History of the Geneva Convention and the Protocol

Worldwide global migration movements have changed throughout decades and years. Today especially rising numbers of refugees demand, just like in the past, adequate protection of this group of people.

As of the UNHCR more than 65 million people – children, women and men – are on the run. They leave their countries because of discrimination, religious and political motivated persecution, war, terror and poverty.

Already at the beginning of the 20th century the League of Nations (today the United Nations) recognized the necessity to develop an internationally valid legal basis for the protection of refugees. Thus, on 28 July 1951 the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees has been adopted and became effective on 22 April 1954 in the first six signing states (Australia, Belgium, Germany, Denmark, Luxembourg and Norway).

The Convention initially sought to protect especially European refugees in need of protection following the Second World War. It was furthermore temporally limited to reasons of flight, occurring before 1951. Only in 1967 the sphere of action of the Convention was adapted to the changing migration and refugee flows and numbers by the so-called Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees.

As of today 147 states have signed the Convention and/or the Protocol.