Michael Dunne

John Bassett Moore, the greatest American international lawyer of his age, wrote in his monumental Digest of International Law (1906): "No legal term in common use is perhaps so lacking in uniformity and accuracy of definition as the 'right of asylum.' " A century later, the same can still be said. Asylum, originally conceived as a right claimed by an individual fugitive, is now more readily regarded as a privilege abused by hordes of foreigners, self-styled refugees seeking to avoid the immigration restrictions of beneficent countries. The twentieth century, which began at the high point of intercontinental and peaceful migration, ended as intracontinental migration became increasingly salient and more and more contentious politically. Western and northern Europeans worried about "economic migrants" from the Balkans and the former Soviet bloc. From the Horn of Africa through the Great Lakes to the mouth of the Congo millions of people have been displaced through war and famine; South and Southeast Asia have seen comparable human exoduses. In the Western Hemisphere the debate has concerned the movement of migrants, over-whelmingly Spanish-speaking people, into the United States from the Caribbean and Central America. Thus to understand "asylum" in an American context we need to look at the historical evolution of the term as it has become entangled with the twin issues of immigration and refugee policy, both of which are themselves part of the larger pattern of domestic and foreign policymaking in the United States.


Anker, Deborah E. Law of Asylum in the United States. 3d ed. Boston, 1999. The standard work written for lawyers; very detailed text and heavily footnoted.

Bessiouni, M. Cherif. International Extradition: United States Law and Practice. 3d ed. Dobbs Ferry, N.Y., 1996. A substantial work that, like Vialet, makes the argument that asylum and refugee regimes must be seen in the context of reducing immigration.

Bolesta-Koziebrodzki, Léopold. Le Droit d'Asile. Leiden, 1962. An older work, useful for a non-U.S. perspective and valuable for Latin America.

Brownlie, Ian. Principles of Public International Law. 5th ed. Oxford, 1998. A manageable introduction by an authoritative scholar and practitioner before the bar of the International Court of Justice.

Columbey, Jean-Pierre, ed. Collection of International Instruments and Other Legal Texts Concerning Refugees and Displaced Persons. 2 vols. Geneva, 1995. A publication of Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Division of International Protection; volume 1 contains "Universal Instruments"; volume 2 deals inter alia with Latin America.

Dunne, Michael. "American Judicial Internationalism in the Twentieth Century." Proceedings of the American Society of International Law 90 (December 1996): 148–155. Discusses the work of David Forsythe, Louis Henkin, and Natalie Kaufman.

Ermacora, Felix, Manfred Nowak, and Hannes Tretter, eds. International Human Rights: Documents and Introductory Notes. Vienna, 1993. The comparative materials are intelligently contextualized with excellent references.

Frey, Linda S., and Marsha L Frey. The History of Diplomatic Immunity. Columbus, Ohio, 1999. Set to become the standard account.

Goodwin-Gill, Guy S. The Refugee in International Law. 2d ed. Oxford, 1996. The detailed and authoritative starting point for the subject, written by a former member of the UNHCR. The text is wide-ranging and fully referenced; indispensable for the world picture.

Grahl-Madsen, Atle. Territorial Asylum. London, Rome, and New York, 1980. Half this book, by a contemporary leader in the field, is documentation pleading for a convention on asylum comparable to the 1951 Refugee Convention.

Hailbronner, Kay. Immigration and Asylum Law and Policy of the European Union. The Hague, London, and Boston, 2000. An exhaustive work that deals with refugees and asylum-seekers.

Hall, William Edward. A Treatise on International Law. 8th ed. Edited by A. Pearce Higgins. London, 1924. A classic, relatively brief work.

Harvey, Colin. Seeking Asylum in the UK: Problems and Prospects. London and Dublin, 2000. Contextualizes somewhat dated "critical legal theory" and useful for European developments, political and legal.

Hathaway, James C. The Law of Refugee Status. Toronto, 1991. Monograph on the 1951 Refugee Convention by an authority.

Hutchinson, E. P. Legislative History of American Immigration Policy, 1798–1965. Philadelphia, 1981. The classic and indispensable account.

Hyde, Charles Cheney. International Law Chiefly as Interpreted and Applied by the United States. 2d rev. ed. 3 vols. Boston, 1945. First published in 1922, this work by an eminent international lawyer reveals how little interwar crisis affected U.S. immigration policy and practice.

Jennings, Robert, and Arthur Watts, eds. Oppenheim's International Law. 9th ed. London and New York, 1996. In this classic work, volume 1 examines asylum and refugees from a very wide international perspective with voluminous references.

LeBlanc, Lawrence J. The United States and the Genocide Convention. Durham, N.C., and London, 1991. Deals in chapters 8 and 9 with the "reserving" of international treaties by the Senate.

Morgenstern, Felice. "'Extra-territorial' Asylum." British Year Book of International Law 25 (1948): 236–261. The first in a trio of essays discussing asylum from an international, comparative perspective. See also "The Right of Asylum," British Year Book of International Law 26 (1949): 327–357; and "Diplomatic Asylum," Law Quarterly Review 67 (July 1951): 362–382.

Nicholson, Frances, and Patrick Twomey, eds. Refugee Rights and Realities: Evolving International Concepts and Regimes. Cambridge, 1999.

Ronning, C. Neale. Diplomatic Asylum: Legal Norms and Political Reality in Latin American Relations. The Hague, 1965. The appendices and bibliography are useful in a study that puts the Columbia-Peru Asylum Case in context and also covers U.S. practice.

Skran, Claudena M. Refugees in Inter-War Europe: The Emergence of a Regime. Oxford, 1995. Places the Evian conference of 1938 in the larger picture of U.S. interwar policy.

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. The State of the World's Refugees, 2000: Fifty Years of Humanitarian Action. Oxford, 2000. This important serial provides the annual monitoring of the implementation of the 1951 Refugee Convention and 1967 Protocol; contains factual information and statistics together with essays by regions, periods, and topics.

U.S. Committee for Refugees. World Refugee Survey. This annual survey is the most outstanding of relevant unofficial publications and presents the global picture.

U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service. Statistical Yearbook. Annual review that contains informative and clear essays on the published data.

Vialet, Joyce. "A Brief History of U.S. Immigration Policy." 91-141 EPW (25 Jan. 1991): 2.

See also Extraterritoriality ; Humanitarian Intervention and Relief ; Human Rights ; Immigration ; Nativism ; Reciprocity ; Refugee Policies .

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