If refugees are detained or turned away for reasons of religion or country of origin, that is a case of discrimination clearly prohibited by international refugee law. In theory any other state party to the Refugee Protocol can take the US to the International Court of Justice. Will Chancellor Merkel or perhaps Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau – each of whom has spoken up for refugees in the current context – have the courage to make that referral?Continue Reading →
Reflecting on her party’s recent electoral losses, German Chancellor Angela Merkel conceded that voter anxiety about her decision to allow hundreds of thousands of refugees to enter her country was largely to blame. “If I could, I would turn back time by many, many years to better prepare myself and the whole German government for the situation that reached us unprepared in late summer 2015,” she said.
Sadly, September’s refugee summits have done nothing to prepare us for the next refugee exodus.
Reactions to the proposed “refugee swap” between the EU and Turkey have been predictably absolutist. On the one hand, most advocates have opposed the draft arrangement, asserting some combination of the right of refugees to be protected where they choose and/or that a protection swap would clearly breach the ECHR’s prohibition of “collective expulsion” of aliens. On the other hand, Professor Hailbronner argues against any right of refugees to make their own decisions about how to access protection, believes that refugees may be penalized if arriving in the EU “without the necessary documents,” suggests that it does not matter that Turkey is not relevantly a party to the Refugee Convention, and confidently asserts that there is no basis to see the prohibition of “collective expulsion” as engaged here. As usual, the truth is somewhere in the middle.Continue Reading →
"The right to decide where to seek recognition of refugee status does not entail the right to choose where international refugee protection is to be enjoyed": One of the foremost experts in international refugee law, James C. Hathaway (Michigan), gives some preliminary indications on the legality of the emerging EU-Turkey agreement on Syrian refugee resettlement.Continue Reading →
The UN’s Refugee Convention is increasingly marginal to the way in which refugee protection happens around the world. I believe that this is a bad thing—both for refugees and for states. If implemented as intended, the Convention points the way to a truly global solution to the refugee crisis.Continue Reading →
The horrific images of refugees dying on European shores seem – finally – to have galvanized public opinion in favor of a shift to protection rather than deterrence. Some leaders seem still to be committed to harsh action. But the proverbial tide does seem to have turned. Pro-refugee marches in Vienna, Icelanders demanding that their government let them open their homes to refugees, and English and German football fans displaying banners welcoming refugees to join them at matches seem to have paved the way for the momentous announcement by Austria and Germany that those countries would open their doors to refugees trapped in Hungary. German Chancellor Merkel has emerged as the voice of reason, rightly insisting that the protection of refugees “is morally and legally required” of all state parties to the Refugee Convention. What now? First, it is important not to simply go back to “business as usual” when the immediate humanitarian emergency ebbs. The current pressures will abate as some states will inevitably follow the Austrian and German lead and open their doors to at least some refugees.Continue Reading →
Is the European Union with its motion for military intervention against refugee smugglers asking the UN Security Council to bless a blatant breach of international human rights law? James C. Hathaway, one of the most respected experts on international refugee law in the world, on Europe’s response to the refugee crisis in the Mediterranean Sea, on its failure to provide protection for the 4 million refugees from Syria and the urgent need for a global system of shared responsibility.Continue Reading →