International law maintains that status determination is declaratory, which means that status determination does not make one a refugee but declares one to be a refugee. It means that many of those now on the move are refugees, in spite of our non-recognition of them. However, recognition of a person as a refugee is vital to their protection and status.
There is precedent elsewhere in the world for dealing with mass influx via prima facie status determination; in fact, the vast majority of refugees in the world attain their status in this way. This is a pragmatic response for when a host state’s refugee status determination infrastructure has been overwhelmed – the situation in which Europe currently finds itself. It allows for a lower standard of proof and could be used, for example, to accept Syrian nationality as evidence of being a refugee. Germany has been reported as implementing such a strategy unilaterally.
The Temporary Protection Directive was designed for just such a purpose, at least as a stop-gap, but has not been implemented. Europe must find a way to fairly and effectively implement status determination procedures appropriate to a situation of mass influx.
Kelly Staples firstname.lastname@example.org
Lecturer in International Politics, University of Leicester https://le.ac.uk/