This book provides a critical account of the concept of international protection. The author questions the boundaries between protection and assistance, and challenges the dominant focus on state sovereignty. Drawing upon a broad range of sources, she scrutinises the central role played by the state in providing legal, social and economic protection, which entails positive obligations upon the state. Protection, in this context, does not simply mean protection from persecution, threats, and sustained violence, but emancipation. By focusing on the local and national contexts wherein protection is enacted, created and also contested, she combines the politics of protection with the practices of protection, with a special focus on Italy. The resulting arguments clarify the difference between the public responsibility to protect and the private desire to assist, between treating refugees as bearers of rights and considering them as objects of assistance. The author argues that the absence of protection in Italy has encouraged many to leave and find protection in other EU countries. This timely work is essential reading for students and scholars of migration, international relations and asylum politics as well as policy-makers.