Migration and Refugee Law Dictionary

It is the process of bringing together family members who are separated from each other, as a result of forced or voluntary migration, within the country of migration. Family reunification fosters economic, social cohesion, and sociocultural stability by enhancing the integration of third-country nationalities in the host country.

It’s when the languages, cultures, and behaviors of minority groups in society gradually change and become compatible with the societal expectations adopted by the majority. Although assimilated groups do not completely abandon their own traditions, they learn to incorporate both the traditions and customs of others within society to become one with a larger community.

The lack of equal treatment for a person or group of people due to a part of their identity. Parts of their identity is defined as “any type of discrimination, for example, race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, birth or other status” (Article 2, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948).

Refusal to discriminate against a person or group of people solely because of a part of their identity. For example, under Article 26 of the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights of 1966, all persons are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. Likewise, the law shall prohibit any discrimination and guarantee to all persons equal and effective protection against discrimination on any ground, such as race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, and birth or other status.

This phrase is crucial in understanding the refugee definition of the 1951 Refugee Convention. This phrase means a group of persons who share a common characteristic other than the risk of being persecuted or who are perceived as a group by society. This characteristic is often innate, unchangeable, or fundamental to an identity or conscience.

The Geneva Convention’s multilateral treaty on the legal status of refugees was adopted at the UN General Assembly in 1950, signed on July 28, 1951, and entered into force on April 22, 1954. Turkey ratified the agreement with Law No. 359 on August 29, 1961. The convention covers many aspects related to the definition of refugees, their rights, and obligations. Its main purpose is to protect civilians and prisoners of war in case of conflict.

It is the legal document issued by the institutions of a country to employ foreigners in that country. In Turkey, work permits for foreigners are issued by the Ministry of Labor and Social Security. Employers make online work permit or work permit extension applications to the Ministry of Labor and Social Security after agreeing to recruit foreigners who reside in Turkey or hold a residence permit valid for at least six months, aside from educational purposes. After completion, the application must be printed and signed by the employer officer and the foreigner. In addition, it’s obligatory to register the foreigner for insurance after the work permit is obtained. For this process, the employing person is required to apply to the Social Security Institution to register the workplace and start the insurance of the foreigner.

Any work performed by a child that deprives a child of their childhood, potential, and human dignity while also being harmful to their health, education, physical, mental, spiritual, moral, or social development (see Convention on the Rights of the Children, 1989).

The process aiming to enable full participation in the economic, social, political, and cultural life of a particular community. Despite the lack of a generally accepted definition, the inclusive society idea is based on respect for all human rights, fundamental freedoms, cultural diversity, religious diversity, social justice, the special needs of vulnerable or disadvantaged groups, democratic participation, and the rule of law.

Migration movements that occur outside the regulatory norms of the sending, transit, and receiving countries. In terms of target countries, illegal entry into a country means illegal residence or work. Under this context, if an immigrant does not have the necessary permits and documents to reside in the country of arrival, he/she has entered the country irregularly. For the sending country, irregularities exist when a person crosses an international border without a valid passport, travel document, or fails to meet the administrative conditions needed to leave the country.

Children who have been separated from both parents, their previous legal guardian, or customary primary caregiver, but not necessarily from other relatives. Therefore, this term includes children accompanied by other family members. According to the 2004 Statement of Good Practice of the Separated Children in Europe Program (SCEP), separated children are children under 18 years of age who are outside their country of origin and separated from both parents or their previous legal/customary primary caregiver. SCEP uses the phrase “separated from their parents” instead of “unaccompanied”, with this view: “While some separated children appear to be ‘accompanied’ when they arrive in Europe, the accompanying adults are not necessarily able or suitable to assume responsibility for their care.”

In line with the principles of equality and non-discrimination, these are rights aiming to provide people with an economic, social, cultural, material, and intellectually appropriate level of welfare. Effective enforcement of economic, social, and cultural rights generally requires active intervention by the state. In international public law, these rights are stipulated in the provisions of the 1966 International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights like the right to work, the right to fair, appropriate working conditions, the right to form trade unions, union membership, the right to strike, the right to social security, the right to protection of the family, the right to an adequate standard of living, the right to housing, the right to health, and the right to education.

Integration is the acceptance of individual immigrants or groups of immigrants within permanent or temporary settlements as part of society. Integration is a two-way process between immigrants and host communities based on issues related to the rights, obligations, access to different types of services and labor markets, and the definition of core values.

