Academic journal article Refuge

Refugee Status Determination in Brazil: A Tripartite Enterprise

Academic journal article Refuge

Refugee Status Determination in Brazil: A Tripartite Enterprise

Article excerpt

Abstract

Refugee Status Determination (RSD) in Brazil is nowadays a tripartite enterprise, involving UNHCR, the Brazilian government, and civil society. This tripartite character, and especially the participation of the civil society is an impressive feature of RSD in Brazil. It thus seems to be a practice that should be analyzed to see if indeed it can be regarded as a "best practice." In light of this, the paper aims to verify whether or not there are lessons to be learned from RSD in Brazil with a view to improve best practices of RSD in general.

Resume

Le regime de determination du statut de refugie (DSR) au Bresil est couramment un arrangement tripartite, engageant le HCR, le gouvernement bresilien et la societe civile. Ce caractere tripartite, tout particulierement la participation de la societe civile, semble etre le point saillant de la DSR au Bresil. Par consequent, c'est la une facon de faire les choses qui merite d'etre examine de plus pres afin de verifier si on peut vraiment la considerer comme une << pratique exemplaire >>. Au vu de ce qui precede, cet article vise a verifier s'il y a des lecons a tirer de la DSR au Bresil, et cela dans le but d'ameliorer les pratiques exemplaires de la DSR en general.

Introduction

International refugee law, especially the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees (Refugee Convention) and its 1967 Protocol, defines who is a refugee. To enable States Parties to these treaties to implement their provisions, refugees have to be identified. The determination of refugee status, although mentioned in article 9 of the Refugee Convention, is not specifically regulated and each State Party can establish the procedure that it deems most appropriate, considering its particular constitutional structure.

With regard to refugee law and protection, Brazil can be seen as both an "old" and a "new" country. (1) It is an "old" country insofar as Brazil was involved in the first international initiatives of refugee protection, (2) has been a member of the Executive Committee (ExCom) of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) since 1958, and ratified the 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol in 1961 and 1972, respectively. (3) And it is a "new" country given that the National Refugee Act, Law 9.474, (4) was passed in 1997 and that in the beginning of the twenty-first century it became an emerging resettlement country. (5)

As the most important developments have occurred in the last decade or so, one can see that refugee law and protection in Brazil has evolved significantly in a short period of time. However, there is always room for improvement.

Refugee status determination (RSD) in Brazil is nowadays a tripartite enterprise, involving UNHCR, the Brazilian government, and civil society. The involvement of civil society is a heritage from the early beginnings of refugee protection in Brazil, when there was no government procedure in place and UNHCR had to rely heavily on civil society in order to guarantee any form of protection whatsoever.

This tripartite character, and especially the participation of civil society, seems to be an impressive feature of RSD in Brazil as it guarantees a more democratic procedure and involves all actors needed to ascertain integral protection to refugees. It thus seems to aid in the establishment of a better RSD protection and is a practice that should be analyzed to see if indeed it can be regarded as a "best practice."

In light of the above, this paper aims to describe the practice of RSD in Brazil, assess its main qualities and flaws, and verify whether or not there are lessons to be learned from RSD in Brazil with a view to improve best practices of RSD in general.

To achieve these aims, this article is divided into three parts. The first part will provide an overview of RSD in Brazil, both before and after the National Refugee Act of 1997. …

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