United Nations Refugee Convention 1951

United Nations Refugee Convention 1951


  • Model laws on asylum and refugees that were drafted by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) decades ago but not implemented by the government could be revised by an expert committee, according to Commission member Justice M.M. Kumar’s suggestion at a recent meeting.

Key Details

  • Though India has not signed the United Nations Refugee Convention, 1951, Justice Kumar said the refugees and asylum seekers were entitled to the rights in Articles 14, 20 and 21 of the Constitution.

    United Nations Refugee Convention 1951
    Credit: Wikipedia
  • The lack of a specific legislation governing refugees and asylum seekers.
  • The NHRC held a discussion on “protection of the basic human rights of refugees and asylum seekers in India” on January 20 and many participants raised the issue of India not having a specific law for refugees and asylum-seekers.
  • Drafts needed to be updated and converted into laws.

Back to Basics

About United Nations Refugee Convention 1951

  • The 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees was the first comprehensive attempt to define refugees and charted a detailed guideline for host countries to ensure the adequate protection and preservation of the rights of all refugees.
  • It puts out clearly who a refugee is and what kind of assistance, rights and legal protection a refugee is entitled to receive.
  • It also lays down the obligations of refugees towards the host countries.
  • The Convention also specifies certain categories of people, such as war criminals, who do not qualify for refugee status.
  • India has not signed the United Nations Refugee Convention, 1951

Definition of Refugee:

  • The 1951 convention defines a refugee as:
    • A person who is outside his or her country of nationality or habitual residence
    • Has a well-founded fear of being persecuted because of his or her race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion
    • Unable or unwilling to avail him— or herself of the protection of that country, or
    • Unable to return there, for fear of persecution

Source: TH

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