3 ICJ 1 (2017)

handle is hein.journals/icjuris3 and id is 1 raw text is: 


                           International Comparative Jurisprudence 2017 Volume 3 Issue 1 ISSN
                              2351-6674 (online) http://dx.doi.org/10.13165/j.icj.2017.03.001





                         International Comparative Jurisprudence





       OBJECT OR SUBJECT? THE ONGOING 'OBJECTIFICATION' OF ASYLUM SEEKERS1

                                                 Paresh Kathrani2

                                  University of Westminster, London, United Kingdom
                                        E-mails: P.Kathrani@westminster.ac.uk

                                 Received 23 October 2016; 21 January 2017 accepted

Abstract. This article considers how over time asylum seekers have been 'objectivised' by the Convention relating to the Status of
Refugees 1951. International law is predominantly instrumental in nature. Whilst it may often contain ethical aspects and sometimes be
underpinned by liberal objectives, these are usually secondary in nature, with the purpose of regularising the relationship of states around
some common aims usually being the paramount goal. In this way, the focus of international law often turns from the ethical components
of the law to terms, procedures and mechanisms. This arguably applies to Convention relating to the Status of Refugees 1951. Whilst
originally conceived for Second World War refugees, it placed at the pinnacle of its preamble the moral impulse, '...to assure refugees the
widest possible exercise of these fundamental rights and freedoms...' The Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees 1967 removed the
temporal and other limitations, however, arguably this moral impulse has waned as the words of the 1951 Convention have been used to
control asylum seekers. This article argues that this has objectivised asylum seekers.

Keywords: Dignity; Subject; Asylum; Objectification; Values

                                                         We are so alike. Why are you here? We came here to give our child a
                                                         better life. My husband said you'll love it here, the people are so nice
                                                         and everything is so cheap and it'll be really exciting. And there'll be
                                                           so much freedom and choice, but it just meant freedom for them to
                                                         mock us. Five years have passed and you realise you never really fitted
                                                         in. Even though I could never really grasp your way of life, somehow it
                                                           clings to my skin changing the simple things within, and returning
                                                                 home suddenly feels frightening... (Khaou: 2007)


Introduction: The 'Subject' of/in Human Dignity

This piece is about the personhood and dignity of asylum seekers. It posits that there is a clear distinction
between the notion of a 'subject' and 'object', and that some of the asylum provisions that have been adopted by
contracting states under the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees 1951 ('Refugee Convention') have
instrumentalised, or objectivised, asylum seekers, rather than affirming them as subjects. This rendering of
asylum seekers into objects has enabled some states to control asylum seekers with stern provisions that have
sometimes resulted in severe human rights violations.



1 This is the publication of the WISE project, commemorating the 70th anniversary WWII end, implemented with the support of 'Europe
for Citizens Programme' of the EU.
2 Dr. Paresh Kathrani is a Senior Lecturer in Law and PhD Coordinator at Westminster Law School. He has extensive experience working
in a law firm environment and also teaching and researching human rights law, amongst other fields. Whilst working in a prominent west
London law firm, he assisted many asylum seekers with their human rights claims. He completed his PhD in refugee law and was later
appointed a full time member of staff at Westminster Law School. He has participated in a number of research-led initiatives, including
with the School of Advanced Studies, University of London  and is currently the UK Project Manager of an EU Tempus funded project
with a consortium of Universities in Europe and North Africa looking at a human rights based approach to higher education in the
Maghreb and also part of the EU WISE Project led by MRU, Lithuania. He is the Module Leader of Criminal Law at Westminster Law
School.

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