A comparative study of asylum laws and policies in the European Union and United States : similarities, divergences and common trends
This research aims at identifying mutual goals, common trends and policy divergences in the asylum law and policies of the European Union (EU) and United States. The study commences with a cross-Atlantic overview of the legal framework of asylum. It then turns, using an issue-based analysis, to examine how the definition of the term 'refugee' and exclusion from protection, provided for by the Geneva Convention 1951, are interpreted on either side of the Atlantic. Next, the socio-economic rights to be granted to individuals seeking asylum have resulted in an extensive debate. As the Geneva Convention does not fully cover mere asylum applicants in its socio-economic provisions, assessment of the treatment bestowed is therefore essential. Finally, since both EU nd US temporary protection policies can and do in fact include genuine asylum seekers, there exists a real risk that asylum claims will be overshadowed by the grant of temporary protection, thereby resulting in an inadequate protection for those escaping persecution.;More than ever, the asylum debate is taking place amid a highly charged political environment, examples of which can be seen in the immediate US response to the 11 September 2001 terror attacks, and the deadline for the adoption of the first-stage of EU asylum legislation. As principles of asylum law emphasise open borders and access to the territory, the risk that human rights obligations will be traded-off against higher security standards subsists. Given the fact that the Geneva Convention is not subject to any scrutiny by any international tribunal, the interpretation provided by the EU and the United States of the above substantive law issues is undoubtedly significantly as it may affect refugee standards worldwide.;In finding no current official co-ordination between the EU and the United States in asylum legislation, the question that is considered is whether the consensus over security measures, as seen, for example, in the recently adopted US-EU Passenger Name Record Agreement, is merely the first step, leading to a common understanding of asylum laws and exchange of policies, thereby creating a cross-Atlantic policy convergence.