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Liberal Democracies’ Divergent Interpretations of the Right of Return: Implications for Free Movement

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Chapter Summary

This chapter aims to expand debate on the complexities of the pivotal human right and its implications for free movement, focusing in particular on how liberal democracies have conceptualized and shaped the implementation of the right by their own citizens, as well as by displaced persons from other countries. It explores trends that have developed over the past twenty years in liberal democracies' interpretations of the right of return, demonstrating that liberal democracies have embraced a wide range of interpretations of the right, depending on the political considerations at stake. The chapter highlights the inconsistencies that have emerged between the expansive definition of the right that liberal democracies have selectively imposed on post-conflict states in order to legitimize the speedy return of displaced. The chapter also examines trends in liberal democracies' engagement with the right of return during and after the Cold War.

Keywords:divergent interpretations; free movement; liberal democracies; right of return



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