Marina Sharpe is a founding member of the Asylum Access Board of Directors, and a DPhil Candidate and Trudeau Scholar at the University of Oxford. In this post, she presents an in-depth legal analysis of the employment rights of African refugees.
The issue of whether refugees in Africa enjoy the right to work under the regional legal framework established by the 1969 Organization of African Unity Convention Governing the Specific Aspects of Refugee Problems in Africa (African Convention) has been the subject of some confusion—primarily because the African Convention does not explicitly provide for employment rights.
Update from UNHCR’s Ministerial Meeting: Secretary Clinton voices support for lawful employment opportunities
By: Jessica Morreale Therkelsen, Global Policy Manager, Asylum Access
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has added her voice to those highlighting the need for lawful employment for refugees and stateless persons at UNHCR’s Ministerial Meeting this week. She focused her remarks on the importance of forward-looking policies to address the needs and rights of refugees and stateless persons and called on countries to turn their pledges into actions.
UNHCR High Commissioner, António Guterres, tells ministers the right to employment is key to self-reliance.
UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres (Photo © UNHCR/S.Hopper)
By: Michelle Arevalo-Carpenter, Overseas Operations Director, Asylum Access
Today, António Guterres, the High Commissioner for Refugees, emphasized the crucial importance of the right to work for refugees to an audience of foreign ministers from around the globe.
Asylum Access believes that refugees have the right to work. When we use this phrase, we are just going back to basics, centering our discussion on the four relevant rights outlined in the 1951 Refugee Convention:
- wage-earning employment,
- access to liberal professions, and
- labor protections.
The right to work is a concept that appears repeatedly in international law, but it might surprise some that it also applies to refugees. In fact, during the drafting of the Refugee Convention itself, the US representative Louis Henkin said, “Without the right to work, all other rights were meaningless.”