Working Paper

The Realities of a New Asylum Paradigm

Published 1 January 2005 / By COMPAS Communications

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In recent years, forced migration scholars have begun to ask whether we are seeing the emergence of a New Asylum Paradigm around the current (or resurgent) debate on 'in-region asylum processing', 'regional protection zones' and 'transit processing centres'. Although similar ideas have been around in various forms for some time, there appears currently to be a convergence of thinking, seen in debates within the EU, the UNHCR's Convention Plus, the British government's proposal on 'new' approaches to asylum seekers and related proposals from the German and Italian governments. This article looks briefly at the discussions around processing centres, which seem to have focussed attention on whether a New Asylum Paradigm is emerging, and to explore developments on the ground, asking to what extent alleged novelties constitute a new, or a single, paradigm. We suggest that although there are apparently competing, conflicting and contradictory proposals and projects on the table, in fact a common logic underpins all of them. Following a sketch of the different proposals we consider the positions of some of the states involved in these developments. We then examine what's happening on the ground in two states targeted as potential partners in the proposals - Libya and Morocco . In the last section of the paper, the significance, novelty and dangers of the proposals are evaluated.


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