 There is no universally accepted definition of migrant. The term is usually understood to cover all cases where the decision to migrate is taken by an individual with free will, personal convenience, and without the intervention of compelling external factors. Therefore, this statement applies to people and family members that are moving to another country or region to better their material and social conditions. This term also includes people who migrate in order to improve the prospect for themselves or their family. The United Nations defines migrant as an individual residing in a foreign country for more than a year, regardless of the cause, whether voluntary or involuntary, migration routes, regular or irregular nature of migration. Under this definition, people who travel in shorter periods with the status of tourists or business people are not considered immigrants. However, the more common definition also covers certain types of short-term migrants such as seasonal agricultural workers who travel for a short time for the cultivation and/or harvest of agricultural products.

It is a management definition formed by various state institutions within the framework of a national system that provides the entry and residence of foreign citizens within the borders of a state and also aims to organize cross-border migrations in a humane way to manage the protection provided to refugees and people in need of protection. Migration management includes both legal and administrative regulations.

It is a country with an effective asylum system where an asylum seeker is physically present before arriving in the country where they apply for asylum. According to the EU’s directive on common procedures for granting or withdrawing international protection, member states may apply the concept of a safe third country only in situations that comply with the following conditions:


(a) life and liberty are not threatened on account of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion;


(b) there is no risk of serious harm as defined in relevant EU legislation;


(c) the principle of non-refoulement in accordance with the Geneva Convention is respected;


(d) the prohibition of removal, in violation of the right to freedom from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment as laid down in international law;


(e) the possibility exists to request refugee status and, if found to be a refugee, to receive protection in accordance with the Geneva Convention.

It is a key element of the refugee definition in the 1951 Refugee Convention. The “well-foundedness” of fear contains both a subjective element (fear of persecution) and an objective element (the fear must have an objectively justifiable basis). According to the 1951 Convention, persecution must be linked to any of the five stated reasons: race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion.

“Compared to other groups, segments in any group or society facing a higher risk of discriminatory practices, violence, natural and environmental disasters or economic difficulties in times of conflict and crisis; social groups or segment (such as women, children or the elderly) who are at higher risk during periods of conflict and crisis.”

Racial discrimination means any distinction, exclusion, restriction, or preference based on race, color, descent, nationality, or ethnic origin which has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment, or exercise of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, or any other field of public life. (1965, International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, Article 1).

According to accepted modern values, the freedoms and benefits that people should be able to claim are “rights”, in the society they live in. These rights are included in the International Declaration of Rights, which consists of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the 1966 International Covenants on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and International Conventions on Civil and Political Rights, which were developed by other treaties (e.g. International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, 1990).

International humanitarian law is an important part of international public law and consists of rules aiming to protect those who are not or are no longer taking part in periods of armed conflict, in order to restrict the methods and means of warfare. International humanitarian law, also known as the law of armed conflict or the law of war, has two branches: “Geneva Law” (created to protect persons such as military personnel who are not or no longer taking part in war and civilians who are actively involved in a war) and the “Hague Law” (rules determining the rights and obligations of belligerents in the conduct of military operations).

Repatriation of refugees, prisoners, prisoners of war, or civilians in custody to their country of origin due to conditions that do not leave room for another alternative because the right of return is personal (essentially contrary to the deportation procedure under the sovereignty of States). Examples are there is no justification for people meeting suitable conditions whether they are refugees, prisoners of war, or civilian detainees, to be compelled to return outside their own will neither by the state of which they are citizens nor the state where they are temporarily resident or detained. According to modern international law, refugees, detainees of civilians, or prisoners of war who refuse to return to their home country, especially if there is a fear of political persecution in their own country, should be protected against refoulement and, if possible, be granted temporary or permanent asylum.

A series of changes in cultural customs (ideas, discourses, values, norms, behaviors, traditions), resulting from direct and constant contact between groups from different cultures, especially through migration movements or economic displacement. Cultural cohesion occurs when a group maintains its culture in its private spheres while also adopting the characteristics of the dominant culture in public life. Cultural cohesion can also result in the emergence of a new culture that synthesizes the elements of the two original cultures.

Interaction and integration between people, companies, and governments within different states; the process led by international trade and investment supported by information technologies. This process has an impact on the environment, culture, political systems, economic developments, wealth, and the well-being of people in all societies.

According to the UN’s definition, “owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country” (1967 Protocol and 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, Article 1A (2)). Accordingly, being a refugee is a legal status and refugees have rights related to this status. According to UNHCR data, the total number of refugees in the world exceeded 16 million by the end of 2015. The list of countries hosting the highest number of refugees is as follows: Turkey (2.5 million), Pakistan (1.6 million), Lebanon (1.1 million), Iran (979,000), Ethiopia (736,000), Sudan (664,000), Kenya (553,000), Uganda (477,000), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (383,000) and Chad (69,000).

