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Antony Antoniou – Reform UK Northampton North
Prospective Parliamentary Candidate
(PPC) 2024 General Election


Absurd UN asylum rules have created 780m refugees

The Absurdity of Expanding Asylum Rights

UK Home Secretary Suella Braverman recently gave a speech warning that the UN Refugee Convention has spiraled out of control. She argued that the convention, created after WWII to protect persecuted groups, now potentially applies to nearly 800 million people worldwide. This expansive interpretation incentivizes illegal migration flows that nations can no longer sustain. Reform is urgently needed to restore integrity to a broken system.

A Convention Born From Necessity

The 1951 Refugee Convention established protections for around 2 million displaced Europeans in the aftermath of WWII and the Holocaust. It enshrined the moral imperative to provide safe harbor for those fleeing conflict and persecution. Signatory countries agreed to critical principles like non-refoulement – not returning refugees to dangerous conditions.

At the time, these protections were confined to Europe. But the 1967 Protocol expanded their scope globally. Subsequent legal challenges and reinterpretations further broadened the grounds for claiming asylum. Fear of discrimination due to being gay or a woman is now often sufficient, even without proven persecution.

By some estimates, these expanded criteria could allow nearly a tenth of the world’s population to potentially qualify as refugees. This was never the intent of the original convention. But its vague language opened the door to expansive modern interpretations.

The Distortion of Original Intent

Braverman argued that the Refugee Convention now confers an assumed “right” to migration upon over 780 million people. This distorts the meaning of a refugee. Seeking economic betterment and fleeing life-threatening persecution are not equivalents. Neither is preemptively leaving your country versus needing immediate rescue from danger.

But legal precedent has muddled these distinctions. Now persecution is often presumed from broad social conditions like discrimination. And few challenge people transiting numerous safe countries before lodging asylum claims. Rarely are they facing imminent peril.

Braverman contends that this status quo is legally absurd and operationally unsustainable. A convention designed to protect desperate European survivors now applies to nearly a tenth of humanity. This constitutes an unworkable obligation.

The Rise of Asylum Shopping

Another concern is asylum shopping. People now transit multiple safe countries to lodge claims in their destination of choice. Few boat migrants reaching the UK from France face immediate threats. But expansive asylum grounds mean they still receive refugee status.

This undermines the intent for people to seek refuge at the first opportunity. It also encourages economic migration under the guise of asylum. When claims are rubber stamped regardless of circumstances, it incentivizes exploitative people smuggling.

European countries never anticipated migration flows on today’s scale. Generous asylum practices made sense when claims were limited. But systems are buckling under expanding eligibility. Reform is needed to discourage those seeking better lives from claiming humanitarian protections.

The Overwhelming of Systems

Braverman argues the status quo is unsustainable. Developed countries cannot provide welfare, housing, and integration support at current claim levels. Backlogs of cases also undermine timely processing of claims.

But even reasonable efforts to control flows draw criticism. Media vilify policies like offshore processing or deportation of fake claims. They demand “compassion” for all arrivals. But this mindset ignores that refugees languishing in camps also need help. Systems overwhelmed by new arrivals cannot deliver the care they advertise.

Wealthy nations have limited absorptive capacity. As numbers swell, public sentiment is shifting. Rightwing parties tap into resentment over perceived queue jumping by economic migrants. If asylum loses meaning, so may public support for helping true refugees. The convention’s viability hinges on restoring credibility to the system.

Reframing Global Approaches

Braverman’s speech reflected a growing frustration with uncontrolled migration across the developed world. She argued that extraordinary times require rethinking conventional approaches to asylum. Possible reforms include:

– Tighter adjudication of asylum claims to align with original persecution intent.
– Fast track deportation of economic migrants who abuse the system.
– Discouraging asylum shopping by requiring claims in first safe country.
– Cooperating to return migrants to origin or transit countries.
– Expanding refugee resettlement from crisis regions.
– Containing flows before they reach destinations.
– Greater burden sharing between nations.

These measures recognize that unregulated migration is politically unsustainable. Systems that maintain public faith in refugee protection are in everyone’s interest. But absence of controls erodes distinction between refugees and migrants. Restoring order is essential to manage flows humanely and effectively.

A Delicate Balance

Critics argue Braverman’s stance undermines refugee rights. But governments must balance compassion with border security. If asylum becomes an excuse for entry, it weakens will to help true refugees.

As migration crises mount worldwide, asylum access merits review. Relying on a 70-year-old convention without modern perspective is unrealistic. Reform is essential to avert collapse of refugee protection itself.

Societies that value diversity depend on public faith in immigration systems. Braverman rightly argues that current asylum practices erode this faith. Unchecked, resentment creates conditions for extremism to grow.

Progressive change often requires revisiting assumptions. The Refugee Convention’s past nobility is unquestioned. But the future viability of asylum hinges on targeted reforms. These will reframe stagnant global approaches and rebuild confidence in refugee programs. With care and courage, governments can reclaim border integrity while honoring humanitarian ideals. The only unacceptable option is continued failure.

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