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URPP Equality of Opportunity

Equality as a Normative Concept - Law, Theory and Perspectives

About the Project

Equality guarantees are a central element of the contemporary national, supranational and international architecture of legal systems. Equality before the law is the bedrock principle of modern-age legal systems. Both modern constitutional orders and transnational law require equal treatment of human beings as a standard which must apply throughout the legal system, in legislation as well as in the application of the law by public authorities and – at least to a certain degree – to actions by private actors. The prohibition of discrimination is another element of the legal regime of equality, as are provisions on positive action to establish substantial equality, for instance regarding gender equality. Finally, equality is a central principle in various areas of law, in education and taxation as much as when it comes to political rights or access to justice.


Equality as a Normative Concept - Law, Theory and Perspectives is a research project conducted at the Faculty of Law of the University of Zurich. The project is part of the interdisciplinary University Research Priority Program (URPP) Equality of Opportunity at the University of Zurich.

Project Members


Prof. Dr. Matthias Mahlmann

Deputy Director of the URPP Equality of Opportunity and Project Leader

Professor of Philosophy and Theory of Law, Legal Sociology and International Public Law, Faculty of Law, University of Zurich




Prof. Dr. Daniel Möckli

Project Leader

Professor of Public Law with a focus on International and Comparative Law, Faculty of Law, University of Zurich



Elif Askin

Dr. Elif Askin

Senior Researcher and Lecturer, Faculty of Law, University of Zurich




Hanna Stoll

Hanna Stoll

Researcher and PhD Candidate, Faculty of Law, University of Zurich

Hanna Stoll studied art history, literature and law in Zurich, Jerusalem and Fribourg. During her studies she worked in journalism and as a student assistant at the chair of Prof. Dr. Mahlmann. She also gained initial experience in the field of migration and criminal law. After her graduation she worked for national and international organisations in the field of asylum, migration and human rights law. She passed the bar exam in 2021. Since 2021 she is a PhD student in the URPP Equality of Opportunity and researches in the field of access to justice in European migration and data law.



Marisa Beier

Researcher and PhD Candidat, Faculty of Law, University of Zurich

Marisa Beier studied law at the University of Fribourg and Stockholm. After her graduation she worked in governmental and non-governmental institutions, where she specialized in international human rights law. Since 2018, she has been working as a research assistant for Prof. Regina Kiener at the Chair of Public Law at University of Zurich. Her current research focuses on international human rights law, the right to adequate housing and poverty as well as feminist and legal gender studies.

To emphasize the importance of gender-sensitive legal education and research, she has co-founded the young researcher association Feministisch.Ius, which she currently chairs.

For more information see Feministisch.Ius

Twitter: @feministischius


Current Projects

Dr. Elif Askin                 


Access to Information in the Digital Age – A Public Law Perspective

For more information on the project see research

Marisa Beier   

The importance of the right to adequate housing in Switzerland

The aim of the PhD project is to analyse the importance of the right to adequate housing as an essential requirement to live a life in dignity, freedom and equality. The dissertation argues that the right to adequate housing is integrally linked to other human rights and is, in itself, fundamental to facilitate participation and inclusion in society. For this reason, the right to adequate housing is particularly important for people living in poverty, who are often deprived of living in adequate housing situations and experience exclusion from the rental housing market as well as homelessness. Against this backdrop, the dissertation aims to discuss the potential of the right to adequate housing in relation to specific case studies regarding the housing situations of poor people living in Zurich, Switzerland.

Hanna Stoll     

Access to Justice at Schengen's Digital Borders

The PhD research focuses on the phenomenon of digitalization in the migration and border protection sector and examines how these changes affect the procedural rights of migrants. In particular, the new databases and migration systems in the Schengen area and related questions of access to justice are examined in more detail.

Human Rights Circle

Junior scholars are invited to participate in the ‘Human Rights Circle’ where current human rights issues are discussed by researchers. The Human Rights Circle takes place every first Monday of the month.


Publications and Presentations




Human Rights Week 2021, Academic Colloquium on ‘Discriminations and Inequalities’, Geneva Academy, University of Geneva, Switzerland

Paper presentation Dr. Elif Askin/Marisa Beier on ‘Rethinking Equality Protection and Non-Discrimination Clauses Anew in the Context of Housing and Information Rights



In the Media

Data used

For further information about the project and data availability please contact:


Weiterführende Informationen


URPP Equality of Opportunity  
University of Zurich
Faculty of Law
Rämistrasse 74/42
8001 Zürich



Phone: +41 44 634 52 57

International Conference: Call for Engaged Listeners

Contested Equality - International and Comparative Legal Perspectives

University of Zurich - 20/21 October 2022


Virtuel Participation: URPP-Conference "Contested Equality" (19-21 Oct 22)

JOIN our virtuel room to meet the other online participants and discuss the topics of the conference.