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The Post-Colonial Refugee, Dublin II, and the End of Non-Refoulement

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Refugee law has been variously conceptualised. Sometimes, as a humanitarian enterprise. Sometimes, as an extension of foreign policy relations based on national self-interests. But can it be better rationalised as a post-colonial enterprise? Does its treatment of Arabs, Afghans and others from the Middle East and North Africa – who are the major consumers of modern refugee law today – tell us something about refugee law? Does it serve to essentialise refugees as the ‘Others’ of the West? If so, can we conceive of a post-colonial refugee? Is modern refugee law an exercise in ‘post-colonialism’, which can be defined as a cultural critique that is opposed to imperialism and Eurocentrism? This essay explores this question through an analysis of the Dublin II Regulation system. This system limits the number of asylum-seekers entering the countries of the European Union. Recent cases confirm that even powerful evidence of individual risk is of no avail and serves as no bar to an asylum-seeker being removed from one European country to another, from where he or she risks being refouled to his/her own country, where he/she may be subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment. This essay tells that story.

Affiliations: 1: Professor of Law, Director, Center for Transnational Legal Studies, Kings College London, UK


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