Refugee law is going through momentous times. The world is awash with refugees. Conventional standards are at risk of being eroded – even of being dismantled. We are watching dictatorships tumble, revolutions simmer, and the ‘Arab Awakening’ rage on, with ominous portents in the Sahel and Syria. Concerns over our security are beginning to replace our humanitarian concerns over the plight of others. The securitization, exclusion and internal relocation of genuine refugees has become a matter of high priority over their straightforward admission. Central idioms of protection, persecution and non-refoulement are changing at an alarming pace and are no longer what they were even 20 years ago. The way we understand the place of refugees in international law is beginning to turn. At the same time new demands are being placed on refugee law. Thoughtful commentators are asking whether there are new spheres of protection emerging, for which a clear space must be found in refugee law, if it is to continue to retain its vitality, and to remain valid and relevant in the changed conditions of the modern world. These include such areas as the protection of child refugees, trafficked persons, gender- related asylum and those who are conscientious objectors to military service. These are the contemporary issues of refugee law. Here, old- fashioned concepts are being reworked to make way for wider protec- tions in a way that was unimaginable 20 years ago. In this sense, refugee law has exciting and challenging times ahead.