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date: 06 July 2022

Abstract and Keywords

The Geneva Convention on the Status of Refugees 1951 was born on the ashes of the Holocaust. Asylum law’s function has been to protect unfortunates from specifically political harms. The grant of asylum has in turn reflected a judgment that the state of origin had abused its authority. Asylum was in this way connected to tactics for reforming or challenging abusive regimes. Yet, after the Cold War, asylum law was increasingly questioned as “Eurocentric.” It made refugee law incomplete and politically partisan. The requirement of persecution rendered it obsolete. There was a futility in trying to define a refugee by a particular motivation for departure, which had no historical precedent and proved unworkable in many situations. Alternative conceptions of the refugee had to be sought by the states themselves as other “norm entrepreneurs” in “norm setting” with a consequent dispersal of authority away from the United Nations. This chapter examines the fragmentary nature of international refugee law today. It argues for a formal recognition of a body of “Transnational Refugee Law” (TRL) in the absence of a world legislative authority for norm-setting, as well as a world court for the interpretation of refugee law. Who makes the “norms” and who are the “actors” making them, is a question rarely addressed in mainstream works of refugee law.

Keywords: Transnational Refugee Law, norm-setting, persecution, UNHCR Handbook, war refugees, UNRWA, OAU Convention 1969, Cartegena Declaration 1984, Algerian refugee crisis 1954, Hungarian Refugee Crisis 1956, Vietnamese boat people, EU Qualification Directive.

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