Start Date

11-8-2017 3:30 PM

Keywords

non-refoulement; poverty; mass-migration; massive-inflow-exception

Abstract

This paper focuses on two problems around the mass displacement of people in extreme poverty: the characterization of such people as refugees and the application of the non-refoulement principle to mass displacements.

Extreme poverty is causal to grave human rights violations such as deprivation of water, of food, and of an adequate standard of living. These circumstances may reach a degree in which life in a country is unbearable — forcing people to move in order to enhance their likelihood of survival.

The classic understanding of the non-refoulement obligation, as enshrined in the 1951 Refugee Convention, forbids states from returning people to a territory where he or she fears threats to life or freedom.

As poverty, unlike persecution, tends to be untargeted and unplanned, it is arguable that it does not trigger this traditional non-refoulement protection. Nevertheless, considering the emergence of different forms of complementary protection deriving from several human rights instruments, this prohibition might be extended to people fleeing extreme and unbearable poverty. The authors intend to analyse this possibility.

However, establishing this expanded complementary protection is not the only challenge human rights defenders face when attempting to protect people who flee extreme poverty in the world. Of the Syrian refugees that fled to Jordan and Lebanon, 90% were considered poor by the host countries´standards (World Bank, 2015).

Poverty tends to be a generalized phenomenon that forces people to engage in collective mass migration. In most of these occurrences, states have availed themselves of a “massive inflow exception” to return these people to their homelands, which consistently led to deaths.

More than surveying the conceptual foundation of applying non-refoulement to outflows caused by poverty, this paper aims to analyse the legal permissibility of returning people in cases of mass displacements.

 
Nov 8th, 3:30 PM

Mass Displacement of Destitute People: A Trigger for Non-Refoulement Protection?

This paper focuses on two problems around the mass displacement of people in extreme poverty: the characterization of such people as refugees and the application of the non-refoulement principle to mass displacements.

Extreme poverty is causal to grave human rights violations such as deprivation of water, of food, and of an adequate standard of living. These circumstances may reach a degree in which life in a country is unbearable — forcing people to move in order to enhance their likelihood of survival.

The classic understanding of the non-refoulement obligation, as enshrined in the 1951 Refugee Convention, forbids states from returning people to a territory where he or she fears threats to life or freedom.

As poverty, unlike persecution, tends to be untargeted and unplanned, it is arguable that it does not trigger this traditional non-refoulement protection. Nevertheless, considering the emergence of different forms of complementary protection deriving from several human rights instruments, this prohibition might be extended to people fleeing extreme and unbearable poverty. The authors intend to analyse this possibility.

However, establishing this expanded complementary protection is not the only challenge human rights defenders face when attempting to protect people who flee extreme poverty in the world. Of the Syrian refugees that fled to Jordan and Lebanon, 90% were considered poor by the host countries´standards (World Bank, 2015).

Poverty tends to be a generalized phenomenon that forces people to engage in collective mass migration. In most of these occurrences, states have availed themselves of a “massive inflow exception” to return these people to their homelands, which consistently led to deaths.

More than surveying the conceptual foundation of applying non-refoulement to outflows caused by poverty, this paper aims to analyse the legal permissibility of returning people in cases of mass displacements.