Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Convention Refugee Definition:

An individual defined in the 1951 UN refugee treaty as having a well-founded fear that, were he or she to return to their country of origin, he or she would suffer persecution.

According to the Canadian Encyclopedic Digest:

"Convention refugee is statutorily defined and means any person who, by reason of a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his or her nationality and is unable, or by reason of that fear, unwilling to avail himself or herself of the protection of that country; or, not having a country of nationality, is outside the country of his or her former habitual residence and is unable or, by reason of that fear, unwilling to return to that country; and has not ceased to be a convention refugee. It does not include any person to whom the convention does not apply.

"The definition emanates from the United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees signed at Geneva on 28th July 1951 and includes the Protocol signed at New York City on 31st January 1967."


  • Canadian Encyclopedic Digest, "Immigration and Refugees" (Toronto: Carswell, 2010).

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