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Refugee and Asylum Law
SUNY Buffalo Law School
Su, Rick

READING 9/2 P.1-28, 51-58
SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT LEGAL INSTRUMENT: 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees.
·         Central Obligation: nonrefoulement = non return to the persecuting country.
CAT – Convention Against Terror 1984
Forced migrants (persecuted) aren’t forced to follow the normal rules of legal migration.
What is Forced Migration
·         Political, economic, social unrest can lead to forced mig.
·         Can seek asylum – protection under international law or go without consent/protection from foreign/international law.
1.      Conflict Induced Displacement
·         Civil war, general violence, persecution of a certain group
·         Can be refugees = leave their foreign country or internally displaced = still in home country but displaced/no home.
2.      Development Induced Displacement
·         Compelled to move because of policy to enhance development.
o       Forced to resettle/leave home b/c dams, rds. etc. are built.
o       Largest cause of displacement
3.      Disaster Induced Displacement
Types of Forced Migrants
·         Refugees
o       1951 Convention definition
§         A person residing outside his or her county of nationality, who is unable or unwilling to return because of a well founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a political social group, or political opinion.
·         Asylum Seekers
o       People who have moved across international borders but claim for refugee status has not yet been determined
·         Internally Displaced Persons
o       1992 report of UN definition: persons who have been forced to flee their homes suddenly or unexpectedly in large numbers, as a result of armed conflict, internal strife, systematic violations of human rights or natural or man made disasters, and who are within the territory of their own country.
o       Don’t get the same legal support as those who have crossed international borders
o       Guaranteed some rights under Geneva Convention but don’t have a specifically mandated body of law for assistance
·         Development Displacees
o       Projects and infrastructure cause them to move
·         Environmental disaster displacees
·         Smuggled People
o       Moved illegally by paying someone to get you in
·         Trafficked People
o       People are moved by deception or coercion to be exploited
p.13 How Many Forced Migrants are There?
Where Do Forced Migrants Go?
·         Most stay in the same region/continent
·         Many don’t seek govt. help
·         Refugee Camps
o       UNHCR and NGO’s manage camps
§         Quality of life in the camp is dependent on how much involvement the local govt. allows
§         Some camps are 50 years old
§         Camps vary in terms of legal status given to inhabitants
·         Those labeled as refugees normally do better than if they are labeled illegal migrants or asylum seekers
o       Can be harder for internally displaced ppl. (IDP’s) to get aid from foreign govt. or NGO’s.
·         Move to a distant and stable nation after first spending time in a camp
·         Detailed screening for candidates, made available to relatively few ppl.
·         Permanent

generalized social violence
·         Victims of violence should be helped first BUT Activists and Targets are the ones getting helped
·         Degree and immediacy of violence are the factors to determine who should be refugee/given aid
Class 9/2
·         Person whose state is unable to protect their basic needs
o       Can be because of: natural disaster, war, govt. targeting of a group of ppl., violence on the individual (poor policing)
·         Can conceptually include internally displaced persons
·         Person’s relationship with their state has been so destroyed that the person has lost “citizenship”
·         Definition of refugee
o       Requires displacement to another country
·         Obligation of international community to provide basic needs
o       Basic needs from p.54: “physical security, vital subsistence, and liberty of political participation and physical movement”
·         Lowest level of assistance/obligation is “nonrefoulement” = just don’t send them back
·         Can completely assimilate the refugee
·         Some forms of assistance will be legal “obligations” and others will be discretionary
HYPO: Guy A has crossed the border to your country, Guy B is still