A Comparative Analysis of the Response of the UNHCR and Industrialized States to Rapidly Fluctuating Refugee Status and Asylum Applications: Lessons and Best Practices for RSD Systems Design and Administration

The full implementation of the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and/or its 1967 Protocol is contingent on the capacity of the UNHCR and state parties to respond to rapid fluctuations in new refugee status and asylum applications through the provision of fair, efficient, effective and independent refugee status determination (RSD) adjudicative structures and procedures. The number of new refugee status and asylum applications received by the UNHCR and six industrialized states (Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the United States, Sweden and the United Kingdom) between 2000 and 2008 show sharp variations in the number of persons seeking mandate or Convention refugee status. This article sets out a comparative analysis of the most pertinent concerns of the RSD systems within Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and the UNHCR, which reveals critical deficiencies with respect to the appointment of highly qualified, independent refugee law decision makers at first instance and to the issue of consistency. The article concludes by underscoring the necessity and importance of the UNHCR and state parties to work in unison with regard to these international human rights instruments to manage their response to forced migratory flows and to ensure that their RSD systems conform to internationally recognized and accepted core values and standards for RSD adjudication.

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