Answered By: Jeffrey Orrico
Last Updated: Feb 01, 2017     Views: 115

"Diplomatic immunity" refers to "[t]he granting of refuge in diplomatic (and by extension in consular) premises to fugitives from the authority of the receiving state when they are deemed by the sending state to have given political rather than criminal offense."

A Dictionary of Diplomacy, s.v. "diplomatic asylum," accessed May 05, 2012,

The term refoulement means to drive or push back, and non-refoulement, a cardinal principle of international refugee law, prescribes that no refugee should be expelled or returned to a country where his or her life or freedom is in danger. Article 33(1) of the 1951 United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees is its principal embodiment. It provides that a refugee shall not be expelled or returned “in any manner whatsoever to the frontiers of territories where his life or freedom would be threatened on account of his race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion.” In view of the humanitarian objective of the convention, Article 33(1), generally speaking, is to be interpreted in a liberal manner. The principle of non-refoulement applies irrespective of whether the concerned person has been formally recognized as a refugee. There is, however, no right to be granted asylum as opposed to being offered temporary refuge.

Immigration and Asylum from 1900 to Present, s.v. "Non-Refoulement," accessed May 05, 2012,

Among the important sources of law regarding diplomatic asylum and refoulement are:

An interesting discussion of the issues involved in diplomatic asylum can be found in the law blog, Dorf on Law, "Against Diplomatic Asylum--And Against the Supreme Court" (1 May 2012), by Mike Dorf.

See pertinent American case law in the library's WestLaw database.


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