Refugees, Regionalism and Responsibility

Refugees, Regionalism and Responsibility

Elgar Studies in Human Rights series

Penelope Mathew and Tristan Harley

Regional cooperation is sometimes seen as the answer to refugee movements. This book examines whether regional arrangements have resulted in protection and durable solutions for refugees and how responsibility for refugees has been shared at the regional level. Posing critical questions about responsibility-sharing and regionalism, the book is a timely contribution on an issue garnering increasing attention as a result of maritime arrivals in the Mediterranean and Southeast Asia.

Chapter 2: The responsibility of states to protect refugees

Penelope Mathew and Tristan Harley

Subjects: law - academic, human rights, public international law, politics and public policy, human rights, international relations


For the framers of the Refugee Convention, the reasons for states to protect refugees must have seemed self-evident. After the conclusion of World War II, states were extremely mindful of the consequences of not protecting persons from persecution. However, as time has passed, many States have questioned the relevance of the Refugee Convention in the context of today’s mixed migration movements and some states have openly breached the Convention’s obligations. In light of these developments, this chapter explores the moral, ethical, theological, and practical reasons for granting protection to refugees. The chapter goes beyond merely reciting the legal obligations to which states have voluntarily agreed, seeking rather to highlight why states should shelter refugees and the benefits that may flow from doing so.

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