- Treaties as boundaries of policy: revisiting the policies that informed the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees
- Number of pages
- Amsterdam Law School, University of Amsterdam
- Document type
- Working paper
- Faculty of Law (FdR)
- Amsterdam Center for International Law (ACIL)
The notion or phrase ‘boundaries of policy’ induces thinking about the tools of the trade: treaties. In the international society, treaties are the boundaries of policy. Treaties and treaty obligations are the normative apex of policy regarding specific subjects, often arrived at only after protracted negotiations. They constitute boundaries of policy. Treaties are the hard edge of policy which may either be nothing but codification of already long-standing and generally accepted policies or constitute progressive development that seeks to advance well beyond so far accepted policies and practice. As legally binding boundaries of policy, treaties affect new policy. In that sense, treaties and individual treaty obligations are a two-edged sword: they finish policy debates when the final text is drafted. Upon entry into force, treaties may impede the development of new policies and consequently stifle progress; alternatively, they may prevent the development of less forthcoming policies and thus safeguard that what has earlier been achieved. Rather than discussing the phenomenon of treaties as such, the submission of treaties as boundaries of policy in the sense indicated will be illustrated and substantiated with reference to the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees
- Revised version of a paper presented at the 12th Conference of the International Association for the Study of Forced Migration on 1 July 2009 hosted by the University of Nicosia, Cyprus.
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