On its 70th birthday, the Geneva Convention on Refugees lies dying

Tomorrow we celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Geneva Refugee Convention (GRC). The Refugee Convention is the most important document for the protection of refugees. A total of 149 states have signed up to it. But in the meantime it has become increasingly obvious that Europe is using force to close itself off instead of helping people in need. This is out of touch with history and a breach of the principles of the rule of law and human rights.

People are drowning at our external borders, even though we could save them. People are abandoned on the open sea and tortured because they want to apply for asylum. The EU pays Islamist militias to drag refugees back to Libya. Pushbacks are carried out by EU states. There have been shootings of refugees from Greece. It is hypocritical for EU governments to celebrate the birthday of the Refugee Convention, because at the EU's external borders they have chosen to replace refugee rights with violent closure.

The CSF emerged from the lessons of the Second World War

When the Geneva Convention on Refugees was adopted 70 years ago, people wanted to take responsibility for those seeking protection after the terrible experiences of the Second World War. We wanted to help people in need and we wanted to achieve political goals under the rule of law and with respect for human rights. At the European external borders, people are now trying with all their might to rid themselves of the responsibility for those seeking protection by depriving them of their rights. It has once again become normal to achieve political goals by degrading people. 

Worldwide, more than 82 million people are on the run. Only a very small proportion of them are fleeing to Europe. It is an indictment that we are throwing our own legal foundations overboard just so that fewer and fewer asylum applications are made in Europe. On its 70th birthday, the Geneva Convention on Refugees is dying. The governments of the member states are capitulating in the face of the asylum policy challenges. Because they cannot agree on a functioning asylum system, they disguise this failure by mistreating and disenfranchising people in need. People are suffering because governments are not doing their job properly.