Temporary Protection and the Refugee Convention in Australia, Denmark, and Germany

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This paper reports on a comparative study of temporary protection (TP) mechanisms in Australia and selected European jurisdictions. Specifically, it analyzes policy developments and trends in the use of TP mechanisms in Denmark, Germany, and Australia through a systematic examination of the evolution of "substitute protection" mechanisms; their implications for "effective protection" and their impacts on key stakeholders. The policy analyses are augmented by interviews and survey questionnaires with key NGO service providers in the three target jurisdictions. The paper argues that the traditional link between Refugee Convention protection and national territorial jurisdiction and responsibility is being undermined by extraterritorial processing and offshoring arrangements.


Cet article rapporte une etude comparative des mecanismes de la protection temporaire des refugies en Australie et dans certains pays europeens. Plus precisement, on y analyse l'evolution des politiques et les tendances du recours a la protection temporaire au Danemark, en Allemagne et en Australie par le biais d'un examen systematique de l'evolution des mecanismes de la << protection de remplacement >>, de leurs consequences pour la << protection effective >> et de leurs impacts sur les principales parties prenantes. L'analyse des politiques est completee par des questionnaires d'enquete et des entretiens avec les principaux prestataires de services non gouvernementaux dans les trois pays a l'etude. On propose que le lien traditionnel entre la protection accordee par la Convention sur les refugies, la responsabilite et la competence territoriale est mis a mal par le traitement extraterritorial des refugies et les modalites de leur delocalisation.


The 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, henceforth Refugee Convention, and other associated standards may be seen as critical elements of liberal internationalist aspirations for universal human rights protection in the post-World War II era. These standards are based on the principle that justice as a dimension of citizenship rights needs to be extended to a global sphere rather than remain confined within the boundaries of a nationstate. Globalization is seen to have shifted the role of the state, creating challenges to its power from global markets, intergovernmental organizations, and NGOs; (1) undermining macroeconomic management (thus increasing public insecurity); and reasserting of the politics of the border. (2) The attempt by Australia and other western governments to deter, detain, and deport those entering "through the back door" (3) is seen by some as a move away from a rights-based liberal internationalism towards exclusionary nationalism or a "particularist internationalism" (4) which redefines asylum as a political benefit bestowed by the host state, rather than a human right invoked and accessed by individuals irrespective of their mode of entry. (5)

The increasing restrictiveness of asylum policies in western countries is part of a broader trend that has existed throughout the history of western humanitarianism where interventions have been made on a "selective," primarily self-interest basis. (6) The relatively unified nature of restrictive asylum policies is seen to arise from the sharp increase in asylum claims since the 1980s in western countries, (7) the loss of ideological prestige that granting asylum gave to host societies after the end of the Cold War, (8) and the decline in resettlement opportunities that occurred in the aftermath of the international economic recession and the changed labour requirements of globalization. (9) It is within this historical framework that more restrictive asylum policies such as temporary protection (TP) have recently been adopted in many western countries including Australia that alter the definition and application of "effective protection" (10) as originally conceived in the 1951 Refugee Convention. …