International Refugee Protection Regime

  1. definition
  2. examples and/or illustrations
  3. other useful sources
  4. bibliography


“International refugee law is a set of rules and procedures that aims to protect, first, persons seeking asylum from persecution, and second those recognized as refugees under the relevant instruments.”

Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights, http://www.adh-geneva.ch/RULAC/international_refugee_law.php (accessed on March 21, 2012)

“In terms of its actual role, UNHCR was founded with a mandate to provide international protection to refugees and to seek a permanent solution to the problem in cooperation with national governments, NGOs, and other international organizations. UNHCR’s task is to provide protection for refugees by putting together international treaties and supervising their application. It promotes measures to improve the refugee situation and assists government efforts to encourage voluntary repatriation or entry and assimilation in a new country. The 1951 Convention recognizes the refugee’s right to remain and right to return, the principle of non-refoulement, and the right of first asylum, it also defines minimum standards of treatment for refugees and outlines determination procedures and eligibility criteria for refugee status.”

Barnett, Laura, “Global Governance and the Evolution of the International Refugee Regime”, Int J Refugee Law (2002) 14(2 and 3):10.

French translation : Régime international de protection des réfugiés


Examples and/or Illustrations

“The legal framework that supports the international refugee protection regime was built by States. Through the years, States have affirmed their commitment to protecting refugees by acceding to the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, the cornerstone document of refugee protection. The Convention, which was developed and drafted by States, enumerates the rights and responsibilities of refugees and the obligations of States that are parties to it.”


“The Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees is the foundation of international refugee law. The Refugee Convention defines the term “refugee” […] and sets minimum standards for the treatment of persons who are found to qualify for refugee status.

Because the Convention was drafted in the wake of World War II, its definition of a refugee focuses on persons who are outside their country of origin and are refugees as a result of events occurring in Europe or elsewhere before 1 January 1951. As new refugee crises emerged during the late 1950s and early 1960s, it became necessary to widen both the temporal and geographical scope of the Refugee Convention. Thus, a Protocol to the Convention was drafted and adopted.”

Jastram, Kate and Marilyn Achiron, “Refugee Protection: A Guide to International Refugee Law”, UNHCR, 2001, available from: http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/pdfid/3cd6a8444.pdf (accessed on April 27, 2012).


Other Useful Sources

Refugee Protection, http://www.iom.int/jahia/Jahia/about-migration/managing-migration/refugee-protection (Accessed on April 27, 2012).

Statute of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, United Nations, UNHCR, (A/RES/428), available from: http://www.en.refugeelawreader.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=191&Itemid=87 (Accessed on April 27, 2012).

The Refugee Law Reader, The Evolution of the Refugee Law Regime, http://www.en.refugeelawreader.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=190&Itemid=86 (Accessed on April 27, 2012).

The Refugee Law Reader, The Universal Standard: The 1951 Convention Refugee Definition, http://www.en.refugeelawreader.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=191&Itemid=87 (Accessed on April 27, 2012).



Barnett, Laura, “Global Governance and the Evolution of the International Refugee Regime”, Int J Refugee Law (2002) 14(2 and 3): 238-262.

Chimni, B. S., “The Birth of a ‘Discipline’: From Refugee to Forced Migration Studies”, Journal of Refugee Studies (2009) 22(1): 11-29.

Feller, Erika, “The Evolution of the International Refugee Protection Regime”, Journal of Law & Policy, Vol. 5: 129.

Gammeltoft-Hansen, Thomas, Access to Asylum: International Refugee Law and the Globalisation of Migration Control, Cambridge University Press, 2011.

Lambert, Hélène, “International refugee law : dominant and emerging approaches”, in James David Armstrong and Jutta Brunée (ed.), Routledge Handbook of International Law, Taylor & Francis US, 2009, 344-354.

Kelley, Ninette and Jean-François Durieux, “UNHCR and Current Challenges in International Refugee Protection”, Refuge, Volume 22, No 1.

Whitaker, Beth Elise, “Funding the International Refugee Regime: Implications for Protection”, 14 Global Governance 241 (2008), 241-258.

Other related words (may be concepts): International refugee law