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Immigration Immigration

Review the international legal definitions of asylum and refugee status

Last updated: 11:16am 12 July 2018

We will continue to work with other countries in Europe, and the United Nations, to review the international legal definitions of asylum and refugee status.
Conservative Party Manifesto 2017, p.40

Our verdict

To understand this one, it’s important to know the background to the recent EU migrant crisis, a period of mass movement of people from war-torn countries such as Libya, Syria and Iraq to the relative safety of Europe. Throughout the world, but particularly in Europe, a fierce debate has arisen; what should stable, wealthier countries do to help these people? How much help is right? How many people should be helped? Of those in need, who are the most deserving?

The UK government has committed to accepting 4,000 refugees each year over a period of 5 years, (20,000 in total). It has argued that given the number of people involved, there is a need to prioritise certain refugees over others who are less-deserving in order to make the crisis more manageable for developing countries. To this effect, the government has supported the review of the definitions of refugee and asylum status, working to make it harder for people to be called refugees, ensuring that only those most in need are able to claim asylum. To do so, the government supports amending the Geneva Convention of 1951 which governs the international legal definition of who counts as a refugee. Considering that over 195 states have ratified the Geneva Convention, the UK cannot change the definition of refugee status on its own but must work with its international partners to do so.

For us to be able to consider this one as ‘in progress’ we would expect to see the issue raised in an international forum, or for the government to prepare a document outlining its position on the matter. This, however, has yet to happen and so the policy is ‘not started’. Follow this policy to see what happens!

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