The 1969 OAU Refugee Convention at 50
This report aims to contribute to the African Union’s (AU) Year of Refugees, Returnees and Internally Displaced Persons, which in part marks the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the 1969 Organization of African Unity (OAU) Convention Governing the Specific Aspects of Refugee Problems in Africa (the 1969 OAU Refugee Convention). The report reviews the history and background of the Convention, its contemporary implementation and future prospects. The final analysis highlights how the Global Compact on Refugees (GCR or the Compact), affirmed by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly in 2018, might support the Convention’s implementation. The former OAU and AU have consistently marked the Convention’s milestone anniversaries. The first such initiative, the Commemorative Symposium on Refugees and the Problems of Forced Population Displacements in Africa, was held in Addis Ababa in 1994. This was the 25th anniversary of the Convention’s adoption and 20 years since its entry into force. The symposium adopted the Addis Ababa Document on Refugees and Forced Population Movements in Africa. The year 2019 marks 50 years since the 1969 Organization of African Unity Refugee Convention was adopted. This milestone is an opportunity to review its history, implementation and prospects. The Convention has been widely ratified and domesticated and has informed the development of progressive laws. Implementation however faces several challenges, including xenophobia and the tendency to view refugees as a security concern. The Global Compact on Refugees has the potential to support the Convention’s implementation.