Dr Alan Desmond

Associate Professor

Alan Desmond Image

School/Department: Leicester Law School

Telephone: +44 (0)116 252 2350



I joined the Law School in September 2016. Before coming to Leicester I taught at third-level institutions in Ireland, Italy and Poland. I have been a Visiting Researcher at the University of Warsaw, Yaşar University, Harvard Law School and UCLA School of Law and a Visiting Lecturer at Yerevan State University and Málaga University. Before entering legal academia I worked as a freelance print and broadcast journalist and wrote a number of award-winning Irish language books. My PhD, on regularisation of irregular migrants, was funded by the Irish Research Council.

In the Law School I am module convenor for the undergraduate Immigration Law module and the International Migration and Refugee Law LLM module; Deputy Research Director; Co-Convenor of the Human Rights Research Cluster; Academic Liaison for the Immigration and Asylum Project. I co-founded Reel Law, the Law School film club for staff and students, for which I received funding from the CSSAH Teaching Development Fund. Beyond the Law School, I am a member of the University’s Migration, Mobility and Citizenship Network (MMCN); editor of the Journal of Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Law; and Chair Leicester City of Sanctuary’s NEST


My research interests lie broadly in the field of immigration law as it intersects with human rights law, international law and EU law. My research has been published in leading international journals including the European Journal of Migration and Law; European Human Rights Law Review; European Journal of International Law; Human Rights Law Review; and the International Journal of Law in Context. I have organised four international conferences on migrants’ rights and have been awarded funding by University’s GCRF International Research Development Fund; the Modern Law Review; and the European Commission (Horizon Europe programme).

I have developed a wide international research network with which I have worked to produce an edited book and special issues of the International Journal of Law in Context and the Journal of Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Law. Throughout my academic career I have championed ECRs and I include younger academics and graduate students in all my research projects. The focus of my current research is on regularisation of irregular migrants and future prospects for the protection of migrants’ rights within (or without) the international system for human rights protection.


Journal Articles
With D. Levine et al, “Child protective services during COVID-19 and doubly marginalized children: International perspectives” (2022) Child Abuse and Neglect (forthcoming).

“From Complementarity to Convergence: The UN Global Compact for Migration and the UN Migrant Workers Convention” (2022) 55(1) World Comparative Law 83–104.

“From D v UK to Paposhvili v Belgium: the Evolving Meaning of ‘very exceptional’ in the Strasbourg Court’s Article 3 Medical Expulsion Jurisprudence and its Reception in Council of Europe Member States” (2022) 36(1) Journal of Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Law 5–15. 

With J. Stanley, “Moving towards Alignment with Strasbourg? Medical Expulsion in Ireland in Light of Paposhvili” (2022) 36(1) Journal of Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Law 61–72. 

“Friend, Foe and Foil: The Many Uses of Time by the European Court of Human Rights in Expulsion Cases” (2021) 4 European Human Rights Law Review 418–429.

“Migrants’ Rights Finally Front and Centre of the International Agenda? Exploring the Perils and Possibilities of the SDGs and the GCM”, introduction to special issue (2020) 16(3) International Journal of Law in Context 217–221.

“A New Dawn for the Human Rights of International Migrants? Protection of Migrants’ Rights in Light of the UN’s SDGs and Global Compact for Migration” (2020) 16(3) International Journal of Law in Context 222–238.

“The Private Life of Family Matters: Curtailing Human Rights Protection for Migrants under Article 8 of the ECHR?” (2018) 29(1) European Journal of International Law 261–279.  

“The Development of a Common EU Migration Policy and the Rights of Irregular Migrants: A Progress Narrative?” (2016) 16(2) Human Rights Law Review 247-272.

“The Triangle that Could Square the Circle? The UN International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, the EU and the Universal Periodic Review” (2015) 17(1) European Journal of Migration and Law 39–69.   

Edited Book
Shining New Light on the UN Migrant Workers Convention (Pretoria: Pretoria University Law Press, 2017), available online.

