Absolute rights and the principle of non-refoulement

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Non-refoulement constitutes one of the most fundamental principles of international human rights and refugee law as it prohibits expulsion of third-country nationals to another state where they are at a real risk of facing torture. However, this principle appears to be fragile when interpreted by international bodies. This article will examine the different shaping of the interpretation of the principle of non-refoulment, aiming to identify which one is prevailing today. Primarily, the article will analyze the impacts brought to the interpretation of the principle by the lack of a common international definition and how this has led to a more flexible application of an absolute prohibition. To capture the absolute nature of the principle, this article will also study the danger a third-country national can constitute to the national security of the host country and the practice of diplomatic assurances as legitimate exemptions and therefore, conclude to which extend the principle remains intact from exceptions or not. The above observations will be made by referencing relevant international and European case law.


Christina Ioannou


A qualified lawyer in Cyprus specializing in human rights, refugee and migration law. Aspired in becoming a policy changer and policy maker to achieve justice, equality and fairness among society. Currently working as a Specialist Legal Housing Advisor at Latin American Women's Aid, providing legal services to victims fleeing from domestic violence

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Publishing House:

LAP LAMBERT Academic Publishing


Human Rights, prohibition of torture, absolute rights, non refoulement

Product category:

LAW / General