The fate of refugees: between politics and international law

Available in Russian

Author: Angelika Nussberger

DOI: 10.21128/2226-2059-2016-4-62-76

Keywords: conditions of crossing borders by refugees; cooperation of states in the protection of refugees rights; ECHR jurisprudence in protecting the refugees rights; protection of the refugees rights; the right of asylum; UN (Geneva) Convention relating to the Status of Refugees


The European Convention on Human Rights includes almost all rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – with the important exception of the right to asylum. It is therefore not surprising that the European Court of Human Rights has over the years become the most important judicial body adjudicating the destiny of refugees. It has always recognized refugees’ human rights problems, and been aware of the difficulties which parties to the Convention face now. Based on Article 2 (right to life), Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman treatment and torture) and Article 8 (right to family life) it has stopped many extraditions and expulsions. Despite the Court’s efforts, the international protection system of refugees – even in Europe – is far from perfect. The 1951 Geneva Convention relating to the Status of Refugees is an important universal tool for the protection of migrants’ rights, but it does not regulate many questions, especially the question of international cooperation of States. Furthermore, it only comes into play when refugees reach other countries after overcoming many dangerous hurdles. There are other paradoxes in the legal approach to problems with refugees that leave many serious issues of the protection of their rights open. The jurisprudence of the Court has significantly developed on a case-bycase basis over the last two decades, but still it cannot fill up missing links and clues in the framework of international law to regulate principal open questions in protecting refugees rights and fates. A new comprehensive international treaty would be necessary, but the necessary political will for such a project seems to be missing.

About the author: Angelika Nussberger – Judge of the European Court of Human Rights, Professor of Law at the Cologne University.

Citation: Nussberger A. (2016) Sud'by bezhentsev: mezhdu politikoy i mezhdunarodnym pravom: O pravoprimenitel'noy praktike Evropeyskogo Suda po pravam cheloveka v sfere otvetstvennosti gosudarstv v voprosakh prav bezhentsev [The fate of refugees: between politics and international law: On the law enforcement practice of the European Court of Human Rights and the responsibility of States in the sphere of the rights of refugees]. Mezhdunarodnoe pravosudie, no. 4, pp. 62–76. (In Russian).


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