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Part II Practice—Scholarly and Practitioner Accounts of UN Treaty-Making, C Human Rights, Ch.22 United Nations Treaty-Making: refugees and stateless persons

Guy S. Goodwin-Gill

From: The Oxford Handbook of United Nations Treaties

Simon Chesterman, David M. Malone, Santiago Villalpando

From: Oxford Public International Law (http://opil.ouplaw.com). (c) Oxford University Press, 2023. All Rights Reserved.date: 01 March 2024

Migration — Asylum — Non-refoulement — Stateless persons — Customary international law

Refugees, stateless persons, and those without protection were among the first international problems faced by the League of Nations, almost from the moment of its creation. Building on the practice of the League’s High Commissioner for Refugees, Fridtjof Nansen, in securing agreement on issues such as identity and travel documents for those without or denied the nationality or protection of their country of origin, the United Nations took steps from its opening session onward to ensure protection and facilitate solutions. It established its own organizations and promoted a series of treaties on refugees, stateless persons, and statelessness, which to this day remains the basic international legal framework. States, in turn, have recognized that refugees (and now migration) are an international issue, and that no state should be expected to shoulder alone the responsibilities of admission, protection, and solutions. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), a subsidiary organ of the General Assembly, is mandated to provide international protection, to assist governments in finding solutions, to promote treaties and agreements, and to supervise their application. UNHCR’s direct engagement with states and its worldwide operational activities contribute significantly to the consolidation of protection principles, such as non-refoulement and asylum, to the expansion of humanitarian relief for the displaced, and to the progressive development of customary international law. Recent displacement crises, protracted refugee situations, greater mobility, and a highly globalized and securitized environment will bring fresh challenges to an international protection regime with nearly one hundred years of law and organization behind it.

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