Read Arusha Declaration in full


At its latest meeting in Arusha, the African Chapter of the International Association of Refugee and Migration Judges (IARMJ) urged African states, not yet part to key conventions and protocols relating to the status of refugees and specific refugee problems in Africa, to accede to these instruments.

They also urged that states incorporate all international standards relating to the protection of refugees into their national legislation ‘to ensure that refugees and asylum-seekers can effectively enjoy all the civil, economic and socio-cultural rights’ to which they are entitled, in their country of asylum.

The judges further urged African states to monitor and strengthen border management procedures to prevent refoulement (the forced return of refugees or asylum seekers to a country where they are liable to persecution). States should address concerns about inconsistent access to asylum and should expand and strengthen ‘protection-sensitive entry systems in their border management policies’, in order to enhance identification and referral of asylum-seekers to the responsible authorities.


They expressed concern that while the right to seek and obtain asylum was only effective if African states had asylum systems that are ‘consistently accessible, fair, efficient, adaptable and which have integrity’, some African states were lacking in this regard.

The declaration underscores the role of the UN High Commission on Refugees’ (UNHCR) mandate on international protection and the part it played to ensure the promotion and supervision of refugee protection. In the light of the important role played by UNHCR, African states should grant the UNHCR and its partners access to monitor borders, entry points and other locations where would-be asylum seekers could make claims. African states should welcome UNHCR support to strengthen asylum systems, the declaration says.

Refugee law reform, the strengthening of asylum systems, and the social and economic inclusion of economic refugees in host countries should all be implemented, says IARMJ.


The organisation also applauded the establishment of a Centre for Excellence via a tri-partite agreement between the Judicial Institute for Africa (JIA), the African Chapter of IARMJ and the UNHCR. The purpose of the centre is to deliver international refugee and asylum law training programmes to judicial officers, legal practitioners, asylum and refugee decisions makers and academics.

In addition, the IARMJ also dealt with internal displacement, the right to a nationality and the eradication of statelessness and what could be done by African states in relation to these problems.