By Stewart Pollock, Legal Intern, Asylum Access.
At Tuesday’s Plenary Session of the UNHCR Annual Consultations with NGOs, UNHCR Deputy High Commissioner Alex Aleinikoff spoke on the importance of innovation and self-reliance; highlighting the importance of refugee rights, including the right to work.
Meriem NAÏLI received her Masters from the Amsterdam School of Law in Public International Law and the Grenoble Law Faculty in International Legal Careers. Having both French and Algerian citizenships, she focused her legal studies on Human Rights and Refugees Rights and wrote a paper on the rights of asylum seekers under complementary international law when they are denied refugee status.
By Meriem NAÏLI
When the subject of “stateless refugees” arises, people often think first about Palestinian refugees. However, at least one other large group of such refugees exists: the Sahrawi refugees. The Sahrawi people originate from Western Sahara – a “non self-governing territory” controlled by Morocco, a matter of much international dispute. Sahrawi refugees fled violence over territorial control, to settle primarily in Algeria, as well as in Morocco and Mauritania.
This article will discuss access to safe, lawful employment for the Sahrawi people explaining why Sahrawi refugees remain mostly unemployed and reliant on humanitarian relief.
By: Diana Essex
To fully understand the significance of the right to work for refugees, one must understand the dynamics of protracted refugee situations. Issue 33 of Forced Migration Review, released in September 2009 by the Refugee Studies Centre of Oxford University, shines a spotlight on the two-thirds of refugees, nearly six million people, who live in prolonged exile rather than short-term emergency settings.
Protracted refugee situations (defined by UNHCR as a setting where any group of refugees has been in exile for five years or longer in any given asylum country) are of particular interest to those advocating for the right to work because they divert attention toward a refugee’s need for access to lawful employment and other livelihoods strategies.
To envisage a protracted refugee’s internal dialog, one may ask, “Can I create a home? Can I make a living? Can I practice my preferred way of life?” Often the answer to these questions is no—a no reinforced by governments through either strict employment and business laws, or active disincentives.
Unfortunately, the average length of stay in exile is now nearly 20 years. This means that in some situations entire generations are unable to access legitimized employment, or engage in legitimized entrepreneurial activities. The impacts of these rights violations are severely debilitating.
In several short essays, refugee and IDP policy and practice experts discuss the problems facing refugees in protracted settings and propose solutions. Authors also provide country case studies from Somalia, Afghanistan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sudan, Peru, and more. We think Issue 33 of Forced Migration Review is a critical read for anyone looking to understand the importance of working rights for displaced people.
Julien BLANC received his Masters in Human Rights Law from the Saint-Louis Faculties in Belgium, after graduating from the Institute of Political Sciences of Strasbourg in France. During his time at the Saint-Louis Faculties, Mr. Blanc researched and authored a working paper The Right to Work of Claimants for International Protection, a Legal Toolbox, which is discussed here.
By Julien BLANC
In their domestic legislation, many States do not automatically grant permission to work when an individual lodges an application for international protection, such as a claim for asylum. In practice, asylum seekers may wait years for an answer to their protection claim, while at the same time being denied access to employment.
By Penelope Mathew
Professor Penelope Mathew is the Freilich Foundation professor at the Australian National University. Prior to this role, Professor Mathew was a visiting professor and the Director of the Program in Refugee and Asylum Law at the University of Michigan Law School.
In many countries, the bona fides of refugees and asylum-seekers is questioned. It is asserted that the narrow exception to states’ powers over immigration established by the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees (‘Refugee Convention’) is abused by persons seeking economic advancement. Some believe that refugees and asylum-seekers are taking something that does not belong to them; that they are getting special treatment; and that citizens are the losers as a result.
Marina Sharpe is a founding member of the Asylum Access Board of Directors, and a DPhil Candidate and Trudeau Scholar at the University of Oxford. In this post, she presents an in-depth legal analysis of the employment rights of African refugees.
The issue of whether refugees in Africa enjoy the right to work under the regional legal framework established by the 1969 Organization of African Unity Convention Governing the Specific Aspects of Refugee Problems in Africa (African Convention) has been the subject of some confusion—primarily because the African Convention does not explicitly provide for employment rights.
Update from UNHCR’s Ministerial Meeting: Secretary Clinton voices support for lawful employment opportunities
By: Jessica Morreale Therkelsen, Global Policy Manager, Asylum Access
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has added her voice to those highlighting the need for lawful employment for refugees and stateless persons at UNHCR’s Ministerial Meeting this week. She focused her remarks on the importance of forward-looking policies to address the needs and rights of refugees and stateless persons and called on countries to turn their pledges into actions.
UNHCR High Commissioner, António Guterres, tells ministers the right to employment is key to self-reliance.
UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres (Photo © UNHCR/S.Hopper)
By: Michelle Arevalo-Carpenter, Overseas Operations Director, Asylum Access
Today, António Guterres, the High Commissioner for Refugees, emphasized the crucial importance of the right to work for refugees to an audience of foreign ministers from around the globe.
Asylum Access has just released a new report, No Place Called Home, presenting the findings of a 2010 survey of urban refugees living in Dar es Salaam. The aim of the study is to establish the existence of an urban population in Dar es Salaam with genuine claims to refugee status – and thus rights under Tanzanian and international law. In addition, Asylum Access sought to better understand the protection needs of this population, of which no official estimation exists.