Political Asylum: National Security Compromise or Helping Hand in Need

About the Paper

The paper extends to reviewing how humanitarian laws are helping out asylum seekers and if it somehow has a different relationship with their home country. The paper mainly focused on whether the asylum-seeking and political refugee stands as a compromising tool against the Indian security system be it at national or international standards or caters to the need of asylum seekers.

Human right is the baseline for survival and right to flee away from one’s own country from any kind of persecution, whether religious or political-based. But, the problem to be focused is whether the country where they fly away to accept them and has any sort of obligation to provide them shelter. International Humanitarian Law and Refugee Law are interconnected in an intricate manner which is finally given shape by the Human Rights Law working towards the goal of saving life and dignity. The research paper deeply looks into the historical aspects and growing phase of asylum laws. The effects on the Indian security system by providing asylum according to national and international standards are depicted herein. Various aspects of humanitarian laws and the intertwining relationship with asylum-seeking is a key working area of the paper and the ways in which NGOs in association with UNHRC are aiding towards the refugees and asylum seekers. 


Denying a person his/her basic necessities to livelihood is an infringement of the essential human rights. States are answerable for ensuring the privileges of their residents. At the point when governments can’t or are reluctant to do this, individuals may face such genuine dangers that they are driven away from their nation and look for security somewhere else. “Evacuee” is a term we use as refugees for an individual who is outside that one’s own nation’s region inferable from dread of abuse on grounds, including race, station, nationality, religion, political notions and interest in a specific gathering. An asylum seeker is somebody whose demand for shelter in another country from the fear of persecution. An individual seeks asylum by making a conventional application for the option to stay in another nation and keeps that status until the application has been finished. National asylum frameworks are set up to figure out who meets all requirements for universal assurance. Be that as it may, during mass developments of outcasts, for the most part, because of contention or brutality, it isn’t generally conceivable or important to direct individual meetings with each refugee searcher who crosses a nation’s border. The thin line of difference between refugee and asylum seeker is that the former is a confirmed status whereas the later awaits confirmation to fit into the category of refugee. According to Article 14(1) of Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the right to seek asylum in a different country is a fundamental human right but with an exception mentioned in part(2) of Article 14 which says that asylum cannot be given if the case is such that prosecution happens due to violating principles of United Nations or non-political crimes[1].


  1. Whether “Political Asylum” and “Political Refugee” constitute the Security of India at National and International standards?
  2. What roles do the NGOs in relation to the United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHRC) play in order to help the refugees and asylum seekers all over the world?


The concept of “political asylum” has been around for quite some time now. First, originating in societies such as the Greeks, the Egyptians and the Hebrews, political asylum is an ancient juridical concept under which a person under persecution by one’s own government may seek shelter or refuge and may be protected by another sovereign authority, such as another country or church in those times, which could provide refuge. And from here on it was adopted by the western traditions. The inclusion of “Political Asylum” came into the modern world much later on with the acceptance of the concept by the United Nations in the late 1950s. The practice of providing for asylum, protection or refuge has a long history. Initially, it was a religious obligation that was practised by a lot of religions and most of the religions shared the interest of helping the strangers in need and providing assistance in their capacity. Early ideas of asylum were linked to a religious place like churches or temples. It somehow implied religious or altar protection to the humans seeking help against man-made or human jurisdictions. With the growth of sovereignty, the power to grant asylum shifted from religious authorities to nation-states. As the prevalence of contemporary ideas started holding a stronger grip, the religious bodies took a backtrack and the nation-states emerged as the power authority. State asylum became an important medium for maintaining relations with other nation-states. Asylum emerged as a peace negotiator with the states promising each other the safety and security of its citizens in their own respective countries. 

In the early 20th century, asylum came to be recognized as an important human right amongst the international legal instruments. This culminated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and marked the shift in the meaning of asylum universally. It was no longer a tool available to the nation-states but an individual human right. The traditional and the modern concept of asylum grew alongside with each other.  The 1933 League of countries, “Convention concerning the International Status of Refugees’ disallowed the signatory states to confine or preclude the section from securing evacuees from neighbouring nations After World War II, notable changes were seen in regard to political asylum. The grant of asylum had ceased to be a discretionary power of the states and turned into an obligation of the state. States now had a responsibility of granting asylum to stateless people or people persecuted by their own states. According to Article 14 of Universal Declaration of Human Rights, individuals were not entitled to receive asylum but they had a right to apply. In the case between Belgium and Greece[2],  a non-refoulement policy was depicted and said that it prohibits the mass removal of asylum seekers or refugees.

