Human Rights

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“Pushbacks” as Euphemism

Late in March, the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, declared that it identified “hundreds” of migrant pushbacks from Greece. These have allegedly occurred in the Aegean and in the Evros region – the Northern land border between Greece and Turkey. While Greece continues to deny these allegations, it has now become abundantly clear that this is mere gaslighting. Aegean Boat Report, one of the most persistent documenters of these events, holds an enormous trove of photographic and other evidence of these actions. Leading media sites, as well as politicians in Brussels, have acknowledged these actions. In our own work with migrants and refugees, as scholars and advocates, we have often heard first-hand accounts of these violations. The term “pushback” has emerged from the discourse of refugee advocates. It is a non-technical term to refer to a violation of the basic prohibition of refugee law – that of non-refoulement: no one should be returned to where they may suffer well-founded fear of persecution or ill-treatment. It is also a procedural safeguard ensuring that anyone with…

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Drowning in the Mediterranean: Time to think and act regionally

Europe, that is, the EU and its institutions, currently asserts the right to manage the movement of people across the Mediterranean, and with that comes responsibility, for special protection is owed to those whom it would manage. ‘Responsibility’ is multi-dimensional. Fault, in the sense of wilful or negligent conduct, may be relevant; or responsibility may follow from the…

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Passing the Buck? The UN Security Council’s Undue Reliance on ASEAN to Defuse the Myanmar Crisis

After the UN Special Envoy's highly-charged report to the UN Security Council of "widespread, systematic attacks on civilians in Myanmar" and the continuum of unabated atrocities against peaceful protesters, children, journalists, among other unarmed victims of Myanmar's rapid descent away from democracy towards 'failed state' status, it is readily observable that the 10…

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Universal Standards for Investigation of Mass Graves

1. The problem Mass graves are an all-too-frequent legacy of conflict and gross human rights violations. The magnitude of the issue is startling: in Iraq over 200 mass graves containing up to 12,000 victims have been found in territory formerly controlled by ISIL; in Srebrenica, Bosnia, some 17,000 sets of human remains from 94 graves and…

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What’s wrong with this picture? The UN Human Rights Council hears the military Junta as the legitimate government of Myanmar

Introduction to the representation issue A few weeks ago, on 26 February 2021, Rebecca Barber wrote a piece in EJIL:Talk! asking whether the UN General Assembly could exclude Myanmar by refusing “to recognise the credentials of its ruling military Junta?” Quite correctly she answered with a resounding “YES”. This piece will continue the focus on…

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