Gender-Based Asylum Law in the European Union

The European Union currently has set a goal of fully establishing a Common European Asylum System (CEAS) by 2010. The ultimate objective of the CEAS involves establishing a common asylum procedure and a uniform status for persons in need of international protection valid throughout the EU in order to achieve a higher common standard of protection and greater equality in protection across the EU and to ensure a higher degree of solidarity between EU Member States.  The first stage, adopted in 2004, established common definitions and minimum standards for asylum procedures in EU member states.  The Hague Programme, in addition to standardizing protocols throughout the EU, has created a uniform procedure for monitoring and sharing information on refugees.  The Dublin Regulation (PDF, 1 page) sets the common rules for asylum applicants regardless of the EU country they are applying to, and makes the system more efficient by eliminating the need for multiple applications to more than one EU country. 

Within these regulations are some noteworthy sections related to gender-based asylum.  One of these is Article 9(2) of the Council Directive (PDF, 12 pages) issued in 2004, which lists acts of qualifying persecution as including (a) “acts of physical or mental violence, including acts of sexual violence” and (f) “acts of a gender-specific or child-specific nature.”


The second stage of the CEAS will establish common systems for processing and evaluating asylum claims.  CEAS commits the EU to further discussing and creating common systems for the following:

  • Legislative instruments,
  • Implementation and Accompanying measures,
  • Solidarity and burden-sharing, and
  • The external dimension of asylum.

The Green Paper (PDF, 27 pages,), which details some of the proposed actions and areas which will be addressed, includes a call for increased uniformity of eligibility criteria.  While the final rule will likely not be available until 2010, when it is published it will have a significant impact on asylum criteria and procedures for EU countries, including procedures for adjudicating gender-based asylum claims.  Also of note among the proposed changes is granting of uniform status, meaning that a successful asylum applicant would be approved to live anywhere in the EU, not just in the country where they applied.