Non-signatory States and the international refugee regime

Due out: June/July 2021

Deadline for submissions: 15th March 2021

FMR will publish a mini-feature on Non-signatory States and the international refugee regime in June/July 2021 in collaboration with University of Oslo’s ERC-funded BEYOND project led by Professor Maja Janmyr.[1] (This will be followed by a second mini-feature specifically focused on non-signatory States in the Arab region in February 2023.)

The 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol form the foundations of the international refugee system and provide the legal foundation of refugee assistance and the basic statute guiding the work of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR). The great majority of the world’s nations have signed or ratified the Convention and its Protocol yet many of the world’s top refugee-hosting countries have not done so. The reasons for not being party to the Convention or its Protocol are varied but the fact of not being a party affects, for example, the ability of UNHCR to work with and within that State and, importantly, the legal requirement upon that State to comply with international humanitarian standards. However, the actual actions of States in relation to key aspects of protection of refugees are not directly correlated with whether they have signed or ratified either Convention or Protocol.

Refugee protection is increasingly politicised and has wide-ranging implications for State sovereignty. By analysing the actions and positions of States that have chosen not to sign the Convention, authors will seek to explore the role that these States play in the protection of refugees.

This issue of FMR will provide a forum for affected communities, practitioners, policymakers and researchers to explore challenges, share good practice, highlight innovations and offer recommendations. In particular, the FMR Editors are inviting policy/practice-oriented submissions, reflecting a diverse range of experience and opinions, which address topics such as the following:

  • What are the reasons for States refusing to sign or ratify and what are the repercussions and implications for States, the international community and displaced people?
  • What alternative mechanisms for protection (including signature to other conventions and instruments) are in place in non-signatory States and how do they resemble and differ from the protection provided by signatory States?
  • What can be learned from both the failures of signatory States to ensure protection, and the successes of non-signatories in so doing?
  • What influence does the Refugee Convention have on non-signatory States?
  • How do non-signatory States engage with and help shape developments within the international refugee law regime and its institutions?
  • What lessons can be drawn about the complex effects of international conventions through an examination of the role of non-signatories vis-à-vis the Refugee Convention?
  •  What challenges are faced by UNHCR, other international institutions and States in promoting ratification of the Convention and how can these be addressed?
  • In what ways, and on what basis, does UNHCR operate in non-signatory States? How does it implement its mandate of international protection? How do non-signatory States influence the understanding and implementation of this mandate?
  • How do local courts and legal aid providers in non-signatory States engage with international refugee law norms and principles? Under what circumstances and for what reasons is the Refugee Convention used?
  • What advantages and disadvantages are there for civil society operating in non-signatory States? 


BEFORE WRITING YOUR ARTICLE: If you are interested in contributing, please email the Editors at with a few sentences about your proposed topic so that we can provide feedback and let you know if we are interested in receiving your submission. (You need to provide more than just one sentence or a proposed title – we need to understand the scope of what your article would cover). Please also ensure you indicate a) what question in the call for articles you are addressing and b) from what perspective you are writing – researcher, practitioner, affected community, government, etc (with your organisational affiliation).

WHEN WRITING/SUBMITTING YOUR ARTICLE: Please read our guidelines for authors and ensure your article, when submitted, complies with all elements of our submission checklist: details at do not accept articles that do not comply with our checklist.

Please note:

  • We ask all authors to give appropriate consideration to the particular relevance of their responses to persons with disabilities, to LGBTIQ+ persons, to older persons, and to other groups with specific vulnerabilities, and to seek to include a gendered approach as part of their articles. We also ask authors to consider, where appropriate, the impact of climate change in their analysis and recommendations.
  • While we are looking for examples of good, replicable practice and experience as well as sound analysis of the issues at stake, we also urge writers to discuss failures and difficulties: what does/did not work so well, and why?
  • We are particularly keen to reflect the experiences and knowledge of communities and individuals directly affected by this topic. If you have suggestions of colleagues or community representatives who may wish to contribute, please do email us; we are happy to work with individuals to help them develop an article and very keen to have displaced peoples perspectives reflected in FMR.


Deadline for submission of articles: 15th March 2021

Maximum length: 2,500 words (shorter articles welcome)