With this in mind, the main responsibility for safeguarding the rights of refugees and stateless people lies with States. The role of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) is to ensure that Governments take the necessary action to protect refugees and stateless people within their territories or seeking to enter their territories. This starts with admission and ends with the realization of durable solutions. For refugees and asylum-seekers, the key international instruments are the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and the 1967 Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees (hereafter referred to as 1951 Convention and its 1967 Protocol). The cornerstone of protection is the fundamental principle of non-refoulement found in the Article 33 of the 1951 Convention, which obliges States not to return a refugee to any country where his or her life or freedom would be threatened.2 Regarding statelessness, the two key international instruments the 1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons and the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness (hereafter referred to as 1954 Convention and the 1961 Convention), provide special measures to protect stateless people, such as the right to identity and travel documents, as well as safeguards to ensure against the threat of statelessness. Increasingly, especially in situations of large-scale influx of people in need of protection, the international community’s capacity to support and assist particularly affected States, including through UNHCR, has become an important element in enhancing the protection of refugees and stateless persons.


2 Art. 33 (1), 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, enter into force 22 April 1954 reads, “No Contracting State shall expel or return (‘refoule’) a refugee in any manner whatsoever to the frontiers of territories where his life or freedom would be threatened on account of his race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion.”