C Costello, M Foster, J McAdam, Oxford Handbook of International Refugee Law (OUP, 2020)
17 Pages Posted:
Date Written: June 1, 2020
Resettlement is one of the three ‘durable solutions’ developed as a response to state responsibilities for refugee protection under the 1951 Refugee Convention. This chapter surveys historical antecedents, and explains the shift from group-based to individualized selection. Unlike the other two durable solutions (local integration and repatriation), which derive directly from non-refoulement/non-discrimination obligations (Refugee Convention Arts 31, 33) resettlement occurs outside the Convention, is not underwritten by legal obligation, and remains in the realm of humanitarian discretion. We explore two implications of resettlement’s discretionary character: First, it permeates the structure of the UNHCR regime, the operation of national programs, and the relationship between refugees seeking resettlement and actors engaged in selection. Refugees play almost no active role in resettlement processes or decisions. Secondly, to the extent that states view their Convention obligations as an impingement on national sovereignty, states may present resettled refugees as preferable, more deserving, and as an alternative to asylum seekers.
Keywords: refugee, resettlement, international refugee law, durable solutions, soft law, UNHCR
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