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A Right to Flee


  • 11 b/w illus. 6 tables
  • Page extent: 312 pages
  • Size: 229 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.41 kg


 (ISBN-13: 9781107431690)

Why do states protect refugees? In the past twenty years, states have sought to limit access to asylum by increasing their border controls and introducing extraterritorial controls. Yet no state has sought to exit the 1951 Refugee Convention or the broader international refugee regime. This book argues that such international policy shifts represent an ongoing process whereby refugee protection is shaped and redefined by states and other actors. Since the seventeenth century, a mix of collective interests and basic normative understandings held by states created a space for refugees to be separate from other migrants. However, ongoing crisis events undermine these understandings and provide opportunities to reshape how refugees are understood, how they should be protected, and whether protection is a state or multilateral responsibility. Drawing on extensive archival and secondary materials, Phil Orchard examines the interplay among governments, individuals, and international organizations that has shaped how refugees are understood today.

• Examines how refugee protection has developed since the seventeenth century and explains why, in the contemporary period, refugee protection has not broken down in spite of significant pressures • A unique two-level analysis focusing on the United States and United Kingdom helps to illustrate how domestic factors and institutions can have significant international effects • Provides an original conceptual framework for understanding normative change and the roles of norm entrepreneurs


1. Introduction: a right to flee; 2. Structures, agency, and refugee protection; 3. Refugees and the emergence of international society; 4. The nineteenth century: a laissez-faire regime; 5. The interwar refugee regime and the failure of international cooperation; 6. American leadership and the emergence of the postwar regime; 7. The norm entrepreneurship of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees; 8. The non-entrée regime; 9. Refugees and state cooperation in international society.

Prize Winner

Winner of the 2016 ENMISA Distinguished Book Award, Ethnicity, Nationalism, and Migration Studies Section, International Studies Association


'An outstanding contribution to both refugee studies and international relations, A Right to Flee masterfully unpacks the deeper historical structures that explain how patterns of international cooperation endure and adapt.' Alexander Betts, University of Oxford

'In this book, Phil Orchard establishes himself as one of the leading international relations scholars writing about the evolution of international refugee policy.' Gil Loescher, University of Oxford

'… a timely and much-needed attempt to trace the development of the concept of international refugee protection from its very early origins in the seventeenth century to the present … A Right to Flee will be of great interest to refugee and forced migration scholars, scholars of international organizations, and more generally to anyone interested in the birth and endurance of the modern state.' Rebecca Hamlin, International Studies Review

'A Right to Flee: Refugees, States, and the Construction of International Cooperation is an exceptionally coherent historical analysis and a must-read for anyone researching in the fields of refugee and political theory, as well as for those with a broader interest in researching migration frameworks.' Julia Muraszkiewicz, International Journal of Refugee Law

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