Book Chapters
“Committee on Migrant Workers” in Z. Ra’ad Al Hussein & J. Genser, eds., The Oxford Handbook on the UN Human Rights System (forthcoming, 2023). 

“The Return Directive: Clarifying the Scope and Substance of the Rights of Migrants facing Expulsion from the EU” in R. King & K. Kuschminder, eds., Handbook of Return Migration (Edward Elgar, 2022) 137–152.

“The European Approach to Irregular Migration in Pandemic Times: The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same?” in P. Czech et al, eds., European Yearbook on Human Rights (Intersentia, 2021) 285–318.

“The continuing relevance of the UN ICRMW” in A. Desmond, ed., Shining New Light on the UN Migrant Workers Convention (Pretoria University Law Press, 2017) 1–22. 

“A vexed relationship: The ICRMW vis-à-vis the EU and its member states” in A. Desmond, ed., Shining New Light on the UN Migrant Workers Convention (Pretoria University Law Press, 2017) 295–321. 

With A. Wiesbrock & T. Jöst, “Directive 2014/36/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 February 2014 on the conditions of entry and stay of third-country nationals for the purpose of employment as seasonal workers” in K. Hailbronner & D. Thym, eds., EU Immigration and Asylum: A Commentary, 2nd Edition, (Munich/Oxford: Beck/Hart, 2016) 928–973.

“Regularization in the EU and the US: The Frequent Use of an Exceptional Measure” in D. Acosta & A. Wiesbrock, eds., Global Migration: Old Assumptions, New Dynamics (Santa Barbara, California: Praeger, 2015) 69–99.

Conference Organisation 
February 2022, Leicester Law School (online): “Protecting Seriously Ill Immigrants against Expulsion 25 Years after D v UK”.

March 2019, Leicester Law School: “Migrants’ Rights at a Crossroads: Seizing the Moment(um) of the UN Global Compact on Migration and the SDGs 2030 to forge a new path for the protection of migrants’ rights”, funded by a Modern Law Review grant.

July 2015, Marrakech, Morocco: “Mediterranean Migration Crisis: International and Regional Responses”.

July 2014, Global Campus of Human Rights, Venice: “The UN Migrant Workers Convention”.

Policy Recommendations, Reports and Analysis
Visas Still Required: The UK Response to the Protection Needs Generated by Russian Aggression in Ukraine, ASILE Forum on the EU Temporary Protection Responses to the Ukraine War, 13 April 2022.

Submission to Irish Department of Justice on consultation on Proposed Scheme to Regularise Undocumented Migrants in Ireland, 17 May 2021.

Submission to UN Committee on Migrant Workers: with M. Grange and I. Majcher: Submission to the UN Committee on Migrant Workers on Draft General Comment No. 5 on Migrants’ Human Right to Liberty and their Protection from Arbitrary Detention, 15 November 2020.

Out of Crisis Comes Opportunity: Reconsidering Regularisation of Irregular Migrants in the EU in light of COVID-19” (2020) UNESCO Chair on International Migration Policy Brief Series.

“A Fresh Look at Familiar Problems: Proposals for Reform of the UK Immigration and Asylum System” (2019) 38(4) Civil Justice Quarterly 503–509. 

With B. Ryan: submission of evidence to EU Home Affairs Sub-Committee of the House of Lords on future UK-EU asylum cooperation featured in Brexit: refugee protection and asylum policy (48th Report, Session 2017-19, HL Paper 428).

“R (on the Application of Johnson) (Appellant) v Secretary of State for the Home Department (Respondent)[2016] UKSC 56” (2017) 68(1) Northern Ireland Legal Quarterly 91–94.

Media Engagement
How the EU is helping Ukrainians fleeing warRTÉ Brainstorm (8 March 2022)

Will EU citizens in the UK now be liable for deportation?RTÉ Brainstorm (30 June 2021)

How has Biden fared on immigration in his first 100 days?RTÉ Brainstorm (29 April 2021)

What will Joe Biden's presidency mean for US immigration policy?RTÉ Brainstorm (12 November 2020)

How your cheap t-shirt may have caused Leicester's lockdownRTÉ Brainstorm (14 July 2020)

Learning from Past Errors the Key to Success of New Scheme to Regularise Migrants Here”, op ed, The Irish Independent (10 July 2020)

Would African-Americans be granted refugee status in Ireland?RTÉ Brainstorm (29 June 2020)

Who's afraid of the UN Global Compact for Migration?RTÉ Brainstorm (11 Dec 2018).

