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International Refugee Law: Dominant and Emerging Approaches

Routledge, pp. 344-354, 2009

11 Pages Posted: 29 Jan 2009  

Helene Lambert

University of Westminster - School of Law

Date Written: January 1, 2009


International refugee law scholarship has long been dominated by a positivist tradition. Within this tradition, the human rights approach has now become the dominant approach. However, states and the formal agreements they agree to get us only so far in explaining how refugee law is created and how it develops. There is another layer of explanation that looks into transnational activities and their effect on how law is shaped, interpreted, applied and developed. This chapter therefore also explores two further emerging approaches in refugee law: the transnational approach and the participatory approach. It argues that whereas the dominant human rights approach focuses mainly on sources and contents of rules (and their enforcement), both the transnational and participatory approaches are useful in capturing the complexities of the process of law formation and law development by looking more specifically at networks and other participants in the process of law-making. The challenge of contemporary international refugee law is to recognize more explicitly the role of such networks and the soft-law and norms that they often produce.

Keywords: Refugee Law, human rights, transnational law, particpatory approach

Suggested Citation

Lambert, Helene, International Refugee Law: Dominant and Emerging Approaches (January 1, 2009). Routledge, pp. 344-354, 2009. Available at SSRN:

Helene Lambert (Contact Author)

University of Westminster - School of Law ( email )

4 Little Titchfield Street
London, England W1W 7UW
United Kingdom

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