Commemorating the 60th Anniversary of the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees

Posted by Eric P. Schwartz
June 2, 2011
Displaced Persons Arrive to New York in 1951

This year the world commemorates the 60th anniversary of the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. One hundred and forty seven nations have signed this agreement and/or the subsequent 1967 Protocol that followed, which stand for the basic principle that those fleeing persecution must be provided refuge and protection. As part of our effort to commemorate the 60th anniversary, we invited former refugees who work for the Department of State to share their stories with us. Not knowing what to expect, we were pleasantly surprised when over 20 individuals told us they wanted to tell their deeply moving resettlement stories. You can read three of these stories in the June issue of State Magazine, and many more in a series of DipNote blogs that we will be publishing in the coming weeks as we approach World Refugee Day on June 20. While each story is unique, they convey collectively a deep sense of pride in and deep gratitude toward the United States.

Countries like the United States that welcome refugees enjoy rich sources of new talent, energy, and cultural diversity that invigorate communities, large and small. The United States has resettled over 2.5 million refugees in the past 30 years alone -- more refugees than all other countries combined -- including over 73,000 in 2010. The U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) reflects our tradition as a nation of immigrants and refugees as well as our highest values and aspirations " of compassion, generosity and leadership in serving vulnerable populations. Moreover, reliance on the support of millions of Americans is a fundamental component of the resettlement program's success --as it has ultimately been local communities that have helped the program to thrive by opening their hearts, homes, and communities to refugees from around the world.

We hope you find the stories of our colleagues as interesting and moving as have we in the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration.



New Mexico, USA
June 2, 2011

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@ Assistant Secretary Schwartz,

So just how hard is it for the other 45 some-odd nations and counting to sign on to the convention anyway?

I suppose there's various degrees of catching up with the flow of those in the know about dealing with migrations of peoples, from, and to and the "How the hell did I end up here?" at the whim of conflict.

USAID needs to turn this in to a franchise like Starbucks, ;?) where every nation has its counterpart agency with common rules of engagement to counter those nations among the 45 who are helping to create crisis; that people are going to run from; to seek shelter from tyrany. Or by natural disaster, or man-made exclusion zones; being the culprit.

And if it be small comfort to my fellow Americans; there's at least a place ( some might find it has a few prickly things) that doesn't have tornados or hurricanes, or 25' of snowmaggeddon in winter.

Now the cool thing about my state that State should find interesting, is that in theory the tribes of my state are sovereign, hold land in sacred trust, and form treaty with the US gov.; and while the US gov. has various limits set on immigration for whatever status, including refugees, I don't know that anyone has approached the tribes to see if there's land they might do long-term lease on to help the US gov deal with a flood of internationaly displaced.

It's one way to get to America , so long as all federal laws are met on entry, I don't see why a tribe couldn't sponsor refugees on their land within their own limits, as long as the fed. gov. was feeding, housing and putting them to work planting trees in national forests and tribal lands.) ; as one possible option.

Oh, and guess who gets to pay for it?

Take in as many migrant workers as Ghaddafi has forced out and there's billions in frozen assets that in any settlement resloved in the Hague eventually, those deprived of life and livelyhood, and made homeless should be justly compensated.

If they're going to be living in tents, they might as well be pitched in a place the occupants can walk to work.

Tie this in with State's agricultural initiatives and climate change , folks have enough labor to plant trillions of trees world wide and create a carbon sink in 30 years that will help balance the global atmosphere for hundreds ( if we don't do other stupid stuff to exterminate ourselves in the meantime).

FDR had something right when he got CCC camps going, it wasn't so much that folks needed jobs, it was getting them organized to do big works.

There's no way for me to know if my government should ask itself whether it should do something completely retro, and adapt that public works program for the troubled huddled masses of today, but feel free to run with it,

"Plant trees and terrorists" I always say, one becomes the "green" future, the other becomes fertilizer, or in bin laden's case; fish food works for me too....(chuckle).

And there's millions standing around in camps with nothing to do?

Best regards,


June 22, 2011

Izlesene writes:

thank you nice article


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