Cathryn Costello is Andrew W Mellon Associate Professor of International Human Rights and Refugee Law, and a fellow of St Antony's College.  From 2003 - 2013, she was Francis Reynolds Fellow and Tutor in EU and Public Law at Worcester College, Oxford, during which time she also completed her DPhil studies on EU asylum and immigration law.

She has taught a range of public and EU law courses on the Oxford undergraduate and postgraduate curriculum. She began her academic career in 1998 as Lecturer in European Law at the Law School, Trinity College Dublin, and from 2000-2003, she was also the Director of the Irish Centre for European Law. She has been a Visiting Professor at the University of San Francisco and a visiting research fellow at NYU School of Law and Melbourne Law School.

Cathryn has published widely on many aspects of EU and human rights law, including asylum and refugee law, immigration, EU Citizenship and third country national family members, family reunification and immigration detention.  Her monograph The Human Rights of Migrants and Refugees in European Law was published by OUP at the end of 2015.

She also researches the intersections of immigration, asylum and labour law.   Her work on this theme includes an edited collection (with Mark Freedland) Migrants at Work:  Immigration and Vulnerability in Labour Law (Oxford University Press 2014) and a book chapter, 'Migrants and Forced Labour: A Labour Law Response' in A Bogg, C Costello, A Davies, J Prassl (eds) The Autonomy of Labour Law (Hart Publishing 2014).

Cathryn has undertaken research for UNHCR, the Council of Europe and the European Parliament. She is regularly invited to address diverse audiences, both academic and practical, such as the European Council of Refugees and Exiles (ECRE) and International Association of Refugee Law Judges (IARLJ). She is also a Senior Research Associate of the Refugee Law Initiative of the University of London. She previously served on the boards of both the Irish Refugee Council and Immigrant Council of Ireland, and contributes to the policy work of ILPA.

Cathryn accepts outstanding doctoral students, seeking to research challenging issues in international refugee law, EU asylum and migration law, and the labour and human rights of migrants and refugees.  Prospective doctoral students are advised to contact her directly to discuss research proposals well in advance of formally applying.  


