UNHCR Archive Gallery Eligibility

Archives, 12 June 2009

Under international agreements (such as the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees) or national legislation, certain categories of refugees are entitled to a specific legal status. In order to determine whether a person is entitled to that status, it must first be determined whether he/she is a refugee in the meaning of the instrument concerned (i.e., whether he/she fulfils the conditions set out in the definition of a "refugee" in that instrument). For this, the term "eligibility" is used.

Eligibility determination is a legal process which takes place in two stages: (1) the ascertaining of the relevant facts of the individual case, and (2) the application of the relevant definition to the facts ascertained, which may entail interpretation of the definitions.

The determination of eligibility for the purposes of the Statute of the Office of the High Commissioner in order to determine whether a person or group of persons qualifies for a specific service by the High Commissioner (be it international protection or material assistance) is the prerogative of the High Commissioner, subject to directives of the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).