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Abstract

The Cartagena definition of refugee was adopted by a few countries in 1984 to address the Central American crisis of forced displacement. Despite the circumstances and particular reasons for its adoption, other countries in the region have adopted the definition since then. Over time, the concept - which extends the Article 1 (A) (2) of the 1951 Convention - has been incorporated in national legislations becoming a central component of the refugee protection system in Latin America. This thesis aims at analyzing the Cartagena definition of refugees not in isolation but as part of the evolution of the institution of asylum in the region placing it therein. This work explores the fundamental role that the Inter-American Human Rights System has played in informing, reinforcing, and developing the basis for a refugee protection framework in Latin America taking into consideration the interrelation between human rights and refugee law. It finally decomposes the definition and examined its elements separately in order to determine and understand its scope. It proposes an interpretation that goes back to the time of the adoption of the definition. In parallel, it seeks to adapt and to keep definition up-to-date and flexible in order to apply it to new situations. In sum, this dissertation seeks at presenting the Cartagena definition from its origins, considering its evolution over the years and its flexibility and adaptability to respond to new challenges on refugee protection in the region.

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