Safe Places and Unsafe Places:Geography and the 1996 Asylum and Immigration Act in the United Kingdom

Allen White


Over the last decade and a half the international
refugee régime, as enshrined by
the 1951 Convention and 1967 Protocol
has come under sustained attack in western
states. This is because of implicit assumptions
about the universalism of the
refugee identity and the rootedness of
national identities by the framers, drafters
and subsequent commentators on international
refugee law (see Malkki
1992, and Hyndman 1998). Critical
approaches to international refugee law
have sufered from underdeveloped ideas
about space and about the relationship
between geography and law. In this paper
I point to geographical and geopolitical
assumptions and thinking that lies behind
the passage and enforcement of accelerated
asylum determination and
appeal procedures in the United Kingdom.
I conclude by suggesting how the
moral landscape of refugee and asylum
law might be re-oriented to stress connections
between the United Kingdom and
persecuted and oppressed peoples rather
than stress the protection of the UK's

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