James C. Hathaway

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James Hathaway
Born 1956
Nationality American, Canadian
Institution University of Michigan
Field refugee law
School or
refugee law
Alma mater York University (LL.B. hons.), Columbia University (J.S.D., LL.M.)

James Hathaway (born 1956) is a leading authority[citation needed] on international refugee law and related aspects of human rights and public international law. His work is regularly cited by the most senior courts of the common law world, and has played a pivotal role in the evolution of refugee studies scholarship [1]. Among his more critical achievements, Hathaway pioneered the now well-accepted understanding of refugee status as surrogate or substitute protection of human rights (The Law of Refugee Status, 2014); he authored the world's first comprehensive analysis of the human rights of refugees, merging doctrinal study of refugee and human rights law with empirical analysis of the state of refugee protection around the world (The Rights of Refugees under International Law, 2005); and he directed a multidisciplinary and global team of scholars and officials in an initiative to reconceive the structures of refugee protection more fairly to share burdens and responsibilities (Reconceiving International Refugee Law, 1997).


Hathaway earned an LL.B. (Honors) at Osgoode Hall Law School of York University, and a J.S.D. and LL.M. at Columbia University. He was called to the bars of the Canadian provinces of Ontario and New Brunswick. He presently resides in San Francisco, Tucson, and Vancouver.

Since 1998, Hathaway has been the James E. and Sarah A Degan Professor of Law at the University of Michigan Law School (USA) where he is also the founding Director of the Program in Refugee and Asylum Law. In addition he presently serves as:

He has been appointed a visiting professor at the American University in Cairo, and at the Universities of California, Macerata, San Francisco, Stanford, Tokyo, and Toronto.

Prior to joining the Michigan faculty, Hathaway served as:

From 2008 until 2010, Hathaway was on leave from Michigan Law School as the Dean and William Hearn Chair of Law at the Melbourne Law School in Australia [3]. At Melbourne he led the Law School's transition to become Australia's first, all-graduate (JD) program.[1] Hathaway's main focus was to establish Melbourne as Australia's leading law school, including by joining leading law schools from around the world in establishing the London-based Centre for Transnational Legal Studies, and launching joint degree programs linking Melbourne with leading law schools on three continents, including the Chinese University of Hong Kong (JD/LLM), New York University (JD/JD and JD/LLM) and Oxford University (JD/BCL).


Hathaway's scholarly work focuses on international human rights and refugees.

Among his more important publications are a treatise on the refugee definition, The Law of Refugee Status: 2nd Edition (with M. Foster) (2014); an interdisciplinary study of refugee law reform, Reconceiving International Refugee Law (1997); and an analysis of the nature of the legal duty to protect refugees The Rights of Refugees under International Law (2005).




  1. ^ Hathaway, J. 2009. The Dean as Drudge. International Association of Law Schools conference, Canberra, July. Professor Hathaway left to return to Michigan after voicing concerns that the traditional "Dean-as-scholar" model is not viable (Hathaway 2009), especially without the support of a high-level professional administrative team of the kind common in leading North American law schools. Upon his departure, Melbourne University Vice-Chancellor Glyn Davis wrote, "with Jim Hathaway's departure from the position of Law Dean, the University of Melbourne loses one of its most creative academic leaders. Professor Hathaway joined us at the start of 2008 to lead the most ambitious change in the history of Australian legal education – the establishment of this country's first all-graduate law program, flagship of the University's 'Melbourne Model' transition. Drawing on extensive experience as a faculty member and administrator at leading law schools in Canada and the United States, he led a seamless and wholly successful transition to the graduate education model. The Melbourne JD is now widely regarded as Australia's premier legal credential, attracting extraordinarily gifted students from across the country and around the world."