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Refugee law is the branch of international law which deals with the rights and protection of refugees.

There are differences of opinion among

international law scholars as to the relationship between refugee law and international human rights law or humanitarian law. The discussion
forms part of a larger discussion on fragmentation of international law.[1] While some scholars conceive each branch as a self-contained regime
distinct from other branches, others regard the three branches as forming a larger normative system that seeks to protect the rights of all human
beings at all time. The proponents of the latter conception view this holistic regime as including norms only applicable to certain situations such
as armed conflict and military occupation (IHL) or to certain groups of people including refugees (refugee law), children (the Convention on the
Rights of the Child), and prisoners of war (the 1949 Geneva Convention III).[2]

Refugee law encompasses both customary law, peremptory norms, and international legal instruments. The only international instruments directly
applying to refugees are the 1951 United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and the 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of
Refugees. Both the Convention and the Protocol are open to states, but each may be signed separately. 145 states have ratified the Convention,
and 146 have ratified the Protocol. These instruments only apply in the countries that have ratified an instrument, and some countries have
ratified these instruments subject to various reservations.

The 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights

The 1951 United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees

The 1966 Bangkok Principles on Status and Treatment of Refugees[1] adopted at the Asian-African Legal Consultative Committee in

The 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees

The 1967 UN General Assembly Declaration on Territorial Asylum[3]

The 1969 OAU Convention Governing the Specific Aspects of Refugee Problems in Africa [4]

The 1974 United Nations Declaration on the Protection of Women and Children in Emergency and Armed Conflict;

The 1976 Council of Europe's Recommendation 773 (1976) on the Situation of de facto Refugees [2]

The 1984 Cartagena Declaration on Refugees for Latin America and its three successors:

There is a variety of definitions as to who is regarded as a refugee, usually defined for the purpose of a particular instrument. The variation of
definitions regarding refugees has made it difficult to create a concrete and single vision of what constitutes a refugee following the original
refugee convention. Article 1 of the Convention as amended by the 1967 Protocol defines a refugee as:

"A person who owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group
or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of
that country; or who, not having a nationality and being outside the country of his former habitual residence as a result of such events, is unable
or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it."[11

Non-refoulement (English pronunciation: /.ful.m/) is a fundamental principle of international law which forbids a country receiving asylum
seekers from returning them to a country in which they would be in likely danger of persecution based on race, religion, nationality, membership
of a particular social group or political opinion (See Article 33 below).[1] Unlike political asylum, which applies to those who can prove a well-
grounded fear of persecution based on certain category of persons, non-refoulement refers to the generic repatriation of people, including
refugees into war zones and other disaster locales. It is a principle of customary international law, as it applies to states that are not parties to the
1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees or its 1967 Protocol.[2] It is also a principle of the trucial law of nations.

It is debatable whether non-refoulement is a jus cogens (peremptory norm) of international law.[3][4] If so, international law permits no
abridgments for any purpose or under any circumstances. The debate over this matter was rekindled following the September 11, 2001 terror
attacks in the United States as well as contemporary attacks in Europe.[5]

he principle of non-refoulement arises out of an international collective memory of the failure of nations during World War II to provide a safe
haven to refugees fleeing certain genocide at the hands of the Nazi regime. Following World War II, the need for international checks on state
sovereignty over refugees became apparent to the international community. During the war, several states had forcibly returned or denied
admission to German and French Jews fleeing the Holocaust. After the war, millions of refugees and prisoners from the Soviet Union were
forcibly returned despite concerns they would face retaliation from the Soviet government. In turn, the Soviet government tortured or killed more
than two million of those sent back by Western governments. [6]

Non-refoulement presents an inherent conflict with state sovereignty, as it infringes on a state's right to exercise control over its own borders and
those who reside within them. In legal proceedings immediately following World War II, non-refoulement was viewed as a distinct right which
could be abridged under certain circumstances, such as those spelled out in Article 3, Section 2 of the 1951 Convention. [6]

In the 1960s, the European Commission on Human Rights recognized non-refoulement as a subsidiary of prohibitions on torture. As the ban on
torture is jus cogens, this linkage rendered the prohibition on refoulement absolute[5] and challenged the legality of refoulement for the purposes
of state security. Through court cases (see Soering v. United Kingdom and Chahal v. United Kingdom) and interpretations of various international
treaties in the 1980s, the European Commission on Human Rights shifted preference away from preserving state sovereignty and towards
protecting persons who might be refouled.[6] This interpretation permitted no abridgments of non-refoulement protections, even if the state was
concerned a refugee may be a terrorist or pose other immediate threats to the state

Article 3 of the 1933 Convention relating to the International Status of Refugees contained the first mention of non-refoulement in
international law[8] and prevented party states from expelling legally-residing refugees or turning away refugees at the borders of their
home countries.[9] This treaty was ratified by only a few states and gained little traction in international law.[8]

The principle of "non-refoulement" was officially enshrined in Article 33 of the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees.
Article 33 contains the following two paragraphs that define the prohibition of the expulsion or return of a refugee:

1. "No Contracting State shall expel or return ('refouler') a refugee in any manner whatsoever to the frontiers of territories where his life
or freedom would be threatened on account of his race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political

