A tale of two human rights lawyers

Think tank: Social Market Foundation

Author(s): Jonathan Thomas

October 24, 2023

This report from UK think tank the Social Market Foundation explores whether a Labour government could realise a better future in the UK for refugee protection with control.

Judgment on the legality of the government’s ‘Rwanda plan’ response to the irregular migrant flows across the English Channel is currently awaited from the Supreme Court.

In her recent Washington DC speech, the Home Secretary also took the opportunity to raise difficult, but important, questions around the entire rationale, but also specific provisions, of the International Refugee Convention. The question of whether and, if so, how countries can construct arrangements to transfer asylum seekers to other countries is viewed with alarm by most supporters of refugee rights. But this need not be so.

Labour’s focus on the potential for tough action on Channel crossings combined with improved responsibility sharing for refugees across Europe may represent the best opportunity for balancing refugees’ need for protection with states’ and their publics’ priorities and concerns around achieving better control and fairness around such flows, and is perfectly compatible with the existing Refugee Convention.