Initially, the Refugee Convention of 1951 was limited to Europe but with the incorporation of the 1967 Protocol relating to the status of refugees (1967 Protocol), it is applicable everywhere in the world and to every refugee from all conditions before and after the 1951 Refugee Convention. Recent history shows that with the end of the cold war, a universal shift was noticed in the refugee policies. Restrictive measures were imposed in the traditional asylum countries which relate to increasing in refuge numbers as a result of the conflict in Syria.  Increased numbers, increased resettlement areas have pushed people to opt for seeking protection through the irregular migration process. With the sudden upsurge in the number, it has become difficult to handle the situation and hard stress is put on limiting the access to the irregular movement. Certain examples of people seeking political asylum would be Julian Assange who is the citizen of Australia but is in political asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London from 2012, where he went onto after breaching bail. 


A huge number of individuals are uprooted as outcasts on the planet. A few elements cause exiles to escape away from their own nation, regardless of whether it be an explanation of common war or human rights infringement. Giving assurance to individuals escaping looking for shelter is one of mankind’s most long-standing conventions – a mutual worth implanted in numerous strict and social customs, and now part of global law. It is a worth that has stood the trial of time and was most as of late enunciated by each of the 193 United Nations part states in the New York Declaration on Refugees and Migrants, received in September 2016 

States are answerable for ensuring the privileges of their residents. At the point when governments can’t or are reluctant to do this, individuals may face such genuine dangers that they are driven away from their nation and look for security somewhere else. In the event that this occurs, another nation needs to step in to guarantee that the displaced people’s fundamental rights are regarded. This is known as “global assurance”. A shelter searcher, who isn’t regarded to be a displaced person, might be conceded home grant on philanthropic grounds given solid contentions suggest this, for example, genuine ailment or troublesome conditions in the nation of origin. 

In India the fourteenth Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso is a prime model. Tenzin Gyatso fled into India after the 1959 Tibetan Uprising, where he dreaded for his life. With the assistance of the CIA’s Special Activities Division, he fled into India and came to Tezpur. What’s more, later on, he moved to Dharamshala in Himachal Pradesh. At some point later he set up the Government of Tibet in Exile there. In 1963, he proclaimed a law-based constitution which depends on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, making a chosen parliament and an organization to advocate his motivation. The Dalai Lama is at present under the political insurance of the Indian Government and is a political refugee. As political refuge is a globally consented to term, offering such a help to a shelter searcher doesn’t influence India’s security status in any capacity. As there is no risk to the person in the nation, additional security detail isn’t conveyed. Furthermore, the protection from some other nation isn’t undermined either.  India isn’t a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention nor does it have any enactment concerning displaced people or conceding haven. Be that as it may, India follows the standard of non-refoulement and accommodates assurance to plenty of evacuees under the wide importance of Article 21 of the Indian Constitution. Under the security of life and freedom that is personal liberty under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution, India thinks that it’s legitimized to ensure the exiles by conceding them cover. India is a host to the biggest number of Refugees from South East India. India has consistently followed a liberal displaced person approach. The universal settlements have anyway procured the status of standard global law and possibly be fused into the household law to the extent they are steady with the civil laws and furthermore when there is a void in the metropolitan laws. 

Post-independence in 1947, India has incorporated an Ad hoc managerial duty and strategy to accommodate security of evacuees. India has given differential treatment to displaced people having a place with various locales on the planet. This has caused plenty of issues post-freedom like the human rights maltreatment of the displaced people and contrasts among the exiles themselves on account of language, social and regional contrasts. Like the Tibetan, exiles got obviously better treatment than different displaced people. Xenophobia and bigotry to the remote evacuees have likewise expanded in the ongoing years and represent a difficult issue. 

