"Reconceiving Refugee Law as Human Rights Protection"

Michigan Law Authors
Areas of Interest
Publish Date
Journal of Refugee Studies
Publication Type
Journal Article

This paper proceeds from the view that refugee law is fundamentally a means of reconciling the national self-interest of powerful states to the inevitability of involuntary migration. As industrialized states have become increasingly dissatisfied with the attentiveness of the Convention-based refugee law system to their exclusionary objectives, the reform of refugee law has been placed on the international agenda in a variety of fora.

The paper suggests that it may be possible to re-orient the reform movement towards an alignment of refugee law with international human rights law. This requires that the current regime be re-focused on the restoration of the refugee's right to community membership, and that a binding system of inter-state obligation be enacted to ensure temporary asylum. By defining the duty of protection beyond the first asylum stage to be a function of the relative resources and absorptive capacities of states, it is posited that the substantive scope of refugee law could simultaneously be extended to a significantly broader class of involuntary migrant than at present.

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