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  • C Costello and Emily Hancox, 'The Recast Asylum Procedures Directive 2013/32/EU: Caught between the Stereotypes of the Abusive Asylum Seeker and the Vulnerable Refugee' in V. Chetail, P. De Bruycker & F. Maiani (ed), Reforming the Common European Asylum System: The New European Refugee Law (Martinus Nijhoff 2015) (forthcoming)
    This piece provides a detailed analysis of the Recast Asylum Procedures Directive (Recast APD). Although we are now two decades into harmonization of asylum procedures at the European Union (EU) level, we begin in Part 2 by revisiting the rationale for this process. We contend that the most persuasive rationale for procedural harmonization, in an EU legally committed to refugee protection, is to ensure fair procedures, and to prevent a race to the bottom in procedural standards. Efficiency must serve fairness, not vice versa. The original Asylum Procedures Directive (APD) failed to meet this aim by a long margin. The Recast APD is the product of the new, post-Lisbon legislative environment, so as Part 3 suggests, it comes with high hopes for improvement, particularly given the Parliament’s relatively new role as co-legislator on asylum matters. Our analysis reveals that the Recast APD contains many improvements on its predecessor, but overall our assessment is mixed, particularly if we assess it in terms of the objective of setting clear basic minimum standards of fairness. We attempt to explain this ambivalent outcome by suggesting that the Directive reflects two competing stereotypical views of the asylum seeker. On the one hand, there is a strong notion that asylum procedures must work to weed out ‘abusive’ claims. In contrast, there is also a strong acknowledgement that some asylum seekers are particularly vulnerable or have special needs (as will be seen, different terminologies are used in different contexts). As we argue, these stereotypes create complexity, and crowd out the basic notion of refugee status determination (RSD) as a process for recognising refugees, on the assumption that many (although of course not all) of those who apply will be so recognised.
  • C Costello, 'Child Citizens & De Facto Deportation: Tender Years, Fragile Ties & Security of Residence ' in Kieran Bradley, Anthony Whelan and Noel Travers (eds), Of Courts and Constitutions: Liber Amicorum in Honour of Nial Fennelly (Hart Publishing 2014)
  • C Costello, 'Article 33 - Family & Professional Life' in Steve Peers, Tamara Hervey, Jeff Kenner and Angela Ward (eds), The EU Charter of Fundamental Rights - A Commentary (Hart Publishing 2014)
  • Violeta Moreno-Lax and C Costello, 'The Extraterritorial Application of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights: From Territoriality to Facticity, the Effectiveness Model' in Steve Peers, Tamara Hervey, Jeff Kenner and Angela Ward (eds), The EU Charter of Fundamental Rights - A Commentary (Hart Publishing 2014)
  • C Costello, Kieran Bradley, Anthony Whelan and Noel Travers, 'Child Citizens & De Facto Deportation: Tender Years, Fragile Ties & Security of Residence' in (ed), Of Courts and Constitutions: Liber Amicorum in Honour of Nial Fennelly (Hart Publishing 2014)
  • C Costello, 'Migrants and Forced Labour: A Labour Law Response' in A Bogg, C Costello, A Davies, J Prassl (ed), The Autonomy of Labour Law (Hart Publishing 2014)
  • Elspeth Guild, C Costello, Madeline Garlick and Violeta Moreno-Lax, Study on New Approaches, Alternative Avenues and Means of Access to Asylum Procedures for Persons Seeking International Protection (European Parliament LIBE Committee 2014)
    Upon request by the LIBE committee, this study examines the workings of the Common European Asylum System (CEAS), in order to assess the need and potential for new approaches to ensure access to protection for people seeking it in the EU, including joint processing and distribution of asylum seekers. Rather than advocating the addition of further complexity and coercion to the CEAS, the study proposes a focus on front-line reception and streamlined refugee status determination, in order to mitigate the asylum challenges facing Member States, and guarantee the rights of asylum seekers and refugees according to the EU acquis and international legal standards.
  • Alan Bogg, C Costello, ACL Davies and Jeremias Prassl (eds), The Autonomy of Labour Law (2014)
  • C Costello, 'Courting Access to Asylum in Europe: Recent Supranational Jurisprudence Explored ' (2012) Human Rights Law Review 287
    ISBN: 1461-7781
  • C Costello, 'Human Rights & the Elusive Universal Subject: Immigration Detention under International Human Rights and EU Law ' (2012) Indiana Journal of Global Legal Studies 257
    ISBN: 1080-0727
  • C Costello, 'The Ruling of the Court of Justice in NS/ME on the fundamental rights of asylum seekers under the Dublin Regulation: Finally, an end to blind trust across the EU?' (2012) Asiel- en Migrantenrecht 83
  • C Costello, 'Citizenship of the Union: Above Abuse?' in Rita de la Feria & Stefan Vogenauer (ed), Prohibition of Abuse of Law: A New General Principle of EU Law (Hart Publishing 2011)
    ISBN: 1841139386
  • C Costello, 'Metock: Free Movement and “Normal Family Life" in the Union ' (2009) Common Market Law Review 587
    ISBN: 0165-0750
  • C Costello, Report on Improving the Quality and Consistency of Asylum Decisions in the Council of Europe member states for the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly ( 2009)
  • C Costello, 'EC Immigration & Asylum Policymaking: Integrating a Role for the Oireachtas' in Gavin Barrett (ed), National Parliaments and the European Union: The Constitutional Challenge for the Oireachtas and Other Member State Legislatures (Clarus Press, Dublin 2008)
  • C Costello, 'Implementation of the Procedures Directive (2005/85) in the United Kingdom' in K Zwaan (ed), The Procedures Directive: Central Themes, Problem Issues, and Implementation in Selected Member States (Wolf Legal Publishers 2008)
  • C Costello and E Brown, 'The EU and the ECHR before European and Irish Courts' in U Kilkelly (ed), ECHR and Irish Law (2nd ed) (Jordans 2008)
  • C Costello, 'Administrative Governance and the Europeanisation of Asylum and Immigration Policy' in H Hofmann and A Türk (eds), EU Administrative Governance (Elgar Publishing 2006)
  • C Costello and G Davies, 'The Case Law of the Court of Justice in the Field of Sex Equality Since 2000' (2006) Common Market Law Review 1567
    Thematic review and evaluation of ECJ caselaw on sex equality from 2000 to 2006, including the general principle of equal treatment / non-discrimination.
  • C Costello, 'Ireland's Nice Referenda' (2005) 1(3) European Constitutional Law Review 357
    DOI: 10.1017/S1574019605003573
    ISBN: 1744-5515
  • C Costello, 'Accidents of Place and Parentage: Birthright Citizenship and Border Crossings' in (ed), The Citizenship Referendum: Implications for the Constitution and Human Rights (Law School TCD, Dublin 2004)
  • C Costello and E Brown, 'ECHR and the European Union' in U Kilkelly (ed), ECHR and Irish Law (Jordans, Dublin 2004)
    examines the position of the ECHR in EC law, and how the ECtHR reviews EC/ EU measures
    ISBN: 0 853089264
  • I Bacik, C Costello and E Drew, Gender InJustice: Towards the Feminisation of the Legal Professions? (Law School, TCD, Dublin 2003)
  • C Costello and E Barry (eds), Equality in Diversity: The New EC Equality Directives (ICEL / Equality Authority Dublin 2003)
  • C Costello, 'Gender Equalities and the European Union Charter of Fundamental Rights' in Hervey & Kenner (ed), Economic and Social Rights under the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (Hart Publishing 2003)
    ISBN: 1-84113-095-8

Research projects