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Un-signing Geneva: legal pragmatics in the management of asylum

  • Marc de Leeuw (a1) and Sonja van Wichelen (a2)

Abstract

In the last decade, several states have increasingly tried to ‘un-sign’ to their humanitarian obligations by seeking ways to circumvent European or international law. Through an analysis of a recently passed act in Australia on the management of asylum seekers, this paper examines how the practice of ‘un-signing’ can be seen as a symptomatic instance of reconfiguring asylum in late modernity. We focus on the proliferation of ‘legal pragmatics’ in the management of refugees. By ‘legal pragmatics’, we refer to the processual ways in which the state attempts to hollow out international refugee law and in which courts respond by reinstating it. Normative consequences are the criminalisation and the juridification of refugees. We argue that the proliferation of ‘legal pragmatics’ illuminates not only the ever-expanding reach of neoliberal changes in domestic legislation, but also the limitations of human rights to adequately respond to the neoliberal vicissitudes of humanitarian government.

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Copyright

Corresponding author

*Corresponding author. E-mail: m.deleeuw@unsw.edu.au

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Un-signing Geneva: legal pragmatics in the management of asylum

  • Marc de Leeuw (a1) and Sonja van Wichelen (a2)

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