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UK minister questions role of UN refugee convention

September 27, 2023

WASHINGTON: UK interior minister Suella Braverman on Tuesday questioned whether the United Nations Refugee Convention was “fit for our modern age” during a keynote speech at a think-tank in Washington.

The speech at the centre-right American Enterprise Institute intended to lay out an international plan to deal with the refugee crisis, a key political issue for her struggling Conservative party back home.

Braverman called the 1951 Refugee Convention, which legally defines the term “refugee” and outlines their rights, “an incredible achievement of its age”. “But more than 70 years on, we now live in a completely different time,” she said, citing a study that says the convention now gives at least 780 million people the potential right to move to another country.

“It is therefore incumbent upon politicians and thought leaders to ask whether the Refugee Convention, and the way it has come to be interpreted through our courts, is fit for our modern age or in need of reform,” she said.

Western countries will not be able to sustain an asylum system “if in effect simply being gay, or a woman, or fearful of discrimination in your country of origin, is sufficient to qualify for protection”, she added. “We are living in a new world bound by outdated legal models. It´s time we acknowledge that,” she said.