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Lund University

Human Rights and Humanitarian Law: Refugee Law

The Raoul Wallenberg Institute's Guide to Human Rights and Humanitarian Law


Two principal conventions govern international refugee law: the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and the 1967 Protocol to the Convention.The Convention defines refugee status and the legal obligations of signatory states and establishes the basic standards of treatment. The Protocol eliminates the geographic and time limitations of the 1951 Convention.

In addition, two regional instruments, the OAU Convention Governing the Specific Aspects of Refugee Problems in Africa and the 1984 Cartagena Declaration on Refugees, extend refugee rights to a broader class of people.

Other resources for finding international and regional instruments include:            





  • United Nations Treaty Collection
    Includes all multilateral treaties deposited with the Secretary-General of the United Nations and, those formerly deposited with the League of Nations, their latest status and a link to the full texts






Internally displaced people, or IDPs, are often wrongly called refugees. Unlike refugees, IDPs have not crossed an international border to find sanctuary but have remained inside their home countries. Even if they have fled for similar reasons as refugees (armed conflict, generalized violence, human rights violations), IDPs legally remain under the protection of their own government - even though that government might be the cause of their flight.


Refworld is the leading source of information necessary for taking quality decisions on refugee status. Refworld contains a vast collection of reports relating to situations in countries of origin, policy documents and positions, and documents relating to international and national legal frameworks.