The demise of the old European empires and the rise of the modern nation state meant that masses of people were displaced by the new boundaries and new principles of the nation state. Mass migration, forced or voluntary-a consequence of the nationalist or ethnic makeup of many new states-created the modern refugee. Refugees are people who have been forced to leave their homelands because of a well-founded fear of persecution or a threat to their survival or that of their immediate families. International laws were developed to protect those not protected by their own governments or who came under threat because of the actions and policies of their own governments. The conviction that the international community has a duty to protect refugees was recognised by the League of Nations. When the United Nations replaced the League in 1945 it accepted the collective obligation of states to take responsibility for those fleeing persecution or danger. Accordingly, the UN General Assembly in 1946 adopted a resolution that laid the foundations for international refugee protection laws.