World Refugee Day is held every year on 20 June to recognise the resilience of forcibly displaced people across the world. For more than six decades, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has been tracking and assisting refugees worldwide. At the beginning of 2013, there numbered over 10.4 million refugees considered “of concern” to the UNHCR. A further 4.8 million refugees across the Middle East are registered with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).
To mark World Refugee Day 2014, we’ve compiled a short reading list about issues in international law arising from the forced displacement of persons, including definitions of refugees, asylum, and standards of protection, international refugee legislation, international human rights legislation, the roles of international organisations, and challenges arising from protracted refugee situations and climate change. Additionally, Oxford University Press has made select articles from refugee journals freely available for a limited time, including ten articles from the International Journal of Refugee Law.
Explore the legal definition of refugees and their rights under the 1951 Geneva Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees.
Dieter Kugelmann on “Refugees” from The Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law
Survey several legal definitions of refugees, refugee status, and refugee rights.
The Refugee in International Law by Guy S. Goodwin-Gill and Jane McAdam
Explore three central issues of international refugee law: the definition of refugees, the concept of asylum, and the principles of protection.
The Oxford Handbook of Refugee and Forced Migration Studies, edited by Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh, Gil Loescher, Katy Long, and Nando Sigona
How did Refugee and Forced Migration Studies emerge as a global field of interest? What are the most important current and future challenges faced by practitioners working with and for forcibly displaced people?
The 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol: A Commentary, edited by Andreas Zimmermann, Assistant editor Jonas Dörschner, and Assistant editor Felix Machts, including Part One Background: Historical Development of International Refugee Law by Claudena M. Skran
Analyze the Convention and Protocol that function as the indispensable legal basis of international refugee law. What provisions do they make for refugees?
Chapter 5 “Refugees” in International Migration Law by Vincent Chetail
Legislation relating to the movement of persons is scattered across numerous branches of international law. How does current law govern the movement of refugees, and how might legislation develop in the future?
Textbook on Immigration and Asylum Law, Sixth edition by Gina Clayton
How has the law relating to immigration and asylum evolved? And how does the asylum process operate for refugees and trafficking victims? Gina Clayton’s newly-revised volume provides clear analysis and commentary on the political, social, and historical dimensions of immigration and asylum law.
Climate Change, Forced Migration, and International Law by Jane McAdam
Climate change is forcing the migration of thousands of people. Should this kind of displacement be viewed as another facet of traditional international protection? Or is flight from habitat destruction a new challenge that requires more creative legal and policy responses?
Refugees and international human rights
“International refugee law” by Alice Edwards in D. Moeckli et al’s International Human Rights Law, Second Edition
Alice Edwards, Senior Legal Coordinator at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, examines international human rights laws relating to refugees.
Textbook on International Human Rights, Sixth Edition by Rhona Smith
Check chapter 22 “Group rights”, which focuses on four specific groups which are currently beneficiaries of dedicated human rights’ regimes: indigenous peoples, women, children, and refugees.
“Are Refugee Rights Human Rights? An Unorthodox Questioning of the Relations between Refugee Law and Human Rights Law” by Vincent Chetail in Human Rights and Immigration, edited by Ruth Rubio-Marín
While originally envisioned as two separate branches of law, refugee law and human rights law increasingly intersect as refugees are highly vulnerable and often victims of abuse. What framework can we use to ensure the best outcome for refugees?
The obligations of States and organizations
The Collective Responsibility of States to Protect Refugees by Agnès Hurwitz
What legal freedom of choice do refugees possess? Can they choose the countries that will decide their asylum claims? States have devised several arrangements to tackle the secondary movement of refugees between their countries of origin and their final destination. See the chapter ‘States’ Obligations Towards Refugees’, which assesses the limitations of current safe third country mechanisms.
Complementary Protection in International Refugee Law by Jane McAdam
What obligations do – and should – States have to forcibly displaced persons who do not meet the legal definition of ‘refugees’?
‘The European Union Qualification Directive: The Creation of a Subsidiary Protection Regime’ by Jane McAdam in Complementary Protection in International Refugee Law
How does the European Union address the rights of persons who are not legally refugees, but who still have need of some other form of international protection?
Göran Melander on ‘International Refugee Organization (IRO)’ from The Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law
What can the history of the IRO tell us about the development of international agencies working for refugees, and about its successor, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)?
Refugees in Africa
African Institute for Human Rights and Development (on behalf of Sierra Leonean refugees in Guinea) v Guinea, Merits, Comm no 249/2002, 36th ordinary session (23 November-7 December 2004), 20th Activity Report (January-June 2006), (2004) AHRLR 57 (ACHPR 2004), (2007) 14 IHRR 880, IHRL 2803 (ACHPR 2004), African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights [ACHPR] from ORIL
Case-study by the African Commission: was the treatment of Sierra Leonean refugees in Guinea in 2000 in violation of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights?
‘Human Security and the Protection of Refugees in Africa’ by Maria O’Sullivan in Protecting Human Security in Africa, edited by Ademola Abass
What is distinctive about refugee flows in Africa, what are the challenges arising from mass influx and ‘protracted’ refugee situations? What are the implications of new UNHCR initiatives to protect refugees?
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