The Challenge of Human Rights

The Challenge of Human Rights

Past, Present and Future

Edited by David Keane and Yvonne McDermott

The Challenge of Human Rights takes a detailed and exploratory approach to topics across the field of human rights, and seeks to map a path for future research and policy development.

Chapter 12: Between the Wars - the Refugee Convention of 1933: A Contemporary Analysis

Peter Fitzmaurice

Subjects: law - academic, human rights, law and society, politics and public policy, human rights


12. Between the wars – the Refugee Convention of 1933: A contemporary analysis Peter Fitzmaurice The modern study of the law of refugee protection conventionally commences in the years following the Second World War. The immediate post-war period saw the creation of the United Nations and the emergence of the modern international human rights regime, with which refugee protection is closely entwined.1 The mass displacements caused by the war led to the setting up of the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Agency in 1943, which by the war’s end was tasked with refugee protection. In the years following the war, European refugees were repatriated or resettled under the aegis of the International Refugee Organization, which was succeeded by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees as the principal UN agency concerned with refugees.2 Finally, the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees3 was drafted and adopted in 1951. Although the definition of a refugee in the 1951 Convention was initially limited temporally to events occurring before 1 January 1951, and contracting states to the Convention could limit their obligations geographically, to events occurring in Europe before that date, these limitations were removed by the 1967 Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees.4 The 1951 Convention and the 1967 Protocol taken together are now universally considered the cornerstone of international refugee ‘Everyone has the right to seek and enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution’ Art. 14 (1), Universal Declaration of Human Rights, UNGA Res 217 A(III) UN Doc A/810 91,...

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