Refugees

Introduction

Refugees - Research Guide International Law

The United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Refugees of 1951 and its 1967 Protocol defines a refugee as someone who, ‘owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality, and is unable to or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country’. The definition of a refugee was expanded by regional conventions in Africa and Latin America to include persons who had fled war or other violence in their home country. It is important to note that article 33 of the Convention provides for the principle of non-refoulement which means that no contracting state shall expel or return (refouler) a refugee in any manner whatsoever to territories where his or her life or freedom would be threatened. Those who seek refugee status are referred to as "asylum seekers"; the conditions under which a person is granted refugee status is left to the discretion of States. The office of the United Nations High Commissioner  for Refugees (UNHCR) is the principal UN organ that protects and supports refugees. Over time, UNHCR's mandate has been expanded to cover other persons of concern, including some internally displaced persons.  The UNHCR assists refugees in their resettlement or return and finds other solutions to their plight. On an international level, debates continue regarding the nature of the protection that refugees should be granted, the obligations of receiving countries and the role of the international community towards refugees.

This Research Guide is intended as a starting point for research on Refugees. It provides the basic legal materials available in the Peace Palace Library, both in print and electronic format. Handbooks, leading articles, bibliographies, periodicals, serial publications and documents of interest are presented in the Selective Bibliography section. See the Librarians Choice for the latest important publications on refugees and internally displaced persons. Links to the PPL Catalogue are inserted. The Library's systematic classification → Public international law and keywords Refugees or Displaced Persons are instrumental for searching through the Catalogue. Other systematic codes which may be helpful are 53a6a. (European Union immigration issues),  100 (Emigration and immigration in general), 101. (Emigration and immigration in the various states), 103. (Expulsion) and 253. (Asylum). Other keywords which may be helpful: Emigration and Immigration, Asylum, Right of Asylum, Irregular migrants, Convention relating to the Status of RefugeesUNHCR, Expulsion and Non-Refoulement. Special attention in the Research Guide is given to our subscriptions on databases, e-journals, e-books and other electronic resources. Finally, this Research Guide features links to relevant websites and other online resources of particular interest.

Bibliography

Online publications (open access), 2016.

Reference works

 Books/papers

Recent articles

Documents

Periodicals, serial publications

Refugee Law Course

 

 

New titles

As we are right in the middle of moving to a new library system, it is not yet possible to automatically collect new titles for this Research Guide.

Librarian's choice

  • Ghezelbash, D., Refuge Lost : Asylum Law in an Interdependent World, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2018.

    Ghezelbash, D., Refuge Lost : Asylum Law in an Interdependent World

    As Europe deals with a so-called 'refugee crisis', Australia's harsh border control policies have been suggested as a possible model for Europe to copy. Key measures of this system such as long-term mandatory detention, intercepting and turning boats around at sea, and the extraterritorial processing of asylum claims were actually used in the United States long before they were adopted in Australia. The book examines the process through which these policies spread between the United States and Australia and the way the courts in each jurisdiction have dealt with the measures. Daniel Ghezelbash's innovative interdisciplinary analysis shows how policies and practices that 'work' in one country might not work in another. This timely book is a must-read for those interested in preserving the institution of asylum in a volatile international and domestic political climate.

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  • Heschl, L., Protecting the Rights of Refugees Beyond European Borders : Establishing Extraterritorial Legal Responsibilities, Cambridge, Intersentia, 2018.

    Heschl, L., Protecting the Rights of Refugees Beyond European Borders : Establishing Extraterritorial Legal Responsibilities, Cambridge, Intersentia, 2018.

