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RS 2010-072

RS 2010-072V
Document-ID : RS 2010-072V
Case-ID : 09/4639
Last modified : 19.05.2005
Documentdate : 27.05.2002

Utdrag: "UNHCR håndbok - Chapter VI - The principle of family unity"

181. Beginning with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states that “the family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State”, most international instruments dealing with human rights contain similar provisions for the protection of the unit of a family.

182. The Final Act of the Conference that adopted the 1951 Convention:
“Recommends Governments to take the necessary measures for the protection of the refugee's family, especially with a view to:

  1. Ensuring that the unity of the refugee's family is maintained particularly in cases where the head of the family has fulfilled the necessary conditions for admission to a particular country.
  2. The protection of refugees who are minors, in particular unaccompanied children and girls, with special reference to guardianship and adoption.”

183. The 1951 Convention does not incorporate the principle of family unity in the definition of the term refugee. The above-mentioned Recommendation in the Final Act of the Conference is, however, observed by the majority of States, whether or not parties to the 1951 Convention or to the 1967 Protocol.  

184. If the head of a family meets the criteria of the definition, his dependants are normally granted refugee status according to the principle of family unity. It is obvious, however, that formal refugee status should not be granted to a dependant if this is incompatible with his personal legal status. Thus, a dependant member of a refugee family may be a national of the country of asylum or of another country, and may enjoy that country's protection. To grant him refugee status in such circumstances would not be called for.  

185. As to which family members may benefit from the principle of family unity, the minimum requirement is the inclusion of the spouse and minor children. In practice, other dependants, such as aged parents of refugees, are normally considered if they are living in the same household. On the other hand, if the head of the family is not a refugee, there is nothing to prevent any one of his dependants, if they can invoke reasons on their own account, from applying for recognition as refugees under the 1951 Convention or the 1967 Protocol. In other words, the principle of family unity operates in favour of dependants, and not against them.  

186. The principle of the unity of the family does not only operate where all family members become refugees at the same time. It applies equally to cases where a family unit has been temporarily disrupted through the flight of one or more of its members.  

187. Where the unity of a refugee's family is destroyed by divorce, separation or death, dependants who have been granted refugee status on the basis of family unity will retain such refugee status unless they fall within the terms of a cessation clause; or if they do not have reasons other than those of personal convenience for wishing to retain refugee status; or if they themselves no longer wish to be considered as refugees.  

188. If the dependant of a refugee falls within the terms of one of the exclusion clauses, refugee status should be denied to him.

Norwegian Directorate
of Immigration
P.O. box 2098 Vika
NO-0125 Oslo

Editor in Chief: Stephan Mo