Towards a Common European Asylum System: Asylum, Human Rights, and European Values


  • Harold Shepherd Canada Border Services Agency



European Union, Europe, law, asylum, refugee status, human rights


The turn of the millennium has been met with a considerable amount of work in the area of refugee protection, culminating in the UNHCR’s Agenda for Protection and Convention Plus initiatives. In addition, in 1999 the European Union embarked on a five-year program to develop a Common European Asylum System as mandated by the Treaty of Amsterdam. Work done by the European Commission sought to incorporate asylum into broader issues of immigration, border security, and foreign relations. As a result, entitlements were generally limited to those that have been mandated by applicable international, European, or domestic law. Some exceptions were further reduced at the political level. Functional values of bureaucratic efficiency and pragmatic political considerations converged to create the lowest common denominator. On the other hand, voices in civil society were raised to protest this approach, advocating that normative values that underpin international human rights law should serve as the interpretative context. In light of this debate, this may be an appropriate time for the international community to revisit the question of status for those not described in the Geneva Convention.


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How to Cite

Shepherd, H. (2004). Towards a Common European Asylum System: Asylum, Human Rights, and European Values. Refuge: Canada’s Journal on Refugees, 22(1), 96–107.

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