I joined the International Institute of Social Studies (ISS), which is the Hague Campus of Erasmus University Rotterdam in February 2007. Among my external academic appointments, I have been a senior research fellow in the School of Law at the University of the Witwatersrand since January 2007, an Editor (since 2013) of the South African Journal on Human Rights (from Feb 2017- Feb 2019 Editor-in-Chief), a visiting research fellow in the Department of Sociology at Princeton University in 2017, a member of the teaching staff for the MSc in Law and Society at Leiden University and as a Fellow and co-ordinator of a Theme Group at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and Social Sciencies (NIAS) of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) in the 2020/21 Academic Year.
I studied law in England (1992: LLB, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne and 1994: LLM, with Merit, School of Oriental and African Studies, London) and was called to the English bar in 1995. After fifteen years as a legal and human rights practitioner, mainly in South Africa and The Netherlands, in 2009 I obtained a PhD in the sociology of law at Utrecht University with a thesis on Advocating for Accountability: Civic-State Interactions to Protect Refugees in South Africa, which was published by Intersentia (Antwerp).
As a practitioner, I took on different tasks, including as assistant to a British Member of Parliament (on miscarriages of justice), as legal advisor for the Dutch Refugee Council, in various functions for the South African organisation Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR) and as director of Rea Hamba Advice, an international legal practice that was based in The Hague. I trained government officials, police officers, military personnel, lawyers, NGOs and journalists and advised governments, the United Nations and civil society organisations in the development sector on a wide range of human rights and legal issues, developing particular experience outside Europe in Southern Africa and Palestine.
As a researcher, since 1999, I have published scholarly work, in academic and other journals, as well as four books and one special issue of a journal. My academic research has been in three, overlapping areas, all concerning the potential for legal mobilization to lead to progressive structural change.
Firstly, I have theorized and evaluated the structural opportunities and constraints of civic-state interactions in the context of human rights advocacy and in particular public interest litigation, with a particular focus on refugees and migrants. While this area of research has focused primarily on South Africa, I have also written on legal mobilization in Latin America, Palestine and the Netherlands. This area of reseach has also critiqued the deleterious effects of evaluating legal doctrine without critically taking into account the social, historical and political context and the pedagogies of legal learning from crisis.
A second, related area of research has been to critically evaluate the content and implementation of laws and policies and the roles of civic actors in the framing and enforcement of these policies. In this area, I have focussed primarily on refugee laws and policies in South Africa, but I have also examined the negative consequences of experts reproducing the concept of ‘irregular migration’, and the uncritical application of legal-doctrinal concepts in legal-political analyses of armed conflict and international criminal justice.
A third research area has critically evaluated efforts by civic actors, states and international institutions, to enforce international (criminal) law, both through international tribunals and in national legal systems.
Applying for grants is a challenging, though inevitable aspect of working in academia. In 2005, I received an NWO-WOTRO award to support field research in South Africa from the Dutch National Science Foundation (NWO). Since working at ISS, I participated in various grants, including a two-year programme funded by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), a two-year research and capacity-building programme funded by Hivos and a teaching project in Suriname. In a project led by Sanne Taekema the Erasmus School of Law I was jointly awarded a five-year (2015-2020) matching grant from the Erasmus Trust Fonds amounting to a total of 1.8 million euros. In addition to the NIAS-KNAW fellowship (2020-21), I have also been awarded several Erasmus+ Mobility grants.
In 2021, I developed a Consortium involving six universities and 15 different organizations to establish a Legal Mobilization Centre, for which I am currently seeking funding.
M van Eik & Jeff Handmaker (2007) - Case Report and Commentary of Minister for Immigration Affairs and Integration v. A and B, 200507814/1 (JV 2006/132) - Oxford Reports on International Law in Domestic Courts, 2007 (ILDC 546)
M van Eik & Jeff Handmaker (2007) - Case Report and Commentary of Minister for Immigration Affairs and Integration v. A and B, Afdeling Bestuursrechtspraak Raad van State, 22 February 2006, 200507814/1 (JV 2006/132) - Oxford Reports on International Law in Domestic Courts, 2007 (ILDC 543)
Jeff Handmaker & I Magnee (2006) - ), ‘Case Report and Commentary of Kesbir v. Minister of Justice’ Appeal Judgment, LJN: AQ5615, 200402639/1 and 200402651/1 - Oxford Reports on International Law in Domestic Courts, 2006 (ILDC 144)
Jeff Handmaker (2009) - Gaza en verkiezingen in Israël
Jeff Handmaker (2009) - Understanding Nationalism in the Search for a Just Peace
Jeff Handmaker (2009) - Beyond Assistance: Exclusion through Redefinition
Jeff Handmaker (2009) - Demystifying the Wall: Dispossession and Impunity in the Ongoing Impasse Between Israel and the Palestinians
