restricted access Spaces of Legal Ambiguity: Refugee Camps and Humanitarian Power


While the refugee camp has not been defined in international law, this article suggests that discussing the legality and legitimacy of these spaces is key to any understanding of what contemporary refugee camps are. It examines different legal registers that might be used to evaluate the legality or legitimacy of refugee camps and approaches refugees and camps from a critical legal perspective. The article argues that in the same way that the refugee camp label (often) falsely signalizes a human rights- and protection-oriented sanctuary from harm, the presence of humanitarian organizations may wrongfully legitimize the arbitrary detention of refugees.