UNHCR ministerial conference opens in Geneva next week

Briefing Notes, 2 December 2011

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Andrej Mahečić to whom quoted text may be attributed at the press briefing, on 2 December 2011, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

The UNHCR ministerial meeting at the Palais des Nations in Geneva on 7 and 8 December 2011 is the largest conference on refugees and stateless people in UNHCR's history.

UNHCR's political and diplomatic efforts to recommit and re-engage the support of member states for the key legal treaties, allowing UNHCR to protect and help forcefully displaced people globally, are paying off.

The conference is expected to yield new accessions and new commitments in the form of pledges of legal and policy changes from a number of countries. For that purpose a special treaty event will be held at 18:00 on 7 December as an integral part of conference.

This landmark ministerial meeting comes at the end of a year that has seen a series of full-blown international displacement crises, as well as a major push by UNHCR to combat statelessness a problem affecting as many as 12 million people worldwide. In 2011 UNHCR is marking the 60th anniversary of the 1951 Refugee Convention, as well as the 50th anniversary of the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness.

In 60 years, UNHCR has convened only one such high-level meeting in the past in 2001 marking the 50th anniversary of both the 1951 Convention and UNHCR.

As of this morning, 75 countries have confirmed their participation at the ministerial level. Those include deputy prime ministers, ministers of foreign affairs, refugee affairs or immigration, and will also include at least one head of state.

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