Re-think Border Control Practices in the Light of the Refugee Convention

On this 70th anniversary of the adoption of the Geneva Refugee Convention (GCR), less than 1 percent of the world’s refugees are resettled: most refugees are forced to risk their life and limb on perilous journeys, often enduring extensive human rights violations. Absent a right to asylum as such, the treaty anticipated irregular travel: Article 31 enjoins states from penalising refugees for their ‘illegal entry or presence’. In particular, we explore practices the rationale of which seem at odds with that of the Convention, such as externalisation practices, razor wire fences, walls, interdictions at sea, carrier sanctions, conspicuous ‘safe third country’/‘first safe country’. These practices increasingly render refugees’ right to claim GCR protections ever-more challenging. Covid19 has highlighted the significance of enjoying the protection of one’s country Can it be a moment of reckoning for rethinking ‘Global North’ practices that render access to asylum a near-impossibility?