2. "The benefit of the present provision may not, however, be claimed by a refugee whom there are reasonable grounds for regarding as a
danger to the security of the country in which he is, or who, having been convicted by a final judgment of a particularly serious crime,
constitutes a danger to the community of that country." [10]

The 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees modified Article 33 and created a more inclusive legal standard for defining
refugees as:

"owing to well-founded fear of being persecuted for reason of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or
opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of
that country; or who, not having a nationality and being outside the country of his former habitual residence as a result of such events,
is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it."[1]

Article III of the Asian-African Legal Consultative Organizations (then known as the Asian-African Legal Consultative Committee)
1996 Principles Concerning Treatment of Refugees states:

No one seeking asylum in accordance with these Principles should, except for overriding reasons of national security or safeguarding
the populations, be subjected to measures such as rejection at the frontier, return or expulsion which would result in compelling him to
return to or remain in a territory if there is a well-founded fear of persecution endangering his life, physical integrity or liberty in that

The United Nations General Assemblys 1967 Declaration on Territorial Asylum adds the caveat that the asylum seeker must already
be inside the country in which he is seeking asylum. It also allows countries to refuse entry to asylum seekers for certain causes, such
as the entrance of an unfeasible number of asylum seekers at a given time. [12]

Article II(3) of the Organization for African Unitys Convention Governing the Specific Aspects of Refugee Problems in Africa,
signed in 1969, makes provisions for asylum seekers fleeing war, colonial dominance, or social unrest. [13]

Article 22(8) of the 1969 American Convention on Human Rights establishes danger to an asylum seekers right to life or personal
freedom as the threshold for non-refoulement among American states.[14]

Article 3 of the 1984 Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment held that non-
refoulement emanated from larger protections from torture and inhumane treatment. This represented a major shift, as these
protections, and therefore non-refoulement provisions, are considered absolute rights.[6]

Per Article 3(2) of the 1957 European Convention on Extradition and Article 4(5) of the 1981 Inter-American Convention on
Extradition, the principle of non-refoulement also applies to extradition cases in which the person believes they will be tried or biased
based specifically on one of the protected factors. [15]
Interpretations of Article 33 of the 1951 Convention
Though the principle of non-refoulement is a non-negotiable aspect of international law, states have interpreted this article in various
ways and have constructed their legal responses to asylum seeker in corresponding manners. [16] The four most common interpretations
Strict:This interpretation holds that non-refoulement laws only apply to asylum seekers who have physically entered a states borders.
States using this interpretation often enact policies and procedures designed to block asylum seekers from reaching their borders. [16]
Strict, with a narrow reading: This interpretation holds that only certain refugees are legally entitled to non-refoulement protection.
If the country receiving an asylum seeker does not find that their life or freedom would be threatened by refoulement, this
interpretation holds that they can be legitimately returned to their country of origin.[16]
Collectivist: This approach involves international systems designed to process the asylum claim in the country in which a person
initially seek asylum and redistribute them among other countries. This approach relies on the logic that Article 33 does not include
language requiring states receiving asylum seekers to permit them to remain permanently, only an obligation not to send them back to
a region in which they face likely danger. Refugee relocation agreements between countries must ensure they are not sent back by the
new host country. They new host country does not have to be party to the 1951 Convention, however.[16]
Collectivist, with laws preventing asylum seekers from reaching sovereign borders: This approach is not an interpretation of
Article 33, but a way around it. It combines the strict and collectivist approaches. States using this approach establish non-sovereign
areas within their borders, primarily at travel hubs. Asylum seekers presenting themselves at such areas are then sent to another
country to have their asylum claims processed. As with traditional collectivism, the asylum seeker cannot be sent to a country in which
they face likely danger.[16]

International law recognizes the right to seek asylum, but does not oblige states to provide it. Nations at times offer 'temporary protection' when
they face a sudden mass influx of people and their regular asylum systems would be overwhelmed. In such circumstances people can be speedily
admitted to safe countries, but without any guarantee of permanent asylum. Thus 'temporary protection' is helpful to both governments and
asylum seekers in specific circumstances. Yet it only complements and does not substitute for the wider protection measures offered by the
Refugee Convention.

Refugee protection and assistance organizations generally promote three "durable solutions" to the fate of refugees:

Voluntary repatriation : refugees are able to return to their home country because their
lives and liberty are no longer threatened;

Local integration: host governments allow refugees to integrate into the country of first
asylum; and

Resettlement in a third country : repatriation is unsafe and the first-asylum country refuses local integration.

Most of the world's refugees wait for durable solutions for their predicament. While most have been granted provisional or temporary asylum in
neighboring countries, they are not able to regularize their status or integrate. Their rights to move and work are often highly restricted, and
educational and recreational opportunities are often nonexistent or severely lacking. These refugees may also be subject to attack, either by local
security forces or by cross-border incursions from the country of origin.

A special category are people who may have been forced to flee their homes for the same reasons as refugees but they have not crossed an
international border. These people are called internally displaced persons. By the end of 2000, there were approximately 11.5 million refugees
around the world who had fled their countries for a variety of reasons and an even greater number of internally displaced persons, between 20
25 million, who had abandoned their homes for similar reasons. Increasingly the majority of current conflicts in the world involve disputes
between political or ethnic groups within countries rather than wars between countries. Given this trend, the number of persons caught up in
conflicts in their own countries and forced to leave their homes is likely to increase.

