The refugee day was first celebrated on June 20, 2001; to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees; World Refugee Day is a key moment in time to communicate with the world about who refugees are and why they require protection.

On World Refugee Day we celebrate refugees’ contributions and seek to build empathy and understanding for their plight and their resilience to build a bright future.

On World Refugee Day, held every year on June 20th, we commemorate the strength, courage, and perseverance of millions of refugees.

Who are refugees?

According to Article 1(A) (2) of the 1951 convention defines a refugee as “an who is outside of his or her country of nationality or habitual residence who is unable or unwilling to return due to well-founded fear of persecution based on his or her race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group.”

UNHCR, the office of United nation-high commissioner for refugees, is a global organization dedicated to saving lives and protecting the rights of the refugees. Its headquarter is in Geneva, Switzerland. According to the report of UNHCR at the end of the year, 2017 more than 68.5 million people were forced to leave there country due to conflict, violence, persecution, or human rights violations. One person is displaced every 2 seconds or can say in lesser than you took the time to read this.

Whenever anyone hears the word “refugee”, one thinks about the terms ‘human rights’, ‘violence’, ‘mass exoduses’, ‘national security’ etc. There are many rights and legal protection which are related to the refugees, which are accepted by more than 140 countries according to the 1951 convention and 1967 protocol.

International and regional instrument related to refugees include

  • 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees
  • 1967 Optional Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees
  • Universal Declaration of Human Rights (art. 14)
  • American Declaration on the Rights and Duties of Man (art. 27)
  • American Convention on Human Rights (art. 22)
  • Cartagena Declaration on Refugees, Colloquium on the International Protection of Refugees in Central America, Mexico and Panama (Cartagena Declaration)
  • African [Banjul] Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (art. 12)
  • OAU Convention Governing the Specific Aspects of the Refugee Problem in Africa
  • Arab Charter on Human Rights (art. 28)
  • Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam (art. 12)
  • European Convention on Human Rights (arts. 2, 3, and 5)
  • Council Regulation EC No 343/2003 of 18 February 2003 establishing the criteria and mechanisms for determining the Member State responsible for examining an asylum application lodged in one of the Member States by a third-country national
  • Council Directive 2004/83/EC of 29 April 2004 on minimum standards for the qualification and status of third-country nationals or stateless persons as refugees or as persons who otherwise need international protection and the content of the protection granted
  • Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (art. 3)
  • African Union Convention for the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons in Africa
  • Convention on the Rights of the Child (art. 22)


Both the refugee right and human rights are intermixed, they intersect each other in many situations. There are many certain and basic principles related to the refugee law which are for providing some basic rights to them. These rights are such as-


This basic feature of refugee law of non-refoulment puts some of the obligations on states not to refuse or to return the refugee, where there is a threat to their life or freedom in respect to race, nationality, religions of a particular social group or opinion of the state.

But, there are two restrictions to this principle;

When the refugee is considered as a threat to the national security of the host countries.

When the refugees were convicted of a particular crime which generates a danger for the host community.


It is the key rights of the refugees in the host countries. Article 12 and 26 of the 1951 convention and the international covenant on civil and political rights provide that host countries should afford the refugees rights to choose where they want to resides in the territory and move freely within the state.

This principle still arises problems to the countries with limited resources and legal frameworks who can’t afford it.


The detention of the refugees in the host countries is still an issue with respect to the security of the asylum seekers in the host countries. So, the right to security and the right to liberty is an important context in regards to the refugee in the host countries.

Article 9 of ICCPR Everyone has the right to liberty and security of person. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention. No one shall be deprived of his liberty except on such grounds and in accordance with such procedure as are established by law.

This article was developed by relevant human rights jurisprudence.


Article 23 (1) of the ICCPR says that “The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.”

If any of the refugees are granted asylum, his or her whole family will receive that protection. And if the refugee status is terminated, it is terminated for the whole family. Any of the rights an individual refugee gets, his or her family will get it.

The definition of the family in relation to refugees differs in each country, anyone can’t assume the same situation in the other countries also.


Other rights made for the protection of the rights of the refugees are:

  • Right to education
  • Access to justice
  • Employment
  • Legal protection
  • Equality among the citizens of the host countries

And there are still many rights under the 1951 convention like Article 13 which gives refugees the right to movable and immovable property as a foreign national. Article 16 refugee is allowed to access the courts. Article 17 refugees are allowed to have the same wage of earnings and employment as a foreign national.

Author: Nishtha .,
Trinity institute of professional studies

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