School of Law

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Sara Arapiles

Teaching Associate, Faculty of Social Sciences



Dr Sara Arapiles is a Teaching Associate in EU law and public law at the School of Law of the University of Nottingham, where she is also a member of the Forced Migration Unit of the Human Rights Law Centre and the History of Law and Governance Centre. Sara completed her PhD research at the School of Law in 2023, which was funded by the UK Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and titled 'Slavery in Refugee Status Determination Procedures in Europe: A Comparative Socio-Legal Study of Approaches to Eritrean Protection Claims'. Sara also holds degrees from the University of Salamanca (LLB/LLM), the Institute for European Studies of the Free University of Brussels (LLM in International and European Law) and the University of Nottingham (MA in Socio-Legal Research), and is a member of the Spanish Bar Association.

Sara has been a Research Affiliate of the Refugee Law Initiative of the University of London since 2018 and an Associate Tutor on their MA in Refugee Protection and Forced Migration Studies since 2022. Sara also serves as a member of the coordinating committee of the ESIL Interest Group on Migration and Refugee Law, a role she took up in 2022. For the past three years, Sara was an Adjunct Professor at Comillas Pontifical University (ICADE, Madrid), where she convened and taught the module on international human rights law on the interdisciplinary degree programme in International Relations and Global Communication (2020-2023). In a consultancy capacity, Sara provides training and expert reports and undertakes research for asylum lawyers, NGOs, and refugee-led community-based organisations.

During her doctorate studies, Sara worked as a Research Associate at the University of Nottingham's Rights Lab Beacon of Excellence (2018-2020) for various large research projects on measures towards achieving UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 8.7. (eradicating forced labour and ending modern slavery and human trafficking) in contexts of forced migration, conflict, and humanitarian crisis, and was a Visiting Research Fellow at Lund University (2021-2022), the University of Málaga (2020-2021), and the Brussels-based Think Tank Research Advisors & Experts Europe (2019-2020).

Prior to her academia career, Sara worked in the field of international refugee protection and human rights for organisations such as the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) in London where she conducted a participatory study with newly recognised Eritrean refugees in the UK, the Nottingham-based charity Refugee Roots managing cross-sectoral projects aimed at facilitating the inclusion of refugees into the host community, and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) as a legal trainee of the Americas Office in Brussels.

Research Summary

Sara's research interests include international refugee law, international human rights law, treaty interpretation, comparative legal practice and theory, and research methods in socio-legal studies.… read more

Recent Publications

Current Research

Sara's research interests include international refugee law, international human rights law, treaty interpretation, comparative legal practice and theory, and research methods in socio-legal studies. In her thesis, Sara employs as a case study a protracted slavery setting that has triggered one of the largest forced displacements of the past two decades: Eritrea's Military/National Service. Through this unique example, Sara studies slavery from legal-doctrinal, comparative, and socio-legal angles, providing an integrated picture of this complex phenomenon. Arguing that current European approaches to protection claims based on slavery in the Eritrean context are unsatisfactory and based on an exhaustive analysis of the meaning of slavery in international law, her PhD provides a normative and methodological sound framework for determining refugee status in slavery cases. Sara's current research focuses on refugees' and slaves' right to recognition as persons before the law.

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