Immigration should be studied from a multidisciplinary perspective

Mehrnoosh Farzamfar studies the tensions between human rights, immigration and national security.

When Mehrnoosh Farzamfar worked as a lawyer at the UN’s refugee organisation UNHCR, human rights issues and international law were among her expertise. This experience made her interested in conducting further research on how refugee law could possibly protect asylum seekers from human trafficking, violence, and maltreatment.

After graduating with two master’s degrees, one in international human rights and another in international and comparative law, Farzamfar began working on her doctoral dissertation on migration and security at the University of Helsinki’s Faculty of Law in 2017.

The purpose of her multidisciplinary dissertation is to strike a balance between the national security of states and human rights questions, while generating sustainable recommendations for decision-makers on handling immigration without detrimental effects.

The attraction of Europe is its safe reputation

According to Farzamfar, it is impossible to examine immigration from an exclusively legal perspective. Rather, political and social aspects must also be considered. 

“The tensions between the human rights of refugees and the national security of European states are always also political and social issues.”


This is not a time for European countries to withdraw behind their borders. Instead, they should join forces to solve the major crises facing them and keep the European Union strong.

“Right now it would also be in the interest of European security to work together and strengthen the European identity.”

Share the load with solidarity

According to Farzamfar, the burden caused by asylum seekers should be shared with solidarity, as protecting individual interests and nationalism offer no solutions to the problem – quite the opposite.

“It’s impossible for any one single country to solve an international problem, be it immigration or climate change, just by focusing on itself.”

Mehrnoosh Farzamfar considers democracy, the rule of law and human rights as the foundational pillars of the free European societies, even though not everyone has abided by these principles since the terrorist strikes of September 11th.

Not just cost items

Refugees are not just beneficiaries or cost items. Farzamfar believes this is an important issue to understand. During the inter-war period, the United States and the American scientific community, not to mention the arts, benefited tremendously from the arrival of Jewish researchers and artists fleeing Europe.

“They were forced to migrate. Today, the situation in many countries of origin is the same.”

Farzamfar points out that science benefits when research groups are international. This means that their perspective will go beyond the traditional Eurocentric consensus, making it possible to dismantle colonialist structures. Science will move forward when it brings in new perspectives and new kinds of research.

Migration and the narratives of Europe as an “Area of freedom, security and justice”  is a subproject led by Professor Reetta Toivanen, under the Law, Identity and the European Narratives (EuroStorie) Centre of Excellence.  Security, mobility and human rights, particularly during international crises, are the key research topics of the subproject.  In addition to Farzamfar, the EuroStorie Centre of Excellence includes researchers of immigrant backgrounds.