INTERNATIONAL & EU CONVENTIONS
For the text of the Declaration click
Geneva Convention relating to the Status of Refugees
The convention was framed to cope with the refugee problems emerging in the aftermath of World War II and the start of the Cold War.
The Convention defines a refugee 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 fear is unwilling, to avail himself of
the protection of that country - or return to it'.
The core obligation is that of 'non-refoulement', not sending someone back into a situation of possible persecution. Another important obligation is not to penalise asylum seekers for entering a country 'illegally'.
For the text of the Convention click here.
protocol to the 1951 Convention
The protocol formally required signatories to cooperate with the Office of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), for example with respect to reporting and monitoring refugee issues.
The 1951 Convention and 1967 Protocol are usually considered together as a single instrument in international law. It is out-dated in the sense that it assumes that 'agents of persecution' are states. However today refugees more often flee areas where there is no functioning government, or where they are victims of rebel movements or local militia. Moreover people also flee their country due to foreign aggression, foreign domination, internal conflicts, massive violations of human rights, or other circumstances that have seriously disturbed public order.Perversely, some EU governments have resorted to a strict interpretation of the Convention to deny asylum rights to refugees. For example Germany did not recognise the Taleban regime of Afghanistan, and hence would not accept Afghan refugees.
For the protocol relating to the Status of Refugees click here.
For the Labour Government's criticism of the 1951 Convention click here.
For the full text click
To read more about the UK Government's Reservation to the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child click here.
1993 - Treaty of Mastricht
The Maastricht Treaty is officially known as the Treaty on the European Union. Its 'Third Pillar ' concerns co-operation in the fields of asylum and immigration policy, the crossing of the external borders of the Union and police co-operation.
1995 - The Schengen Agreement
In March 1995 seven EU countries - Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Spain, Portugal and the Netherlands - abolished internal border controls. Countries subsequently subscribing to the convention include Norway, Iceland, Italy and Greece. Police forces collaborated in the establishment of a shared IT system.
For the Schengen Information System, a database to support border controls,
1997 - The Dublin Convention
The convention applies to all EU countries and its underlying principal is that asylum claims should be examined just once in the EU and that the Member state responsible for the presence of the asylum seeker in the EU should be responsible for concluding that examination. . It addressed the problems of so-called "refugees in orbit" (refugees that fail to find a state willing to take responsibility for examining their asylum applications and are therefore shuffled from country to country in a constant quest for asylum) and "asylum shopping" (multiple asylum claims, simultaneously or successively lodged in different Member States by the same person).
Under the Dublin Convention, someone wishing to apply for asylum in an European
Union Country does not actually have to apply in the first 'safe' country tht
they get to as there may be very strong reasons why the person should apply
in another EU country - they may have family members there or they may feel
more secure because of strong community links.
For a comparison of Schengen with the Dublin convention, click here.
June 2002 Seville Summit
Home Secretary Blunkett called for the closure of the Sandgate refugee Centre near Calais and mooted the proposal of linking EU aid to countries outside the union that cooperate with the return of failed asylum seekers. By December 2002, EU interior ministers must adopt proposals from the European Commission revising the Dublin Convention. The proposals would make the convention, which stipulates that the state where an asylum seeker first sets foot on EU soil is responsible for handling any asylum application, legally binding on all EU states. This is expected to provide a uniform pan-European approach on asylum, thus formal inaugurating 'Fortress Europe'?