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1948 - Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Article 14 states that "everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution". The General Assembly of the United Nations adopted the Declaration in December 1948.
For the text of the Declaration click
Geneva Convention relating to the Status of Refugees
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'.
protocol to the 1951 Convention
1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child
The Convention includes a clause that states "the child is protected against all forms of discrimination or punishment on the basis of the status, activities, expressed opinions, or beliefs of the child's parents, legal guardians or family members". A further Article states that convention signatories "shall take appropriate measures to ensure that a child who is seeking refugee status or who is considered a refugee in accordance with applicable international or domestic law and procedures shall,whether accompanied or unaccompanied, by his or her parents or any other person, receive appropriate protection and humanitarian assistance in the enjoyment of applicable rights set forth in the present Convention and in other international human rights and humanitarian instruments to which the said States are parties".
1993 - Treaty of Mastricht
1995 - The Schengen Agreement
For the Schengen Information System, a database to support border controls,
1997 - The Dublin Convention
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.
1999 - Treaty of Amsterdam
Though signed in 1997, it did not come into force till two years later. The Treaty initiated the process of developing procedural rules within the EU, in particular in the fields of external border control, asylum and immigration. It does not recognise the possibility of asylum from one EU country to another e.g. for the Basques of France and Spain.
For a Guide to the Treaty of Amsterdam click here.
June 2002 Seville Summit
"It is, however, no secret that the sudden interest of the European states in refugees is not so much derived from genuine concern for the well-being of the persecuted, but much rather from their fear of excessive influx by what are often referred to as migrants. In times of record unemployment and rising tensions in most of the Member States, their intention of keeping out economic migrants is hardly disguised. Despite solemn avowals to act in keeping with the values of the Geneva Convention on Refugees, articulated in the Maastricht Treaty and reiterated in the Amsterdam Treaty, many observers are concerned that the standardisation of European refugee law will have a detrimental effect on the ability of asylum seekers to have their cases heard fairly".
(Source: Roma and the Treaty of Amsterdam: safe European home? - Tanja Koch-Baerman, http//www.errc.org/rr_nr1_1999/note1.shtml)