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Why Refugees Still Matter
Melbourne Journal of International Law (2007)
  • Gregor Noll

In a 2007 article, Hathaway relaunched his proposal of a multilateral refugee protection system based on the idea of ‘common but differentiated responsibility’. The 2007 article and an earlier, similar article of 1997 both observe that the proposed system will not provide a back door to ‘permanent immigration’ for refugees.

In the proposals, all remaining migration movements are subjected to the control of the multilateral regime: movement from the country of origin to the first country of arrival, resettlement in a third country and repatriation.

In my critique of the proposals, I shall proceed in three steps, moving from the identification of concrete obligations over systemic questions to an examination of the idea of international law that the proposals reflect. Each step is based on a concern with Hathaway’s proposal:

• The proposals are contradictory: they cannot uphold a logical account of international legal obligations while simultaneously ensuring the stability of the proposed system and the human right to leave any country.

• The proposals are insufficiently attentive to the dynamics of human rights law: they disregard the migration incentives lawfully produced by differences in human rights obligations amongst states.

• The proposals are illiberal: they abandon Kant’s ‘conditions of general hospitality’ upon which cosmopolitan peace is premised.

  • refugee,
  • asylum,
  • protection,
  • responsibility sharing,
  • CBDR
Publication Date
Citation Information
Gregor Noll. "Why Refugees Still Matter" Melbourne Journal of International Law Vol. 8 Iss. 2 (2007)
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