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The Safe Third Country Concept in International Agreements on Refugee Protection: Assessing State Practice

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Maria-Teresa Gil-Bazo



This is the authors' accepted manuscript of an article that has been published in its final definitive form by Sage Publications Ltd, 2015.

For re-use rights please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.


One of the expressions of international cooperation among States in the field of refugee protection is the adoption of international agreements that implement the "safe third country" and the "country of first asylum" concepts. This paper examines the legal background to these concepts and State practice by considering three selected case-studies (Spain, South Africa, and the US). The paper analyses the legal implications and significance of issues arising and provides a critique of the system and its premises. In particular, the paper considers whether a multilateral arrangement -such as the Dublin III Regulation or the Canada-US Agreement- has the potential to become a model for the development of an inter-State agreement whereby one of the State Parties effectively delivers all relevant international obligations (including the right to asylum) on behalf of all States bound by such system. The dual nature of the system is analysed, as an operational instrument creating obligations between States while at the same time allowing for the delivery of States’ international obligations towards refugees.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Gil-Bazo M-T

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Netherlands Quarterly of Human Rights

Year: 2015

Volume: 33

Issue: 1

Pages: 42-77

Print publication date: 01/01/2015

Acceptance date: 30/09/2014

Date deposited: 02/12/2014

ISSN (print): 0924-0519

ISSN (electronic): 2214-7357

Publisher: Sage Publications Ltd


DOI: 10.1177/016934411503300104


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