Statement by Dr. Gerrit Jan van Heuven Goedhart, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, on the occasion of the entry into force of the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, 22 April 1954

Convention comes into force in 5 new countries (Denmark, Norway, Belgium, Luxembourg, Australia)
Convention already in force in Germany
These plus UK have now ratified

Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees

Geneva - The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has issued the following statement in Geneva which was also broadcast over the United Nations Radio:

"Today the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees will come into force in six countries. This 22nd April will deserve its modest place in history. Although it will not be marked by celebrations or parades, it is a day of great significance to hundreds of thousands of people who, although living in different countries, have one thing in common: they are refugees.

"On this day, new basic rights will be added to those which hospitable countries granted to the victims of persecution seeking asylum on their soil. These basic rights have now been codified and even extended, in the social and economic fields, by this Convention.

"It will supersede former international agreements concerning refugees. It establishes a new travel document for them. It entrusts the United Nations High Commissioner with the supervision of its application. Seven countries so far have deposited their instrument of ratification or accession with the Secretary-General of the United Nations: Denmark, which has given asylum to approximately twelve hundred refugees within the mandate of my Office ratified the Convention in December 1952; Norway, where there are more than two thousand, in March 1953; Belgium, with a refugee population of approximately 59,000, and Luxembourg ratified in July 1953; Germany, where there are more than 240,000 refugees within the mandate, almost 38,000 of whom are living in camps, ratified in December 1953. On 22nd January of this year, this sixth country, Australia, which has received approximately 187,000 refugee immigrants, deposited its instrument of accession. This year also, the United Kingdom ratified the Convention which concerns some 268,000 refugees who are living there.

"To the more than 750,000 refugees already benefiting from the provisions of the Convention, many more will be added as other governments deposit their instruments of ratification in the near future.

"The 22nd April marks a development in our endeavours to establish a world based on the full recognition of the rights of the individual to a life in dignity, freedom and self-respect."

"The 22nd April marks a development in our endeavours to establish a world based on the full recognition of the rights of the individual to a life in dignity, freedom and self-respect."

The United Nations High Commissioner, Dr. G. J. van Heuven Goedhart, sent the following telegram to the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the five countries where the Convention is entering into force on 22 April and of Germany where the Convention entered into force on 24 December 1953. (The Convention will not enter into force in the United Kingdom until 9 June 1954, ninety days after the date of deposit of their instrument of ratification.)

"On this 22nd April 1954 on which the Convention on the Status of Refugees enters into force I would like to express to your Excellency my warm appreciation of the action taken by your Government and Parliament which will guarantee to refugees in your country the right embodied in that convention. Your action which is of great significance for the refugees adds considerable strength to the United Nations programme carried out for their benefit.

"van Heuven Goedhart"