international refugee law regime. I’m currently continuing this work by exploring self-organization – refugee committees, protests and sit-ins – among Sudanese refugees and migrants in Beirut.

My current research agenda is to construct a truly global perspective on the nature of international refugee law by focusing on the role and practice of states that haven’t ratified the 1951 Refugee Convention. These non-party states are predominantly found in the Middle East and South Asia, and have traditionally been seen as exceptions to international refugee law. In my current research I am hoping to bring these states from the margins to the fore. I do this in two major research projects which I am currently leading:


ERC Starting Grant 2019: Protection without Ratification? International Refugee Law beyond States Parties to the 1951 Refugee Convention (BEYOND)

The BEYOND project fundamentally reconsiders the impact of international refugee law by developing the first genuinely global and systematic theoretical framework for understanding the behavior and position of non-party states. The theoretical challenge is to explain on the one hand, the influence of the Refugee Convention on non-party states, and, on the other, the ways in which these same states engage with and help shape international refugee law. Historical and socio-legal approaches are used to explore these issues further.

Duration: January 2021 – December 2025

More information will follow as our project website is developed.

During 2021, I will be hiring two post-docs focusing on Pakistan and Turkey respectively, and one PhD candidate focusing on Bangladesh. During spring 2021, I will also announce a position as BEYOND’s project assistant.


RCN FRIPRO 2019: Refugees and the Arab Middle East: Protection in States Not Party to the Refugee Convention (REF-ARAB)

The REF-ARAB project explores refugee protection in states of the Arab Middle East that haven’t ratified the 1951 Refugee Convention. It will particularly study the historical and political circumstances related to why so many states in this region remained non-parties to the Convention; explore how UNHCR executes its mandate to provide international protection to refugees in these same states; and examine the avenues available for refugees in these countries by means of nongovernmental legal aid organizations in securing legal protection on the basis of human rights instruments and other domestic legislation. More information about the project is available here.

Duration: July 2019 – June 2023



H2020 2019: Global Asylum Governance and European Union's Role

In addition to the above projects, I am also leading a work package in the Horizon 2020-project ASILE, of which Sergio Carrera at CEPS (Brussels) is PI. The project studies the interactions between emerging international protection systems and the United Nations Global Compact for Refugees (UN GCR), with particular focus on the European Union’s role and contribution. Our work package – ‘Refugee Recognition, Self-reliance and Rights’ will facilitate a better understanding of how refugee protection is allocated and the rights enjoyed by refugees, as well as clarify the link between ‘refugeehood’ and the quality of refugee protection, taking work rights as an important litmus test for this protection. It will provide an in-depth comparative case study on the refugee recognition regimes in Jordan and Bangladesh. Professor Cathryn Costello and Dr Lewis Turner participate in this work package.

Duration: December 2019 – November 2023


You will find me on Twitter and on! My personal website is here.

Tags: Refugee and Asylum Law, Human Rights, Public International Law, Migration


Peer-reviewed monographs and edited collections

Janmyr, Maja. Protecting Civilians in Refugee Camps: Unwilling and Unable States, UNHCR and International Responsibility, Martinus Nijhoff Publishers/Brill (2014). 

Janmyr, Maja and Knudsen, Are. "Dossier on Humanitarianism in Refugee Camps" in 7 Humanity: An International Journal of Human Rights, Humanitarianism, and Development 3 (2016).


Peer-reviewed journal articles

Janmyr, Maja and Mourad, Lama. "Modes of Ordering: Labelling, Classification and Categorization in Lebanon's Refugee Response" Journal of Refugee Studies (2018).

Janmyr, Maja. "UNHCR and the Syrian refugee response: negotiating status and registration in Lebanon" International Journal of Human Rights (2017).

Janmyr, Maja. "No Country of Asylum: 'Legitimizing' Lebanon’s Rejection of the 1951 Refugee Convention" 29 International Journal of Refugee Law 3 (2017).

Janmyr, Maja and Knudsen, Are. "Introduction: Hybrid Spaces" 7 Humanity: An International Journal of Human Rights, Humanitarianism, and Development 3 (2016).

Janmyr, Maja. "Spaces of Legal Ambiguity: Refugee Camps and Humanitarian Power" 7 Humanity: An International Journal of Human Rights, Humanitarianism, and Development 3 (2016).

Janmyr, Maja. "Precarity in Exile: The Legal Status of Syrian Refugees in Lebanon" 35 Refugee Survey Quarterly 4 (2016).

Janmyr, Maja. "Human Rights and Nubian Mobilisation in Egypt: towards recognition of indigeneity" Third World Quarterly (2016).

Janmyr, Maja. "Nubians in Contemporary Egypt: mobilizing return to ancestral lands" 25 Middle East Critique 2 (2016).

Janmyr, Maja. "The Effectiveness of Norway's Readmission Agreements with Iraq and Ethiopia" International Migration (2015).

Janmyr, Maja. "Att återvända till fäderneslandet - hur den nubiska drömmen kan bli en rättighet i det nya Egypten" Babylon: Nordic Journal of Middle East Studies 1-2 (2015). 

Janmyr, Maja. "Norway's Readmission Agreements: Spellbound by European Union Policies or Free Spirits on the International Field?” 16 European Journal of Migration and Law 2 (2014). 

Janmyr, Maja. "Recruiting Internally Displaced Persons into Civil Militias: the Case of Northern Uganda" 32 Nordic Journal of Human Rights 3 (2014). 

Janmyr, Maja. "Attributing Wrongful Conduct of Implementing Partners to UNHCR: International Responsibility and Human Rights Violations in Refugee Camps" 5 Journal of International Humanitarian Legal Studies 1 (2014).


Peer-reviewed book chapters

Janmyr, Maja. "Indigeneity vs Development: Nubian rights mobilisation in Egypt" in Corradi G., De Feyter K., Desmet E. and Vanhees K., Critical indigenous rights studies: New directions in indigenous rights research. Routledge (2018).

Janmyr, Maja. "Military Recruitment of Sudanese Refugee Men in Uganda: a Tale of National Patronage and International Failure" in Buckley-Zistel S. and Krause U., Gender, Violence, Refugees. Berghahn Books (2017). 

Janmyr, Maja. "Advancing UNHCR Accountability through the Law of International Responsibility" in Sandvik K. & Jacobsen K., UNHCR and the Struggle for Accountability: Technology, Law and Results-Based Management. Routledge (2016).

Janmyr, Maja. “Refugees and Peace” in Bailliet C. & Larsen K.M., Promoting Peace through International Law. Oxford University Press (2015).

Janmyr, Maja. “Revisiting the Civilian and Humanitarian Character of Refugee Camps" in Durieux J.F. & Cantor D., Refuge from Inhumanity: war refugees and international humanitarian law. Martinus Nijhoff Publishers (Brill)(2014).


Book Reviews

”Eyal Weizman: The Least of All Possible Evils. Humanitarian Violence from Arendt to Gaza”, Babylon. Tidsskrift om Midtøsten og Nord-Afrika (2012).

Published Jan. 8, 2018 12:26 PM - Last modified June 30, 2020 10:09 AM