    The European migration and asylum policy has been shaped by efforts to establish an efficient migration management system in order to protect the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice from the new security threat of ‘irregular migration’. The extraterritorialisation of immigration control measures beyond territorial borders form part of this strategy and the EU-Turkey deal and the call for an increased cooperation with Northern Africa are but two examples. Pre-border control mechanisms composed of administrative, legislative and operational measures, are largely perceived as effective means to channel flows of migrants avoiding logistical and financial burdens for Member States. However, from a legal perspective, this shift to extraterritorial activities raises important questions related to the creation of zones in which responsibilities for legal norms related to the protection of refugees may be circumvented by States or any other actors involved in migration control activities. Protecting the Rights of Refugees Beyond European Borders tries to reconcile the motives behind extraterritorialisation strategies with actual legal consequences. It carefully examines the legal frameworks that govern situations in which a migrant meets an authority in the context of extraterritorial immigration control measures. The book approaches the topic from the hypothesis that international and European obligations do not only constrain extraterritorial acts of States or specialised agencies, but give rise to concrete legal responsibilities deriving from different legal regimes such as general international law, human rights law and EU law. In addition, it takes a more practical approach going beyond the normative establishment of legal responsibilities by investigating the actual possibilities to invoke eventual responsibilities for violations of fundamental guarantees occurring in the context of extraterritorial immigration control measures.

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Database

Blogs

  • The ‘US Travel Ban’ from an International Law Perspective

    On January 27th, 2017, American President Donald Trump signed ‘Executive Order 13769’ titled Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorists Entry into the United States’. The purpose of this order is to place a limit on the number of refugees to be admitted into the United States in 2017. The order suspends the entry of foreign nationals from seven Muslim majority nations namely, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for a period of 90 days after which an updated list will be put in place. The order also indefinitely suspends nationals from Syria. This blog will briefly highlight the international legal implications.

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  • Interview Sigrid Kaag

    This month, we have the honor of interviewing Ms. Sigrid Kaag, a top Dutch diplomat who currently serves as a United Nations Special Coordinator for Lebanon (UNSCOL). Last month, the Dutch Carnegie Foundation awarded Sigrid Kaag the Carnegie Wateler Peace Prize. Before the ceremony took place, we took the opportunity to interview Ms. Kaag to discuss her work at the UN, in particular, the succesful UN-OPCW joint mission Ms. Kaag led to eliminate the chemical weapons programme in Syria. We also discussed the role of international law in her daily work at the UN. Here’s what she had to say.

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  • The Case for Border Controls

    It is a legitimate right of sovereign states to control their borders. To achieve this, modern states have designed sophisticated immigration rules that use elaborate criteria such as nationality, age, diplomas, marital status and wealth to grant or refuse people the right to enter and settle. Both the ‘open’ and ‘closed’ border positions are unrealistic and do not justice to the complex realities of migration policy making, which is primarily about the selection of migrants, and not about numbers, despite muscle-flexing political rhetoric suggesting the contrary.

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  • The EU Migration Crisis and Moral Obligations

    The European Union is currently coping with the world’s biggest migrant crisis since World War II. A record number of 107,500 migrants reached the EU’s borders last month.Large numbers of desparate migrants and refugees from the Middle East and Africa are trying to enter the European Union every day. Apart from this there are also many illegal immigrants who have entered the EU undetected. A conserable number of them have died during their attempt. According to a report of the UNHCR, around 2500 migrants who were trying to reach and enter the European Union have died or gone missing in the past year.

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  • Climate Change and Forced Migration : A Gap in Protection

    The barely-above-sea-level, coral-dependent Maldives are sinking into the Indian Ocean. The apocalyptic fate is due to climate-change induced temperature increases, which have resulted in rising sea levels and dying coral reefs. In response, the state has built artificial islands—to accommodate the rising sea levels that may render previous places of residence inhabitable—and The Great Male Sea Wall—to protect Male from imposing storms. Many people have already been evacuated from their homes, temporarily housed in camps elsewhere in the Maldives. However, eventually the Maldives may become completely submerged and inhospitable. If the Maldives become a casualty of climate change, as has been predicted, people will be forced to flee from the islands altogether, potentially becoming stateless. They will have to seek protection elsewhere.

