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Faced with rising numbers of undocumented asylum seekers claiming to be minors, age assessment is increasingly conceived as an integral part of asylum determination in Europe. Portrayed as a viable way to safeguard domestic asylum and welfare systems from adults posing as minors whilst concurrently ensuring that children are protected (Council of Europe 2005), age assessment has nonetheless been notoriously controversial in the UK. This paper therefore seeks to address the underlying issue of why age assessment is so politicised. This paper seeks to demonstrate how a range of domestic social, discursive, political and institutional factors impact and shape the seemingly technical process of assessing UASCs’ age. Importantly, these conditions of possibility do not necessarily relate directly to age assessment. Nonetheless, their intersection can open, exacerbate or close spaces for contestation around age assessment. Hence the politicised nature of age assessment might meaningfully be understood as a response to shifting issues of age and asylum resulting from a particular conflation of conditions in the UK.

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Working paper


Refugee Studies Centre

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