The global asylum and refugee system is no longer fit for purpose. As a beneficiary of that system, I do not make such a statement lightly. The reality is that it is outdated and can no longer cope with the challenges posed by mass violence and global migration today.
Following the displacement of European Jews during World War II, the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees was devised not out of idealism but as a practical, Eurocentric Cold War policy. It’s been argued that the convention’s architects intended it to provide a method of escape for those caught on the wrong side of the iron curtain. It defined a refugee as someone outside their country who could not return to it for fear of persecution “for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion.” The convention was a temporary solution to a post-war problem, not a long-term offer. And it certainly wasn’t intended as a way of skipping the line to access a better quality of life.