II. Rights at Stake

Prohibition on the forced return of a refugee is called nonrefoulement and is one of the most
fundamental principles in international refugee law. This principle is laid out in Article 33 of the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees,
which says that no state "shall expel or return ('refouler' in French) a refugee in any manner whatsoever to the frontiers of territories where his life
or freedom would be threatened on account of his race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion."

Some countries detain asylum seekers upon arrival, during the asylum process or while waiting for deportation (refoulement). Asylum seekers
may have already suffered imprisonment and Torture in the country from which they have fled. Therefore, The consequences of detention may be
particularly serious, causing severe emotional and psychological stress. Article 31 of the Refugee Convention says that refugees should not be
penalized for having entered a country illegally if they have come directly from a place where they were in danger and have made themselves
known to the authorities. Therefore, asylum seekers should not be detained for being in possession of forged identity papers or for destroying
identity or travel documents.
Articles 12 - 30 of the Refugee Convention set out the rights which individuals are entitled to once they have been recognised as Convention

All refugees must be granted identity papers and travel documents that allow them to travel outside the country

Refugees must receive the same treatment as nationals of the receiving country with regard to the following rights:

Free exercise of religion and religious education

Free access to the courts, including legal assistance

Access to elementary education

Access to public relief and assistance

Protection provided by social security

Protection of intellectual property, such as inventions and trade names

Protection of literary, artistic and scientific work

Equal treatment by taxing authorities

Refugees must receive the most favourable treatment provided to nationals of a foreign country with regard to the following rights:

The right to belong to trade unions

The right to belong to other non-political nonprofit organizations

The right to engage in wage-earning employment

Refugees must receive the most favourable treatment possible, which must be at least as favourable to that accorded aliens generally
in the same circumstances, with regard to the following rights:

The right to own property

The right to practice a profession

The right to self-employment

Access to housing

Access to higher education

Refugees must receive the same treatment as that accorded to aliens generally with regard to the following rights:

The right to choose their place of residence

The right to move freely within the country

Free exercise of religion and religious education

Free access to the courts, including legal assistance

Access to elementary education

Access to public relief and assistance

Protection provided by social security

Protection of intellectual property,

such as inventions and trade names

Protection of literary, artistic and scientific work

Equal treatment by taxing authorities

A vital part of being recognized as a refugee is Refugee Status Determination, or RSD. This is the legal or administrative process by which
governments or UNHCR determine whether a person seeking international protection is considered a refugee under international, regional or
national law. States have the primary responsibility for determining the status of asylum-seekers, but UNHCR may do so where states are unable
or unwilling. In recent years, due to changes in volumes and patterns of forced displacement, the refugee agency has been required to conduct
RSD in more countries than before and for a greater number of people.

In 2013, UNHCR registered a record high of 203,200 individual asylum applications compared to 125,500 a year earlier, and this confirmed it as
the second largest RSD body in the world. Four-fifths of individual asylum applications received by UNHCR were registered in only eight RSD
operations. But because of the dramatic increase in applications in 2013, and despite improvements in its capacity, UNHCRs Refugee Status
Determination backlog rose to a historical high of 252,800 applications pending decision. Such backlogs can in some situations have significant
implications for the protection and assistance of people of concern.

UNHCR continues to explore and implement measures to enhance the fairness, quality and efficiency of its RSD operations, and to identify
alternatives to individual RSD for select groups of asylum-seekers. In parallel, UNHCR works with governments and other partners to build and
strengthen the capacity of government RSD procedures. Despite such efforts, in 2013, UNHCR remained responsible for implementing the RSD
procedure in more than 50 countries. In another 20 countries, UNHCR conducted RSD jointly with, or parallel to, the government.

The core standards and best practices to ensure harmonized, efficient and quality RSD procedures, including reception and registration, are
presented in the Procedural Standards for RSD under UNHCRs Mandate. Published in 2003, these are gradually being revised to reflect legal
and procedural developments. The refugee agencys RSD operations have been progressively implementing the Procedural Standards, which can
be found in UNHCRs Refworld site, alongside other key UNHCR documents related to RSD, including legal and policy documents.

To strengthen the fairness, quality and efficiency of RSD procedures and decision-making, UNHCR develops and delivers specialized RSD
training for UNHCR and government RSD staff and others involved in the asylum process, and supports the development, and implementation of
quality assurance initiatives, at the country and regional level.

UNHCR also runs the UNHCR RSD Deployment Scheme and Roster, which provides expert support to RSD operations or to help build and
strengthen the capacity of government RSD procedures.

he Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, also known as the 1951 Refugee Convention, is a United Nations multilateral treaty that
defines who is a refugee, and sets out the rights of individuals who are granted asylum and the responsibilities of nations that grant asylum. The
Convention also sets out which people do not qualify as refugees, such as war criminals. The Convention also provides for some visa-free travel
for holders of travel documents issued under the convention. Although the Refugee Convention was agreed in Geneva, it is considered incorrect
to refer to it as "the Geneva Convention," because there are four treaties regulating armed conflict better known as the Geneva Conventions.

