Shifting Paradigms in International Refugee Law: Will the Right to Asylum Survive?

This discussion paper will focus on the shift of paradigm in the practice of international humanitarian law regarding the protection of refugees.

The new “mixed migration” approach embraced by the UNHCR, which focuses on distinguishing between “illegal migrants” and “genuine refugees”, jeopardizes the aforementioned principles by restricting them solely to those who are identified as “genuine refugees”. Other asylum seekers thus face discrimination, punishment for illegal entry and refoulement – even if they have a well-founded fear of persecution. Furthermore, the categorization of refugees justifies securitization policies that violate the 1951 Convention, ultimately making it harder for people fleeing persecution to apply for asylum. This new paradigm is not only contradictory to the purpose of the UNHCR, which was established by the international community to protect refugees around the world but also poses a great threat to the right to asylum enshrined in the 1951 Convention.

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