People migrate for a variety of reasons. Some choose to migrate and others are forced. To cross an international border, they need permission of the host state. The 1951 Refugee Convention creates the refugee as an exceptional category of international migrants that is entitled to international protection. This research seeks to explore whether international refugee law rationally protects vulnerable peoples in the contemporary world. This is done through examining the historical context through which the refugee was created as a legal subject in international law and evaluating the critiques of the current implementation of international refugee law. This thesis argues that the causes of migration from countries of the global south are linked with global inequalities of power and wealth, a condition that the human rights and humanitarian language of the international refugee regime fails to address.


Center for Migration and Refugee Studies

Degree Name

MA in Migration & Refugee Studies

Graduation Date


Submission Date

May 2012

First Advisor

Natarajan, Usha

Second Advisor

Rieker, Marti



Document Type

Master's Thesis

Library of Congress Subject Heading 1

Refugees -- Legal status, laws, etc.

Library of Congress Subject Heading 2

Humanitarian law.


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Institutional Review Board (IRB) Approval

Not necessary for this item