Why undocumented migrants should be given a legal right to stayRTÉ Brainstorm (8 Nov 2018)

“Migrants in Fear of Deportation are Ripe for Exploitation”, op ed, The Irish Independent (30 Oct 2018)

Interview with UPR Info (25 March 2015).

Blog Posts
EU response to Afghan refugees: from crisis and containment to resettlement? The Citizen

The Possibility for Regularisation in the UK in light of the New Plan for Immigration. Refugee Law Initiative Blog

Pushing Europe to Protect Migrant Workers. Crimmigration 

It Doesn't Have to Be This Way: EU Return Policy. Migrants Matter! 

Irish Supreme Court restricts discretion in refusals of naturalisation. Global Citizenship Observatory

Temporary Reprieve for a Small Segment of the Undocumented Population in the US. Human Rights in Ireland

Poland’s 2012 Regularisation Programme. PICUM

Obama’s El Paso Speech on Comprehensive Immigration Reform: Allow Those Who Can Benefit the Us Economy to Realise the American Dream. PICUM 

Regularisation of Irregular Migrants in Poland: Third Time Lucky? PICUM

Book Reviews
“Review of Jia Lynn Yang, One Mighty and Irresistible Tide: The Epic Struggle Over American Immigration 1924-1965 (W.W. Norton, 2020)” in (2022) 36(2) Journal of Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Law.

“Review of Madalina Moraru, Galina Cornelisse, Philippe De Bruycker, eds., Law and Judicial Dialogue on the Return of Irregular Migrants from the European Union (Hart, 2020)” in (2021) 23(3) European Journal of Migration and Law 365–368.

“Review of Mary Crock and Lenni B. Benson, eds., Protecting Migrant Children: In Search of Best Practice (Edward Elgar, 2018)” in (2021) 35(4) Journal of Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Law 402–403.

“Review of Vincent Chetail, International Migration Law (OUP, 2019)” in (2020) 40(1) Review of European and Comparative Law 201–203. 

“Review of Maria João Guia et al, eds., Immigration Detention, Risk and Human Rights (Springer International Publishing Switzerland, 2016)” in (2018) 8(1) Nordic Journal of Migration Research 69–70. 

“Review of Marie-Bénédicte Dembour, When Humans Become Migrants: Study of the European Court of Human Rights with an Inter-American Counterpoint (OUP, 2015)” in (2017) 17(1) Human Rights Law Review 192–196. 



International Migration Law; International Refugee Law; Migrants' Rights; Protection of Migrants in International Human Rights Law; Nationality Law; Regularisation of Irregular Migrants.


LW3460 Immigration Law; LW7147 International Migration and Refugee Law; LW2240 EU Law

Press and media

Migrants' rights; Deportation/Expulsion; Regularisation of irregular migrants; British citizenship.


Editor, Journal of Immigration Asylum and Nationality Law.

Chair, Leicester City of Sanctuary's New Evidence Search Team (NEST). 

I have acted as a reviewer for numerous journals including:

European Law Journal; European Yearbook on Human Rights; Frontiers in Human Dynamics; Human Rights Review; International Journal of Human Rights; International Journal of Law in Context; International Journal of Refugee Law; International Migration; Interventions: International Journal of Postcolonial Studies; Journal of Law and Social Inquiry; Laws; Maastricht Journal of European and Comparative Law; Medical Law Review; Nordic Journal of Human Rights.


Funding Awards

Partner in successful application for €2.79 million Horizon Europe grant for Measuring Irregular Migration and related Policies (MIrreM), 2022.

GCRF International Research Development fund: £8160 for project Inclusion of Migrants in Sustainable Cities in 2019.

