The Development of Refugee Law

In customary international law, nationality provides the principal link between the individual and the law of nations. Refugees are commonly understood to be persons who have been compelled to leave their homes on account of natural catastrophes or because of political events; they may be inside or outside their country of origin. Refugees may be stateless or not; most present-day refugees are not stateless. Only international political refugees-persons who are outside their country of origin for political reasons-are discussed in this article, an overview of sources of refugee law, and a preface to the articles in this volume which take up various transnational legal problems of refugees.