In 2001 the 1951 United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Refugees celebrated its 50th anniversary. Whilst its fundamental contribution to refugee protection is undisputed, the Convention has come under sustained criticism in recent years founded on its alleged inability to address the complexities and challenges of the world of today. Yet the need for international protection worldwide persists regardless of changes in the international community and the Convention remains the cornerstone of refugee protection. In that context, it is critical that the asylum policy of the European Union fully realises the right to seek refugee status that may be inferred from the Convention provisions. To that end, the author examines and measures EU and EC instruments and proposals for legislation on asylum against standards set out in international refugee and human rights law.
The author argues that the influence of the European Union and its Member States must not be undermined and that any departure from international standards carries the risk of undermining the right to seek refugee status and refugee protection as a whole within and beyond the borders of the European Union. The communautarisation of asylum operated by the Treaty of Amsterdam presents the European Union with the crucial challenge of remaining true to its humanitarian tradition and vision.
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