Journal Article

Acting the Part: Can Non-State Entities Provide Protection Under International Refugee Law?

Maria O’Sullivan

in International Journal of Refugee Law

Volume 24, issue 1, pages 85-110
Published in print February 2012 | ISSN: 0953-8186
Published online February 2012 | e-ISSN: 1464-3715 | DOI:
Acting the Part: Can Non-State Entities Provide Protection Under International Refugee Law?

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  • Human Rights and Immigration
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This article examines the concept of a non-state actor of protection under European Union asylum law and the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees. The need to grapple with this concept has arisen primarily from the wording of article 7(1) of the EC Qualification Directive, which sets out an expansive interpretation of non-state actors, and the decision of the European Court of Justice in Abdulla and ors, which extends this concept to multinational forces. The EC Qualification Directive is said to be based on the 1951 Convention, but this article questions whether article 7(1) is in fact consistent with that Convention. More broadly, the article addresses the complex question of the role of non-state actors within the international refugee law framework and the meaning of refugee ‘protection’. Does the concept of ‘protection’ involve particular functions and attributes that only states can provide? In this regard, the article seeks to reconceptualise the non-state actor debate by highlighting the importance of the state-citizen relationship underlying refugeehood. This new element in the debate provides a much needed theoretical model for analyzing the concept of non state actors of protection that may assist in reaching both a principled and pragmatic answer to the complex legal questions raised.

Journal Article.  12070 words. 

Subjects: Human Rights and Immigration ; Refugee Studies

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