The Refugee Convention builds on Article 14 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which recognizes the right of persons to seek
asylum from persecution in other countries. A refugee may enjoy rights and benefits in a state in addition to those provided for in the Convention.

The Convention was approved at a special United Nations conference on 28 July 1951. Denmark was the first state to ratify the treaty on 4
December 1952, which entered into force on 22 April 1954. It was initially limited to protecting European refugees from before 1 January 1951
(after World War II), though states could make a declaration that the provisions would apply to refugees from other places.

The 1967 Protocol removed the time limits and applied to refugees "without any geographic limitation", but declarations previously made by
parties to the Convention on geographic scope were grandfathered.[3]
As at 1 July 2013, there were 145 parties to the Convention, and 146 to the Protocol.[1][4][5] Most recently, the President of Nauru, Marcus Stephen,
signed both the Convention and the Protocol on 17 June 2011[6][7] and acceded on 28 June 2011. Madagascar and Saint Kitts and Nevis are parties
only to the Convention, while Cape Verde, the United States of America and Venezuela are parties only to the Protocol. Since the US ratified the
Protocol in 1968, it undertook a majority of the obligations spelled out in the original 1951 document (Articles 2-34), and Article 1 as amended in
the Protocol, as "supreme Law of the Land".[8]

The rights promulgated by the Convention generally still stand today. Some have argued that the complex nature of 21st century refugee
relationships calls for a new treaty that recognizes the evolving nature of the nation-state, population displacement, and modern warfare. [9] [10]
Nevertheless, ideas like the principle of non-refoulement (Article 33) are still applied today, with the 1951 Convention being the hallmark of such

Rights and responsibilities of parties to the Refugee Convention

In the general principle of international law, treaties in force are binding upon the parties to it and must be performed in good faith. Countries that
have ratified the Refugee Convention are obliged to protect refugees that are on their territory, in accordance with its terms. [12] There are a number
of provisions that States parties to the Refugee Convention must adhere to.

Refugees shall

abide by the national laws of the contracting states (Article 2)

The contracting states shall

exempt refugees from reciprocity (Article 7): That means that the granting of a right to a refugee should
not be subject to the granting of similar treatment by the refugee's country of nationality, because
refugees do not enjoy the protection of their home state.[12]

be able to take provisional measures against a refugee if needed in the interest of essential national
security (Article 9)

respect a refugee's personal status and the rights that come with it, particularly rights related to marriage
(Article 12)

provide free access to courts for refugees (Article 16)

provide administrative assistance for refugees (Article 25)

provide identity papers for refugees (Article 27)

provide travel documents for refugees (Article 28)

allow refugees to transfer their assets (Article 30)

provide the possibility of assimilation and naturalization to refugees (Article 34)

cooperate with the UNHCR (Article 35) in the exercise of its functions and to help UNHCR supervise the
implementation of the provisions in the Convention. [12]

provide information on any national legislation they may adopt to ensure the application of the Convention
(Article 36).[12]

settle disputes they may have with other contracting states at the International Court of Justice if not
otherwise possible (Article 38)

The contracting states shall not

discriminate against refugees (Article 3)

take exceptional measures against a refugee solely on account of his or her nationality (Article 8)
expect refugees to pay taxes and fiscal charges that are different to those of nationals (Article 29)

impose penalties on refugees who entered illegally in search of asylum if they present themselves (Article

expel refugees (Article 32)

forcibly return or "refoul" refugees to the country they've fled from (Article 33). It is widely accepted that
the prohibition of forcible return is part of customary international law. This means that even States that
are not party to the 1951 Refugee Convention must respect the principle of non-refoulement. [12] Therefore,
States are obligated under the Convention and under customary international law to respect the principle
of non-refoulement. If and when this principle is threatened, UNHCR can respond by intervening with
relevant authorities, and if it deems necessary, will inform the public. [12]

Refugees shall be treated at least like nationals in relation to

freedom to practice their religion (Article 4)

the respect and protection of artistic rights and industrial property (Article 14)

rationing (Article 20)

elementary education (Article 22)

public relief and assistance (Article 23)

labour legislation and social security (Article 24)

Refugees shall be treated at least like other non-nationals in relation to

movable and immovable property (Article 13)

the right of association in unions or other associations (Article 15)

wage-earning employment (Article 17)

self-employment (Article 18)

practice of the liberal professions (Article 19)

housing (Article 21)

education higher than elementary (Article 22)

the right to free movement and free choice of residence within the country (Article 26)

India is not a party to the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees or the 1967 Protocol, nor does it have a legal framework and
national refugee status determination system. As a result, UNHCR processes claims for refugee status in India.

The UNHCR carries out a Refugee Status Determination (RSD) procedure, which starts with registration as asylum seekers. Following the
registration, UNHCR will then conduct interviews with each individual asylum seeker accompanied by a qualified interpreter. This process
provides a reasoned decision on whether refugee status is granted or not, and gives the individual an opportunity to appeal a decision if the claim
is rejected.

