Editorial Note

In accordance with General Assembly Resolution 429 (V) of December 14, 1950, a diplomatic conference assembled at Geneva, Switzerland on July 2, 1951, to complete the drafting of and to sign a convention relating to the status of refugees. The conference was also to effect similar action for a draft protocol on stateless persons.

The conference adopted a final text on July 25, 1951, and 13 governments had signed ad referendum by mid-August, not including the United States.

For an authoritative statement by the United States Representative to the Conference, George L. Warren (Department of State Adviser on Refugees and Displaced Persons), as to reasons why the United States had not signed, see article by Mr. Warren, “U.N. Action on Status of Refugees and Displaced Persons”, Department of State Bulletin, September 24, 1951, pages 502–504. The principal reason was that “the convention was not well adapted to United States laws and practices, under which refugees already receive rights shared by all other legally admitted aliens and, except in special instances, are in effect assimilated in status to that of citizens. Little, therefore, would be gained for refugees by United States adherence to the convention.”

Mr. Warren pointed out, however, “that the United States Government had an interest in assisting in every way possible to secure broad adherence to the convention, particularly on the part of European states, because the legal establishment of rights and privileges for refugees under the convention would regularize the position of refugees and thus contribute to peace and order in areas in which large numbers of refugees reside.”

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For text of the Refugee Convention of July 25, 1951, see United Nations, Conference of Plenipotentiaries on the Status of Refugees and Displaced Persons, Final Act and Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees (Palais des Nations, Geneva, 1951).