University of Innsbruck

Mag. Jennifer Wirth, BA

About the person

since 04/ 2019 | University Assistant (pre-doc), Department of European and Public International Law, University of Innsbruck

since 03/2017 | Fellow of the Innsbruck Doctoral College „Dynamics of Inequality and Difference in the Age of Globalization“ of the Research Center “Cultural Encounters – Cultural Conflicts “, University of Innsbruck

02/2016 –03/2019 | Legal counselling and representation, Diakonie Flüchtlingsdienst, ARGE Rechtsberatung, Regional office Innsbruck

03/2016–08/2016 | Research fellow, Department of European and Public International Law, University of Innsbruck

since 2015 | Doctoral Programme in Law, University of Innsbruck; Under the supervision of Andreas Th. Müller

2015 | Legal internship, Higher Regional Court District Innsbruck

2008–2014 | Diploma Programme in Law, University of Innsbruck; Erasmus Programme at Cardiff Law School, Wales; Diploma thesis: „The African Union's contribution in the fight against serious human rights violations in Africa“, Franz Gschnitzer Science Award 2015

2004–2007 | BA Programme African Studies, Culture and Society of Africa, University of Bayreuth

PhD Project

The exceptional space of refugee camps: Considerations on 'legal grey zones' from the perspective of international law

My project focuses on the particular space of the refugee camp which is a phenomenon of contradictions and exceptions. Thus, refugee camps are actually designed as emergency measures to enable a rapid response to crises and are therefore generally ascribed a humanitarian, civilian and temporary character. In recent decades, however, research has increasingly described these areas as exceptional regimes which are characterised by extraterritoriality as well as social and legal exclusion.

Partly due to the lack of political will on the part of states and lasting conflicts in the country of origin, finding and implementing permanent solutions is difficult. Hence, those situations are protracted in practice and the people concerned have to live in camps for years or even decades. Furthermore, the administration of refugee camps is carried out by UNHCR and UNHCR acts in these camps as some kind of a "substitute state". Refugee camps seem to have their own systems, which are often de jure or de facto separated from the society of the host state. In addition, people living in camps experience some degree of limitations of their rights and freedoms. As a result, people spend almost their entire lives in a "legal grey zones", as academic literature of the social and cultural studies often labels refugee camps.

The question therefore arises as to whether refugee camps can also be defined and understood as "legal grey zones" from the point of view of international law. That is why this work deals with "special areas and zones" in international law in order to find out whether refugee camps match these specific characteristics.

Project Description

Research interests

  • International Human Rights Law
  • International and European Asylum and Migration Law
  • Refugee camps


  • Jennifer Wirth (2016): Schwere Menschenrechtsverletzungen in Afrika – Der Beitrag der Afrikanischen Union zu ihrer Bekämpfung, International Law, European Law, Comparative Law Series 4, Innsbruck: innsbruck university press


Innsbruck Doctoral College „Dynamics of Inequality and Difference in the Age of Globalization“ 

Research Focus „Cultural Encounters - Cultural Conflicts“

Room: Christoph-Probst-Platz, 3rd floor, room 3037

Phone: +43 512 507-81416

Mail: jennifer.wirth[at]