Refugee Protection

What new approaches to meet old and new needs?

UN Women/Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

The UN says there are almost 15 million refugees in the world, the highest number since 1993. Continued instability in the Middle East and North Africa suggests this number will grow. The international regime governing the reception and treatment of refugees was put in place at the end of World War II. Does it remain ‘fit for purpose’?

The chaotic and tragic images of Syrians fleeing across the Aegean are repeated (though less reported on) on the other side of the world, as Rohingya refugees from Myanmar flee across the Indian Ocean. In both cases, and many more, states eschew orderly reception and resettlement plans for the refugees, and show little solidarity with first asylum countries. How can states be convinced to co-operate to provide the protection all agree is necessary, rather than compete to impose ever-harsher barriers to entry?

There will be important UN conferences in 2016 where states will recommit to humanitarian principles and to international burden sharing. New ideas and innovative policy proposals are urgently needed to reinvigorate a truly global  commitment to refugee protection.


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Immigration detention is rarely justified and now poses a greater risk to the public given the spread of COVID-19 in ICE facilities.

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The pandemic and decreased recognition of refugees in Ecuador are compounding risks to the already precarious lives of asylum seekers.

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What does protection from persecution look like during a pandemic?

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Español | Français

Policy decisions to exclude asylum seekers due to the pandemic are neither predetermined nor inevitable: we have a choice.

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Español | Русский

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Rethinking solutions to the Rohingya refugee crisis

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Français | العربية

The Rohingya refugees are unlikely to be able to return home anytime soon. We need to look at other options to allow them to rebuild their lives and communities.

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Español | العربية

Weak labour legislation in Turkey, paired with brands that put profits before people, is causing harmful working conditions that exploit refugees.

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Humanitarian workers giving aid to migrants are being threatened and in some cases imprisoned. But compassionate assistance for imperiled people in all settings ...

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Situations of inhumane treatment and abuses of power are where we need human rights the most, and the family separation issue in the United States is symptomatic ...

The US role in forced migration from the Middle East

By: Azadeh Shahshahani

American foreign policy is at the root of forced migration from different parts of the world, and human rights advocates must address the problem at its heart.

Refugee politics from the local to the international

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The Trump administration is affecting refugee politics from small towns to the world stage, and activists have a long road ahead.

New approach to refugee protection must prioritize self-sufficiency

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A new approach to refugee protection needs to draw on the principles of self-sufficiency to prevent aid dependency and let refugees work so that they contribute ...

Self-interest argument for refugee admission backfires in Japan

By: Saul Takahashi 

Japan fails to protect refugees—but arguing it should do so because its aging society needs new immigrants hasn’t worked.

Accounting for human rights: lessons from Syria

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If refugee advocates don’t shine a light on budgets, it will be nearly impossible to ensure sustained support for refugee protection efforts.

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Activists are using a multi-van in Germany to help female refugees cope with violence and harassment.

Broader view shows path to refugee reform

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Crisis in Europe exposes failing refugee protection regime

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Without adequate reflection, new refugee solutions risk failing

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Statelessness as forced displacement

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Is a reformed Refugee Convention a solution?

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Burden-sharing: Utopian dream or principled pragmatism?

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Refugee protection is politics

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Syria continues to bleed while the Middle East closes its doors

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The struggle for sans-papiers human rights

By: Upendra Baxi

Protecting the rights of refugees and migrants requires a response based in hospitality not hostility.

Political realities challenge refugee reform

By: Bill Frelick
Français | Español

Does anyone really have the authority to bind states to accept their fair share of global refugee burdens and responsibilities?

The duty to rescue: a new paradigm for refugee protection

By: Jean-François Durieux
Français | Español

The refugee protection regime needs reform, but this requires new international approaches that go beyond the Refugee Convention.

Putting on the pressure: domestic constituencies and refugee policy

By: Emily Arnold-Fernandez
Français | Español

As long as states do not face pressure from their own constituencies, domestic refugee policy is unlikely to change.

Rediscovering a winning formula for refugee protection

By: James Milner 
Français | Español

State cooperation can only solve the refugee crisis if states actually want to cooperate. And evidence shows that they don’t.

Improve refugee protection by managing it better

By: Tim Finch 
Français | Español

The disorder and tragedy inherent in large-scale, spontaneous refugee flows is not inevitable—what we need is a managed protection regime.

Refugee reform must become a global project

By: Alex Neve
Español | Français

Many different states are implicated in the wars and human rights violations that provoke refugee crises, which means they must also be part of the solution.

A global solution to a global refugee crisis

By: James C. Hathaway 
Français | Español | العربية

If implemented as intended, the UN Refugee Convention points the way to a truly global solution to the refugee crisis.

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