Most people forced to flee across national borders do so to escape the consequences of internal armed conflicts. But the extension of protection to such people by the countries from which they seek asylum has proved to be uncertain. Most of these countries have undertaken protection obligations towards persons claiming refugee status in accordance with the 1951 Convention for the Protection of Refugees (“the Convention”). For the purposes of the Convention, a “refugee” is defined as any person who “owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country” (Article 1A(2)). Although that definition is contained in an international instrument, national immigration laws incorporate or refer to it and its construction and application generally fall to national administrators and judges. It is, therefore, not altogether surprising that decision-makers in different countries reach different conclusions as to its scope and meaning. Such is the case with Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs v. Haji Ibrahim (2000) 175 A.L.R. 585, in which the High Court of Australia rejected the approach of the House of Lords in Adan v. Secretary of State for the Home Department  1 A.C. 293. At issue in both cases were claims for refugee status made by persons having fled Somalia, a country riddled by internecine clan conflict and lacking any recognisable governmental authority. Although the ultimate decision in each case turned on the appreciation of the specific findings of fact made by the initial adjudicators, a significant difference of approach in the application of the Convention definition may be identified.