Dr Claire Higgins

Dr. Claire Higgins is an historian and Senior Research Fellow at the Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law at UNSW Law. Claire is also an Affiliate Scholar at Georgetown University's Institute for the Study of International Migration. She holds a doctorate in History from the University of Oxford, where she studied as a Clarendon Scholar, and is the author of Asylum by Boat: Origins of Australia’s refugee policy (NewSouth, 2017). Claire holds a Australian Research Council DECRA to research the history of on in-country programs and other protected entry procedures for refugees. In 2018 Claire was a Fulbright Postdoctoral Scholar at Georgetown University undertaking comparative research on the history of the U.S. refugee admissions program. As a Postdoctoral Fellow at the European University Institute in 2017, Claire researched Italy’s innovative Humanitarian Corridors program which enables Syrian asylum seekers to safely claim protection in Italy.  Claire founded and convenes the Kaldor Centre’s Emerging Scholars Network.


Higgins CM, 2017, Asylum by Boat: origins of Australia's refugee policy, NewSouth Publishing, Sydney

Journal articles

Higgins C, 2018, 'Revisiting Reception', History Australia, vol. 15, pp. 834 - 835, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14490854.2018.1515588

Betts J; Higgins C, 2017, 'The Sri Lankan Civil War and Australia's Migration Policy Response: A Historical Case Study with Contemporary Implications', Asia & the Pacific Policy Studies, vol. 4, pp. 272 - 285, http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/app5.181

Higgins C, 2016, 'New Evidence on refugee status determination in Australia, 1978-1983', Refugee Survey Quarterly, vol. 35, pp. 71 - 93, http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/rsq/hdw008

Higgins CM, 2016, 'Status determination of Indochinese boat arrivals: a balancing act in Australia', Journal of Refugee Studies, vol. 30, pp. 89 - 105, http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jrs/fev036

Higgins C, 2014, 'Australia's little known in-country programme in latin America', Refugee Survey Quarterly, vol. 33, pp. 8 - 24, http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/rsq/hdt021

Book Chapters

Higgins C, 2019, 'In-country programs: the procedure and politics of an additional pathway to protection', in Research Handbook on International Refugee Law, Edward Elgar Publishing, pp. 44 - 56, http://dx.doi.org/10.4337/9780857932815.00010

Higgins C, 2019, 'In-Country Programs', in Juss SS (ed.), Research Handbook on International Refugee Law, Edward Elgar Publishing, https://www.e-elgar.com/shop/gbp/research-handbook-on-international-refugee-law-9780857932808.html

Higgins CM, 2016, 'The (un-)sustainability of Australia’s offshore processing and settlement policy', in Moreno-Lax V; Papastavridis E (ed.), Boat Refugees and Migrants at Sea: A Comprehensive Approach Integrating Maritime Security with Human Rights, edn. International Refugee Law Series, Brill, London, ENGLAND, pp. 303 - 326, http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/9789004300750_014

Higgins C, 2007, 'The relationship between textile and clothing workers and their trade unions', in The Time of Their Lives: the eight hour day and working life, Australian Society for the Study of Labour History, Melbourne, pp. 123 - 135


Higgins C, 2020, Protecting Refugees and Australia's Interests, ANU Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, http://sdsc.bellschool.anu.edu.au/sites/default/files/publications/attachments/2020-03/cog_51_web.pdf

Higgins C, 2019, Safe Journeys and Sound Policy: Expanding Protected Entry for Refugees, Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law, UNSW Sydney, Sydney, Policy Brief no. 8, https://www.kaldorcentre.unsw.edu.au/sites/default/files/Policy_Brief_8_Protected_Entry.pdf

Wood T; Higgins C, 2018, Special humanitarian intakes: enhancing protection through targeted refugee resettlement, Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law, UNSW, Sydney, https://www.kaldorcentre.unsw.edu.au/publication/policy-brief-7-special-humanitarian-intakes-enhancing-protection-through-targeted

