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Article 1 of the 1951 Geneva Convention furnishes a common and universal deŽfinition applicable to all refugees irrespective of their state of origin. However, I will argue that international refugee law—or at least its key principle, the principle of non-refoulement—introduces a morally arbitrary criterion for determining the responsibilities of states: a refugee’s proximity to an international boundary. The role of this criterion, moreover, is one factor in explaining why the current refugee regime is in crisis. Acknowledging the desirability of moving towards a less partial international system, I will outline some of the difficulties associated with creating an international system where all refugees matter to us and matter equally.

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Journal article



Publication Date



3 (3)


313 - 317

Total pages