Human Rights Assessment: Treatment of Refugees

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  • Topic: Human rights, Refugee, United Nations
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Human Rights: Treatment of Refugees
1. Outline the domestic/international contemporary human rights issue you have chosen (see syllabus for suggestions) A refugee is defined within the 1951 Refugee Convention as any person who:  "Owing to 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." There are three main groups of people on the move; classification is based upon the circumstances which caused the individual/s to leave either domestically or internationally their country of nationality. These groups include Refugees, Internally Displaced Person (IDP's) and Migrants. The definition between these three groups is highly important, as their legal rights differ, however every day the groups are increasingly confused and increasingly treated the same. Refugees: Refugees fleeing war or persecution, have no protection from their own state. Without the assistance of other countries, they may be condemned to death or an intolerable life without rights or security. An 'Asylum Seeker' is someone who claims they are a refugee, but whose claim has not yet been definitively evaluated. IDP's: IDP's have not crossed international borders to find sanctuary, but have remained within their home countries. Even if they have fled for similar reasons as refugees (armed conflict, generalised violence, human rights violations), IDP's legally remain under the protection of their own government. Migrants: Migrants is a wide-ranging term, which includes people who move to a foreign country for a variety of reasons (including economic reasons, pursuit of a better life etc.) for a certain length of time (usually a minimum of a year). Migrants are different from 'immigrants' which means someone who takes up permanent residence in a country other than their original homeland. The practice of granting asylum to people fleeing persecution is referenced in texts up to 3500 years old, particularly among early empires in the Middle East including the Hittites, Babylonians, Assyrians and ancient Egyptians. Over three millennia later, protecting refugees was made the core mandate of the United Nations Refugee Agency, specifically those waiting to return home at the end of World War II. Governments generally guarantee the basic human rights and physical security of their citizens, which is lost when individuals become refugees. The loss of legal status, and minimum legal rights in their asylum country, refugees become exceptionally vulnerable to exploitation and other forms of ill treatment, such as imprisonment or deportation. Governments bear the prime responsibility for protecting refugees on their territory; however they work alongside the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and various NGO's in attempt to provide refugees with the basic rights and freedoms, and legal rights they are entitled to. The issue of refugees has been around since the end of World War II, where millions of civilians were left stateless. Since that time, there has been universal recognition and attempts to best protect the rights of refugees in the current day. The issue of refugees is still a very prominent and contemporary issue, with more than 45.2 million civilians forcibly displaced worldwide at the end of 2012; including 15.4 million refugees, 937 000 asylum seekers and 28.8 million internally displaced persons (IDP's). Between 2002 and 2006 there was a temporary decline in the numbers of worldwide refugees, with 9.9 million refugees at the end of 2006 and reaching 11.4 million in early in 2008. This is mainly due to the...
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