The 1951 Refugee Convention and Non-Signatory States: Charting A Research Agenda

In this article, published in the International Journal of Refugee Law, Maja Janmyr calls for a closer examination of the relationship between the international refugee law regime and non-signatory States.

Image displays the cover of the International Journal of Refugee Law.

BEYOND PI Maja Janmyr details the many ways in which international refugee law norms are spread and used in non-signatory States. Photo: IJRL.

About the publication

At the end of 2020, 149 States were party to the 1951 Convention, its 1967 Protocol, or both. Forty-four members of the United Nations, however, were not party to either of these core instruments. What is the influence of the 1951 Refugee Convention in non-signatory States? How do non-signatory States engage with, and help to create, the international refugee regime?

Taking these questions as its starting point, this article aims to chart a new research agenda focusing on the relationship between non-signatory States and the 1951 Convention. It argues that a closer examination of this relationship is necessary to make an informed opinion about the relevance of the 1951 Convention more broadly. By bringing this dimension to the study of international refugee law, it thus seeks to disrupt the emphasis on signatory States in contemporary discussions of the relevance and importance of the 1951 Convention.

More concretely, the article argues that the Convention continues to structure States’ responses to refugees, and plays a central role not only in States that are party to the Convention, but also in key non-signatory States. The article details the many ways in which international refugee law norms are spread and used in non-signatory States, and how, by being present and active in global fora such as the UNHCR Executive Committee, and in negotiating soft law instruments drawing on the Convention, these States also participate in the evolution and interpretation of international refugee law.

To read the article, please visit the website of the International Journal of Refugee Law here. 

Published Dec. 6, 2021 10:35 AM - Last modified Jan. 5, 2022 9:47 AM