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International Refugee Law

International Refugee Law
© UNHCR/R. Kostrzyński

Tools for the protection of the displaced

International refugee law protects people who seek asylum from persecution, and those who have been recognized as refugees. It comprises several international legal instruments – the most important being the 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol – as well as customary law. The principle of non-refoulement, for example, which is laid down in the Refugee Convention, is also considered part of customary international law and therefore binding on all states. 

International refugee law overlaps to some extent with international human rights law. A series of international and regional human rights treaties and instruments have been enacted since 1945. 

The links below contain transcripts of the most important of these treaties and instruments.



Learn on key legal documents that underpin UNHCR’s work: the Refugee Convention and the two Statelessness Conventions.

Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

Promoting and protecting all Human Rights around the world. Find further legal materials on their website.

Refugee Law Reader

An online reader of cases, documents and materials in English, French, Russian and Spanish.

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