Summary Definition of Refugee
Under the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, the definition could be simplified in a bullet point below;
The definition of refugee under the 1951 Convention is;
- A person who is outside his/her country of nationality (or habitual residence if have no nationality),
- Who is unable or (owing to his or her fear) unwilling to avail him/herself of the protection of that country (ie to return there),
- Because of a ‘well-founded’ fear;
- Subjective element – he/she must be afraid
- Objective element – there must be evidence from his/her country (eg newspaper articles, ngo reports, un reports) that shows that he/she has a good reason to be afraid
- Of persecution (eg threat to life or freedom or other serious violations of human rights),
- Based on;
- Race (includes ethnic group),
- Nationality (ethnic or linguistic group),
- Political opinion, or
- Membership of a particular social group (usually persons of similar background, habits or social status, often with a characteristic which is innate, unchangeable or fundamental).
Definition of refugee under the UNHCR’s international protection mandate (extended mandate refugees);
- A person who is outside his/her country of nationality (or habitual residence if have no nationality), and
- Is unable or unwilling to return there,
- Because of serious and indiscriminate threats to life, physical integrity or freedom resulting from generalized violence or events seriously disturbing public order.
Exclusion from refugee protection;
In either case, also need to consider whether person might be excluded as a refugee because they come within one of the exclusion categories in article 1f of the convention, being that he/she:
- Has committed a crime against peace, a war crime, a crime against humanity,
- Has committed a serious non-political crime outside the country of refuge prior to admission to that country as a refugee, or
- Has been guilty of acts contrary to the purposes and principles of the UN.