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During 2003 there was an immense amount of debate about the possibility of states adopting extraterritorial approaches to asylum processing and refugee protection, and about such policies’ compatibility with international refugee and human rights law. The debate has centred on two central policy initiatives: the so-called “UK Proposals” and UNHCR’s “Convention Plus.” It has so far focused primarily on the practical and legal consequences of these initiatives. What has been less clear is any explanation of the UK’s (and other supportive states’) motivation in aspiring to de-territorialize refugee protection and of UNHCR’s strategy in the evolving consultations. After clarifying the conceptual and political relationship between the two sets of proposals, the article explores the motivation and international relations underlying them, from the perspectives of the UK Government and UNHCR.

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Journal article


York University

Publication Date



22 (1)


58 - 70