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Martin Jones
Senior Lecturer in International Human Rights Law



BA, BA (Hons.) (Queen's, Canada); LL.B. (UBC)

Martin Jones is a senior lecturer in international human rights law at the Centre for Applied Human Rights at the University of York.

Martin joined the Centre in 2009. Before joining the Centre, he held various visiting positions at Georgetown University, the University of Michigan, the American University in Cairo, and the University of Melbourne. He is currently also visiting associate professor at the University of Hong Kong.

Before his academic positions, Martin practiced refugee law in Vancouver. He continues to work closely with legal practitioners, particularly providers of refugee legal aid in the Global South. He was a founding member and chair of the Southern Refugee Legal Aid Network and the founding chair of the Legal Aid Working Group of the Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network. He has consulted to refugee legal aid organisations and externally evaluated programmes of refugee legal aid operating in a number of states in the Middle East and Asia. Martin is a co-founder and the vice-chairman of the Egyptian Foundation for Refugee Rights, the largest provider of legal aid to refugees in Egypt.

Martin also works closely with human rights defenders at risk. Since 2015, he has worked closely with the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, facilitating consultations with human rights defenders and supporting his thematic reports to the Human Rights Council and General Assembly. Since April 2018, Martin has been seconded to the OHCHR to help support the UN Special Rapporteur’s upcoming report to the UN General Assembly to mark the 20th anniversary of the watershed Declaration on Human Rights Defenders.




Martin’s research interests include both the situation of human rights defenders and refugee law and policy. His research applies a range of research methods, including doctrinal and socio-legal methods. His current active research projects are listed below.


Law of Asylum

The Law of Asylum project is a two year (2016-2018) GCRF / ESRC funded international research project examining legal advocacy by local legal professionals on behalf of refugees in jurisdictions without any ostensible (international or domestic) “refugee law”. Co-investigators are drawn from the Centre (Alice Nah and Juliana Mensah) and the University of Hong Kong (Kelley Loper). Working closely with the leading providers of refugee legal aid in Egypt, India, Malaysia and Hong Kong, the project documents the perceptions and experiences of lawyers and refugees in legal advocacy. The project builds upon a previous (2009-2012) research project on Asian Refugee Legal Aid Network funded by the US Institute of Peace (with Barbara Harrell Bond).

Temporary International Relocation Initiatives (TIRIs)

Human rights defenders at risk are frequently forced into exile as a result of threats arising from their human rights activities. A growing number of these defenders find sanctuary in civil society organised TIRIs. These initiatives, like the Centre’s own Protective Fellowship Scheme, usually seek to provide a place of respite, recuperation and strengthening of human rights defenders at risk and to facilitate and support their eventual return to their country of activities. TIRIs have received growing attention, being identified as a “good practice” by the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, and are attracting a growing amount of funding from donors and interest by civil society organisations supporting human rights defenders. The project explores the tensions between such programmes and the international refugee regime and examines the assumptions underlying and effectiveness of TIRIs in achieving each of these goals.

The Human Rights Defender Paradigm Shift

On the eve of the fiftieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the UN General Assembly passed what has become known as the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders. The Declaration took more than a decade of negotiations and represents a watershed moment in the recognition of the role of local, non-state actors in the protection and promotion of human rights. The project explores both the historical / archival history of the Declaration and its subsequent impact on the activities and identities of human rights activists.


Martin supervises doctoral research on international human rights law and practice and refugee law and practice for PhD students registered in either Law or Politics.

Past and current doctoral research projects that have been supervised include:

• The prevention of human trafficking in Saudi Arabia
• Statelessness determination procedures in Europe
• Access to justice by indigenous people in India
• Forced labour and migrant domestic workers in Hong Kong
• Refugee and human rights civil society organisations in Egypt
• Local customary law and the protection of Rohingya refugees in Aceh


Selected publications


Jones, Martin (with Baglay, Sasha), Refugee Law, Irwin Law, Toronto, 608 pp., 2017.

Chapters and articles

Jones, Martin “Lies, Damned Lies and Diplomatic Assurances: The Misuse of Diplomatic Assurances in Removal Proceedings” European Journal of Migration and Law, 7(4),2006, 9 – 39.


Jones, Martin “The Refusal to Bear Arms as Grounds for Refugee Protection in the Canadian Jurisprudence” International Journal of Refugee Law, 20(1), March 2008, 123 – 165.


Jones, Martin “Abandoning Refugees? An Analysis of the Legal Framework Governing Non-compliant Claimants in Canada” Refuge, 25(2), Fall 2008, 132 - 150.


Jones, Martin and Houle, France “Building a Better Refugee Status Determination System” Refuge, 25(2), Fall 2008, 3 - 11.


Jones, Martin "The Governance Question: UNHCR, the Refugee Convention, and the International Refugee Regime” in James Simeon, ed. The UNHCR and the Supervision of International Refugee Law, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 75 – 96, 2013.


Jones, Martin “Moving Beyond Protection Space: Developing a Law of Asylum in South East Asia” in Susan Kneebone, Dallal Stevens and Loretta Baldassar, eds. Refugee Protection and the Role of Law: Conflicting Identities, Routledge, London, 251 – 270, 2014.


Jones, Martin “Legal empowerment and refugees on the Nile: the very short history of legal empowerment and refugee legal aid in Egypt" International Journal of Human Rights,19(3),2015, 308 – 318.


Jones, Martin “Protecting human rights defenders at risk: asylum and temporary international relocation” International Journal of Human Rights, 19(7),2015, 935 - 960.


Jones, Martin “The rights of resettled refugees in the UK: lessons for 'new' resettlement states and rights based advocacy for refugees” International Journal of Migration and Border Studies, 3(1), 2017, 67 - 97.



Martin is co-convenor (with Ioana Cismas) of the LLM in International Human Rights Law and Practice (LLM IHRLP). He convenes postgraduate modules on human rights law and advocacy (International Human Rights Laboratory) and refugee law and policy (Asylum, Migration and Human Trafficking). He also convenes the postgraduate human rights fieldwork module (Human Rights Placement) and leads the LLM IHLP field placements in Malaysia.

External activities



Martin is the vice-chairman of the Egyptian Foundation for Refugee Rights and a trustee of AMERA International.  He is legal advisor to the Steering Committee of the Asia Pacific Refuge Rights Network and past chair of the Southern Refugee Legal Aid Network.  He is also a member of the board of Health Equity Initiatives (Malaysia).

Editorial duties

Martin is on the editorial board of the Journal of Human Rights Practice.  He is past managing editor of Refugee, Canada’s periodical on refugee issues.

Invited talks and conferences

Martin has given keynote addresses to the International Association of Refugee Law Judges and at the Centre for Refugee Studies at York University’s annual Post-Graduate Summer Course on Refugee Issues.  He has been a plenary speaker at the biennial conference of the International Association for Forced Migration Studies.  He has delivered a range of invited lectures at academic and practitioner events in Canada, Egypt, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Thailand, UK and USA.

Martin Jones

Contact details

Martin Jones
Centre for Applied Human Rights
University of York
6 Innovation Close
Science Park
Heslington, York
YO10 5ZF

Tel: +44 (0)1904 325834

Office hours

By appointment, Fridays 11:30 - 13:30 

(Autumn term 2021)