The Refugee Convention, 1951 expands on Article 14 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which perceives the privilege of people to look for a haven from abuse in different nations. A displaced person may appreciate rights and advantages in a state notwithstanding those accommodated in the Convention. The Convention likewise sets out which individuals don’t qualify as evacuees, for example, criminals out of the war. The Convention additionally accommodates some sans visa travel for holders of outcast travel archives gave under the show.  The rights made by the Convention for the most part despite everything stand today. Some have contended that the perplexing idea of 21st-century exile connections requires another arrangement that perceives the advancing idea of the country state, populace dislodging, ecological vagrants, and present-day fighting. 

Taking a gander at the condition from CAA (Citizenship Amendment Act) point of view. The CAA is likely the main displaced person enactment that has gotten overall contempt. India is on the UNHCR Committee however it isn’t limited by it. It doesn’t mean it can receive any arrangement it thinks to be ideal; it will consistently be limited by human rights. India is a diverse assortment of displaced people. It incorporates Kenyan, Ugandan, Bangladeshi, Sri Lankan, Tibetan and different displaced people. The CAA’s key strategy is to review the abuse. At that point drawing a differential treatment among specific beliefs won’t take care of the issue. It will rather build a danger to the security. Hence, this demonstration as of now in itself bargains the security of India in light of the separation it follows. This demonstration is by a long shot the greatest gathering separation. The greatest helpful issue that India will look because of the NRC-CAA façade is that a significant populace of the Muslim people group will become stateless as a result of this unfair demonstration. Usage of this demonstration will lead an enormous piece of the world network against India. It breeds imbalance and segregation which could be the main driver of security issues in India. Taking a case of the Rohingyas issue in Myanmar. They were living under the dread of mass decimation and were very nearly being cleaned out from the substance of the earth. The locals of Myanmar anyway took a stab at demonstrating that Rohingyas were trapped in a crossfire and that the thought of mass slaughter was a joke. Singular remarks by the victims end up being extraordinary. As indicated by the Rohingyas, they were under a steady danger of getting executed. No human needs to flee from its own nation aside from reasons of security. In urgent states of no security and statelessness, the nations equipped for aiding ought to accommodate them and care for them with the fundamental mankind present inside them. The world is a home to everybody and separation on unsuitable reasons is totally unjustified. Along these lines, regardless of whether the execution of the Citizenship Amendment Act is done, it won’t bring amicability or harmony however contempt and danger to the very presence of India. The main separation that can be made with respect to shelters is monetary or security grounds and no different grounds. Segregation on different grounds like religion, rank, and shading is barbaric and pulverizes our exceptionally close to home conviction. Hence, under helpful grounds conceding shelter outcasts insurance appears to be advocated so far as it doesn’t bargain the security of the respective nation.


Asylum-seekers and refugees are protected by declarations and protocols of international human rights law. This body of law extends to everyone within a State’s territory or under its jurisdiction. As the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights affirms that All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. 

Evacuees and asylum seekers are in this manner qualified for two somewhat covering sets of rights: those which States are obliged to regard, ensure and satisfy under worldwide human rights law, and the particular privileges of displaced people. Article 3 of Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment , the basic concept of the convention as per international human rights law, such as the prohibitions of torture and slavery, cannot be restricted or suspended for any reason. A person’s life could not be exposed to further dangers. It is universally accepted and therefore the international standing of India isn’t hindered. Providing protection to people fleeing in search of refuge is one of humanity’s most long-standing traditions – a shared value embedded in many religious and cultural traditions, and now part of international law.

Humanitarian laws and refugee protection shares a very crucial relationship.  International Humanitarian Laws additionally explicitly denies convincing civilians to leave their places of home except if their security or basic military reasons is at demand. Refugees are additionally secured when they are in a state associated with an outfitted clash. Displaced people, other than the general security, stood to regular citizens by International Humanitarian Law, unique insurance under the Fourth Geneva Convention and Additional Protocol I. For example, Article 44 of the Fourth Geneva Convention indicates that detaining powers ought not to be treated as enemy outsiders displaced people who don’t appreciate the security of any legislature[3]. Internally Displaced People (IDPs) are one of the major concerns. 

Refuge settings are directed by authority from an assigned government office or organization. These authorities ought to have a piece of strong information on displaced person law. The weight is on the shelter searcher to demonstrate that the person in question meets the meaning of an outcast and refuge searchers are urged to gracefully however much-supporting proof as could reasonably be expected. Supporting proof may appear as nation reports, NGO reports, news stories, sworn statements, or the in-person declaration of witnesses.

