Under refugee law, countries have obligations to protect refugees under their jurisdiction. Yet, the only way for countries to respect their obligations is to distinguish refugees from non-refugees. UNHCR has initially called this process as Refugee Status Determination (RSD). The Procedural Standards for RSD, referenced below, is a useful starting point to understand this process.
RSD is an important as it enables refugees to obtain the rights they are entitled to as refugees, and for countries to respect their domestic and/or international obligation under refugee law. In 1984, ExCom Conclusion No. 35 established a clear link between putting a system in place to allow the determination of individual refugee status, and the countries’ obligations to issue identification documents to refugees (Article 27 of the 1951 Convention).
Providing legal services is one of the most powerful tools to ensure that RSD is conducted in a faire, individualized and unbiased manner in order to uphold refugee rights. This section will provide you with legal guidance pertaining to the provision of legal aid in various aspects of RSD. For more programmatic guidance on legal aid, please visit the Legal Services section of the toolkit.