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Jessica Schultz

One of the characteristics of today’s practice of refugee law is the flourishing of policies and practices designed to deflect claimants towards alternative places of protection. This chapter addresses one dimension of the ‘protection elsewhere’ dynamic: the application of the ‘internal protection alternative’ (IPA) to deny refugee status to persons whose risk of persecution is present in only part of a country. The IPA permits removal of refugee claimants to their home state even if they cannot safely return to their former residence. Despite widespread acceptance among state parties to the Refugee Convention of an IPA limit, debate persists regarding the treaty basis for IPA practice and, as a consequence, its operational parameters. The focus of UNHCR guidance, and most academic commentary, has been on establishing safeguards rather than contesting the legality of IPA practice itself. This chapter, in contrast, critically considers how the IPA relates to the requirements for refugee status contained in the 1951 Refugee Convention (Convention) and its 1967 Protocol.