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‘Resettlement’ is one of the so-called durable solutions UNHCR has been charged to pursue. It is a solution that has been developed in practice by UNHCR, yet it is not clear what its legal parameters are. The discretionary nature of resettlement apparently entails the absence of an explicit normative framework.

The interest in this research was triggered, first of all, by an interest in the mandate of UNHCR regarding durable solutions – my Ph.D. thesis focused on one of them: voluntary repatriation of refugees – and secondly by an invitation to address a subject regarding Dutch gateways to international law (that resulted in the first publication listed below).

The research will result in a book, but a number of questions regarding resettlement have already been addressed in articles (listed below). A first question related to the resettlement of the Hungarian refugees in 1956, considering the present-day practice in which there are very few resettlement places: why could the resettlement of about 180,000 refugees be realised at all, and in such a short period of time? A second question relates to the fact that offering resettlement places is a discretionary act: are there nonetheless circumstances in which it could be argued that offering resettlement places is mandatory? (It is addressed - and answered affirmatively - in the fourth publication listed below.) A third question, arguably the most pressing one, is what the entitlements are of refugees in the process of resettlement? It is the subject of the 6th article listed below.

Ultimately, resettlement will be the subject of a monograph that will outline the applicable legal framework including any rights refugees may have with respect to resettlement (in addition to the rights they have and retain simply on account of their being refugees). Scheduled for publication in 2022.

Output on this subject so far


  1. Quota refugees’, the Dutch Contribution to Global Burden-Sharing by Means of Resettlement of Refugees”, 39 International Journal of Legal Information 2011, 130-163;
  2. “The 1956 Hungarian Refugee Emergency, an Early and Instructive Case of Resettlement”, 5 Amsterdam Law Forum 2013, 45-63;
  3. “The Limitations of both Voluntary Repatriation and Resettlement of Refugees”, in V. Chetail C. Bauloz (eds.), Research Handbook on International Law and Migration, Edward Elgar Publishing Ltd., 2014, 562-585;
  4. “From Internment to Resettlement of Refugees: On US Obligations Towards MeK Defectors in Iraq” (with Tom de Boer), 15 Melbourne Journal of International Law 2014, 21-108;
  5. “Particulier initiatief en de bescherming van vluchtelingen. Een Canadees voorbeeld dat navolging verdient”, Ars Aequi, juni 2015, 424-436;
  6. “The Legal Abyss of Discretion in Resettlement of Refugees: Cherry-Picking and the Lack of Due Process in the EU” (with Tom de Boer), 32 International Journal Refugee Law 2020, 54-85.

Book chapters (forthcoming)

  • Ch. 2.2 “The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees”, in Gusztáv Kecskés, Tamás Scheibner (eds.), The Handbook of the 1956 Hungarian Refugees. From Crisis to Impact, Walter de Gruyter, 2021;
  • Ch. 4.11 “The Netherlands”, in Gusztáv Kecskés, Tamás Scheibner (eds.), The Handbook of the 1956 Hungarian Refugees. From Crisis to Impact, Walter de Gruyter, 2021.


  • Presentation “Resettlement: An indispensable but flawed solution to the problem of refugees”, Le Club de Droit International, Embassy of Colombia The Hague, 8 December 2015;
  • Presentation “European solidarity and responsibility sharing: learning from the past? The resettlement of Hungarian refugees in 1956”, Side-event of the 67Th session of the Executive Committee of UNHCR, UN Geneva, 6 October 2016, moderated by the Assistant High Commissioner for Protection;
  • Presentation “Voluntary Repatriation, Relocation, and Resettlement of Refugees: ‘The End of the Journey’”?, International Legal Aspects of Migration, African and European Perspectives, ESIL/SEDI, The Hague, 14 October 2016;
  • Presentation “Resettlement of refugees, an international lawless durable solution?”, Workshop Active Refugee Admission Policies in Europe: Exploring an Emerging Research Field”, ACES Migration Network & ACES Diverse Europe/Netzwerk Fluchtforschung, 29 November 2019, University of Amsterdam;
  • Presentation “Resettlement of refugees in Europe: A legally ambiguous and flawed solution to the problem of refugees”, keynote speech at the 2-day conference on The Future of Europe as a Place of Refuge, Faculty of Law Charles University, European Society of International Law, UNHCR, Odysseus Network, Prague, 6 December 2019;
  • Presentation “Resettlement: Charity outside the reach of human rights”, Institute für Europarecht und Völkerrecht, University of Innsbruck, 9 June 2020.


Prof. dr. M.Y.A. (Marjoleine) Zieck

Faculty of Law

Public International Law