This article compares refugee policies created in Western European states during the long twentieth century. It compares transformations in the international regulations and the internal politics of several states, particularly Great Britain, the Netherlands, Belgium, France and Switzerland. The text underlines the challenges of building European refugee policies, and analyzes the forms they have taken in relationship to the national traditions of various European states. The article shows how, from the mid-nineteenth century on, national histories of refugee policies differ profoundly from, and even contradict, one another. This fact sheds new light on contemporary issues relating to the implementation of the ideals of the Geneva Convention.
By Frank Caestecker