Mark the 70th anniversary of the Refugee Convention with UNHCR

© Arni/UN Archives

This July, the 1951 Refugee Convention turns 70. As the cornerstone of refugee protection, and in the face of rising global displacement, the Convention, along with the 1967 Protocol, remains as relevant as ever.

With 149 State parties to either or both, they define the term ‘refugee’ and outline the rights and obligations of refugees, laying down the legal obligations of States to help them build new lives in safety.

UNHCR serves as the ‘guardian’ of the 1951 Convention. According to the legislation, States are expected to cooperate with UNHCR in ensuring that the Convention is properly implemented, and that the rights of refugees are respected and protected.

UNHCR will be marking this significant milestone with a number of events that explore the history of refugee protection and look towards the future.

On 8 July UNHCR Assistant High Commissioner for Protection, Gillian Triggs, will address Chatham House in London, exploring the Convention’s relevance today, the impact of COVID-19 and what can be done to mobilise support for refugees globally.

This event is free for Chatham House members.


Working with the Oxford Development Consultancy we ran an essay writing competition in the lead up to Refugee Week.

We asked people aged between 18 and 30 to answer the following question in 1000 words of less:

‘July 2021 marks the 70th anniversary of the Refugee Convention. How has it helped save lives over the decades and what might be the impact if it was abandoned?’

A panel of judges comprised of experts from ODC and UNHCR, and a person with lived experience in displacement carefully assessed all the entries. We are pleased to announce that the winner of the competition, with an essay titled Global Amnesia; The Refugee Convention after 70 years is Stijn Kuipers

Congratulations to Stijn and thank you to everyone who entered.