The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is the guardian of the 1951 Refugee Convention and the 1967 Protocol which were agreed upon as a result of World War II. It upholds the core values of the documents such as defined human rights and that displaced people should not be returned to a country where they face serious threats to their life or freedom.

This Convention has served millions of displaced people for half a century and, we believe, can continue to do so today. Around two million people claimed asylum in 1951. Recent years have seen a significant increase in claims to around 100 million in 2022. This along with a demand for choice over the country in which claimants are placed as well as the emergence of a deadly illegal human smuggling industry presents issues for all stakeholders.

The Centre for Asylum Choice proposes a further Protocol to deliver an asylum system that is safe, fair, robust and fit for the 21st century.

Displaced people

Currently, asylum should be claimed upon arrival in the first Safe Country when fleeing persecution.

There may be good reasons why a displaced person may not feel that this first Safe Country is suitable for them.

These could be points such as no knowledge of the local language, lack of social connection such as family or friends or simply availability of work suited to their skill set.

Taking these points in to account as well as the ability to share initial accommodation between Safe Countries will greatly reduce the use of criminal people smuggling operations and improve conditions across the asylum process.


Some people have reservations about new people coming to their Safe Country to live. These feelings are unfounded but do expose the perception of unfairness in the system amongst some citizens.

A more transparent, fair and internationally shared system will change these perceptions creating better outcomes for communities.


Business often benefit from new arrivals to their countries of operation. Displaced people might be senior or specialist workers whose skills are in great demand.

Matching displaced people to good employers is a win-win for the stakeholders and the general economy.


Civil servants often struggle to respond to surges in asylum claims when there is a crisis near to their borders.

An internationalised and standardised asylum system will spread the burden of these difficult times amongst the resources of Safe Countries improving the already stressful experience for displaced people and the government workers.