It is also worthy of note that the scope of protection provided to people generally, has been significantly enlarged by human rights principles since the 1951 Convention’s preamble. Furthermore, the Convention is built on human rights principles that are enhanced by humanitarian aspirations. In fact, the preamble of the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees reinforces the idea stated in the United Nations Charter, that human beings shall enjoy fundamental freedoms and rights devoid of discrimination.
THE CONVERGENCE OF REFUGEE LAW AND IHL
In analyzing the convergence of refugee law and international humanitarian law, both laws were timely inventions to address the protection of persons in the territory of a state in which they were not nationals. These branches of international law seek to protect individuals, which also aligns with human rights law that provides the fundamental protection of persons of their various rights. International Humanitarian Law protects generally civilians during times of war. It is no doubt that during times of war, various destructions are made to civilian properties which causes them to flee their home. In instances where the root of such conflicts is ethnic-related or based on membership in social groups, they form part of the criteria provided under the 1951 Convention, which qualifies those persons fleeing war to obtain the status of a refugee.
Another important crossing point between International Humanitarian Law and Refugee law is one that concerns exclusions. Certain disregard to International Humanitarian Law is designated as a war crime, and perpetrators of such crimes may exclude such individuals from the protection to which ordinarily they may be entitled as refugees.
Conclusively, the benefits and drawbacks of having a field-based protection and relief agency are a common theme in both Refugee law and International Humanitarian Law. The International Committee of the Red Cross’s expertise may benefit the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugee’s practice in some areas, but improved techniques for observing and implementing treaties would be beneficial for both streams of law.
THE PROTECTION OF REFUGEES UNDER INTERNATIONAL HUMANITARIAN LAW.
The necessity of International refugee protection has not lost its relevance. The issue of forced displacement is still an issue today, as many states and communities are still involved in conflicts which have erupted and deliberately targeted civilians, as well as civilian objects. International humanitarian law affords protection to refugees who form the civilian population in a state, as long as they are not taking active part in hostilities. The fourth Geneva Convention during occupation, prohibits forcible transfers of civilians, though an occupying power is permitted to evacuate inhabitants of a particular area for security reasons. This protection extends to situations of non-international armed conflicts too.
During the time of evacuation of civilians, when necessary, certain protection such as basic hygiene, safety and nutrition, etc. are to be accorded to civilians, refugees included.
These protections also fall under the purview of the principle of humanity and precaution in International Humanitarian Law, which allows the civilian population to be spared as much as possible from the effects of hostilities.
Refugees also enjoy special protection under International Humanitarian Law, as they are covered by the rules applicable to aliens in the territory of a party to a conflict generally, as well as by the safeguards relating specifically to refugees. The rules applicable to aliens include but are not limited to the continued entitlement to basic protections and rights, which aliens had before the outburst of hostilities, and the right to leave the territory in which they are present, except such departure will conflict with the national interest of the state. The principle of non-refoulement is another protection safeguarding the interest of refugees. The principle provides that a protected person may in no circumstance be relocated, or forcefully transferred to a place, where such an individual may have reason to fear persecution for religious or political reasons.
Refugees are not to be treated as enemy aliens and as such, International Humanitarian Law identifies that these individuals do not have allegiance with that state, and are thus, not regarded as potential threats to their host state.