File(s) under permanent embargo
Reforming the approach to political opinion in the refugees convention
journal contributionposted on 2020-02-01, 00:00 authored by Brienna BagaricBrienna Bagaric
The number of displaced persons in the world is at an unprecedented high. There are more than seventy million people in the world that are currently searching for a place to live. To put this into context, if these people were all in the one country it would be the nineteenth biggest country in the world. There is no tenable solution to the crisis. A large portion of these displaced people are refugees. The legal definition of a refugee is relatively narrow. This presents an obstacle to many people who are in need of protection from being relocated to any of the countries that are signatories to the Refugee Convention. The United States is in fact one of the more than 140 countries that have signed this convention and it receives more refugee applications than any other nation on earth. The key limiting aspect of the Convention is that for a person to qualify for protection, they must be in fear of persecution for one of five very specific reasons. These reasons are race, ethnicity, particular social group, religion and political opinion. If these grounds are interpreted narrowly it necessarily means that countries, even those that are signatories to the Convention, can legitimately refuse to provide asylum to people in need of protection. Thus, the manner in which the grounds are interpreted has a profound impact on the ability of displaced people to emigrate to other nations. In this Article, the Author examines the meaning of one of these refugee grounds, namely political opinion. The ground has been interpreted unduly narrowly. The Author examines the history of the Refugee Convention and the most persuasive jurisprudential meaning of political opinion and conclude that a broader sphere of operation should be accorded to this concept. This will provide the *504 pathway for a much greater number of asylum seekers being granted protection in countries such as the United States.