A glossary of words to help understand the campaign

Many of us involved in this campaign were unaccompanied children. We needed support as children. Now, as youth, we want people to understand that claiming asylum is a human right.

For this reason, we feel all unaccompanied children should have a guardian to support them understand their rights, navigate the system and be allowed to live life as child. 

Here we unpack the words we use in this campaign, including the difference between unaccompanied children and refugees.

‘If we call all people refugees or migrants, there is a danger that young people will be forgotten.’ 


The grant, by a State, of protection on its territory to persons from another State who are fleeing persecution or serious danger. Asylum encompasses a variety of elements, including non-refoulement, permission to remain on the territory of the asylum country and humane standards of treatment. 


An individual who is seeking international protection. In countries with individualized procedures, an asylum-seeker is someone whose claim has not yet been finally decided on by the country in which the claim is submitted. Not every asylum-seeker will ultimately be recognized as a refugee, but every refugee was initially an asylum-seeker. 

When people flee their own country and seek sanctuary in another country, they apply for asylum. The right to be recognized as a refugee and receive legal protection and material assistance.


A person who meets the eligibility criteria under the applicable refugee definition, as provided for by international or regional instruments, under UNHCR’s mandate, and/or in national legislation.  


Persons who are below the legal age of majority and are therefore not legally independent. This term includes adolescents. Under the Convention on the Rights of the Child, a “child” is a person who is below the age of eighteen, unless the applicable law sets a lower age.  

Unaccompanied children 

Children who are not in the company of parents or another adult caregiver. 

Unaccompanied asylum seeking children (UASC) 

These are children not in the company of their parents or another adult caregiver seeking international protection. 


Article 5 of United Nations Children’s Rights Convention states parties shall respect the responsibilities, rights and duties of parents or, where applicable, the members of the extended family or community as provided for by local custom, legal guardians or other persons legally responsible for the child, to provide, in a manner consistent with the evolving capacities of the child, appropriate direction and guidance in the exercise by the child of the rights recognized in the present Convention.

Convention refugees 

Persons recognized as refugees by States under the eligibility criteria in Article 1 of the 1951 Convention, and entitled to the enjoyment of a variety of rights under that treaty.  

Migrants (Economic) 

Persons who leave their countries purely for economic reasons unrelated to the refugee definition, or in order to seek material improvements in their livelihood. Economic migrants do not fall within the criteria for refugee status and are therefore not entitled to benefit from international protection. 

Trafficking (human) 

The organized illegal movement of persons for profit. The critical additional factor that distinguishes trafficking from migrant smuggling is the presence of force, coercion and/or deception throughout or at some stage in the process — such deception, force or coercion being used for the purpose of exploitation. While the additional elements that distinguish trafficking from migrant smuggling may sometimes be obvious, in many cases they are difficult to prove without active investigation. 

Convention relating to the Status of Refugees (1951 Convention) 

This treaty establishes the most widely applicable framework for the protection of refugees. The Convention was adopted in July 1951 and entered into force in April 1954. Article 1 of the Convention limits its scope to “events occurring before 1 January 1951” but this restriction was removed by the 1967 Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees. As of 1 March 2006, there are 146 States Parties to the 1951 Convention and/or the 1967 Protocol.