7 Whittier L. Rev. 675 (1985)
Human Rights and Humanitarian Law

handle is hein.journals/whitlr7 and id is 687 raw text is: HUMAN RIGHTS AND
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has stated
on repeated occasions that the majority of refugees in the world today
are people fleeing war or starvation.' From that perspective, focusing
exclusively on political asylum as a remedy to solve this pressing prob-
lem may cause people to run into blind alleys. Such has been the case
with efforts to secure asylum for Salvadorans and Guatemalans. I am
going to explain a little bit about why a human rights and humanita-
rian lawyer might get involved in refugee issues. First of all, I have
personally been on death flights. Death flights are the planes going
back from the United States to El Salvador containing refugees being
returned by the United States to El Salvador. I also got involved as an
international human rights and humanitarian lawyer because of the
international preoccupation with the humanitarian law issues and im-
plications in the situations involving conflicts taking place in Central
America. In the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for
Refugees, the International Institute for Humanitarian Law, the Inter-
national Committee of the Red Cross, and the United Nations Com-
mission on Human Rights, there has been a tremendous amount of
concern over protecting persons who had fled armed conflict. I also
got involved because in 1983, I wrote a paper called El Salvador's
Armed Conflict and the Geneva Conventions. In the conclusion of
the paper, I posited some areas of concern about United States foreign
policy in Central America, mentioning specifically the implications of
the forced repatriation of Salvadorans.
The persons working on asylum cases began coming to me want-
* Attorney with Human Rights Advocates, Inc.; represents human rights matters before
the United Nations, organization of American states and United States tribunals.
1. See, e.g., Report of the UNHCR, 39 U.N. GAOR Supp. (No.12), U.N. Doc. A/39/12
(1984); Report of the UNHCR, 38 U.N. GAOR Supp. (No. 12), U.N. Doc. A/38/12 (1983);
Report of the UNHCR, 37 U.N. GAOR Supp. (No. 12) at 4, U.N. Doc. A/37/12 (1982).

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