Exclusion from Refugee Status: Terrorism and Article 1F of the Refugee Convention

In 2001, shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks on United States, the United Nations (UN) Security Council called on Member States to ‘[e]nsure … that refugee status is not abused by the perpetrators, organizers or facilitators of terrorist acts’. This was not the first time the UN had called on States to exclude terrorists from refugee status, nor would it be the last. The drive to deny the benefits of refugee status to suspected terrorists has led a number of states parties to the 1951 Refugee Convention to interpret Article 1F, its ‘exclusion clause’, so as to bring terrorism within the scope of the provision.

This focus of this project is to examine whether and in what ways ‘terrorism’ has featured in the interpretation of Article 1F of the 1951 Refugee Convention, and how the provision is applied to suspected terrorists in the practice of decision makers. This research draws on a number of sources, including Freedom of Information requests, questionnaires and interviews conducted with immigration judges, the Home Office’s exclusion unit and legal practitioners, and therefore seeks to provide, in an unprecedented way, a thorough analysis of whether and how terrorism is being employed in the interpretation and application of each of the individual limbs of Article 1F.