Scientific article
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The International Refugee Regime and the Liberal International Order: Dialectics of Contestation

ContributorsLavenex, Sandraorcid
Published inGlobal studies quarterly, vol. 4, no. 2, ksae029
Publication date2024-04-09
First online date2024-04-30


The international refugee regime finds itself in a delicate balance between two conflicting principles of the liberal order: the particularism of sovereign states and the universalism of human rights. This article proposes a theory of endogenous contestation, rooted in the dialectic of law, propelling liberal aspirations, and politics, vindicating sovereign control. In doing so, we identify three shifts in the international refugee regime. Following 1945, legal consolidation in a propitious geopolitical context engendered a phase of regime expansion. The provisional “triumph” of liberalism in the early 1990s bolstered the regime’s geographical and normative clout but fueled political backlash. This set the stage for a new phase of regime contestation, where liberal democracies adapted political practices to ostensibly uphold the asylum norm while precluding access to it. The article concludes by exploring whether this subversion signals a gradual evolution or a fundamental shift in the nature of the liberal refugee regime.

Citation (ISO format)
LAVENEX, Sandra. The International Refugee Regime and the Liberal International Order: Dialectics of Contestation. In: Global studies quarterly, 2024, vol. 4, n° 2, p. ksae029. doi: 10.1093/isagsq/ksae029
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Article (Published version)
ISSN of the journal2634-3797

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