The UN Refugee Agency said Friday it strongly opposes efforts such as those announced by Denmark that seek to externalize or outsource asylum and international protection obligations to other countries.
UNHCR head Filippo Grandi tweeted: "#Danish Aliens Act: UNHCR strongly opposes efforts that seek to externalize asylum and international protection obligations to other countries.
"Such efforts to evade responsibility run counter to the letter and spirit of the 1951 Refugee Convention."
UNHCR spokesman Babar Baloch said the Danish Parliament approved amendments to the Danish Aliens Act. The amendments will enter into effect if Denmark secures a formal agreement with a third country. "This could see the forcible transfer of asylum-seekers and the abdication of Denmark’s responsibility for the asylum process and for protecting vulnerable refugees," he said.
"UNHCR will continue to engage in discussions with Denmark, which remains a valuable and long-standing partner to UNHCR, in order to find practical ways forward that ensure the confidence of the Danish people and uphold Denmark's international commitments," said Baloch.
He said Denmark's actions could result in the "forcible transfer" of asylum seekers and application of Denmark's responsibility for the asylum process.
The UN agency said that already nearly 90% percent of the world's refugees live in developing or the least developed countries that, despite their limited resources, step up and meet their international legal obligations and responsibilities.
"We have repeatedly been saying that we are extremely concerned that plans to externalize asylum processing and protection of refugees to a third country, such as those that are being pursued by Denmark and others, seriously risk setting in motion a process of gradual erosion of the international protection system."