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The Rights of Refugees – The Pinheiro Principles

Refugees are people who get forcefully displaced from their homes. Typically, this happens due to violence, conflict, or political unrest. They flee in search of a safe harbor. Often, they end up setting up a new home elsewhere in their own country or find asylum abroad. But what happens when things back home go back to normal, and it’s safe to return? Is it possible for these uprooted people to return home? To ensure this is a real possibility, the United Nations developed the Pinheiro Principles. Let’s learn more about them.

Why the Pinheiro Principles?

There are millions of refugees in the world today. They didn’t leave for economic reasons; they fled because their lives were at stake. And when they did, they also left most of their possessions behind – their homes, their property, their land, and their goods.

Now imagine that they are finally able to go home. But to what will they return? Will they be able to reclaim the land that they left behind? Most likely, someone else has taken over the property, probably illegally. To remedy these types of situations, the Pinheiro Principles sets out a number of guidelines.

The United Nations developed the guidelines with just this idea in mind. They help refugees go home and reclaim their rights to a property. Not only is this fair, but it also makes the decision to come home, much more possible. Otherwise, refugees have to return home to nothing and rebuild their life from scratch. Fortunately, refugees are helped by multiple compassionate organizations and volunteers in this process.

What are The Main Provisions of The Pinheiro Principles?

The Pinheiro Principles are mainly a guide for governments and the UN agency. They set out a framework to follow when dealing with complex issues that surround property rights and ownership. The set of principles has two sections.

The first section, Principles 2-10, deal with the already well-established human rights. These include aspects such as the right to be protected from displacement and the right to peaceful enjoyment of possessions. These represent the core values that guide the more legal and technical provisions of the Pinheiro Principles.

The second section, principles 11-22, are much more technical and specific. They deal with the possible issues that might arise regarding the restitution of rights and the national procedures that surround them. For example, what happens to the temporary tenants who are living on the land owned by returning refugees?

What Does this Mean for National Governments?

Of course, the Principles do not set out a rigid legal framework. There is a subtle understanding that one size does not fit all. It means that every country and governing body must adapt these principles to what works in their social and political contexts.

For this, the Pinheiro Principles encourages public participation in the decision-making process. In particular, they advise that governments consult with the displaced population when drafting legal frameworks for property right restitution.

In addition to this, Principle 22 does place some responsibility on the international community. The issues that refugees face are not localized – they are global. Immense movements of people can shake up the entire world. As such, it is the responsibility of the international community to protect the rights of all our fellow human beings. After all, we don’t know if one day we will be facing the same crisis ourselves.

Everything You Need to Know about Refugees

Humanitarians continuously work hard to help and protect refugees. Refugees are always supported by compassionate people, even if their primary mission is different. There are many more humanitarian aspects of refugees. Here you can take a closer look at everything you need to know about refugees and the help they receive.

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