Refugees waiting in a line

Refugee situations require international solutions.

Sharing the Responsibility

October 2018, Number 08.04

“The thousands of refugees seeking protection in Europe during 2015 and 2016 brought renewed attention to their plight. Men, women and children on the move and in need of protection and assistance — familiar sights in Africa, Southwest Asia and the Middle East — were now arriving at Europe’s borders.

Though large movements of refugees are often associated with other parts of the world, the phenomenon is part of Europe’s history. Europe is where the global international system to protect refugees was first conceived and where the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees was drafted in the wake of World War II. The convention is the foundation of the international refugee protection system and was born of a necessity to provide a principled response to refugee movements. Its drafters drew on principles embedded in cultural and religious traditions and enshrined them in international law.

One of the founding principles of the 1951 Convention is that refugees are an international, shared responsibility. Its preamble notes “that the grant of asylum may place unduly heavy burdens on certain countries, and that a satisfactory solution of a problem of which the United Nations...”

Excerpt from Katharina Lumpp, “Sharing the Responsibility,” per Concordiam: Journal of European Security Defense Issues  8, No. 4, 2018: 10-17.

Katharina Lumpp is the representative of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Germany. After studying law in Germany, she worked for the UNHCR in Brussels, Belgium, and in Bonn, Germany, followed by assignments in Afghanistan and at the UNHCR headquarters in Geneva. From 2006 to 2014, she was a UNHCR deputy regional representative in Egypt and at the regional office for Southern Europe. In 2014, she headed the Department of International Protection in the UNHCR office for North Africa and the Middle East, before moving to her current position in December 2015. Lumpp has been deployed to emergency operations in Côte d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kosovo and Macedonia, among others.

This article reflects the views of the author and are not necessarily the official policy of the United States, Germany, or any other governments.