Peter A Allard School of Law

Efrat Arbel

Associate Professor
Member of the Bar of British Columbia
B.A (McGill); J.D. (UBC); LL.M, SJD (Harvard Law School)



Efrat Arbel publishes and teaches in refugee law, prison law, constitutional law, and tort law. Her research examines how legal rights are negotiated and defined in liminal legal spaces like the border, the detention center, and the prison.

Prior to joining the Allard School of Law, Dr. Arbel completed her masters and doctoral studies at Harvard Law School, where she received numerous fellowships and awards, was Canada Research Fellow with the Weatherhead Centre for International Affairs, and worked as a researcher with the Harvard Immigration and Refugee Law Clinic. She held a postdoctoral appointment at the University of British Columbia between 2012-2014, with visiting appointments at the Oxford Center for Criminology (2013) and the European University Institute (2014).

Currently, Dr. Arbel is principal investigator on a SSHRC funded project that brings the insights of trauma-informed practice to immigration detention. She is also analyzing the application of the law of torts to immigration detention, evaluating the impact of Canadian border restrictions on refugees, and mapping the treatment of gender, gender-identity, and gender expression in refugee decision making. Together with PhD candidate Molly Joeck, Dr. Arbel is recipient of a Covid-19 Wall Solutions Award for research examining how the onset of Covid-19 has impacted immigration detention.

Combining her academic work with legal practice, Dr. Arbel is regularly engaged in advocacy and litigation involving refugee and prisoner rights. She has prepared independent research reports for, engaged in consultations with, and produced submissions for various government agencies, including the Canada Border Services Agency, BC Corrections, and the Immigration and Refugee Board. She has been commissioned to produce expert opinions in ongoing challenges before Canadian courts. She serves as an advisor to the Multi-Agency Partnership BC Immigration Holding Center Support Program and conducts training for the Immigration and Refugee Board’s Gender Taskforce. Dr. Arbel is a frequent media commentator on refugee and prison issues, and has been cited by numerous media outlets, including by The Globe and Mail, National Post, and The New York Times.
Dr. Arbel serves on the Executive Committee of UBC’s Centre for Migration Studies and is a member of the International Editorial Board of Oxford University’s Border Criminologies.


  • Refugee Law
  • Advanced Charter Law
  • Torts


For Professor Arbel's publications available on SSRN, go here:

Selected publications are also listed on the Law Library Faculty Research Publications Database.

Efrat Arbel Headshot

Organization Affiliations

  • Centre for Feminist Legal Studies

Research Interests

  • Human rights
  • Immigration and refugee law
  • Jurisprudence, legal theory, and critical studies
  • Law and social justice
  • Public and constitutional law
  • Tort law

How are legal rights and responsibilities negotiated and defined in liminal legal spaces like the border, the detention centre, and the prison?

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