Standard Article

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

Migration A–Z

U

  1. Deniz Şenol Sert

Published Online: 4 FEB 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9781444351071.wbeghm557

The Encyclopedia of Global Human Migration

The Encyclopedia of Global Human Migration

How to Cite

Sert, D. Ş. 2013. United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. The Encyclopedia of Global Human Migration.

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 4 FEB 2013

Abstract

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees was established on December 14, 1950 by the United Nations General Assembly with a three-year mandate to assist Europeans displaced by World War II. The following year, on July 28, the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees was adopted. It still constitutes the key legal document in defining who constitutes a refugee, their rights, the legal obligations of states, and the basic statute guiding UNHCR's work. The Convention entered into force on April 22, 1954, merging previous international instruments relating to refugees, and still presents the broadest codification of the rights of refugees at the international level. Unlike former international refugee instruments, which concerned specific groups of refugees, Article 1 of the 1951 Convention approved a single definition of the term “refugee,” which accentuated the protection of persons from political or other forms of persecution. Accordingly, a refugee is someone who is unable or unwilling to return to his or her country of origin owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion.

Keywords:

  • political asylum;
  • international law;
  • ethnic cleansing;
  • crimes against humanity;
  • rights