What Do We Mean by Protection?
International Journal on Minority and Group Rights, Special Issue ‘Critical Issues in Refugee Law’, Vol 20(1), 233-262, 2013
30 Pages Posted: 5 Aug 2013
Date Written: August 5, 2013
Protection is arguably the raison-d’être of refugee policy. Yet, surprisingly, the meaning of protection is not without ambiguity. ‘Domestic protection’ can be distinguished from ‘international protection’; the sense attributed to protection within the 1951 Refugee Convention contrasts with that of the 1950 UNHCR Statute. Equally, how the state interprets its protective obligations departs frequently from the practice of humanitarian organisations. Alongside such differences, there has been a proliferation of protection concepts in recent years which, far from improving understanding, have added unnecessary confusion and undermined the fundamental purpose of protection. This article considers the language of ‘protection’ within the refugee field and argues that protection proliferation must now be addressed and reversed.
Keywords: Protection, refugee, asylum, human rights, humanitarian, UNHCR
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