I write in response to your editorial “Rethink asylum rules for age of mass movement” (September 21) on asylum policy and the Geneva Convention. I strongly agree that the 1957 convention needs renegotiating. The current arrangements ensure that criminal people smugglers control who arrives in OECD countries. People risk their lives to arrive. Many are not refugees but simply people seeking a better life. The OECD countries spend billions processing and refusing unqualified applicants but have great difficulty removing failed cases. And people across Europe see the system as a mess and that many applicants are not qualified, and harden their hearts, and politics swings dangerously rightward.
The fault in the system is that people have to arrive in order to apply. The renegotiation should impose a duty on the United Nations High Commission for Refugees to provide for all fleeing persecution, and be fully funded to do so. Each of the OECD countries should commit to a reasonable number of annual arrivals. Families would then arrive in an organised way and anyone turning up uninvited would simply be returned to a UNHCR camp.
The people smugglers would be out of business. No more unqualified applicants would arrive. Poor refugees, who cannot currently pay the people smugglers, would have a chance to apply. And the chaos and cruelty of the current system would be gone.
I have been arguing this case for 10 years or more. I am astonished that governments cannot see a better way forward.