Text language(s): English
A history of and reasoning behind the concept of extraterritorial refugee sites, called safe havens in the public discourse, is provided in this study. Since the 1990s, this concept has been used by the United States of America to accommodate asylum seekers from Haiti and Cuba. From 1998, the government of Australia introduced safe havens for refugees – first within its own territory, then in small islands of the South Pacific belonging to other states. Over time, this caused uproar in civil society at both national and international level.
The author analyses how the United Kingdom learnt from American and Australian experiences. The implementation of new migration and refugee policies in the late 1990s aimed at avoidance of influx of asylum seekers. It was therefore meant to avert difficulties in returning them to the country of origin once an application had been turned down. With the same rationale and to share the burden of extraordinarily high immigration numbers with fellow EU members, the UK proposed extraterritorial refugee safe havens as a common EU strategy to cope with asylum seekers.
Aron Mir Haschemi describes the development of the proposal to the EU from the onset in February 2003 through to the discussion following the European Council meeting in Thessaloniki in late June of that year. The legal and political analysis shows that European policy debate and policy making will now tend towards extraterritorial migrant and refugee handling. Aron Mir Haschemi was trained as an international lawyer in France. He now works in the German Foreign Ministry.