UNHCR and Turkey, and beyond: Of parallel tracks and symptomatic cracks.

Turkey’s obligations under the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees are confined to European refugees. However, when certain conditions are met, Turkey grants temporary stay to non-European refugees with a view to enabling them to resettle in a third state. The task of finding resettlement places falls to UNHCR Turkey, which presupposes that the refugees concerned are eligible for refugee status under UNHCR’s mandate. This arrangement means that non-European refugees are subject to two different eligibility procedures. A series of recent judgments by the European Court of Human Rights, including, in particular, D. and others v. Turkey and Abdolkhani and Karimnia, highlight the plight of non-European refugees in Turkey, the relationship between UNHCR and Turkey, and the practice of dual track refugee status determination: one undertaken by the domestic authorities and a parallel procedure undertaken by UNHCR. The relationship between UNHCR and Turkey raises questions regarding the divergence of the obligations of states party to the universal refugee law instruments and the mandate ratione personae of UNHCR at large, that is, beyond Turkey.

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