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What Do We Mean by Protection?

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image of International Journal on Minority and Group Rights

Protection is arguably the raison-d’être of refugee policy. Yet, surprisingly, the meaning of protection is not without ambiguity. ‘Domestic protection’ can be distinguished from ‘international protection’; the sense attributed to protection within the 1951 Refugee Convention contrasts with that of the 1950 United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Statute. Equally, how the state interprets its protective obligations departs frequently from the practice of humanitarian organisations. Alongside such differences, there has been a proliferation of protection concepts in recent years which, far from improving understanding, have added unnecessary confusion and undermined the fundamental purpose of protection. This article considers the language of ‘protection’ within the refugee field and argues that protection proliferation must now be addressed and reversed.

Affiliations: 1: School of Law, University of Warwick, Coventry, UK


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