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Voting rights of recognised Geneva Convention refugees in their countries of asylum

  • Goodwin-Gill, Guy S
  • Ziegler, Reuven
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2013
OpenGrey Repository


This thesis concerns persons recognised as refugees based on the criteria set by Article 1A(2) of the 1951 Geneva Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees (CSR1951) and residing in a Contracting State. It appraises the exclusion of CSR1951 refugees from participation in elections of their countries of asylum pursuant to a citizenship voting qualification, which most countries set. It is emphasised that, since neither the CSR1951 refugees nor their country of asylum know when or indeed whether cessation of CSR1951 refugee status may occur, their exclusion may last for an indeterminate period of time. CSR1951 confers on recognised refugees a host of civil, social and economic rights in their country of asylum; voting rights are absent. Concomitantly, while the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (and regional human rights treaties) pronounce that all persons are entitled to have their rights respected, protected and promoted, Contracting States are permitted to reserve two rights for their (full) members: the right to enter and remain in their country, and the right to vote in its elections. The central claim of this thesis is that recognised CSR1951 refugees are a special category of non-citizen residents, due to their unique political predicament. They are unable to participate in elections of their country of origin, do not enjoy its diplomatic protection and consular assistance abroad, and – most fundamentally – are unable or unwilling, owing to a well-founded fear of persecution, to return to it for an indeterminate (and potentially protracted) period. It is submitted that recognised CSR1951 refugees should be entitled to vote in elections of their countries of asylum, notwithstanding general citizenship qualifications imposed by these countries. At present, treaty law does not require countries of asylum to enfranchise their recognised CSR1951 refugees. Hence, this thesis explores a gap in international refugee law and international human rights law between de lege lata and de lege ferenda; it is an exercise in ‘progressive development of the law’. Its inquiry is located in the international domain, and concerns, in principle, any Contracting State which admits and recognises CSR1951 refugees. References to national or regional practices serve solely an illustrative purpose. / EThOS - Electronic Theses Online Service / GB / United Kingdom

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