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  • The state of asylum: democratisation, judicialisation and the evolution of refugee policy in Europe

    17 December 2013

    In this paper, Dr Gibney examines the relationship between increasing government restrictiveness towards asylum seekers and the growing entanglement of states in human rights law that restrains their activities. The argument he makes about the relationship between the two applies best to European states, encumbered by European and EU human rights legislation, especially after the Treaty of Amsterdam. However, much of this paper is of broader relevance to other liberal democratic states, and the examples he uses draw freely from non-European countries.

  • Security and the ethics of asylum after 11 September

    17 December 2013

    "Security", the philosopher John Stuart Mill wrote in 1861, "is the most vital of all interests." “On it", he argued, "we depend for all our immunity from evil, and for the whole value of all and every good, beyond the passing moment". On 11 September, the citizens of Western countries had the truth of Mill’s words brought spectacularly home to them. This lesson unleashed some lamentable consequences. The attacks of that fateful day led to war; war created refugees; refugees fled in search of asylum. The first two months of the war against the Taliban resulted in the movement of some 130,000 refugees, most of whom found a kind of rough asylum in neighbouring Pakistan. Pakistan’s borders had remained relatively open to refugees in part because of pressure by UNHCR for the country to serve as a humanitarian refuge for the course of the crisis. Yet while Pakistan was expected to offer more asylum during the course of the ‘war on terror’, all signs were that Western states would be offering less.

  • The state of asylum: democratization, judicialisation and the evolution of refugee policy (In: The Refugee Convention 50 years on: Globalisation and International Law)

    17 December 2013

    In this paper, Dr Gibney examines the relationship between increasing government restrictiveness towards asylum seekers and the growing entanglement of states in human rights law that restrains their activities. The argument he makes about the relationship between the two applies best to European states, encumbered by European and EU human rights legislation, especially after the Treaty of Amsterdam. However, much of this paper is of broader relevance to other liberal democratic states, and the examples he uses draw freely from non-European countries.

  • Asylum policy in the West: past trends, future possibilities

    17 December 2013

    This article examines the policy responses of Western countries in the realm of asylum. The authors begin by explaining the reasons why the asylum issue has made its way up the political agendas of liberal democratic countries in recent years. While applications for asylum have risen in the last two decades, we also highlight the way rights-based constraints and financial costs have contributed to controversy around the issue. The authors then examine in detail the major policy responses of states to asylum, grouping them into four main categories: measures aiming to prevent access to state territory, measures to deter arrivals, measures to limit stay, and measures to manage arrival. Moving then to explore the efficacy of these measures, the authors consider the utility of policy making from the viewpoints of states, asylum seekers and refugees, and international society. The article concludes with the presentation of four new directions in which policies could move in order better to square the professed interests of Western states with the needs of refugees for protection.

  • The Social, Political and Historical Contours of Deportation

    17 December 2013

    In recent years states across the world have boosted their legal and institutional capacity to deport noncitizens residing on their territory, including failed asylum seekers, “illegal” migrants, and convicted criminals. Scholars have analyzed this development primarily through the lens of immigration control. Deportation has been viewed as one amongst a range of measures designed to control entrance, distinguished primarily by the fact that it is exercised inside the territory of the state. But deportation also has broader social and political effects. It provides a powerful way through which the state reminds noncitizens that their presence in the polity is contingent upon acceptable behavior. Furthermore, in liberal democratic states immunity from deportation is one of the key privileges that citizens enjoy that distinguishes them from permanent residents. This book examines the historical, institutional and social dimensions of the relationship between deportation and citizenship in liberal democracies. Contributions also include analysis of the formal and informal functions of administrative immigration detention, and the role of the European Parliament in the area of irregular immigration and borders. The book also develops an analytical framework that identifies and critically appraises grassroots and sub national responses to migration policy in liberal democratic societies, and considers how groups form after deportation and the employment of citizenship in this particular context, making it of interest to scholars and international policy makers alike.

  • Protracted refugee situations and the regional dynamics of peacebuilding

    17 December 2013

    The international community's approach to refugees focuses largely on mass influx situations and high profile refugee emergencies, delivering humanitarian assistance to refugees and war-affected populations, and encouraging large-scale repatriation programmes. In stark contrast, of the total number of refugees in the world (which exceeds 10 million) some 70%—or 7.7 million—are not in emergencies, but trapped in protracted refugee situations. Such situations, often characterised by long periods of exile, stretching to decades for some groups, constitute a growing challenge for the international refugee protection regime and the international community. While global refugee populations have fallen to their lowest in many years, the number of protracted refugee situations and their duration continue to increase. There are now well over 30 protracted refugee situations in the world, and the average duration of these refugee situations has nearly doubled over the past decade: from an average of nine years in 1993 to 17 years in 2004.

  • Burma: refugees and regional relations

    17 December 2013

    For nearly sixty years, the regime in Rangoon has remained in power by preventing democratic change and waging war against the country's numerous ethnic nationality parties. This is the oldest ongoing conflict in the world. At the end of May, in response to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's appeal to free Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel Prize winning prodemocracy activist, the military regime extended her house arrest for at least another year. This step is the latest demonstration of the unwillingness of the military regime to share power. As a direct consequence of the fighting and in response to sustained and widespread human rights violations throughout the country, hundreds of thousands of civilians have been displaced and huge numbers of refugees have fled to neighbouring countries.

  • The UNHCR and World Politics: A Perilous Path

    17 December 2013

    Over fifty years ago governments established the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to protect the world's refugees. The UNHCR was created to be a human rights and advocacy organization. But governments also created the agency to promote regional and international stability and to serve the interests of states. Consequently, the UNHCR has always trod a perilous path between its mandate to protect refugees and asylum seekers and the demands placed upon it by states to be a relevant actor in world politics. This is the first independent history of the UNHCR. Gil Loescher, one of the world's leading experts on refugee affairs, draws upon decades of personal experience and research to examine the origins and evolution of the UNHCR as well as to identify many of the major challenges facing the organization in the years ahead. A key focus is to examine the extent to which the evolution of the UNHCR has been framed by the crucial events of international politics during the past half century and how, in turn, the actions of the eight past High Commissioners have helped shape the course of world history.