Closing the Gap: Toward a Rights-Based Approach to Refugee Law

4 Nw. Interdisc. L. Rev. 147 (2011)

26 Pages Posted: 16 Nov 2020

See all articles by Marissa Jackson Sow

Marissa Jackson Sow

Open Society Foundations (OSF); United Nations - Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights; St. John's University - School of Law

Date Written: April 2011

Abstract

This Article attempts to bridge the gap between refugee law and human rights by advocating for a human rights-based amendment of the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. The Convention links the definition of persecution primarily to violations of civil and political rights, and as such, persons who suffer socioeconomic persecution are largely excluded from refugee status. Conversely, contemporary human rights norms give socioeconomic rights equal status with civil and political rights, reflecting that in reality, the world's masses experience severe violations of their socioeconomic rights on a daily basis. The paper contends that the existing gap between refugee and human rights law can be bridged by adopting a rights-based approach to refugee law that fully embraces the equality, interrelatedness and indivisibility of all human rights. It also critiques the deeply-embedded global politics of the refugee law system (and international law, in general) which have contributed to the lacuna between the practice of refugee law and human rights by denigrating socioeconomic persecution. Ultimately, the paper proposes that recognizing the severity of socioeconomic persecution should allow for policymakers and adjudicators to expand the definition of the refugee.

Keywords: human rights, refugee law, law, persecution, asylum

Suggested Citation

Jackson Sow, Marissa, Closing the Gap: Toward a Rights-Based Approach to Refugee Law (April 2011). 4 Nw. Interdisc. L. Rev. 147 (2011), Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3701050

Marissa Jackson Sow (Contact Author)

Open Society Foundations (OSF) ( email )

224 West 57th Street
New York, NY 10019
United States

United Nations - Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights ( email )

Palais des Nations
52 rue des Pâquis
CH-1201 Geneva
Switzerland

St. John's University - School of Law ( email )

8000 Utopia Parkway
Jamaica, NY 11439
United States

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