McAdam J; Appleby G; Higgins C, 2015, Migration Amendment (Maintaining the Good Order of Immigration Detention Facilities) Bill 2015, Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law; Gilbert + Tobin Centre of Public Law, UNSW, Sydney, https://www.kaldorcentre.unsw.edu.au/sites/default/files/submission%20Migration%20Amendment%20Maintaining%20the%20Good%20Order%20of%20Immigration%20Detention%20Facilities%20Bill%202015.pdf

Higgins CM; Douglas B; Keski-Nummi A; McAdam J; McLeod T, 2014, Beyond the Boats: Building an Asylum and Refugee Policy for the Long Term

Higgins C, 2009, Offshore refugees: settlement experiences of humanitarian arrivals in Australia, Parliamentary Library, Parliament of Victoria, Melbourne, https://trove.nla.gov.au/work/28883349?selectedversion=NBD44665838


Higgins C, 2020, Refugees and asylum seekers: was the federal budget a missed opportunity?, https://newsroom.unsw.edu.au/news/business-law/refugees-and-asylum-seekers-was-federal-budget-missed-opportunity

Higgins C, 2020, Complementary refugee pathways: Protected entry schemes, https://www.kaldorcentre.unsw.edu.au/publication/incountry-processing-and-other-protected-entry-procedures

Higgins C; Brizar M, 2020, Complementary refugee pathways: Labour mobility schemes, https://www.kaldorcentre.unsw.edu.au/publication/complementary-refugee-pathways-labour-mobility-schemes

Higgins C, 2019, Protected Entry: a safer alternative pathway, UNHCR GCR Digital Platform, https://www.globalcompactrefugees.org/index.php/article/protected-entry-safer-alternative-pathway

Higgins C; Wootten H, 2017, Editorial

Higgins C, 2016, Australian community attitudes to asylum seekers and refugees

Conference Presentations

Higgins C, 2020, 'Between Humanitarianism and Closure: International Refugee Policies since the Late 1970s - Australia', presented at American Historical Association annual meeting, New York, 03 January 2020 - 06 January 2020, https://aha.confex.com/aha/2020/webprogram/start.html

Higgins C, 2019, 'Opening the embassy doors', presented at Australian Historical Association annual conference, University of Southern Queensland, 08 July 2019 - 12 July 2019, https://www.theaha.org.au/aha-conference-2019-local-communities-global-networks/

Higgins C, 2019, 'Complementary pathways for admission under the GCR: a study of in-country processing and protected entry procedures', presented at UNHCR GCR Academic Interdisciplinary Network, Geneva, 13 November 2019 - 13 November 2019

Higgins C, 2018, 'How Italy's Humanitarian Corridors have created pathways to protection in Europe', presented at CCIS Seminar Series, University of California San Diego, 14 February 2018 - 14 February 2018, https://ccis.ucsd.edu/_files/Event%20Flyers-Programs-Agendas/Claire_Higgins_Publisher.pdf

Higgins C, 2018, 'How Italy's Humanitarian Corridors have created pathways to protection in Europe', presented at Liechtenstein Institute on Self-determination at Princeton University, Princeton University, 19 April 2018 - 19 April 2018, https://lisd.princeton.edu/events/how-italys-humanitarian-corridors-have-created-pathways-protection-europe

Higgins C, 2018, 'How Italy's Humanitarian Corridors have created pathways to protection in Europe', presented at International Conference on Refugee Policies and Refugee Movements, UCLA, 16 February 2018 - 16 February 2018, http://www.international.ucla.edu/migration/event/12963

Higgins CM, 2016, 'Is there a future for in-country processing? Evidence from United States, Canadian and Australian history', presented at Refugee Law Initiative First Annual Conference, University of London, 29 June 2016 - 01 July 2016

Higgins CM, 2016, 'Australia’s in-country programs: a new perspective on the Department of Immigration’s approach to refugee policy and its relationship with Foreign Affairs', presented at Symposium: The Commonwealth Department of Immigration: Then and Now, La Trobe University, Melbourne, 19 February 2016 - 19 February 2016

Higgins CM, 2016, 'Pathway to protection or control measure? Historical research on in-country processing', presented at Conference of the International Association for the Study of Forced Migration, Poznan, Poland, 12 July 2016 - 15 July 2016

