In around 50 weeks on the 28th July 2021, the 1951 Refugee Convention or Geneva Convention will have reached its 70 year Anniversary. In one sense we should be able to celebrate that despite the many challenges that have arisen ever since, sadly often created by our current Government and some of their supporters. It is a United Nations treaty that defines who refugee’s are and it also provides the nations that signed up with it the responsibility to provide asylum for people who are fleeing from locations where bombs are dropping or where political decisions are placing them and their families under huge risk. Arguably this would help to explain why Boris Johnson has recently promised to give a home to around 3million people from Hong Kong. Just as we should be able to celebrate this 70th anniversary next year, two years later we may also be able to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which included article 14 that helped provide the basis for the 1951 Refugee Convention. There was also in the 1948 declaration article 33 that was under the heading of non-refoulment. Rather than reproduce a Refugee Convention in any detail by simply going to an online dictionary we can get a definition of that word:
The practice of not forcing refugees or asylum seekers to return to a country in which they are liable to be subjected to persecution.”we are appealing to all states to uphold their international obligations with regard to non-refoulement”
I hope that on the 28th July next year our Government and our nation will be in a position to acknowledge that despite our weaknesses and failings, that in broad terms we have sought to stick to the deal that we helped to set out 69 years ago. The UN website provides a lot more information which includes
The 1951 Refugee Convention is the key legal document that forms the basis of our work. Ratified by 145 State parties, it defines the term ‘refugee’ and outlines the rights of the displaced, as well as the legal obligations of States to protect them. The core principle 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. UNHCR serves as the ‘guardian’ of the 1951 Convention and its 1967 Protocol. According to the legislation, States are expected to cooperate with us in ensuring that the rights of refugees are respected and protected.
So perhaps given the current challenges that are being made by Priti Patel and Nigel Farage along with a small number of other people, that we could invite the UN to send someone to our nation to help advise us how to maintain our signature on this convention. According to Simon Jones from the BBC on twitter today “The Home Secretary, Priti Patel, has appointed former National Crime Agency executive Dan O’Mahoney as the UK’s Clandestine Channel Threat Commander. He will work to make the Channel route ‘unviable’ for small boat crossings.” This has a sound that is very close to tearing up the 1951 commitment. Over the last few days Nigel Farage has been reinforcing his attempts from a few weeks ago when he and Daniel Hannan were trying to try to tear up the Refugee Convention.