Under the Safe Third Country Agreement, in force since December 2004, Canada and the United States declare that the other country is safe for refugees and close the door to most refugees at the U.S.-Canada border. A safe third country is a state in which a person passing through that country could have applied for refugee protection. In Canada, subsection 102(2) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act sets out the criteria for designating a country as a safe third country. The move is part of a long-term reduction in refugee protection obligations by countries that are putting pressure on neighbouring countries to become “buffer zones” against the flow of undesirable asylum seekers. The international refugee protection regime began in earnest after the Second World War with the 1951 Refugee Convention. At that time, States parties were ashamed of their inability to help those fleeing the Holocaust and motivated them by a Cold War impulse to protect those fleeing the new communist governments of Eastern Europe. Despite their mixed motivations, States parties, when talking about international cooperation, felt they were cooperating to help refugees reach safety. Contemporary initiatives by the governments of the United States, Australia and Europe are working to cooperate to block the influx of asylum seekers instead of helping them make their protection claims. For all other countries that could be designated as safe third countries in the future: Ahmed Hussen, who was speaking for the IRCC as a Canadian minister, said the conditions of the safe third country agreement were still met.
. . .