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This paper was originally presented on the 12th November 2003, as the 2003 Annual RSC Barbara Harrell-Bond Lecture. The paper discusses why, at the level of the individual refugee and asylum seeker, there is a need for a more radical, rights- and protection-oriented approach, and how this can serve the ends of government, provided that government is concerned with fulfilling its international obligations in good faith. It examines two areas which have attracted attention in the United Kingdom, and in which human rights can and ought to influence policy and practice: the treatment of asylum seekers and the interpretation and application of the refugee definition – the criteria that determines whether to grant protection.

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Refugee Studies Centre

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