Hyper-legalism and obfuscation

how states evade their international obligations towards refugees

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This Article examines how wealthy democratic states evade and avoid their international obligations towards refugees. The focus is on two strategies. The first is hyper-legalism—an overly formalistic bad-faith approach to interpreting international law. The second is obfuscation, which involves secrecy about what actions the government is taking and deliberate silence as to the purported legal justifications. The discussion is illustrated with examples from the United States, Australia, and Europe. The Article concludes with a discussion of possible tactics for resisting these strategies and holding governments accountable for their actions.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages38
JournalAmerican Journal of Comparative Law
Issue number3
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 17 Sep 2020

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