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  • Mixed Migration Flows Across the Mediterranean: The EU Agenda on Migration

    Wars, conflict and persecution have forced more people than at any other time in history to flee their homes and seek refuge and safety elsewhere, according to UNHCR’s annual Global Trends Report: World at War, released on June 18, two days before world refugee day. One of the most recent and highly visible consequences of the world’s conflicts and the terrible suffering they cause has been the dramatic growth in the numbers of refugees seeking safety through dangerous sea journeys, including on the Mediterranean, in the Gulf of Aden and Red Sea, and in Southeast Asia.

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  • Borders Beyond Control?

    In my previous blogpost “Feigning Immigration Control”, I argued that politicians are often busy with feigning immigration control while in reality they often can or want to do little about it. What do we actually know about the effects of immigration policies? In order to answer this question, I have conducted a research project on the ‘Determinants of International Migration’ (DEMIG) at the International Migration Institute at Oxford University. One of the main insights of the project is that while immigration restrictions often reduce immigration, these effects tend to be rather small. In addition, restrictions often have a four potential side-effects (‘substitution effects’) which further undermine their effectiveness or can even make them counter-productive.

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  • Border Controls and Human Rights: Migration in the Central Mediterranean

    The Central Mediterranean has, in the last years, turned into the epicentre of human (migrant) disasters. The Central Mediterranean route refers to the migratory flow coming from Northern Africa towards Italy and Malta through the Mediterranean Sea. Here, Libya often acts as nexus point where migrants from the Horn of Africa and Western African routes meet before embarking on their journey towards the EU.

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  • First Global Forum on Statelessness - "New Directions in Statelessness Research and Policy"

    From 15 to 17 September 2014, 3 institutions (the UNHCR, the agency mandated by the General Assembly to help states to address statelessness, and the Statelessness Programme of Tilburg University) co-hosted the first held Global Forum on Statelessness. The three-day event took place in the Academy building of the Peace Palace of The Hague, the Netherlands.

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  • International Refugee Law blog series I: Exclusion of Refugee Status: The Criminal Refugee

    In the western world it is possible you live next to a war criminal, or your child might be playing with the daughter of a war criminal at school. It is also possible to live there without a real prospect of obtaining a form of legal status and without being held criminally responsible for the alleged crime. Who are these people living in legal limbo? why are they still here? The exclusion of refugee status (1F Refugee Convention) and its consequences will be dealt with in this blog.

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International organisations

Europe

Research and academia

Blogs and commentary on immigration, refugees and asylum.

 Interactive

See also

More Research guides on Individuals and Groups

PPL keywords

Other suggestions

  • Guest Post: Too Much Information? (There has been an exponential expansion in the amount of information and analysis on refugee-related issues over the past 30 years. But has quantity outstripped quality? Jeff Crisp provides this commentary.)

In the Spotlight: REFUGEE 'CRISIS'

In response to the refugee crisis in Europe, Oxford University Press has made more than 30 book chapters, journal articles, and pieces of content from online resources freely accessible to assist those working with refugees on the ground, as well as anyone who would like to know more about the framework of rights and obligations concerning refugees. The materials are structured around four key questions: who is a refugee, what rights do they have, what are transit states’ obligations, and what are the duties of the state where a refugee applies for asylum. See http://opil.ouplaw.com/page/refugee-law. See also the Oxford Human Rights Hub Blog Series on Human Rights and the Refugee Crisis in Europe and this blog by James Hathaway

Multimedia:

 Statistics:

Annual Report on the Situation of Asylum in the European Union 2014

EASO, Latest Asylum Trends - 2015 overview.

Eurostat, Asylum in the EU 2015.

UNHCR Mid-Year Trends 2015

UNHCR Asylum Trends 2014

UNHCR Statistical Yearbook 2014

FRAN QUARTERLY – NUMBER OF ILLEGAL BORDER-CROSSINGS AT RECORD HIGH IN Q4, 2015.