In refugee law, the meaning of ‘well-founded fear of being persecuted’ has been extensively examined by courts and scholars alike. Yet, there has been very little consideration of how far into the future a risk of persecution may extend for protection to be warranted. This lack of guidance on the question of timing has allowed an inappropriate notion of ‘imminence’ to infiltrate refugee decision-making across a range of jurisdictions – at times resulting in people being denied protection. It is especially pertinent to human rights-based claims involving harms that may manifest more gradually over time, such as those relating to the slow-onset impacts of climate change. This paper examines how certain courts have grappled with ‘time’ in a relatively nuanced way, highlighting principles that may be instructive for other contexts.
Jane McAdam is Scientia Professor of Law and Director of the Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law at University of New South Wales. She is visiting faculty at Harvard Law School for Fall 2019. For more, visit: https://hls.harvard.edu/faculty/directory/11914/McAdam.
Lunch will be served.