The International Refugee Crisis

A blog post by Maria Robbins, Junior Associate.

In the wake of growing global political unrest, persecution, and war, international governments are facing more and more pressure to agree upon an intergovernmental set of policies and legal framework that deals with the growing refugee crisis.

Much of the current international refugee legal framework is based on the policies agreed upon at the United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Refugees of July 28, 1951.[1] The Convention notes that the “refugee problem is a matter of concern to the international community and must be addressed in the context of international cooperation and burden-sharing.”[2] Within the context of the international cooperation of countries dealing with the refugee crisis, there has been extensive criticism of the lack of fair burden-sharing.  Negative consequences of this include top-host countries’ forcible removal of refugees and their overall harmful asylum procedures.[3]

On February 27, 2021, the Hungarian government extended a 2016 decree that “authorizes the police to automatically and summarily remove anyone intercepted for irregular entry and stay.”[4] On March 10, 2020, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), an agency dedicated to coordinating international action to protect refugees and resolve refugee problems worldwide,[5] condemned the Hungarian government for this decision and for the government’s May 2020 decision relating to refugee relocation and asylum in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.[6]

UNHCR’s Europe Bureau Director, Pascale Moreau, stated that the UNHCR urges the Hungarian government to withdraw these legislative provisions which block effective access to the asylum procedure.[7]

This criticism comes after recent legal actions taken by the European Commission against the Hungarian government in which the Court of Justice found that Hungary violated EU laws relating to asylum procedures.[8]

[1] UN General Assembly, Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, Jul. 28, 1951.

[2] Id. At Preamble

[3] Press Release, UNHCR Concerned by Hungary’s Latest Measures Affecting Access to Asylum, UNHCR Press Release (Mar. 10, 2021).

[4] Id.

[5] UNHCR, Mission Statement, Global Appeal 2007, at 3 (2007), https://www.unhcr.org/455443922.pdf.

[6] UNHCR Press Release, supra note 3.

[7] Id.

[8] Cain Burdeau, EU Magistrate Slams Hungary’s Tough Asylum Laws, Courthouse News Service (Feb. 25, 2021) https://www.courthousenews.com/eu-magistrate-slams-hungarys-tough-asylum-laws/ (last visited Mar. 11, 2021); Cain Burdeau, EU Slams Hungary for Mistreating Asylum Seekers, Courthouse News Service (Dec. 17, 2020) https://www.courthousenews.com/eu-slams-hungary-for-mistreating-asylum-seekers/ (last visited Mar. 11, 2021).

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