The 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees is the key legal document that defines who is a refugee, their rights and the legal obligations of States. The 1967 Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees removed geographical and temporal restrictions from the Convention.
Accordingly, the term "refugees" applies to any person who:
"Owing to well-founded fear of being presecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country; or who not having a nationality and being outside the country of his former habitual residence as a result of such events, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it."
More information on the Convention is available in the 1951 Convention Q&A.
In 2011, UNHCR will be marking the 60th anniversary of the 1951 Convention, which has been instrumental in helping an estimated 50 million people restart their lives.
Contracting States in the region covered by UNHCR's Canberra Office:
|State||1951 Convention||1967 Protocol|
|Australia||22 January 1954 (a)||13 December 1973 (a)|
|New Zealand||30 January 1960 (a)||6 August 1973 (a)|
|Fiji||12 June 1972 (d)||12 June 1972 (d)|
|Tuvalu||7 March 1986 (d)||7 March 1986 (d)|
|Papua New Guinea||17 July 1986 (a)||17 July 1986 (a)|
|Samoa||21 September 1988 (a)||29 November 1994 (a)|
|Solomon Islands||28 February 1995 (a)||12 April 1995 (a)|
|Nauru||28 June 2011 (a)||28 June 2011 (a)|
Accession (a), Succession (d).