Higgins CM, 2016, 'The merits of in-country processing: lessons from Canadian and Australian refugee policy history', presented at Global Histories of Refugees in the 20th and 21st Centuries, University of Melbourne, 06 October 2016 - 08 October 2016

Higgins CM, 2015, 'Towards a new understanding of the Fraser government’s refugee policy', presented at Australian Historical Association annual conference, University of Sydney, 08 July 2015 - 09 July 2015

Higgins CM, 2015, 'Australian refugee policy: a means to what end?', presented at Comparative Asylum Conference, UC San Diego, 30 November 2015 - 30 November 2015

Higgins CM, 2014, 'Operation Sovereign Borders: a sustainable policy approach?', presented at 'Boat Refugees' and Migrants at Sea: A Comprehensive Approach Integrating Maritime Security with Human Rights, University of London, 23 June 2014 - 24 June 2014

Higgins CM, 2014, 'A politically sensitive rescue mission: Australia's little known in-country program', presented at Between Principle and Pragmatism: Australia and Refugee Law, 60 Years On, UNSW, 03 November 2014 - 03 November 2014

Higgins CM, 2014, 'The cost and the controversy of Australia's Operation Sovereign Borders', presented at Centre for Refugee Studies seminar, York University, Toronto, 01 October 2014 - 01 October 2014

Recorded / Rendered Creative Works

Higgins CM, 2014, ‘Australia should resume processing refugees in their own countries’, Sydney Morning Herald, Published: 03 November 2014, Recorded / Rendered Creative Works

Higgins CM, 2014, ‘International legal obligations once shaped our refugee policy’, http://johnmenadue.com/blog/?p=2592, Published: 23 October 2014, Recorded / Rendered Creative Works

Australian Research Council Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA) 2020, 'Protected entry for asylum seekers in history and international refugee law'.

History of Australian refugee and immigration policy

Humanitarian visas, protected entry procedures and in-country programs


Higgins C, 2021, Resettling refugees in other countries is not reliable, nor is it fair. So, why is Australia doing it?, https://theconversation.com/resettling-refugees-in-other-countries-is-not-reliable-nor-is-it-fair-so-why-is-australia-doing-it-162505

Higgins C, 2021, Could the Biden administration pressure Australia to adopt more humane refugee policies?, https://theconversation.com/could-the-biden-administration-pressure-australia-to-adopt-more-humane-refugee-policies-153718

Higgins C, 2021, ‘With billions more allocated to immigration detention, it’s another bleak year for refugees’, https://theconversation.com/with-billions-more-allocated-to-immigration-detention-its-another-bleak-year-for-refugees-160783

Higgins C, 2021, ‘Refugee resettlement and the remaking of America’s image abroad’, https://luskincenter.history.ucla.edu/2021/02/03/refugee-resettlement-and-the-remaking-of-americas-image-abroad/

Higgins C, 2020, Refugees and asylum seekers: was the federal budget a missed opportunity?

Higgins C, 2019, How a visa for asylum seekers could grant safe passage to Europe, https://www.newsdeeply.com/refugees/community/2019/01/18/how-a-visa-for-asylum-seekers-could-grant-safe-passage-to-europe

Higgins C, 2019, 'A way forward on refugees', https://www.policyforum.net/a-way-forward-on-refugees/

Brandt J; Higgins C, 2018, Europe wants to process asylum seekers offshore - the lessons it should learn from Australia, https://www.brookings.edu/blog/order-from-chaos/2018/08/31/europe-wants-to-process-asylum-seekers-offshore-the-lessons-it-should-learn-from-australia/

Wood T; Higgins C, 2018, Targeted resettlement is one way to implement Global Refugees Compact, https://www.newsdeeply.com/refugees/community/2018/12/18/targeted-resettlement-is-one-way-to-implement-global-refugees-compact

Higgins C, 2017, Australian refugee policy: twists in the tale

Higgins C, 2017, Humanitarian Corridors: safe passages, but only for a few

Higgins C, 2017, Australia is bankrupting its global standing with deportation by destitution policy

Higgins C, 2017, Dutton should learn to live with lawyers helping in matters of life and death

Higgins C, 2017, Australia's long history of offshore detention

Higgins C, 2017, The refugees Australia tried to offshore are still its responsibility

