It is now 50 years since the international community settled on a Convention to provide surrogate protection for people with a well-founded fear of being persecuted for one of the five Convention reasons. Article 1A(2) of the Refugee Convention is the cornerstone of international protection where it states:
"As a result of events occurring before 1 January 1951 and owing to well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country; or who, not having a nationality and being outside the country of his former habitual residence, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it.."
Over this 50 year period, and particularly with the huge growth in asylum seekers over the past 10 years, the interpretation and application of the Convention has become a highly relevant, often contentious, piece of international law. Increasingly, both countries who are signatories to the Convention and those who are not, have turned to appellate judges and adjudicators to give independent interpretation and application of refugee law. It was against this background that the International Association of Refugee Law Judges (IARLJ) was formed in Warsaw in 1997 following two highly successful conferences in London and Nijmegen in the previous two years.
The International Association of Refugee Law Judges seeks to foster recognition that protection from persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion is an individual right established under international law, and that the determination of refugee status and its cessation should be subject to the rule of law.