The Decline of the International Refugee Regime: Asylum Seekers and the Pursuit of Refugee Status in Canada and Australia




Heshmat, Gary

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Many oppressed people wish to seek permanent refuge within the borders of affluent Western liberal democratic states such as Canada and Australia. Since the conclusion of the Second World War, the International refugee regime has established a global legal migration framework for contracting states such as Canada and Australia to grant admission to asylum seekers into each respective political community while retaining effective border control measures to maintain public safety. This thesis argues that the international refugee regime has suffered a gradual decline during the last two decades, especially during the post-9/11 era, primarily due to the dominance of the notions of national sovereignty and security in Canada and Australia. The author recognizes the importance of realpolitik and pays tribute to the concept of national sovereignty. However, he contends that the predominance and prevalence of the securitization phenomenon in recent years in both Canada and Australia, has given rise to a culture of suspicion which primarily perceives and publicly portrays asylum seekers as entities with ulterior motives. Such views have subsequently culminated in the normalization of national refugee determination policies which inherently favor the implementation of human containment measures such as arbitrary and indefinite detention and Temporary Protection Visas (TPVs); restrictive measures which inherently violate some of the core legal principles of the international refugee regime. The author recommends a return by both Ottawa and Canberra to a more balanced refugee determination system which is aligned with the 1951 Refugee Convention and 1967 Protocol and further explores several alternative solutions that may be employed by Canada and Australia to effectively manage asylum seeker populations in each country.



Asylum Seeker, International Law, Canada, Australia, 1951 Refugee Convention, 1967 Protocol, Detention, Temporary Protection Visa (TPV), International Refugee Regime