At the end of December 2014, there are 5,074 asylum seekers and 25,865 refugees cumulatively registered with UNHCR India.
In India, UNHCR conducts registration and RSD in a timely and efficient manner and protect the growing number of people of concern in Delhi
through outreach services, including legal, social and educational support, in areas where they reside. UNHCR focuses on responding to people
with specific needs through collaboration with community- based and local NGO networks. Community development initiatives are designed to
help refugees become more self-reliant.

While a large majority of those registered by UNHCR in India live in Delhi, an increasing number are settling outside the capital. The
Government of India allows UNHCR mandate refugees to apply for long- term visas and work permits. Refugees and asylum-seekers have access
to basic government services such as health care and education. In addition, they have access to the law-enforcement and justice systems.
UNHCR and its partners work to facilitate this by providing information and interpretation services.

India grants asylum and provides direct assistance to some 200,000 refugees from neighbouring countries. As the country lacks a national legal
framework for asylum, UNHCR conducts registration and refugee status determination (RSD), mostly for arrivals from Afghanistan and
Myanmar but people from countries as diverse as Somalia and Iraq have also sought help from the Office. Some 31,000 refugees and asylum-
seekers of diverse origins are protected and assisted by the Office in India.

An asylum-seeker is someone whose request for sanctuary has yet to be processed. Every year, around one million people seek asylum.

National asylum systems are in place to determine who qualifies for international protection. However, during mass movements of refugees,
usually as a result of conflict or violence, it is not always possible or necessary to conduct individual interviews with every asylum seeker who
crosses a border. These groups are often called prima facie refugees.

At UNHCR, we believe that everyone has a right to seek asylum from persecution, and we do our best to protect those who need it.

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

is a subsidiary organ of the General Assembly. It enjoys a special status
within the UN with high degree
of independence and autonomy. The head quarter
of UNHCR is in Geneva, Switzerland. In 1953 the office had 11 regional offices
with 99
staffs.? Whereas at present the office has 239 regional offices maintained
in 119 countries and around 5,500 staff members. 8 The staffs are from over J 00
different countries. Out of them, around 988 are working at the organisation's
headquarter and remaining are in the regional offices.
The office consists a High Commissioner, a Deputy High Commissioner and
an Assistant High Commissioner. Apart from them, the office of High
Commissioner has been divided into
13 divisions/departments called Bvreaus.
They are as follows:
(i) Division oflntemational
(ii) Centre for Document and Research
(iii) Division
of Financial and Information Services
(iv) Division
of Operational Support
(v) Division
of Human Resources Management
(vi) Operations for Central, East and West Africa
(vii) Southern African Operations
(viii) Great Lakes Operations

(ix) Bureau for Asia and the Pacific

(x) Bureau for Europe
(xi) Bureau for the Americas
(xii) Bureau for CASWANAME (Central Africa South West Asia North
Africa and Middle East)
(xiii) Staff Council
All the Divisions have been divided into further Sub-divisions, sections and
Desks. These Division or Bureaus work in close co-operation with each other. The
UNHCR performs its responsibilities with the help
of all regional offices and their
staffs. However, the High Commissioner holds the key position and performs its
duty in terms
of co-ordination, formulation of policy and effective planning. It is
the headquarter office in Geneva which performs the vital functions under the
immediate direction and control
of the High Commissioner. The High
is assisted by a Deputy High commissioner and an Assistant High
Commissioner. They are in tum assisted by five important cells which come
directly under them e.g. former Yugoslavia Liaison
Unit, Inspection and
Evaluation Service, Mass Information Unit, Inter- Organisational Affairs and
Secretariat Services, and Public Information Section.
On the question of the method of appointment of the High Commissioner,
two different
views emerged in 1950. One opinion was the High Commissioner
should be elected by the
ECOSOC or the General Assembly on the nomination of
the Secretary General. The other opinion was the High Commissioner should be
appointed directly by the Secretary - General. However, the first opinion was
accepted through voting in the Third Committee, that the High Commissioner
would be elected by the General Assembly on the nomination
of the Secretary-

Functions of UNHCR
To provide protection to refugees is the mam function of the UNHCR.
Protection lies at the heart of the organisation's efforts to find lasting solutions to
the plight
of refugees and to provide relief assistance. The key to UNHCR's
protection activities
is the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees. It is
a legally binding treaty and a milestone in international refugee law. It is called
"Magna Carta"-the Great Charter of refugees. It provides a unified code of
rights and duties of refugees affording them protection from arbitrary treatment by
states. The provisions of the convention are in accordance with the principles of
the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights.11
The term
"providing international protection" and "seeking permanent
solutions" is clearly mentioned in the Statute. According to the chapter I, Para-l
of the Statute

