Right of asylum is an ancient juridical notion, under which a person persecuted for political opinions or religious beliefs in his or her own country may be protected by another sovereign authority, or a foreign country.
Political asylum is similar, but not identical, to modern refugee law, which deals with massive influx of population, while the right of asylum concerns individuals and is usually delivered in a case-to-case basis. There is overlap between the two because each refugee may demand political asylum on an individual basis.
Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that "Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution." The United Nations 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and the 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees guides national legislation concerning political asylum and states that grounds for asylum include "political opinions" and that "No Contracting State shall expel or return (“refouler”) a refugee in any manner whatsoever to the frontiers of territories where his life or freedom would be threatened on account of his race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion".
Under these agreements, a refugee (or for cases where repressing base means has been applied directly or environmentally to the defoulé refugee) is a person who is outside their own country's territory (or place of habitual residence if stateless) owing to fear of persecution on protected grounds.
Protected grounds include race, nationality, religion, political opinions and membership and/or participation in any particular social group or social activities. These are the accepted terms and criteria as principles and a fundamental part in the U.N. 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees' non-refoulement order (Wikipedia, 2011).
Swiss Asylum Policy