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Consequences of the principle of non refoulement of refugees in International Law


Abstract: The principle of non‑refoulement of refugees to a country they have left and where they cannot or do not wish to return due to serious threats is expressly enshrined in the 1951 Convention relating to the status of refugees; it has become a jus cogens rule of Public International Law. The frequently asked question is whether this principle is actually implemented by States or on the contrary, it is violated. The recent practice of European States facing large numbers of people seeking refugee or asylum status as a result of events in Syria, in particular, reveals a frequent violation or ignorance of this principle. This paper aims to analyse the content of the principle of non‑refoulement, in accordance with the provisions of the 1951 Geneva Convention and other international acts, as well as the correlation with the notion of jurisdiction of the State to which this obligation belongs to. Increased attention will be paid to identifying cases of deviation from this principle that could lead to international liability of the state for wrongful acts. Such a situation is one in which the coastal State refuses access to the territorial waters of persons seeking asylum or refuge, contrary to the general provisions of the law of the sea and those of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. 

Keywords: ius cogens; international obligations; jurisdiction; international responsibility of States


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