The principle of non-refoulement constitutes the very basis of the institution
of asylum. :\ccording to Article 14( 1) of the Universal Declaratior.. of Human
Rights lays down,
"Every one has the right to seek and enjoy in other countries
asylum from
persecution". Once a refugee has entered a state other than that of his
origin or nationality, his first need
is asylum. Asylum is the protection which a
state grants on its territory or in some other place under the control
of certain of its
organs, to a person who comes to seek it. The right
of asylum was a corollary to
the right to life for a refugee. There
is a growing opinion that persons leaving their
of origin because of persecution have a primary and essential need to be
granted asylum in another country and they be allowed to stay in the territory of
that country, either permanently asylum being granted elsewhere, or repatriation
refugee's own country. This view is supported by Article 3(3) of the United Nations Declaration on Territorial Asylum,
Article Il(S) of the OAU Convention
on Refugees 1969, and the discussions
in the UNHCR's Executive Committee in
It IS important to make it clear, the distinction between the granting of
asylum and non-refoulement. Refusal of asylum did not necessarily mean that the
applicant had to return to the country from which he fled. Non-refoulement was
not always the equivalent
of granting asylum.
Regional Organisations
The protection of refugees have also been promoted by the regional
organisations. For example the Organisation
of African Unity (OAU) decided in
1963 that a regional refugee treaty was needed to take care of African refugees.
of the African States had already signed the 1951 Convention. ''In acceding
to the
1951 Convention they affirmed that it defined the minimum standard of
treatment that should be accorded to refugees. But they as contracting parties,
were not legally obligated to accord any particular standard
of treatment to
in Africa because few if any of these refugees come within a key
of the 1951 Convention; that in order to be entitled to Convention
coverage they must be refugees as a result
of events occurring before 1 January
1951 ".20 Therefore, the first task of OAU was the drafting of a regional
convention which would govern
the status of refugees in Africa and which would
take account
of the special concerns of African States.

Provision of Material Assistance

The main functions assigned to the United Nations High Commissioner for
Refugees by its
1950 Statute is ~ "providing international protection to refugees
who come within the scope
of the present Statute", and "seeking permanent
solutions for the problems
of the refugees". This is mentioned in the wording of
the first sentence of paragraph 1 of the statute which says: "The United Nations
High Commissioner for Refugees acting under the authority
of the General
Assembly shall assume the function
of providing international protection, under
the auspices
of the United Nations, to refugees who fall within the scope of the
present Statute and
of seeking permanent solutions for the problem of refugees".

romotion of Durable Solutions

The core functions of the UNHCR. as mentioned in the Statute is to provide
international protection and find permanent solutions to the refugee problems by
assisting Governments. 29 Traditionally, three major durable solution have been
promoted by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees - Voluntary
repatriation, integration on the spot or local settlement and third country
resettlement. In recent past, the international community has placed emphasis on
voluntary repatriation as the strongly preferred solution.
The Statute of the UNHCR gives direction to the High Commissioner to
facilitate and to promote voluntary repatriation. The repatriation can be considered
only when conditions in the country
of origin have changed so much that the
refugees should not believe that their lives are in danger or liberty
is being
threatened. The UNHCR believes that voluntary repatriation should be
encouraged as soon as the country
of origin shows its desire to return of its
citizens. The UNHCR has also to ensure that asylum can continue until the
refugees have received sufficient evidence
of good condition in which their return
and reinstallation will take place

Although it is believed that voluntary repatriation is the best solution to all
refugee problems, but it
is not always a feasible or desirable solution. The High
Commissioner always stressed upon durable solutions. The reason is, some
refugee-producing situations may be
of a long-term nature, requiring long-term
It will not only cost more in the long run, but can also give rise to unrest
and dependence.
If refugees can be helped to support themselves, it will remove
their handicapness and disabilities resulting from their exodus. The education,

Resettlement m a third country may be the only way to guarantee
international protection
of a refugee who has been denied protection in the country
of asylum and who cannot repatriate to the country of his origin. A country of
asylum should be a welcoming place, offering safety and security to people whose
lives are threatened. But it has
oeen found that the state to which refugees have
t1ed is not willing or able to protect their lives. In some cases refugees may even
find themselves at greater risk in their country
of asylum than they were in their
of origin.
Those refugees

Refugee camps serve as microcosms of poverty-stricken societies. While on a much smaller scale than an entire
country, many of the same problems that plague the developing world also affect refugee camps and their
inhabitants, and they are exacerbated by the close quarters, new environment, boredom, and lack of social order
that often characterizes refugee camps. Specifically, women and children face many of the same issues in refugee
camps as they do in urban slums and rural villages. While specific problems vary, broad issues such as inequality
and abuse are seen universally.

Women in camps

Women and children are typically hit the hardest by poverty and life in a refugee camp is no exception. Often the victims of sexual abuse and
other crimes, women lack a powerful and unifying voice when it comes to their predicament in refugee camps. The life of a refugee is one of
uncertainty, boredom, and fear. Women are subjected to all of these problems in addition to gender specific issues they also must face.

