RUB Research School

Sylff Fellow Jan-Phillip Graf

Law/Institute for International Law of Peace and Armed Conflict (IFHV)

The ‘Best Interests of the Child Principle’ in the Context of International Migration Law and Policy

Article 3(1) of the Convention on the Rights of the Child asks the international community that “the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration.” This research project aims at analyzing the potential role of the best interests principle in international migration law. It first examines the meaning and application of article 3(1), before it moves to a comparative evaluation of different states’ implementation efforts. Next it analyzes the role of the best interests principle in policymaking and its everyday use by frontline actors dealing with child migrants. The project concludes with recommendations on how to effectively deploy the best interests principle to protect migrant children.

Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Pierre Thielbörger

About Jan-Phillip Graf

09/2020-09/2023 Institute for International Law of Peace and Armed Confl ict,Ruhr University Bochum (Bochum, Germany), Doctorate in International Law (Dr. jur.)
09/2018-09/2020 The Graduate Institute (Geneva, Switzerland), Master in Inter national Law (GPA: 5.68), Dissertation topic: “Explosive Investments - How International Law Regulates the Financing of Cluster Munitions”
08/2019-12/2019 Harvard Law School (Cambridge, USA), Semester abroad, Studies in human rights and counter-terrorism law
10/2015-09/2018 Dresden University of Technology (Dresden, Germany), Bachelor of Arts in International Relations (GPA: 1.6), Dissertation topic: “The Human Right to Water”
08/2017-12/2017 Boston University (Boston, USA), Semester abroad (GPA: 4.0), Studies in U.S. foreign policy and arms control law
10/2011-09/2015 Ruhr University Bochum (Bochum, Germany), Bachelor of Arts in History (pending, current GPA: 1.7), B.A. with two majors (graduation only possible after completion of a second major – currently postponed), Special program in which high school students can enroll in a regular degree program


  • Ryoichi Sasakawa Young Leaders FellowshipFull PhD funding and leadership training from the Tokyo Foundation
  • Scholarship of the German National Academic Foundation(Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes)
04/2019-08/2019 International Law Commission (71st session), United Nations General Assembly (Geneva, Switzerland), legal research assistant to Amb. Dr. Hussein Hassouna (prepared statements, legal briefs, and represented the Ambassador in meetings)
01/2018-03/2018 Institute for International Law of Peace & Armed Confl ict, Ruhr University Bochum (Bochum, Germany),Research assistant (researched for & revised publications, published brief articles on humanitarian issues)
10/2016-08/2017 Institute of Mathematical Stochastics, Dresden University of Technology (Dresden, Germany), Tutor of basic and advanced statistics (prepared lectures, tutorials, and corrected exams)


Katholische Kliniken Hagen (Hagen, Germany), COVID-19 Volunteer

  • Assisted with setting up the COVID emergency unit (drafted multilingual patient guidelines and produced informative videos)
  • Introduced a video call system for patients’ families
  • Assisted at the reception desk with administrative and logistical tasks

Member of Sylff Mikrokolleg on Forced Migration, RUB, Bochum