Legal Resources

This page provides information on Legal Contacts – to facilitate access to free legal assistance – and Legal Resources – to offer the information necessary for legal service providers in adjudicating an Refugee Status Determination (RSD) claim. This is achieved through providing relevant legal instruments in refugee law, links to general resources as well as links specific to the RSD process.


This section contains a centralised database of contact details of free legal assistance providers in over 230 countries, a database of country of origin experts, and information on legal processes relating to refugees.

Pro Bono Legal Assistance Providers 

The link above provides a list of pro bono legal assistance providers and is a directory of organisations, lawyers, and others who are able to assist refugees free-of-charge in legal matters and help secure refugee rights. This list may also be of use to legal providers assembling and arguing cases elsewhere in the world for information on country of origin, case development, and other help.

Country of Origin Information Experts

Our list of country of origin information (COI) experts and organisations that provide COI will be of use to legal assistance providers in need of expert reports for particular countries to support asylum cases and other refugee-related legal proceedings.

UNHCR Country offices

UNHCR is attempting to put each of its Country Offices online and it so far has only a few, but it could be worthwhile checking their site by clicking the link above.

A number of UNHCR operations can be contacted through Facebook and Messenger, see here .  Go to Facebook and type in ‘UNHCR’ and the name of the country you may be assisting a refugee in, for example type ‘UNHCR Kenya’.


International Legal Instruments relevant to Refugee Law

1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and the 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees

The link above provides a short guide on the 1951 convention and its main provisions. For a more comprehensive guide by UNHCR, see the ‘Handbook on Procedures and Criteria for Determining Refugee Status under the 1951 Convention and the 1967 Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees’.

Organisation of American States ‘Cartagena Declaration’

1969 Convention Governing the Specific Aspects of Refugee Problems in Africa (OAU Convention)

Tools for refugee protection in the Asia-Pacific region

Regulation (EU) No 604/2013 (Dublin III) of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 June 2013 establishing the criteria and mechanisms for determining the Member State responsible for examining an application for international protection lodged in one of the Member States by a third-country national or a stateless person.

General Resources

UNHCR’s online Protection Manual

A repository of policy and guidance documents that is updated whenever a new protection policy or guidance document is published and can thus be relied upon to represent the current state of UNHCR protection policy and guidance. UNHCR guidance and policy documents are organised by theme/subject, as reflected in the Protection Manual’s Table of Contents. Subjects include legal topics (for example, UNHCR guidance on the different elements of the refugee definition) and operational protection guidance (for example, on ‘asylum-seekers at sea’, or ‘age, gender and diversity’). Under each heading, documents are arranged in reverse chronological order with each document individually accessible through a hyperlink.

The Global Compact on Refugees

Is a framework affirmed on 17 December 2018 by the United Nations General Assembly for more predictable and equitable responsibility-sharing, recognizing that a sustainable solution to refugee situations cannot be achieved without international cooperation. It provides a blueprint for governments, international organizations, and other stakeholders to ensure that host communities get the support they need and that refugees can lead productive lives. It constitutes a unique opportunity to transform the way the world responds to refugee situations, benefiting both refugees and the communities that host them. It’s four key objectives are to:

  • Ease the pressures on host countries;
  • Enhance refugee self-reliance;
  • Expand access to third-country solutions;
  • Support conditions in countries of origin for return in safety and dignity.

RSD Specific resources

Obtaining/Preparing Medical-Legal Assessments in RSD Adjudication 

The provision of medical evidence in Refugee Status Determination (RSD) procedures is fraught with challenges. Medical reports documenting asylum seekers’ physical and/or mental health are increasingly being used within RSD proceedings as objective evidence to support asylum claims.

RSD Adjudication and Psychosocial Support

A method for conducting RSD adjudication is with psychosocial support. Information and materials on the importance of psychosocial support before, during and after refugee status determination is provided in the link above.

Psychological research relating to RSD procedures

Understanding and application of psychological science in the asylum process is important to ensure that adjudication is fair, lessening the risk of denying protection to refugees. In the link above, we present a brief introduction to the psychological research that can be drawn on in representing people seeking international protection and adjudication of claims. You will also find links to further resources.

Guidelines on accompanying a client in an RSD Interview: 

Asylum seekers have the right to legal representation at all stages of refugee status determination procedure and may have a legal representative accompany them to their RSD interviews at UNHCR. This guide is intended to assist legal advocates to provide the best possible advocacy during the RSD interviews at UNHCR. : Accompanying Clients to RSD Interviews at the UNHCR .

Applicable Case Law

This link provides a list of databases issuing  municipal and international Case Law material.

Accessing Regional Human Rights Bodies: A Guide

States and their institutions can often fail to provide adequate help for refugees and asylum seekers. When a decision reached by a state is considered to be in breach of regional rules regarding the adequate treatment of refugees and asylum seekers, it is possible to challenge that decision before regional human rights bodies. Please see below to find information on each region:

The Americas


Court of Justice of the European Union (Only national courts can access this court)

European Court of Human Rights

Other Resources

Free Movement

One of the best advisors on immigration and asylum law is a UK based resource, Free Movement . Please note that membership is required to access the content, but non members can access 15 blog pages per month before being blocked from seeing the content.