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Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People

Jubilee Charter of Rights 
of Displaced People

The Charter was produced by a working group that helped prepare the Jubilee for Refugees, whose members were representatives of MIGRANTES (Italian Episcopal Conference), the Jesuit Refugee Service, the Italian Council for Refugees (CIR), the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, and the Refugee Section of the Pontifical Council. As such it is not an official document of the Pontifical Council but represents a consensus of various organizations on the most important rights of refugees, which are already recognized in various instruments of international law but which need to be emphasized in our actual historical moment.


We refugees, displaced people, asylum-seekers, pastoral and humanitarian agents, representatives of governments and international organizations, gathered in Rome for the celebration of the Great Jubilee of Migrants and Itinerant People;

affirming the importance of the international instruments on human rights and on the status of refugees and victims of war and generalized violence;

appealing for the formulation of similar international instruments for sustaining people displaced within their own country;

encouraged by the celebration of the Jubilee of Refugees and Displaced People and by the document of the Holy See, Refugees: A Challenge to Solidarity;

convinced of what this document affirms, namely, that “Protection is not a simple concession made to the refugee: he is not an object of assistance, but rather a subject of rights and duties. Each country has the responsibility to respect the rights of refugees and assure that they are respected as much as the rights of its own citizens” (n. 11); furthermore convinced that protection does not consist in being limited to furnish minimum forms of survival but in assuring a social and cultural environment that respects the dignity and the liberty of the human person as expressed in international instruments, among which is the Geneva Convention of 1951;

We present this JUBILEE CHARTER OF THE RIGHTS OF DISPLACED PEOPLE, with which, on the basis of our religious faith and our humanitarian principles, their rights are reaffirmed, among which are the following:

  • the right to not be turned back at the borders of the country where they seek protection and to receive a fair and prompt response to the request to be recognized as refugees and obtain asylum;
  • the right to be heard by a competent and well disposed authority and not to undergo detention while the request for asylum is being considered;
  • the right of confidentiality of the information supplied;
  • the right to live in dignity and to receive the help necessary while the asylum application is being considered;
  • the right to appeal a negative decision on the recognition of refugee status and, during recourse, to reside in the territory of the country of asylum;
  • the right of the poorest nations – on whom lies the burden for the welcome of most of the world’s refugees – to be supported by wealthier countries in their effort to fulfill the commitments made with their adhesion to the international conventions on refugees;
  • the right to have a dignified life in the country of asylum for as long as the conditions of insecurity in the country of origin last through active participation in the social and productive life of the host country;
  • the right to liberty of thought, conscience and religion, including the right to receive an adequate religious assistance from ministers of their own faith;
  • the right of separated families to know as soon as possible where their lost relatives are and to get into contact with them as well as to be reunited as soon as possible and protected as the fundamental nucleus of society;
  • the right of refugee women to receive a special attention that guarantees them protection from any form of violence, the protection of motherhood, access to income and whatever else they need in consideration of their vulnerability of role that they play within the family and the community;
  • the right of minors and the elderly to a special protection that takes account of their situation of greater physical, economic and psychological vulnerability;
  • the right of children and of adolescents to education, medical care and a secure environment where they can creatively develop their energies and potentials; the further right to be protected from any kind of military recruitment and involvement in armed conflicts;
  • the right of refugees to a dignified and secure return to their homeland, together with the commitment of the international community to promote respect for fundamental human rights in their country of origin and the solution of the political, social, religious and environmental questions that impede return;
  • the right of internally displaced people – of whom there are tens of millions – to be protected in their basic human rights and to return in security to their own lands and homes;
  • the right of stateless persons to a homeland and to a rapid and just definition of their situation;
  • the right to correct and objective information provided by the media that avoids unjust criminalizing or false alarmism about the events and situation in both the country of arrival and in those of origin.

This CHARTER does not pretend to be exhaustive, but intends to present to the world the most important challenges that have to be faced at the beginning of the Third Millennium for the protection and well-being of over 50 million people forced to live outside their homelands or habitual places of residence.

We hope that the International Community also commit itself put an end to those activities that by their nature produce crises of refugees.

We ask that this CHARTER be diffused in all the world and find its practical realization with the help and support of all men of good will - political, humanitarian and religious – who feel themselves called to heal this “shameful wound of our time” (John Paul II, 25 June 1982).

Oratorio di San Francesco del Caravita, Rome, 1 June 2000