Jeff Handmaker (2009) - Internationaal Recht en Mensenrechten
Jeff Handmaker (2008) - Litigating Refugee Rights in South Africa (Paper presented at Research in Progress Seminar, Institute of Social Studies, The Hague, 20 November 2008)
Jeff Handmaker (2008) - Realising Palestinian Rights: Socio-legal critiques (Paper presented at Course on Law and Society, Roosevelt Academy (Utrecht University), Middelburg, 29 September 2008)
Jeff Handmaker (2008) - From Jerusalem to The Hague: Reflections on the ICJ Wall Decision (Paper presented at the conference on The Wall and the Law, Institute of Social Studies, The Hague, 9 May 2008)
Jeff Handmaker (2008) - Discussant: Refugee & Policy in US / Canada from legal / historical perspective (Paper presented at Joint Annual Meeting of the LSA and CLSA, Montreal, Canada, 29 May - 1 June 2008)
Jeff Handmaker (2008) - On the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: A critical dialogue on human rights (Institute of Social Studies, The Hague, 10 December 2008)
Jeff Handmaker (2008) - Socio-legal analysis of civic interventions to protect refugees in South Africa (Paper presented at The State of International Migration Studies in Southern Africa, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa, 17 - 19 March 2008)
Jeff Handmaker (2007) - Refugee Act - 10 Years On: What legislative changes are needed for a more effective asylum system?' (Panel presentation at the international conference organised by Mandela Institute of the School of Law and Forced Migration Studies Programme Johannesburg, South Africa on 12 September)
Jeff Handmaker (2007) - Litigating Refugee Rights in South Africa (Paper presented at the international conference on "Law and Society in the 21st Century: Transformations, Resistances, Futures" organised by Humboldt University Law and Society Association and Research Committee on Sociology of Law in Berlin on 25-28 July 2007)
Jeff Handmaker (2007) - Een situatie van straffeloosheid (transl. A Situation of Impunity) (Paper presented in a workshop on "Make My Day" organised by the University of Leiden Studentenvereniging Ontwikkelingssamenwerking The Netherlands on 30 March 2007)
Jeff Handmaker (2007) - Exclusion through (Re)definition: Palestinian refugees struggle for protection and recognition and their potential contribution to a peace settlement (Paper presented at the international conference on Law and Economic Development Towards Constructive Engagement in the Middle East organised by Vrij Universiteit Brussel and Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Egmont Palace, Brussels, Belgium on 22 - 23 February)
Jeff Handmaker (2005) - Beyond Exclusion: Assessing Palestinian Refugees Struggle for Protection and Recognition and Their Potential Contribution to a Peace Settlement (Paper presented at Joint Annual Meeting of the LSA and CLSA, Montreal, Canada, 29 May - 1 June 2008)
Jeff Handmaker (2012) - Jury report, Awarding of the 2012 Visions of Peace Thesis Prize
Jeff Handmaker (2010) - Refugee Rights: Advocacy and Outreach
Jeff Handmaker (2010) - Public Interest Litigation in South Africa and the Potential for Structural Change
Jeff Handmaker (2009) - Workshop Paper on International Law and Human Rights
Jeff Handmaker, Karin Arts, M Brus & H Verrijn Stuart (2009) - `Delegation of Dutch international law experts to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, with a special focus on Palestinian refugees: Report of the delegation¿s mission¿ - ICCO Foundation
Sanne Taekema, Kinnari Bhatt, Jeff Handmaker & E Mak (2019) - The Legal Ladder: Civic Action and the Legitimacy of Governance Institutions in Europe
Jeff Handmaker (15 January 2020) - Rechtstaat dient gerespecteerd te worden - Interview
Jeff Handmaker (31 January 2018) - Trumps State of the Union: open hand en gesloten vuist - Interview
Jeff Handmaker (26 October 2016) - Africa Today on Withdrawal from ICC with Achike Chiude and Jeff Handmaker - Panelist
Jeff Handmaker (1 April 2016) - Israel voelt zichzelf steeds meer in de nauw gedreven door de zogehete boycot beweging - bijdrage
Jeff Handmaker (17 January 2015) - Were war crimes commited in Palestine? - Panellist
Jeff Handmaker (28 January 2013) - Interview of Dr. Jeff Handmaker, senior lecturer, ISS on the military trial in Suriname - Extended interview
Jeff Handmaker (11 May 2012) - Juristen Bezorgd over Suriname - Rapportage
Jeff Handmaker (2012) - Presentation for the module 'Palestina-Israël Conflict' organised by Studievereniging Sirius, Utrecht Law College - Presentation for the module 'Palestina-Israël Conflict' organised by Studievereniging Sirius, Utrecht Law College
Jeff Handmaker (2019) - International Journal of Refugee Law (Journal)
Jeff Handmaker (2017) - South African Journal on Human Rights (Journal)
Jeff Handmaker (2013) - South African Journal of Human Rights (Journal)
Jeff Handmaker (2016) - Legal mobilisation als analytisch kader voor de betrokkenheid van bedrijven bij mensenrechtenschendingen in de Palestijnse gebieden - Jaarvergadering Vereniging voor de Sociaalwetenschappelijke bestudering van het Recht
Jeff Handmaker (2015) - Legal mobilisation as a lens for law and development studies - ISS-IDLO Symposium: Current research on legal mobilisation
Jeff Handmaker (2015) - The ‘Promise and Pathos’ of Legal Mobilization: Perspectives on Palestine - Annual Meeting of the Law and Society Association
Jeff Handmaker (2015) - Legal Mobilization and the Potential for Transformative Change Through the South African Judiciary - 30 Years SAJHR Conference: Transformation and the Courts
G Bisharat, Jeff Handmaker, G Karmi & A Tartir (2018) - Global Jurist (Journal)
Jeff Handmaker (2017) - South African Journal on Human Rights (Journal)
Jeff Handmaker, J Klaaren & J Dugard (2011) - South African Journal on Human Rights (Journal)