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Refugee protection must be analysed, interpreted, implemented, and enforced through a human rights framework. The RC, as the only universal, legally binding instrument to deal specifically with refugees and asylum-seekers, must be considered as a complement to the various human rights treaties, which are applicable to all human beings regardless of status and regardless of their position vis--vis the state. The RC on its own, with its various restrictions and derogations, does not provide adequate protection for the human rights of refugees and asylum-seekers. That its scope is limited to those individuals who fall within the definition of a refugee provided for in Article 1A of the RC means that there are millions of people who, while in need of protection, are not afforded it.

While it is true that the expanded refugee definitions provided for in the OAU Convention and the CD represent progress within the field of IRL, the level of progress achieved at the practical level is disappointing. Developed states continue to institute restrictive policies aimed at reducing the numbers of refugees who are able to seek asylum. Europe has interpreted the RC restrictively and the policies adopted represent a regressive step in the march towards better protection for refugees.

Finally, the principal problem remains unresolved, namely that refugees exist in the first place. The biggest challenge in addressing the root causes of why refugees exist is a political one. States must interpret existing IRL according to its "object and purpose"- namely to assure refugees the widest possible exercise of these fundamental rights and freedoms. That they have hitherto preferred a strict textual interpretation is problematic. Improvements in written law, such as the proliferation of human rights treaties, the OAU Convention and the CD, do not automatically translate into an improvement in refugees' lives. Current state policy and restrictive interpretations of IRL and IHRL are a product not of states' lack of ability to provide better protection, but rather of their lack of will to do so.

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Last updated Aug 17, 2011