The non-refoulement principle is a fundamental aspect of international law that prohibits the forced return of individuals to a country where they may face persecution, torture, or other serious human rights violations. This principle is widely recognized as a cornerstone of refugee protection and is considered one of the most basic norms of customary international law.
The importance of the non-refoulement principle lies in its role in ensuring the protection of asylum seekers and refugees. It provides a safeguard against the forced return of individuals to countries where they may face harm and helps to prevent violations of their human rights. The principle is enshrined in several international treaties and agreements, including the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol, as well as the 1984 Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
Despite its widespread recognition and importance, the non-refoulement principle continues to face challenges in its implementation. In some cases, individuals may be returned to their home countries despite the risk of persecution or other serious harm, while in other cases, individuals may be detained in restrictive immigration detention centers for extended periods of time, in contravention of their rights.
To ensure that the rights of asylum seekers and refugees are respected and protected, it is essential that the non-refoulement principle is upheld and respected by all countries. This requires a strong commitment to the principles of international law, as well as the development and implementation of effective policies and programs to support the protection of asylum seekers and refugees.
- James C. Hathaway and Michelle Foster, The Law of Refugee Status (2nd ed., Cambridge University Press, 2014)
- UNHCR, “Non-Refoulement,” (2018)
- T. Alexander Aleinikoff, “The Non-Refoulement Obligation in International Law” (2001) 10 European Journal of Migration and Law 1-18.