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Britain is a signatory of the 1950 European Convention on Human Rightsand Fundamental Freedoms and the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. It is only in the last decade, however, with the passage of the 1993 Asylum and Immigration Appeal Act and the 1998 Human Rights Act, that these two Conventions have became part of British law. This paper begins by exploring the impact of the incorporation of the 1951 Convention and then moves on to look at the hopes that are now pinned on the Human Rights Act. It concludes by considering the (actual and potential) impact of these two Conventions on asylum policy and practice since their incorporation into British law and explores the possible conflict between the Conventions and recent British legislation on asylum. In doing so it highlights the need to develop a deeper and contextualised understanding of current preoccupations with the issue of asylum and refuge in Britain and other European societies.
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