Working Paper

The Externalisation of EU Asylum Policy: The Position of African States

Published 1 January 2006 / By Alexander Betts, James Milner

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Introduction

The paper explores the position of African states in the context of attempts by European states to externalize responsibility for asylum processing and refugee protection to refugees' regions of origin. It argues that the range of approaches developed by European states and their methods of cooperation fundamentally misrepresent the position of African states in the global refugee regime. Drawing upon the example of Tanzania , which has been the focal point for a range of the new initiatives, the paper demonstrates how the existing European approach has failed to adequately recognize many of the constraints on asylum in Africa . It argues that unless European states adapt their methods of cooperation and their implicit assumptions about the African state, there is a risk of undermining rather than enhancing refugee protection in Africa . However, the paper suggests that this is not an inevitable outcome and that an alternative approach is possible that might better address the interests of EU and African states while simultaneously enhancing refugee protection in Africa.

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