From commitment to compliance? Norway's international human rights obligations and practice towards asylum seekers
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This dissertation examines what international human rights obligations Norway has towards asylum seekers through international treaties and conventions and its compliance with these obligations. The study applies case study methodology and through four cases it lays out some of the disputes between the Norwegian government and asylum authorities, and human rights advocates such as NGOs and lawyers. The theoretical framework for the dissertation is compliance theory which focuses on how states move from non-compliance to compliance with international human right norms. The focus of the study is on the stage from commitment to compliance. The analysis focuses on the scope mechanisms for producing human rights compliance and how these are applied in the context of Norwegian asylum policies and practice. It also discusses some of the challenges to human rights compliance, such as the existence of strong counter-norms, vague human rights norms and little risk associated with breaching with asylum seekers' human rights. My findings indicate that clear breaches of international human rights are rare, but vague human rights norms allow for strict interpretations and grey-zones. Strong counter-norms connected to topics such as securitization and state sovereignty serves as counter-mechanisms to human rights advocates push for more liberal interpretations of the norms. My findings further indicate that there is little international pressure from other states to secure the human rights of asylum seekers. The findings suggest that human rights compliance is not a linear process, but one where actors participate in continuous discussions around the interpretations and implementations of the norms.