Contemporary Issues in Refugee Law
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Contemporary Issues in Refugee Law

Edited by Satvinder Singh Juss and Colin Harvey

Refugee law is going through momentous times, as dictatorships tumble, revolutions simmer and the ‘Arab Awakening’ gives way to the spread of terror from Syria to the Sahel in Africa. This compilation of topical chapters, by some of the leading scholars in the field, covers major themes of rights, security, the UNHCR, international humanitarianism and state interests and sets out to map new contours.
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Chapter 9: Ethics and the exclusion of those who are ‘not deserving’ of Convention refugee status

James C. Simeon


The purpose of the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees (‘Refugee Convention’) and its 1967 Protocol is to provide those persons who are outside their country of nationality or former habitual residence, if they are stateless, and who have a well founded fear of persecution on one or more of five grounds (that is, race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group) with international protection. However, not everyone who meets these criteria is, in fact, eligible for Convention refugee status. Persons can be excluded from Convention refugee status for a number of reasons, including whether there are ‘serious reasons for considering’ that they have committed a crime against peace, a war crime or a crime against humanity; a serious non-political crime outside the country of refuge; or have been guilty of acts contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations. These are part of the so-called ‘exclusion clauses’ found in the Refugee Convention that are intended to exclude those persons who are ‘not deserving of international protection’. It is now over 60 years since the Refugee Convention was first negotiated and adopted by states and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) was established. It would be rather trite to note that in the last nearly two and half generations there have been incredibly dramatic changes in the world and to the international refugee protection regime. Consider, for instance, the role and size of the UNHCR

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