A Word About Methodology
This chapter is, perhaps, not like other chapters in this book. I am a refugee rights lawyer; I got my start in the field providing legal assistance to refugee children and young adults in Cairo, Egypt, and went on to found Asylum Access, the only international organization dedicated to making human rights a reality for refugees in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. The perspective here, therefore, is that of an advocate, not an academic. It is informed not only by personal knowledge of human rights law but also by a deeply held belief that the international legal instruments, which articulate human rights safeguards, are the best available proxy for a shared international consensus on how refugee children (and adults) should be treated; thus, they are an appropriate foundation for policies that affect refugees.
Speaking from this perspective, I offer observations on the practice of turning the promises in the human rights instruments into lived reality for refugee children. These observations are based on experiences while leading Asylum Access during its first decade, from 2005 to 2015. Although my views are informed by the dedicated, highly competent team that works or has worked at Asylum Access during this period, the opinions and judgments expressed here are my own.