Higgins C, 2016, How Australia turned its back on the refugee crisis, https://edition.cnn.com/2016/07/01/opinions/australia-refugee-policy-united-nations/index.html

Higgins C, 2016, Changing the conversation can lead to a better way on asylum seekers, https://theconversation.com/changing-the-conversation-can-lead-to-a-better-way-on-asylum-seekers-58932

Higgins C; Voon F, 2016, Dutton's refugee claims are out of step with the evidence and thinking at home and abroad, https://theconversation.com/duttons-refugee-claims-are-out-of-step-with-evidence-and-thinking-at-home-and-abroad-59626

Higgins C, 2015, Australia's foreign policy and refugee resettlement, https://www.lowyinstitute.org/the-interpreter/australias-foreign-policy-and-refugee-resettlement

Higgins C, 2015, Experts are being edged out of the new refugee review system. Why?, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/jul/16/experts-are-being-edged-out-of-the-refugee-review-system-why

Higgins C, 2015, How our refugee policy has changed since Fraser, https://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-03-27/higgins-how-our-refugee-policy-has-changed-since-fraser/6349610

Higgins C; Arar R, 2015, Refugees and an avalanche of numbers, https://www.policyforum.net/refugees-and-an-avalanche-of-numbers/

Higgins C; Murray K, 2015, The high price of Australia's refugee policy, https://www.policyforum.net/the-high-price-of-australias-refugee-policy/

Appleby G; Higgins C, 2015, How much power is too much when dealing with asylum seekers?, https://www.theage.com.au/opinion/how-much-power-is-too-much-when-dealing-with-asylum-seekers-20150625-ghxfpq.html

Chia J; Higgins C, 2014, Penny wise, pound foolish: how to really save money on refugees, https://theconversation.com/penny-wise-pound-foolish-how-to-really-save-money-on-refugees-27270

Higgins C, 2014, Slow refugee processing creates fear and uncertainty on Manus Island, https://theconversation.com/slow-refugee-processing-creates-fear-and-uncertainty-on-manus-island-27823

Higgins C, 2014, Australia should resume processing refugees in their own countries, https://www.smh.com.au/opinion/australia-should-resume-processing-refugees-in-their-own-countries-20141030-11ebre.html

Higgins C, 2014, Towed back or locked up: Australia's refugee policy

Douglas B; Higgins C, 2014, Beyond Operation Sovereign Borders, https://insidestory.org.au/beyond-operation-sovereign-borders/



Opinion|17 Jun 2021
Resettling refugees in other countries is not working, nor is it fair. So, why is Australia doing it?
The Home Affairs Minister says Australia is exploring resettlement overseas for 'broad cohorts' of people. But such deals do not get Australia off the hook.
Opinion|18 May 2021
With billions more allocated to immigration detention, it's another bleak year for refugees
This excessive spending raises serious raise questions about the government's long-term planning for refugees stuck in limbo.
Announcement|12 May 2021
Federal Budget 2021: Impact on refugees
Refugees will be impacted by the Federal Budget in the following three ways.
Opinion|27 Jan 2021
Could the Biden administration pressure Australia to adopt more humane refugee policies?
If history is any guide, the new US president’s forward-thinking approach toward refugee resettlement could help drive Australia’s commitments to refugee protection, too.
Opinion|12 Oct 2020
Refugees and asylum seekers: was the federal budget a missed opportunity?
When borders reopen, expanded pathways for refugee admission could help both displaced people and strengthen the Australian community, says a UNSW Law expert.
Research|Thought leadership|14 Nov 2019
New policy brief takes an in-depth look at protected entry for refugees
The Kaldor Centre’s Safe Journeys and Sound Policy critically analyses the ways people can seek asylum without risking dangerous journeys.
01 Nov 2017
The Refugees Australia Tried To Offshore Are Still Its Responsibility
OPINION: Dr Claire Higgins, Forbes Inside Asia, 30 October 2017.
29 Aug 2017
Australia is bankrupting its standing with 'deportation by destitution' policy
OPINION: Claire Higgins, the Sydney Morning Herald, 29 August 2017.