What We Believe
Asylum Access believes that refugees have the right to work. When we use this phrase, we are going back to basics, centering our discussion on the four relevant rights outlined in the 1951 Refugee Convention:
- access to self-employment,
- access to wage-earning employment,
- access to liberal professions, and
- labor and employment protections
The right to work is a concept that appears repeatedly in international law and applies to refugees. In fact, during the drafting of the Refugee Convention, the US representative Louis Henkin said, “Without the right to work, all other rights were meaningless.”
Mr. Henkin’s sentiment is made explicit in the Convention: The 1951 Refugee Convention devotes all of Chapter III (articles 17, 18 &19) to the issue of “gainful employment” for refugees—namely, wage-earning employment, self-employment, and access to liberal professions (professional jobs). Article 24 guarantees that national labor and employment protections apply to employed refugees as well.
Thus, although countries have a right to regulate employment of foreigners in their country, there remains a legal and moral obligation to provide access to employment to refugees, and standard protections once employed.
Check out a more detailed analysis here.