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Conclusion on Registration of Refugees and Asylum-seekers
No. 91 (LII) - 2001

EXCOM Conclusions, 5 October 2001

The Executive Committee,

Recalling its Conclusion No. 22 (XXXII) on the protection of asylum-seekers in situations of large-scale influx, Conclusion No. 35 (XXXV) on identity documents for refugees, Conclusion No. 39 (XXXVI) and Conclusion No. 64 (XLI) on refugee women and international protection, as well as Conclusion No. 73 (XLIV) on refugee protection and sexual violence;

Noting also that the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees in article 27, calls on States Parties to issue identity papers to refugees;

Mindful of the importance accorded to registration in the independent evaluation of UNHCR's emergency preparedness and response to the Kosovo crisis;

Welcoming the discussion which took place on registration in the context of the Global Consultations on International Protection;

(a) Acknowledges the importance of registration as a tool of protection, including protection against refoulement, protection against forcible recruitment, protection of access to basic rights, family reunification of refugees and identification of those in need of special assistance, and as a means to enable the quantification and assessment of needs and to implement appropriate durable solutions;

(b) Recommends that the registration of refugees and asylum-seekers should be guided by the following basic considerations:

(i) Registration should be a continuing process to record essential information at the time of initial displacement, as well as any subsequent demographic and other changes in the refugee population (such as births, deaths, new arrivals, departures, cessation, naturalization, etc.);

(ii) The registration process should abide by the fundamental principles of confidentiality;

(iii) The registration process should to the extent possible be easily accessible, and take place in a safe and secure location;

(iv) Registration should be conducted in a non-intimidating, non-threatening and impartial manner, with due respect for the safety and dignity of refugees;

(v) Personnel conducting the registration, including, where necessary, refugees and asylum-seekers, should be adequately trained, should include a sufficient number of female staff and should have clear instructions on the procedures and requirements for registration, including the need for confidentiality of information collected; special measures should be taken to ensure the integrity of the registration process;

(vi) In principle, refugees should be registered on an individual basis with the following basic information being recorded: identity document and number, photograph, name, sex, date of birth (or age), marital status, special protection and assistance needs, level of education, occupation (skills), household (family) size and composition, date of arrival, current location and place of origin;

(c) Encourages States and UNHCR, on the basis of existing expertise, to develop further and implement registration guidelines to ensure the quality and comparability of registered data, especially regarding special needs, occupational skills and level of education;

(d) Also encourages States and UNHCR to introduce new techniques and tools to enhance the identification and documentation of refugees and asylum-seekers, including biometrics features, and to share these with a view towards developing a more standardized worldwide registration system;

(e) Acknowledges the importance to the international community, particularly States, UNHCR and other relevant organizations, of sharing statistical data;

(f) Recognizes the confidential nature of personal data and the need to continue to protect confidentiality; also recognizes that the appropriate sharing of some personal data in line with data protection principles can assist States to combat fraud, to address irregular movements of refugees and asylum-seekers, and to identify those not entitled to international protection under the 1951 Convention and/or 1967 Protocol;

(g) Requests States, which have not yet done so, to take all necessary measures to register and document refugees and asylum-seekers on their territory as quickly as possible upon their arrival, bearing in mind the resources available, and where appropriate to seek the support and co-operation of UNHCR;

(h) Emphasizes the critical role of material, financial, technical and human resources in assisting host countries in registering and documenting refugees and asylum-seekers, particularly developing countries confronted with large-scale influxes and protracted refugee situations.

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