There are several immigration and refugee crisis cases all over the world. In one of the immigration cases in Australia[4], the High Court of Australia dismissed the shelter guarantee of Chinese nationals who professed to have a very much established dread of mistreatment since they tried to have a second youngster in spite of China’s one-child only policy.  The refugee candidates guaranteed dread of being exposed to constrained cleansing and contended they were individuals from a specific social gathering that consisted of “the individuals who having just a single youngster don’t acknowledge the constraints set on them or who are pressured or constrained into being disinfected.” The Court dismissed this plan as to roundabout since it was not free of the mistreatment dreaded. As per Australia’s Migration Act, Australian High Court held that Asylum seekers who showed up on the extracted domain of Christmas Island could be sent to Malaysia where their cases would be considered was not substantial on the grounds that he had neglected to satisfactorily consider the variables set out in § 198A(i)- (iv), to be specific that Malaysia was not involved with the Convention, had no household law perceiving the status of outcasts, and that the arrangement among Australia and Malaysia – in which Malaysia would perceive displaced people and mediate cases as per global guidelines which were not lawfully official[5].


Refugees and asylum seekers need basic necessities to survive life. There is a sheer need for food, sanitation and community service. Many non-government organizations all over the world come forward to help these homeless asylum seekers. NGOs play a crucial role because refugees flee away from their country in a huge number and their information is briefed to the UNHRC by these established NGOs. Emergency situations arise when these bunch of asylum seekers need immediate help and it is the NGO body who help at the need of the hour. In every refugee camp, NGOs disseminate food, shelter, dress, covers and tents. They care for the wiped out, gauze the injured, set up emergency clinics and schools, burrow restrooms and drill wells. In emergency circumstances, they are frequently the main channel of data to the remainder of the world. NGOs help exiles to make sure about the privilege of refuge, to secure positions and lodging, to put their kids in schools, to incorporate in their new social orders. They additionally help the United Nations Human Rights Commission to advance shelter guidelines and reasonable treatment of exiles. Countless NGO workers are included legitimately or in a roundabout way in easing the enduring of evacuees. 

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Amnesty International in India works towards the goal of providing a safe livelihood for the isolated refugees who are constantly searching for a safe environment to live. The NGO works to safeguard human rights including refugee rights and welcome them with open arms. They work towards resettlement ideas and hold campaigns raising money through their activities to help these persecuted lives.

A thin line of discrimination lies between local NGOs and International NGOs, where the international NGOs get hold of the huge projects to work upon refugee rights but the local NGOs are just restricted to the low-profile jobs. Nevertheless, the specific advantage of being a local NGO is that they have a grip over the local language of the refugee which helps them to understand and analyze the problems in a better manner. 


Inviting individuals from different nations fortifies host networks by making them increasingly various and adaptable in our quickly evolving world. Balancing between both the ends of providing safe living conditions and not compromising a nation’s security, we have to join hands to meet the international goals for refugee protection and put a step towards humanity. In recent time, COVID-19 is imposing a life threat to the refugees and they are being deported back to their countries. Instead of deporting them back to an unsafe and unhealthy environment, their welfare must be looked upon. The national bodies and NGOs must try their level best to help them out by donation of basic livelihood materials and financial as well as legally protecting their rights.


  1.  Universal Declaration of Human Rights (June 30th ,2020, 22:03pm)  https://www.un.org/en/universal-declaration-human-rights/
  2.   M.S.S. v. Belgium and Greece [GC], no. 30696/09, ECHR 2011
  3. How does IHL protect refugees and internally displaced persons? (June 30th,2020, 22:25pm) https://www.icrc.org/en/document/how-does-humanitarian-law-protect-refugees-and-internally-displaced-persons-0
  4.  A and Another v. Minister for Immigration & Ethnic Affairs (1997) 142 ALR 331 (Austl.)
  5.  M70/2011 and M106/2011 v. Minister for Immigration and Citizenship & Anor, [2011] HCA 32 (Austl.)

Shyantika Khan & Aanusha Bagchi | Amity University, Kolkata

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