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Laws and practices on asylum must resist politics of fear and exclusion: UN rights experts


Laws and practices on asylum must resist politics of fear and exclusion: UN rights experts

Media statement
19 June 2024 Also available in:

GENEVA – Ahead of World Refugee Day tomorrow, the Platform of Independent Experts on Refugee Rights (PIERR) – a group of UN and regional human rights experts and mandate holders – issued the following statement:

“Across the world many countries and communities are providing courageous examples of welcoming refugees, showing how the right to seek asylum can be guaranteed and implemented in ways that empower refugees and enable them to contribute fully to their host communities.

But in other places, many laws, policies and practices restrict asylum and are rooted in the politics of fear and exclusion. In a year when over 80 countries will conduct elections, xenophobic and racist language has worsened. Asylum-seekers and refugees have become scapegoats for political gain; the suffering of children, women and men forced to flee their homes has been trivialized or ignored.

This World Refugee Day, we urge States to work together to protect the critical, fundamental rights of people to seek and enjoy asylum and counteract the backsliding toward erosion of key human rights principles. This means rejecting and desisting from actions and policies such as externalization of asylum procedures, the arbitrary detention of asylum-seekers, collective expulsions and pushbacks at land and sea.

States must uphold human rights and other international law obligations, including the customary international law principle of non-refoulement, which prohibits a State from returning someone to a country where his or her life or freedom would be threatened, or where he or she would face torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, punishment, irreparable harm or danger.

The 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights – the 75th anniversary of which was commemorated globally in December 2023 – recognized the right to seek and enjoy asylum as a fundamental human right rooted in our shared humanity and the right to protection.

The Universal Declaration inspired the 1951 Refugee Convention and a number of key international and regional binding human rights instruments. These provide protection to people forced to flee their countries and reflect the shared responsibility of States to protect, promote, respect and fulfil their rights. We encourage all States that have not yet done so to ratify the relevant human rights and refugee law instruments and withdraw reservations that limit protections for refugees and asylum-seekers and impede the full enjoyment of their fundamental rights.

We call on all States to recognize and reinforce our shared legal responsibility to uphold and protect the human rights of people forced to flee.

We stand ready to cooperate with States and the international community in the common quest for a world where no one is forced to flee across borders for their lives and freedom. As we approach the Summit of the Future, we must work together to protect the human right to seek asylum, and to build inclusive, equitable societies that welcome, protect and respect the rights of refugees.”

About the PIERR

The PIERR is currently composed of the:

The Platform is supported by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency:

For additional information and media requests please contact: