India has signed neither the 1951 United Nations Refugee Convention nor its 1967 Protocol, which has 140 signatories, an overwhelming majority of the world’s 190-odd nations. However, India continues to host a large population of refugees.

It is a United Nations multilateral treaty that defines who is a refugee, and sets out the rights of individuals who are granted asylum and the responsibilities of nations that grant asylum. 

  • The Convention also sets out which people do not qualify as refugees. e.g War criminals.  
  • It also provides for some visa-free travel for holders of travel documents issued under the convention.  
  • It builds on Article 14 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which recognizes the right of persons to seek asylum from persecution in other countries.  
  • The core principle is non-refoulement, which asserts that a refugee should not be returned to a country where they face serious threats to their life or freedom. 
  •  The 1967 Protocol broadens the applicability of the Convention. 
  • The Protocol removes the geographical and time limits that were part of the 1951 Convention.  
  • UNHCR serves as the guardian of the 1951 Convention and its 1967 Protocol. 
  • The USA and Venezuela are parties only to the Protocol.  
  • Countries that have ratified the Refugee Convention are obliged to protect refugees that are on their territory, in accordance with its terms.