the rise of rightwing nationalism, primarily in the Western world, an
increasingly large number of countries are violating international
treaties and conventions signed and ratified in a bygone era.
most blatant is the violation of the 1951 Refugee Convention, which
has been ratified by 145 State parties, and which also defines the
term “refugee” while outlining the rights of the displaced, as
well as the legal obligations of states to protect them.
to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the
core principle of the Convention is non-refoulement, which asserts
that a refugee should not be returned to a country where they face
serious threats to their life or freedom. This is now considered a
rule of customary international law. But several countries, including
the US, Australia, France, Italy and Hungary, are flouting the
Convention because they have either barred or severely restricted the
inflow of refugees—and also penalized those who have assisted
refugees (as in the US and Italy).
Funk, Policy Officer at the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung’s (FES)
European Union (EU) Office who is responsible for the FES’s
Brussels-based activities related to EU migration and home affairs
and who previously worked as a Policy Analyst for the European Policy
Centre, where he focused on EU migration and asylum policy, told IPS“Many
other countries around the world, especially wealthy ones, have made
it increasingly difficult for refugees to seek international
protection and thus either indirectly or in some cases directly
violate the convention they have signed and ratified”, he pointed
out. Racism is certainly a factor. But so is the pervasive fear of
negative effects on destination countries’ economies and their
to restrict migration can be seen not only in Europe, the US and
Australia, he said, but also in East Asia and even some parts of the
there is displacement, there is usually also a counter-strategy of
containment by countries of destination”. The
international community should respond by drawing attention to the
rights outlined in the Refugee Convention and violations of them
where they occur, but that is not enough”, said Funk. He argued
that more effort should be put into highlighting and addressing the
root causes of displacement, and using other relevant international
agreements to their fullest extent in order to mitigate the drivers
of forced migration. At
the same time, legal channels of migration should also be expanded,
for a UN perspective on the violations of the 1951 Convention, Dr
Palitha Kohona, the former Chief of the UN Treaty Section, told IPS
one has to remember the background to that convention.
1951, the refugees were war displaced Europeans, almost all
Christian. Other Europeans poured out their milk of human kindness in
abundance to these displaced.” Today, he said, “the refugees in
Europe are slightly tinted Muslims, and the fountain of charity has
inexplicably dried up. Where a country is a party to the Convention
and a refugee meets its requirements, the country concerned is
obliged to extend its umbrella of protection,” said Dr Kohona, a
former Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the UN. Failure to
comply could result in the other state parties taking a dim view.
However, such dim views do not hurt much and tend to be forgotten
quickly,” he added.
Italian government placed under house arrest (but later freed) Carola
Rackete,the captain of a ship carrying rescued migrants on the
spokesperson Stephane Dujarric told reporters, “Sea rescue is a
long standing humanitarian imperative. It’s also an obligation
under international law. No vessel or shipmaster should be at the
risk of fine coming to the aid of boats in distress where loss of
life be imminent. That’s a question…that’s an issue of
principle,” he added.
the US, Scott Warren, a volunteer for the non-profit humanitarian
organization, ‘No More Deaths’, faced felony charges in a court
in Arizona because he provided food and water for a pair of migrants
who were found hungry and dehydrated in the desert — and fleeing
from Central America.
UNHCR said on July 1 that more than 1.4 million refugees residing in
over 60 refugee hosting countries will be in need of resettlement
next year, according to data presented at an annual resettlement
forum in Geneva. The report, titled “Projected Global
Resettlement Needs 2020”, said those most at risk and in need of
resettlement include Syrian refugees (40 per cent); South Sudanese
refugees (14 per cent of the total) and refugees from the Democratic
Republic of the Congo (11 per cent of the total).