Rose Turner

“Encyclopedia for Human Rights in the United States” Review

Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states: “Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.” It is, perhaps, easy to project that this means that everyone has the right to be accepted by other countries, but in fact, as the Encyclopedia for Human Rights in the United States points out, this is not quite the case.

There is no automatic right to be granted asylum, only the right to apply for asylum. A state can choose, in its discretion, not to grant asylum. However, if a state denies asylum it nonetheless may not, under the principal of non- refoulement, expel or return an alien in any manner to a border (“frontier”) of a territory where her life or freedom would be threatened on account of her race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.

This is an important distinction to make, because it seems that in the current Syrian refugee crisis, many are outraged that refugees are not being more readily accepted, particularly in the United States. While the outrage may be justified and perhaps the United States should be more accepting, they do not, in fact, seem to be betraying their agreement to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Simultaneously, the US is technically denying refugees the opportunity to practice other human rights, such as having access to education and safety. While this poses an ethical and moral dilemma, this encyclopedia entry helps to clear up one side of the ethical confusion: the United States is not betraying its promise to the Universal Declaration to Human Rights.

Additionally, the entry points out that there are multiple types of asylum. “These are race, religion, political opinion, nationality, or membership in a particular social group.” It goes on to say that political asylum is the most commonly found form of asylum. I believe it is important to note that this entry was published in 2011, which is the same year that the Syrian civil war began. I would be curious to see if the article would have been different if it were written today, after millions of refugees have been displaced or killed.

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Works Cited

Asylum. (2011). In H. Conde, Encyclopedia of human rights in the United States (2nd ed.). Amenia, NY: Grey House Publishing. Retrieved from http://0-

UN General Assembly. “Universal Declaration of Human Rights.” United Nations, 217 (III) A, 1948, Paris, art. 14, Accessed 4 Apr 2017.

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