Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date



During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, European governments enacted a series of immigration laws under which international migration was constrained in order to maximise advantage for States. These new, largely self-interested laws clashed with the enormity of a series of major population displacements within Europe, including the flight of more than a million Russians between 1917 and 1922, and the exodus during the early 1920s of hundreds of thousands of Armenians from Turkey. The social crisis brought on by the de facto immigration of so many refugees - present without authorisation in countries where they enjoyed no protection and no ability to support themselves legally - convinced European governments that the viability of the overall migration control project depended on building into that regime a needs-based exception for refugees. Providing specifically for refugees would legitimate what was, in any event, an unstoppable phenomenon; it would thus reinforce the viability of the protectionist norm. Equally important, enfranchising those who were unlawfully present would defuse social tensions in States of reception and position refugees to make a positive contribution to their new societies.