Santander Staff Travel Award (£300) and Doctoral College short-term research visit grant (£1200) for research visit to Universidad del Pacífico in Lima, Perú in April 2019.

Modern Law Review seminar funding: £5000 for Migrants’ Rights at a Crossroads: Seizing the Moment(um) of the
UN Global Compact on Migration and the SDGs 2030 to forge a new path for the protection of migrants’ rights
 in March 2019.

CSSAH Teaching Development Fund: £912 for inaugural Reel Law screening on 30 October 2017.


Invited Talks

"Five Measures to Promote Ratification of the UN ICRMW" UDHR 75th Anniversary Joint Side Event of the UN Committee on Migrant Workers and OHCHR Capacity Building Programme of the Human Rights Council and Treaty Mechanisms Division, 7 December 2023.

"The ICRMW, the GCM and the EU" International Roundtable on Global Migration Law in the EU, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, 24 November 2023.

"Regularisation as a Response to Irregular Migration in a Post-COVID World: The Experience of Ireland" Wydział Prawa i Administracji, Uniwersytet Szczeciński, 19 January 2023.

"Ireland's 2022 Regularisation Programme for Long-Term Undocumented Migrants" MIrreM Launch Conference, PICUM, 15 December 2022.

"Harnessing International Law to Reduce Remittance Transaction Costs" Global Migration Centre, Geneva Graduate Institute, 24 November 2022.

"From Complementarity to Convergence: the Relationship between the UN Convention on Migrant Workers and the UN Global Compact for Migration" Day of General Discussion on draft General Comment No. 6 of the UN Committee on Migrant Workers, 27 September 2022.

"Regularisation: Lessons for Kazakhstan from Ireland and Poland" International Centre for Migration Policy Development, 20 June 2022.

“An Idea Whose Time Has Come? Regularisation of Irregular Migrants in the EU” Yaşar University, Turkey, 2 November 2021.

“Seeking Asylum in a Post-Brexit UK” Universidad del Norte, Colombia, 29 October 2021.

“The Global Compact for Migration and the Human Rights of Migrants in the UK” Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association roundtable on the Global Compact, 16 September 2021.

“A Matter of Time: Should Unlawfully Present Migrants Be Deported or Allowed to Remain?” Leicester Secular Society, 31 January 2021.

“What does Joe Biden’s election means for US immigration policy?” Leicester Human Rights Arts and Film Festival, 8 December 2020.

“Wishful thinking or common sense? Arguing for a new EU approach to unlawfully present TCNs” CELI University of Leicester, 15 January 2020.

"The UN ICRMW, its Committee and the Protection of Migrants' Rights" Irish Centre for Human Rights, NUI Galway, 3 October 2019.

“Asylum after Brexit” British Red Cross and Leicester City of Sanctuary, 9 May 2018. 


2021 (with Dr. Stephen Riley) "Future Rights Future Wrongs" delivered at The Future as a Present Concern conference convened by the National University of Ireland Galway The Irish Philosophical Society and the British Society for Phenomenology on 1 September 2021.

2018 “Vitiation rather than vindication: the approach of the European Court of Human Rights to migrants’ rights protection under Article 8 ECHR” delivered at a conference entitled “The Rights of Migrants and Refugees: Exploring the Role of Courts and Tribunals” at the Irish Centre for Human Rights NUI Galway Ireland on 17 May 2018.

2017 “A Pill too Bitter to Swallow? The UN ICRMW the EU and the UPR” delivered at a Young Scholars’ Workshop on “The EU as a Regional Actor in the UN System” at the Barcelona Institute of International Studies (IBEI) on 13 September 2017.

2017 “Circumventing Legal Principles to Keep Migrants Out: the Use and Under-use of the Concepts of Family and Private Life in the Migration Jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights” delivered at the Law and Society (LSA) Annual Meeting 2017 “Walls Borders and Bridges: Law and Society in an InterConnected World” Mexico City.



C2 CEFR Certificate in Polish, awarded by Państwowa Komisja Poświadczania Znajomości Języka Polskiego jako Obcego.

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