The ESIL Interest Group on International Law of Culture will host a pre-conference workshop on “Searching Solidarity for Fighting against Cultural Exclusion towards Migrants and Refugees in Europe in Times of Populism” at the 2020 ESIL Research Forum, University of Catania. The event which will take place on Thursday 23 April 2020.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights clearly sets in its article 13 the right of everyone to leave any country, including their own, and to return to said country. While some would maintain that this right is merely soft law or even has a utopian nature, it is clear that at least in some cases such a right can imply hard law obligations, including those of ius cogens (non-refoulement principle).
While international legal scholarship has devoted enormous and much-needed attention to refugee and migrant rights, less attention has been paid to the enjoyment of cultural rights of migrants and refugees, and the connection between culture and the construction of more solidary and cohesive societies. However, issues concerning culture and identity (understanding these issues for the purpose of this CfP in a broad sense, including religion) is crucial in the current context, where populist speeches maliciously give a mistaken portrait of cultural lives of migrants –therefore contributing to the creation of what Oliver Roy called ‘imaginary communities’. These populist pushes ignore developments of International Law in the field of culture of the past decades, and contribute to tearing social cohesion and solidarity between local communities and migrants.

We invite papers from early-career scholars, which address questions related with this challenge in particular:
1. The use of culture or religion by populist political leaders to bar migrants from the enjoyment of their rights, particularly cultural rights.
2. The role of migrants in the development of cultural diversity of States where they live, including, by instance, their possibilities to contribute to the implementation by the States of the different UNESCO Conventions, or their contribution to peaceful atmospheres through culture – all these taking into account the UNESCO premise that peace ‘had to be founded on the intellectual and moral solidarity of mankind.’
3. The relation between (and space given to) local and foreign cultural expressions for creating solidarity and social cohesion through International Law norms, including the issues falling into the concepts of cultural assimilation and cultural integration, which are more and more present in international documents dealing with rights of migrants.


Please submit an abstract in .Doc or PDF format (in English) of no more than 500 words by midnight on 7 February 2020 (Brussels time) to all of the IG Convenors:;;