Broaden the Geneva Convention on Refugees

By Press Office
January 13, 2009

Responding to the latest comments from UK immigration Phil Woolas, Ekklesia associate Vaughan Jones, who heads up the agency Praxis, which works with displaced people, said:

“The Geneva Convention on refugees needs to be broadened rather than narrowed in its scope. However many of those with greatest understanding of the challenges involved mistrust the motivation of politicians calling for this ‘debate’ and fear a downgrading of the convention’s noble achievement.”

Mr Jones, who is also a United Reformed Church minister, explained: “The Geneva Convention on refugees is limited in its scope and definition. It does not take into account many of the realities of modern conflict or the causes of forced migration. When civilian populations, as in Gaza, are targeted indiscriminately or mass violence erupts as in Rwanda or the Congo, then many of the people with no alternative but to leave their homes may not technically be refugees under the convention’s definition. As climate change becomes an increasing cause of displacement, the convention as it currently stands will play no part in protecting environmental refugees. These are the challenges that need to be faced.”

He added: “Mr Woolas is also wrong to link the convention to the ‘threat’ of economic migration. If the UK government were to sign up to the International Convention on the Rights of the Migrants then we would have a rounded human rights approach in law for both migrants and refugees.”

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