Protecting Refugees in the Global 'War on Terror'
The University of Sydney Law School
October, 31 2008
Indian Juridical Review, 2008
Sydney Centre for International Law Working Paper No. 3
Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 08/130
This paper focuses on the growing pressure to automatically exclude suspected terrorists from refugee status since the late 1990s including exclusion based on mere membership of terrorist organizations. As the first part of this paper shows, such pressure has emanated from the UN General Assembly, the Security Council, regional organizations, States and even the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Yet, as the remainder of the paper illustrates, terrorism is not listed as a separate ground of exclusion in the 1951 Refugee Convention, and there is no internationally accepted definition of terrorist offences which could serve as a principled basis of exclusion. In the absence of an international definition of terrorism, operative legal reference to terrorism in exclusion decisions endangers refugees and violates international refugee law. This chapter argues foremost that exclusion must be based on an individual assessment of whether a person meets the specific criteria for exclusion in Article 1F of the 1951 Refugee Convention. Further, the existing exclusion grounds - though misapplied by some States in practice - are adequate and appropriate for addressing the serious challenges posed by modern terrorism.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 16
Keywords: security, refugees, 'war on terror', terrorism, exclusion
JEL Classification: K10, K30, K33
Date posted: October 31, 2008