Refugee law includes international customary law and various international, regional, and national documents containing protection standards for refugees. The 1951 Refugee Convention is the cornerstone of refugee law. The right to asylum was recognized as a fundamental right in the EU law order with the statement “The right to asylum is guaranteed in accordance with the Geneva Convention of 28 July, 1951 and the rules of the Protocol of 31 January, 1967 on the status of refugees and in accordance with the Treaty establishing the European Community” of Article 18 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights of 7 December, 2000, which became binding within the EU’s legal order with the entry into force of the Lisbon Convention in 2009.

It is the protection provided by a state to people fleeing from another state because of persecution or serious danger. A type of protection granted by a state on its territory based on the principle of non-refoulement and the refugee rights it recognizes at the international or national level. It is granted to a person who cannot be protected in the country where he/she is a citizen or resident, especially due to fear of persecution based on race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion.

It is a general term used in two senses: the right to grant asylum (the ability of states to grant asylum to people in their territory at their own discretion) and the right to obtain asylum (the right to receive asylum from the requested state or following state). The right to asylum is granted to those who escape from persecution and serious threats to their life in their own country, therefore needing international protection. First recognized in the 1951 Refugee Convention, the right to asylum is a fundamental right and is an international obligation for countries. Furthermore, everyone has the right to take shelter and benefit from asylum in other countries under persecution according to the first paragraph of Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was announced by the United Nations General Assembly Decision No. 217 A (III) on 10 December 1948.

It is a person wishing to be taken into a country as a refugee pursuant with relevant national or international documents that is waiting for the result of their application for refugee status. If their application is not accepted and they are not permitted to stay in the country for humanitarian reasons or other reasons, these persons may be deported. In addition, it is possible for the persons to remain under arrest in closed areas when the conditions require.

Used and understood differently depending on both country and context, it can be defined as the process whereby migrants are accepted as a part of society both individually and as a group. It usually refers to a two-way process between migrants and host communities. The concrete conditions required by host communities to accept migrants differ from country to country. Cohesion does not necessarily refer to permanent settlement. However, it addresses the rights and obligations of migrants and host communities, access to different types of services and the labor market, and the issues relating to defining and observing core values that bring immigrants and host communities together for a common purpose.

Persons or groups of people who have been forced to leave, obliged to flee, or leave their homes or places of habitual residence, in particular as a result of or in order to avoid the effects of armed conflict, situations of generalized violence, violations of human rights or natural or human-made disasters, and who have not crossed an internationally recognized border. (Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement E/CN.4/1998/53/Add.2)

The person who has a legal connection to a state within the framework of their laws.

It is the legal regulation and process for a non-citizen to become a citizen of a country.

There is no generally accepted definition of xenophobia at the international level. However, it can be defined as attitudes, prejudices, and behavior that reject, exclude, and often vilify persons, based on the perception that they are outsiders or foreigners to the community, society, or national identity. There is a close link between racism and xenophobia, which are difficult to distinguish from each other.

The “Law on Foreigners and International Protection” No. 6458 was published in the Official Gazette dated 11 April, 2013 and numbered 28615. The law put into effect the provisions determining the establishment, duties, powers, and organization of the Directorate General of Migration Management. Also, the law regulates procedures and operations associated with foreigners; international protection to be provided upon foreigners’ individual requests for protection at borders, border gates, or inside Turkey and temporary protection to be provided urgently to foreigners who cannot return to the country they were forced to leave and that come to Turkey in mass immigration.

The migration movement, which has a coercion element that includes threats to life and prosperity due to natural or human-made reasons (Ex: movements of refugees, internally displaced persons, and movements caused by natural, environmental, chemical, nuclear disasters, starvation, or development projects).

It is the removal of a person from their home or country without their consent, usually due to armed conflict or natural disasters. According to UNHCR’s Global Trends Report, which is published annually, the number of forcibly displaced persons exceeded 60 million for the first time, reaching 65.3 million by the end of 2015. Considering that the world population is 7.349 billion, this means that 1 in 113 people in the world are either asylum seekers or internally displaced people or refugees.

 It is the general term used to describe the immigration movement with a coercive factor due to threats to the life and well-being of citizens in their own country, resulting from natural or human-made reasons. The migration waves caused by the war in the countries of the former Yugoslavia are examples of forced migration. Examples of forced migration also include the movements of refugees, internally displaced persons, and movements caused by natural, environmental, chemical, nuclear disasters, starvation, or development projects.


International Organization for Migration (IOM), Migration Terms Dictionary, Economic Development Foundation’s Refugee Dictionary