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Refugees: from gaps in protection to case law

Hamdan, Hanan Malek (2003) Refugees: from gaps in protection to case law. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.94393) (KAR id:94393)

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My choice to study refugee issues and related humanitarian problems stems first from a personal experience. Living most of my life in a country shattered by violence and war, and hosting a large number of refugees from other neighbouring countries drew my attention to this problem. Being myself exposed to internal displacement, where we had to leave from one place to another, to seek safety, also made me aware of the problems that these vulnerable groups face. My later work with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, where we had to deal with caseloads of Iraqi, Sudanese, and Sahrawi refugees, made me more interested and dedicated to studying this topic.

This thesis is aimed at addressing refugee problems since the creation of the refugee system during the Cold War. It addresses some of the gaps in refugee protection since the end of the Cold War and later developments, particularly the increase in the number of refugees, the change in the nature of the refugee flows and their geographical locations, the asylum crises, and the increasingly restrictive interpretation of the Convention.

After studying the gap in international protection, the different approaches that emerged as a result of this development are addressed. Corridors of Tranquillity, Safety Zones or Safe Havens started emerging, which aimed at addressing relief and providing protection to people within their countries of origin. The thesis examines the concept of Safe Havens and its impact on refugee flows. The Safe Havens in north Iraq and the Safe Humanitarian Zone in Rwanda are the chosen case studies.

The main approach in this thesis has been to concentrate on the legal perspective. In studying the gaps in refugee protection, the gaps in the law or the interpretation of the law are analysed and when, addressing the concept of Safe Havens, the legal background for creating these areas is also analysed. Political problems are also discussed, but more attention is given to the legal aspects. This is due to the fact that the legal aspect of the problem is often not sufficiently addressed when studying the topic of refugees in the field of International Relations.

As mentioned at a later point in this thesis, the concept of Safe Havens is not studied as a substitute for asylum, or a concept, which threatens asylum. Rather it is studied as a reaction, which gives an opportunity to people in conflict situations to seek refuge within the borders of their countries, until a more permanent solution is found.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
Thesis advisor: Groom, A.J.R.
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.94393
Additional information: This thesis has been digitised by EThOS, the British Library digitisation service, for purposes of preservation and dissemination. It was uploaded to KAR on 25 April 2022 in order to hold its content and record within University of Kent systems. It is available Open Access using a Creative Commons Attribution, Non-commercial, No Derivatives ( licence so that the thesis and its author, can benefit from opportunities for increased readership and citation. This was done in line with University of Kent policies ( If you feel that your rights are compromised by open access to this thesis, or if you would like more information about its availability, please contact us at and we will seriously consider your claim under the terms of our Take-Down Policy (
Uncontrolled keywords: Refugees; migration; displacement; law
Subjects: J Political Science > JX International law
J Political Science > JZ International relations
K Law > KZ Law of Nations
Divisions: Divisions > Division for the Study of Law, Society and Social Justice > Kent Law School
SWORD Depositor: SWORD Copy
Depositing User: SWORD Copy
Date Deposited: 30 Sep 2022 13:39 UTC
Last Modified: 04 Oct 2022 07:37 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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