Infographic about the limitations of the 1951 refugee definition and what areas it doesn’t cover..
The 1951 Convention refugee definition has indeed helped millions of individuals and families escape from persecution. However, it has restrictions that failed to recognize anyone who is not persecuted based on the five categories set by the refugee definition. In this infographic I made, we are going to explore what the 1951 refugee definition is, what are the limitations and restrictions it has, and what better alternative could be used in lieu of the 1951 refugee definition.
For the first part of the infographic, we are going to learn about the refugee definition used by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees or the UNHCR, and current refugee statistics provided by them as well. According to the UNHCR, they define a refugee as someone who has a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group. Most likely, they cannot return home or are afraid to do so. Based on the UNHCR statistics, there are 74.79 million people with this concern in the world. In that data, 3,775,858 individuals do not fall under the 1951 refugee definition. By the end of 2018, 70.8 million were forcibly displaced worldwide based on the five categories of the 1951 refugee definition.
For the second part, we are going to explore the limitations and restrictions of the 1951 refugee definition. Not only is the definition outdated, but the nature of refugee flow has changed. The 1951 refugee definition ONLY considers a person a refugee if they are persecuted based on the five categories such as race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group and does not cover events such as civil war, climate change, natural disasters, famine and many more. According to the Parliament of Australia, since 1980, refugee movements have been more likely to be the result of civil wars, ethnic and communal conflicts and generalized violence, or natural disasters or famine (usually in combinations), rather than individually targeted persecution by an oppressive regime.
For the last part of the infographic, we are going to suggest a better alternative to the current refugee definition used by every government in the world. In 1969, The Organization of African Union Convention defined a refugee as an individual affected by external aggression, occupation, foreign domination or events seriously disturbing public order in either part or the whole of his country of origin or nationality, is compelled to leave his place of habitual residence in order to seek refuge in another place outside his country of origin or nationality. This definition broadens the term by removing the restriction placed by the 1951 refugee definition. If every government adopted this term, those individuals who did not fit the category of the 1951 refugee definition could have been granted refugee status and gain assistance. Leave no one behind.
United Nations. “Figures at a Glance.” UNHCR.
Millbank, Adrienne. “The Problem with the 1951 Refugee Convention.” Parliament of Australia, Commonwealth Parliament, 5 Sept. 2000.
Gibney, Matthew J. “The Ethics of Refugees.” Wiley Online Library, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, 10 Aug. 2018.