Student Thesis Prize


Of course, but maybe: the absolute prohibition of refoulement and threats to national security and public safety - Legal and practical effects of undesirable but unreturnable refugees

Author: Hanna Aftonfalk

A serious human rights criminal is excluded from the status as refugee under the Refugee Convention, but cannot be repatriated under international human rights law, due to the risk of being subject to serious human rights crimes. A dilemma arises for the state in which the person resides; how should this dilemma be resolved? Hanna Aftonfalk answers this current, complex and pressing question, in her exceptionally well written, analytically high class, well structured and with literature and other material well substantiated master’s thesis, in a realistic and humanistic spirit.

Supervisor: Inger Österdahl, Professor of Public International Law


The flight across the Mediterranean: The responsibility of states for refugees at sea according to the law of the sea and international refugee law

Author: Filippa Örman

Filippa Örman’s thesis treats a current, not to say acute, topic that is legally complicated, politically loaded and exceptionally distressing from the humane point of view: the flight across the Mediterranean and the responsibility of states. The thesis is clear and distinct, answers the legal questions de lege lata in a knowledgeable and pedagogical way and ends with a suggestion de lege ferenda inspiring hope, something which is badly needed.

Supervisor: Professor Inger Österdahl


The protection of indigenous proples’ rights in Sweden in relation to the ILO 169 convention: Particularly regarding the right to participation and land rights

Author: Sandra Stens

In an ambitious thesis, rich in content and well founded, testifying to the great knowledge of the author, Sandra Stens analyzes whether the Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention (ILO Convention No. 169) not yet ratified by Sweden, has developed into customary international law. The thesis focuses on the right of the indigenous peoples to consultation and land rights.

After a careful investigation Sandra Stens finds tentatively that certain provisions in ILO Convention No. 169 have attained the status of customary law and that Sweden consequently is bound by the content of the Convention to the extent it constitutes customary law. In her comprehensive study Sandra Stens also includes other international legal instruments which also bind Sweden with content that overlaps with the ILO Convention.  

Supervisor: Professor Inger Österdahl


Title: Municipal foreign policy: An investigation of the legal conditions for Swedish municipalities to conduct foreign policy, by Arash Moosavian

Arash Moosavian’s thesis is impressively independent and original. The thesis finds itself in the borderlands between public international law, constitutional law and municipal law and the author succeeds in fruitfully analyzing all the legal areas in combination. The thesis is theoretically advanced and practically and politically very relevant.

Supervisor, Professor Inger Österdahl


The board of the Swedish Institute for International Law decided to award the annual award for the best LLM thesis in international law during 2018 to Svea Andersson for her thesis, Outer Space as a Theatre of War: Legitimate attacks on dual-use satellites? (supervisor: Inger Österdahl) and to Else Welinder for her thesis, Principles on country of first asylum and safe third states. A valid method for distributing responsibility for dealing with asylum-seekers? (supervisor: Rebecca Stern)


The board of the Swedish Institute for International Law decided to award the annual award for the best LLM thesis in international law during 2016 to Sandra Gullfeldt for her thesis: Unrecognized Victims: Male Rape in Conflict Settings under International Criminal Law (Supervisor, Professor Anna Jonsson Cornell)


Sandra Gullfeldt makes a clear and independent analyis of a neglected and difficult to handle subject in international criminal law and international humanitarian law.  Her study is innovative, extensive and ambitious. Her conclusions are thoughtful and well supported.

Professor Iain Cameron
Director (2017)


The winner of the SIFIR Thesis Prize of 2015 has been announced:

Marita Nolén: Who violates whom? Territorial integrity or the right to life


In her master’s thesis Marita Nolén analyzes the complicated relationship between the Swedish law, the European Convention on Human Rights and general public international law and applies the analysis to the controversial issue whether the Swedish Defence Forces may or may not use depth charge when chasing submarines in Swedish internal waters. Marita Nolén performs a thorough and independent examination of the difficult legal issues involved and arrives at balanced conclusions; she partly agrees and partly disagrees both with those who question and with those who defend the current Swedish regulation.

Inger Österdahl
Director of the Institute (2016)
April 27, 2016


The SIFIR Thesis Prize of 2014 was shared by two winners:

Johanna Sköld: The Principle of Distinction in Non-International Armed Conflicts (Distinktionsprincipen i icke-internationella väpnade konflikter).


Johanna Sköld studies the burning issue of how non-state armed groups (guerillas or terror groups) in non-state armed conflict (civil war) should be handled within the framework of the underdeveloped international humanitarian law in this area. The aim is to achieve the highest possible respect for the so called principle of distinction and thereby the strongest protection possible of the civilian population in non-international armed conflict. Johanna analyzes a complicated and important subject in a very independent, mature and advanced manner.

Amanda Kron: Avoiding the Arbitrary: Development, displacement and the Kampala Convention


In her master’s thesis Amanda Kron examines one aspect of the African Union’s (AU) Kampala convention, namely the obligations set out relating to displacement of persons as a result of development projects. This is an area which mixes the international law of development with refugee law/the law of internally displaced persons (IDPs). There exists little in the way of legal analysis of this new type of obligation in international law. Amanda Kron shows that she has an excellent grasp of the methodology of international law, performing a well-argued, well-supported and critical analysis of the intersection between two extensive and complex areas of international law. It is a pioneering, confident and creative piece of work.

Ian Cameron 
Director of the Instititute (2015), 21 april 2015


Vinnare av SIFIRs pris för bästa uppsats i folkrätt 2013:

Elena Kostyleva: Measures of execution with respect to property owned by foreign states from the perspective of the law of immunities: The Sedelmayer case in Swedish courts


In her master’s thesis on the so called Sedelmayer case in Swedish courts, Elena Kostyleva has treated the complex problems relating to state immunity, diplomatic immunity, the application of international law in Swedish courts, and big power politics. The scope of state immunity is controversial and developing, the impact of international law in Swedish courts is controversial, and Sweden’s relationship to Russia is a sensitive issue. The thesis thoroughly analyzes the content of international law and the decisions by the Swedish courts – most notably the judgment of the Supreme Court – in light of the Russian objections. Elena Kostyleva draws the important conclusion, firstly, that the Swedish courts have applied international law correctly, and, secondly, that Sweden should promote the primacy of the law in its international relations.

Inger Österdahl, föreståndare för SIFIR 2014, 10 april 2014


Viktor Berg has been awarded the SIFIR (Swedish Institute of International Law) prize for best master’s thesis in public international law 2012 for his thesis (in Swedish) Gender, peace and security – Is the integration of gender aspects in EU civilian crisis management operations compulsory and if so does the EU live up to its obligations?


In Viktor Berg’s thesis a perfect form meets an enjoyable language, a clear analysis, solid contents and a multidimensional theme. Viktor Berg is congratulated on an unusually fine piece of academic workmanship.

Professor Iain Cameron
Director of the Institute (2013)

Last modified: 2023-06-02