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Humans without rights: asylum seekers in the 21st century

in association with the Guardian|

1 November 2003

The subject of human rights needs to be tested at its raw edges. One of these concerns our treatment of asylum seekers; these are the humans within our borders whom we try not to see. Their rights in the UK and across Europe are far inferior to those of citizens and residents. They are restricted in what they can do when here and liable to be expelled without the kind of due process that the rest of us take for granted for ourselves. Is this an affront to human rights? On the other hand surely human rights must to some extent respect national sovereignty and territorial borders.

It is in this clash between territorial interests and individual rights that the subject of human rights must forge its identity in the twentieth first century: are human rights for everybody or only the already fortunate? If we give human rights to all, do we end up in a kind of legal anarchy with - eventually - no human rights for anybody at all?

In this major day long conference the Centre for the Study of Human Rights, in association with the Guardian newspaper, is taking a fresh look at the subject of asylum, setting it in its historical, political and legal context.

Conference texts available online:

Click here to download a full programme for the day| (PDF)