The Role of the European Court of Justice in Framing the Principles of Global Distributive Justice through the Area of Asylum

Aysel Küçüksu

Thesis successfully defended at LUISS Guido Carli di Roma (online) on 7th July 2020.

Supervisors: Prof. Gianfranco Pellegrino (LUISS Guido Carli) and Prof. Nicolas Levrat (Université de Genève)

Other members of the jury: Prof. Francesco Cherubini (LUISS Guido Carli), Prof. Frédéric Bernard (Université de Genève) and Prof. Moritz Baumgärtel (Utrecht University)


More often than not, political philosophers that espouse theories of global justice engage with the big question of what duties we owe to each other from a very abstract, ideal, point of view. They try to delineate our responsibilities to one another and treat the parameters of these obligations in different scales, ranging from the nation state to the global order, and in different domains, ranging from climate change to migration. Simultaneously, judicial actors occupy themselves with questions of justice from the much more practical, non-ideal, position, where they aim to perform as justly as possible in the imperfect scenario of applying nonideal laws to non-ideal circumstances. In an effort to trace whether there is cross-pollination between global justice discussions on migration and the asylum practice of the European Court of Justice, this work offers a thorough qualitative empirical study of the Court’s asylum jurisprudence enriched by insight from a dozen interviews conducted with officials working there. It reveals that on the surface, the common ground between the two academic traditions seems to prematurely end where it started, with the modest terminological overlap in ‘justice’. Yet, deeper engagement with both domains shows that albeit immediately bridging the gap between the two disciplines might seem like an impasse, narrowing it is a genuine possibility. To that purpose, this work utilises Martha Fineman’s ‘vulnerability theory’ as a brokering agent between the two and as an original way of taxonomizing the case-law of the European Court of Justice. In the process, this thesis becomes a solid interdisciplinary work which is an important contribution towards our understanding of the European Court of Justice, both from a legal and from a philosophical point of view.

This research has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Grant Agreement No 722826


This project receives funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Grant Agreement No 722826.