The Right To Refuge, And What Happens Next

Eilidh Mackie Beaton, University of Pennsylvania


This dissertation concerns the rights of refugees. It is a project of two parts. Part One provides an account of the scope of the right to refuge in international law. Here, I reject both the alienage and persecution requirements for refugee-status-eligibility outlined in the 1951 Refugee Convention. Instead, I defend a definition that extends the right to refuge to any individual whose human rights are urgently threatened, who has no effective recourse to their home government, and whose interests can only or best be satisfied by means of refuge. In Part Two, I turn to the question of what refugee-hosting states and societies owe to refugees within their borders. Here, I provide a refugee-specific framework for future discussion on the topic of integration, and outline some high-level rights and responsibilities states, refugees, and members of the host society have to facilitate integration between refugees and their host communities. I also provide an account of the scope and nature of refugee family reunification rights, arguing that states have stronger, broader, and less- conditional duties to reunite refugees with their families, especially when those refugees are children. I conclude with a summary of the arguments in this dissertation, and an outline of the primary principles upon which those arguments depend.