Concerns of women
The concerns of women in refugee camps are limitless in scope but include such issues as discrimination, sexual violence, human trafficking, and
maternal and reproductive health problems.[1] Rape is often used as a weapon towards women in order to demoralize and terrorize communities
and families.[2] Sexual violence stigmatizes women and leaves them emotionally and physically destroyed.[3] These are issues that women face on
top of their responsibilities as mother, head of household, teacher, etc.[1] All of these concerns make a womans life in a refugee camp extremely

Health concerns of women

Frequently, especially in low-income countries, the health issues facing refugee women are not unique to refugees, but are common to the entire
female population. These range from dehydration and diarrhea to high fevers and malaria, but also include more broad phenomena, such as
gender-based violence and maternal health. All of these ailments, however, are multiplied for refugee women because of the external factors
contributing to their particularly poor health. These external factors include culturally-reinforced gender inequality, limited mobility, lack of
access to healthcare facilities, high population density within the refugee camps, and low levels of education. [4][5][6]

One of the biggest concerns regarding female refugees health is their reproductive health. In refugee situations, reproductive health often falls to
the bottom of the list of priorities, primarily because in situations where healthcare is already scarce, life-saving measures are often of prime
concern. Much of reproductive health is not seen as a life or death issue, although it clearly is. Because of the lack of healthcare infrastructure
in refugee-dense areas, women often give birth without any trained medical staff present. Complications during birth can often result from a lack
of healthcare assistants or medical facilities. [7]

Another key healthcare concern is that of gender-based violence within the refugee camps. [8] It is generally recognized that, displacement,
uprootedness, the loss of community structures, the need to exchange sex for material goods or protection all lead to distinct forms of violence,
particularly sexual violence against women,[7] making women in refugee situations particularly vulnerable. Additionally, sexual violence is
considered a taboo subject in many cultures, and therefore gender-based violence often goes unreported. Even if women did have the courage to
report violence, often there is nowhere within the refugee camp for them to turn.[9]

Capability-building solutions
Sverine Deneulin explains Amartya Sens Capability approach as an approach to development where the focus is not on income, but on peoples
capabilities. Capabilities are the freedoms to accomplish and promote what people value doing and being. [10] Participation in the political process
is one of Sens essential capabilities and the empowerment of women is included in this capability. Including women in important decisions is
one form of empowerment. Aid organizations often lack gender-sensitive staff, and policies are often not comprehensive in their inclusion of
women. Listening to women, working with pre-established organizations, and researching what services women actually want and need are all
ways to empower women and get them involved in the governing of refugee camps. [11]

Water collection
Women spend a considerable amount of time every day collecting water for their families, but they are rarely ever consulted when it comes to
water supply planning and management. Collecting water can take hours or even days and is often unsafe. Women spend time collecting water
when they could be back at home tending to their children, generating income, or providing meals for the family. Adequate water services could
be better provided if aid organizations and those in charge of refugee camps discussed water supply issues with women. [11]

Women often participate in agricultural tasks in order to provide for their families. However, as with water supply management, women are often
excluded from the discussion on what to plant in refugee camps. Establishing committees that include women in the agricultural planning process
allows them to contribute their knowledge to the planning process. Often, women are just as capable as men when it comes to agricultural
services, but often lack the tools, seeds, and land to effectively produce anything. Giving women the tools they need to farm is one way to
increase the capabilities of women in the camps.[11]

Children in camps

Main article: Mental health of refugee children

Nearly half of the thirty four million people with whom the United Nations Refugee Agency is concerned are children. [12] Children are often the
most neglected refugees.[13] The United Nations (UN) has indicated five major issues of importance concerning refugee children: separation,
sexual exploitation and abuse, military recruitment, education, and adolescent-specific concerns.[12]

Childrens concerns

Separation of children from their families is a common issue that has negative consequences for the children who are separated. [14] If separation
occurs, it is important to document the separation and attempt to reunite the child with his/her family (if this is in the best interest of the child). [14]
A strong family support network is essential to the proper growth and development of children in general, but especially those living in refugee

Sexual exploitation and abuse

There are not a lot of associated dangers that come with sexual exploitation and abuse including teen pregnancy, infection with sexually
transmitted diseases such as HIV/AIDS, and traditional practices that are often harmful such as genital mutilation.[14] The responsibility to protect
these children falls on the host government, the refugee community, and other humanitarian organizations. The lack of structure in refugee camps
can lead to abuse. Improving awareness of the issue (both in and out of the camp), improving access to education, and creating safe living
conditions are all potential strategies to curb sexual exploitation and abuse. Sexual exploitation and abuse can be publicly addressed and dealt
with through legal battles, adequate health care, psychological support, and protection of the abused. [14]

Military recruitment
Refugee children are at an increased risk for recruitment by military forces. Often separated from their families, there is nobody to fight for a
child when he/she is forcibly recruited by a military and forced to serve as a child soldier. There are several methods of recruitment: compulsory
recruitment, voluntary recruitment, or forcible recruitment. Both boys and girls alike are recruited to join militaries and often fight alongside adult
soldiers. However, other duties may be carried out by children such as cooking, delivering messages, or cleaning. Children enrolled in school are
less likely to be recruited because it is more difficult for military forces to recruit an entire school as opposed to a single child playing alone. The
UN states that children reap the benefits of disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration.[14]

Amartya Sen, Nobel Prizewinning economist, has listed education as an essential human capability that is integral to the overall well-being of a
person.[15] This is especially true when it comes to children living in refugee camps. Education serves a variety of practical purposes in addition to
gaining knowledge and skills for future endeavors. Children in schools are at a decreased risk for military recruitment, sexual violence,
HIV/AIDS transmission, and crime and drug use.[14] The structure provided by education also provides a sense of normalcy for children living in
refugee camps.[14] The unstructured life of a refugee can be hard on children, and school provides children with a break from the tediousness of
everyday life.

