Main Debates

  • Does the OAU Convention refugee definition contain a subjective element or is the definition predicated on the mainly objective events compelling someone to flee their place of habitual residence?
  • Does the OAU Convention refugee definition exclude sur-place refugees?

Main Points

  • The meaning of ‘compelled to flee’
  • Assessment of whether the term ‘compelled’ indicates that the OAU Convention definition has a subjective element
  • Test for establishment of the causal connection between the individual’s flight and the enumerated events
  • Strict interpretation of compelled to flee may exclude sur-place OAU Convention refugees


  1. OAU, Convention Governing the Specific Aspects of Refugee Problems in Africa, 10 September 1969, 1001 U.N.T.S. 45.



  1. A. Edwards, ‘Refugee Status Determination in Africa’, African Journal of International and Comparative Law, vol. 14 (2006), pp. 228-230.
  2. M. Sharpe, ‘The 1969 African Refugee Convention: Innovations, Misconceptions, and Omissions’ McGill Law Journal, vol. 58, no. 1 (2012), pp. 19-26.


  1. T. Schreier, ‘The OAU Refugee Convention Definition’ in F. Khan and T. Schreier (eds), Refugee Law in South Africa, (Cape Town: Juta, 2014), pp. 86-88.
  2. M. Rankin, ‘Extending the Limits or Narrowing the Scope? Deconstructing the OAU Refugee Definition Thirty Years On’, South African Journal of Human Rights, vol. 21, no. 3 (2005), pp. 430-431.