Cartagena Declaration on Refugees

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

The Cartagena Declaration on Refugees, or just Cartagena Declaration, is a non-binding regional, i.e. Latin-American, instrument for the protection of refugees and was adopted in 1984 by delegates from 10 Latin-American countries: Belize, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama and Venezuela. The Declaration has since incorporated into the national laws and state practices of 14 countries.

The declaration is the result of the "Colloquium on International Protection for Refugees and Displaced Persons in Central America, Mexico and Panama", which was held in Cartagena, Colombia from 19 to 22 November 1984. The Declaration was influenced by the "Contadora Act on Peace and Cooperation", which itself was based on the 1951 Refugee Convention and the 1967 Protocol.

The Declaration reaffirms the importance of the right to asylum, the principle of non-refoulement and the importance of finding durable solutions.[1][2]


Extended refugee definition[edit]

Compared to the 1951 Convention and the 1967 Protocol the Cartagena Declaration allows a broader category of persons in need of international protection to be considered as refugees. The Declaration, in Conclusion III, adds five situational events to the definition of the 1951 Convention and the 1967 Protocol. Similar additions were made in the 1969 Refugee Convention, but the Cartagena Declaration has further extended them. Refugees are those:

"persons who have fled their country because their lives, security or freedom have been threatened by generalized violence, foreign aggression, internal conflicts, massive violation of human rights or other circumstances which have seriously disturbed public order".

This definition allows a broader temporal and geographical scope for the risks refugees find themselves in and additionally covers some of the indirect effects such as poverty, economic decline, inflation, violence, disease, food insecurity, malnourishment and displacement.[2]

Improved cooperation between countries[edit]

The Cartagena Declaration was the beginning of an ongoing forum between Latin American countries. Since 1984 the signatories of the declaration meet again every 10 years and they have even extended its reach to include Caribbean countries. Three successor declarations were made: the 1994 San José Declaration, the 2004 Mexico Declaration and the 2014 Brazil Declaration (with 28 countries and three territories of Latin America and the Caribbean). No other continent or region has such a forum.[3]


  1. ^ "Cartagena Declaration on Refugees | Rights in Exile Programme". Retrieved 6 February 2017.
  2. ^ a b United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. "UNHCR - Summary Conclusions on the interpretation of the extended refugee definition in the 1984 Cartagena Declaration". Retrieved 6 February 2017.
  3. ^ "The Cartagena process: 30 years of innovation and solidarity | Forced Migration Review". Retrieved 6 February 2017.