Naomi Hart, Complementary Protection and Transjudicial Dialogue: Global Best Practice or Race to the Bottom?

Naomi Hart, Complementary Protection and Transjudicial Dialogue: Global Best Practice or Race to the Bottom?, International Journal of Refugee Law

This article analyses how national judges approach the interpretation of domestic and regional laws on complementary protection. In particular, it scrutinizes a methodological choice made by many judges to interpret these laws with reference to decisions of courts in other national jurisdictions. It argues that, while this practice of transjudicial dialogue has the potential to yield outcomes that are favourable to applicants for complementary protection, it can also lead national courts to reach conclusions that restrict access to complementary protection. The article outlines the essential components of complementary protection as an international trend and as enshrined in national and regional legislation. It explains why transjudicial dialogue can be a harbinger of either fortified or suppressed standards of complementary protection. It analyses key aspects of complementary protection regimes which courts have interpreted disadvantageously to applicants, guided and supported by foreign decisions: namely, the exclusion of applicants from complementary protection, and the availability of complementary protection to those fleeing generalized violence. Finally, it highlights two means of arresting the race to the bottom in protection standards: enhancing international oversight of complementary protection norms, and promoting cooperative fora for judges to forge progressive protection standards.

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