On 20 June, we celebrate World Refugee Day in solidarity and empathy with the fate of millions of people forced to flee their homelands due to conflict and persecution. Protection does not end with access to asylum but manifests itself concretely through a fair process of social and economic integration.

On 4 December 2000, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution declaring 20 June as World Refugee Day. Since then, every year on this day, the international community has paid tribute to refugees around the world. The day is dedicated to the challenges faced by refugees and to their courage and strength.

World Refugee Day was first commemorated in 2001 by a UN General Assembly resolution on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the 1951 signing of the Geneva Refugee Convention, which entered into force in 1954. The date 20 June coincides with the entry into force in 1974 of the African Refugee Convention adopted by the Organization of African Unity.

Not only asylum

Protection does not end with access to asylum but manifests itself concretely through a fair process of social and economic integration in the host country. On this World Refugee Day, UNHCR joins those working to find lasting and sustainable solutions that enable refugees to overcome trauma, make good use of their talents, and contribute to their host country.

Why is World Refugee Day important?

World Refugee Day shines a spotlight on the rights, needs and dreams of refugees, helping to mobilize political will and resources so that refugees can not only survive, but start new lives. While it is important to protect and improve the lives of refugees every single day, World Refugee Day focuses global attention on the plight of people in need fleeing military conflict or persecution.

The Refugee Convention and its Protocol

Refugees are among the most vulnerable people in the world. The 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol help protect them. They are the only global legal instruments that explicitly cover the most important aspects of a refugee’s life.

The 1951 Convention is a key legal document on which today’s international refugee protection is built. It defines who is a refugee and what types of legal protection, other assistance, and social rights refugees should receive in countries that have acceded to the instrument.

The 1951 Convention was conceived as a way to alleviate the effects of these problems by offering victims a degree of international legal protection. The ultimate aim is to help them start a new life.

Some of the rights of refugees under the 1951 Convention are the right to work, housing, education, access to courts, free movement within the country, identity documents, etc.