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Part IV Access to Protection and International Responsibility-Sharing, Ch.28 The Evolution of Safe Third Country Law and Practice

Luisa Feline Freier, Eleni Karageorgiou, Kate Ogg

From: The Oxford Handbook of International Refugee Law

Edited By: Cathryn Costello, Michelle Foster, Jane McAdam

From: Oxford Public International Law (http://opil.ouplaw.com). (c) Oxford University Press, 2023. All Rights Reserved.date: 24 February 2024


This chapter details how States and regions use safe third country (STC) practices to deny protection to asylum seekers and refugees on the grounds that they have, or may have, protection in another country. The STC notion originated in Switzerland in 1979, spread throughout Europe in the 1980s, and was adopted by the European Union and countries such as Australia and Canada in the 1990s. Since then, developments in STC law and practice globally include new bilateral agreements, reforms to STC provisions in domestic and supranational legislation, and landmark decisions of superior courts. The chapter studies these changes in Europe, Australia, and North and South America, focusing in particular on the period from 2010 to 2020. It argues that there has been a dilution of STC protection standards in these four regions. The thresholds for effective protection have diminished and are lower than the minimum laid down in international treaties. Moreover, in the introduction and evolution of these STC practices, lawmakers and judges have disregarded the legal principle of international solidarity. While STC practices have long been critiqued as burden-shifting rather than -sharing, new STC law and jurisprudence exacerbates inequities between States with respect to responsibility for hosting refugees.

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