Chapter 1: At the crossroads: The 1951 Geneva Convention today
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This chapter will assess the workforce of the 1951 Geneva Refugee Convention from the point of view of legal research debates. It is guided by the questions of whether the Convention is relevant (has the Convention evolved to ensure its continuous application?), effective (do the Convention’s provisions serve their purpose, and if not, why?) and whether it is sustainable (are there trends that could challenge the Convention’s relevance and effectiveness?). It addresses these questions by outlining contentious issues in respect of the following selected topics of refugee law research: the development of the Convention’s refugee definition; the relation of refugee law to human rights law; the dissonance between the Convention’s provisions on criteria for refugee status and substantive rights on the one hand, and access to asylum on the other hand; the universality of the Convention; and, last but not least, the relation of the Convention to politics. The chapter concludes with an assessment on the Convention’s future, as well as on research agendas for refugee law.