Adolescent issues
Adolescents are frequently overlooked by organizations that are providing foreign aid to refugee camps. Often if a parent is lost it is up to the
oldest child to take care of the younger children, including those they are not related with, and this role frequently falls to the oldest female
perceived as a mother figure. One such experience is described in the novel After the War. Adolescents would also benefit greatly from increased
educational, vocational, and recreational activities in refugee camps for many of the same reasons children benefit from these opportunities. [14]
Refugee programs

Numerous Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and intergovernmental organizations work to advocate on behalf of refugee women and
children. The International Rescue Committee (IRC) and the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) are two of the better known
organizations advocating for refugees. In addition to services, refugees are in need of advocates to successfully lobby governments for their well-

International Rescue Committee

The International Rescue Committee was founded in 1933 to respond to humanitarian crises across the globe. [16] The IRC works in forty countries
to help displaced people return to normal lives. The IRC works to build capabilities by providing sustainable solutions to crises, and spends 90%
of donations on programs that directly affect the impoverished.[16] The IRC serves as an advocate for women to foreign governments to pass laws
concerning the health and well-being of refugee women. They also educate men and boys to change the culture of violence towards women. [16]

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

The UNHCR is a branch of the UN that was established in 1950 to help people displaced by World War II. Now the agency focuses on helping
refugees, stateless people, asylum seekers, internally displaced people, and many other people who are without a permanent and safe home. They
work in nearly every continent to provide aid and services to displaced people. The UNHCR advocates for refugees, builds capabilities, responds
to emergencies, and provides assistance and protection among other services and programs. [17]

Internally displaced persons (IDPs) are "persons or groups of persons who have been forced or obliged to flee or to leave their homes or places of
habitual residence, in particular as a result of or in order to avoid the effects of armed conflict, situations of generalised violence, violations of
human rights or natural or human-made disasters, and who have not crossed an internationally recognised State border." 1 A refugee, on the other
hand, is defined by Article 1 of the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees as someone who, owing to wellfounded fear of being
persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his
nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country; or who, not having a nationality and
being outside the country of his former habitual residence as a result of such events, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it. 2
Remaining within the borders of their country of origin, IDPs face many similar challenges as refugees yet the latter benefit from the full
authority of refugee law whereas the former do not.

The fundamental difference between protection of refugees and protection of IDPs is the responsibility of the government. Once refugees cross
international borders, their country of origin is not obligated to protect them. IDPs, on the other hand, remain in their country of origin, the
government of which holds the responsibility to protect them regardless of its ability to do so. Without the benefit of a specialized body of law,
IDPs fall into a protection gap.

While IDPs are not protected under refugee law, they are protected as civilians under Human Rights Law (HRL), Humanitarian Law (IHL), and
domestic law. Although IDPs remain within one country, there are aspects of Public International Law that apply alongside domestic law to
govern the treatment of civilian populations within their national borders. In all armed conflicts, both international and non-international, IHL
applies. Similarly, HRL governs the relationship of a government and its citizens at all times. The Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement of
1998 pull together aspects of these legal regimes to address situations specific to displacement. Yet, the Guiding Principles are not legally binding
in the way that the Refugee Convention is; there are no enforcement mechanisms to ensure compliance with them. Several countries have
incorporated protective aspects into their national legislation and more continue to do so. Even with these trends, protection is not absolute and,
given the vulnerability of IDPs, further attempts have been made by various organizations to legally guarantee certain rights specific to their

The African Union Convention for the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons in Africa, also known as the Kampala
Convention, was adopted by the African Union in 2009 as a means of addressing the needs of the millions of IDPs across the continent and
preventing future displacement. As of May 2012 it had been signed by 35 member states of the African Union and ratified by 12 member states.
To enter into force, the Convention must be ratified by 15 member states; because of this, it is currently not yet binding law on the 53 member
states of the African Union.

The Kampala Convention is the first regional legal convention to secure protection for IDPs and is unique in its explicit provisions regarding the
obligations of civil society organizations in addition to State actors. The Convention provides that States shall provide sufficient protection and
assistance to internally displaced persons, and where available resources are inadequate to enable them to do so, they shall cooperate in seeking
the assistance of international organizations and humanitarian agencies, civil society organizations and other relevant actors. 3

There are over 25 million IDPs throughout the world facing issues ranging from housing to voting to healthcare. As the number of non-
international armed conflicts continues, the problem of displacement becomes more prominent and durable solutions are needed. Internal
displacement does not end once conflict subsides. The Inter-Agency Standing Committee established four conditions that IDPs must benefit from
in order to reach a sustainable approach to the problem. These conditions are: (i) long-term safety, security and freedom of movement; (ii) an
adequate standard of living, including adequate food, water, housing, health care and basic education; (iii) access to employment and livelihoods;
and (iv) access to effective mechanisms that restore their housing, land and property or provide them with compensation. 4 By understanding the
solutions sought by international organizations and the legal protections currently applied to IDPs, humanitarian actors will be able to operate
more effectively in environments with high levels of displacement among the population.