Addendum to the Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
United Nations General Assembly Official Records: Twenty-seventh Session
Addendum to the Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
Supplement No.12 (A/8712/Add.1)
REPORT ON THE TWENTY-THIRD SESSION OF THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE OF THE HIGH COMMISSIONER'S PROGRAMME
(Geneva, 9-17 October 1972)
1. The Executive Committee of the High Commissioner's Programme held its twenty-third session from 9 October to 17 October at the Palais des Nations, Geneva.
A. Election of officers
2. Under rule 10 of the rules of procedure, which provides that officers shall be elected for the whole year, the Committee elected the following officers by acclamation:
|Mr. N. Kandemir (Turkey)
|Mr. J. D. O. Sokoya (Nigeria)
|Mr. O. Heyman (Sweden)
B. Representation on the Committee
3. The members of the Committee were represented at the session as follows:
|Federal Republic of Germany
|United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
|United Republic of Tanzania
|United States of America
4. The Governments of Argentina, Burundi, the Central African Republic, Chile, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, the Republic of Viet-Nam, Rwanda, Senegal, the Sudan, Zaire and Zambia were represented by an observer, as was the Sovereign Order of Malta.
5. The United Nations system was represented as follows: the United Nations, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the World Food Programme (WFP), the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the World Health Organization (WHO), the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).
6. The following intergovernmental organizations were represented by an observer: the Commission of the European Communities (CEC), the Council of Europe, the Intergovernmental Committee for European Migration (ICEM), the League of Arab States and the Organization of African Unity (OAU).
C. Introductory remarks by the Chairman
7. The Chairman welcomed representatives and member Governments to the Committee, observers of other Governments and representatives of the United Nations and its agencies, other intergovernmental organizations and non-governmental organizations.
D. Adoption of the agenda - Decision of the Committee
8. The Executive Committee decided to adopt the following agenda:
(1) Election of officers.
(2) Adoption of the agenda (A/AC.96/466/Rev.2).
(3) Statement by the High Commissioner and general debate (A/AC.96/473).
(4) International protection (A/AC.96/477).
(5) Resettlement of refugees (A/AC.96/470).
(6) Financial reports for 1971:
(a) Financial statements and report of the Board of Auditors (A/AC.96/468 and 480);
(b) report on investments (A/AC.96/469);
(c) Financial Rules for Voluntary funds administered by the High commissioner for Refugees - proposed revision (A/AC.96/475)
(7) UNHCR current operations:
(a) Report on UNHCR current operations in 1971 (A/AC.96/467 and A/AC.96/INF.122,123 and 124);
(b) Use of the Emergency Fund from 1 October-30 September 1972 (A/AC.96/478 and A/AC.96/INF.125,126,128 and Add.1, 129,130,131 and 132).
(8) UNHCR assistance programmes for 1972 (new and revised projects) and 1973 (A/AC.96/471, A/AC.96/471/Add.1 and Add.2, A/AC.96/482 and A/AC.96/483).
(9) Relations between UNHCR, the United Nations and other members of the United Nations system (A/AC.96/479).
(10) United Nations immediate aid programme in the Sudan (A/AC.96/INF.133).
(11) Status of contributions and over-all financial situation for 1972 and 1973 (A/AC.96/472 and 476).
(12) Regular budget of UNHCR for 1973 (A/AC.96/474).
(13) Any other questions.
(14) Consideration of the draft report on the session.
II. GENERAL QUESTIONS
A. Statement by the High Commissioner and general debate (Agenda item 3)
9. The High commissioner made a general statement in which he focused attention on the salient features of the activities of his Office since the twenty-second session.1 He was pleased to report on two major instances of repatriation: he recalled that, during the period under review, millions of uprooted east Bengalis had been able to return to their homes; progress was also being achieved in respect of the immediate United Nations aid programme in the Sudan, which would pave the way for the voluntary repatriation of thousands of Sudanese refugees and displaced persons. He stressed the vital importance of the consolidation of the peace which had been achieved in the area and stressed that, in order to reap the full benefit of the UNHCR one-year programme, it was essential that it should be followed by a longer-term assistance programme by UNDP, as envisaged in the relevant resolutions of the Economic and Social Council.
10. It was a matter of concern that the influx of new refugees in other areas of Africa should continue and there were obvious limitations to what could be done by the international community to prevent the uprooting of vast numbers of people. In addition to the refugees from territories under foreign administration, there had been, since the beginning of 1972, some 50,000 refugees from Burundi, who had sought refuge in neighbouring countries. This accounted for the fact that the 1973 target was of the same order of magnitude as that for 1972. With regard to the situation in Uganda, apart from recent developments which might have repercussions on problems relating to individual protection and which were being closely followed, the High Commissioner had received an assurance from the Government of Uganda that refugees from neighbouring countries would continue to benefit from the advantages which they had enjoyed to date.
11. With regard to international protection, the High Commissioner stressed that it was important that more States accede to the intergovernmental instruments relating to the status of refugees. It was to be hoped, in particular, that such highly important instruments as the OAU Convention Governing the Specific Aspects of Refugee Problems in Africa of 19692 and the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness3 would receive more accessions so that these instruments could come into force. He stressed that any action which resulted in an increase in the number of stateless persons or refugees was to be deplored. The position of de jure stateless persons was especially precarious since they might not be in a position to receive any legal protection either in their country of habitual residence or outside it. The problem of statelessness called for the utmost attention on the part of the international community.
12. The High Commissioner said that, in implementing legal instruments concerning refugees, both the letter and the spirit of their provisions should be observed. Asylum and non-refoulement were the cornerstone of the work of protection. He emphasized that, when a refugee arrived in a country, his status should be regularized and he should not be arbitrarily placed under detention. He also drew attention to the all-important question of the right of employment. He considered that it was in the interest of the Government of the receiving country to guarantee a secure legal status to refugees and persons in a similar situation.
13. The High Commissioner expressed satisfaction at the growing financial participation of Governments in his regular Programme. Increasing demands, however, had to be made on Governments and on the non-governmental sector to finance special programmes, such as for the South Sudan, and every effort would, therefore, continue to be required to obtain the necessary contributions towards the Regular Programme and the Education Account.
14. The High Commissioner informed the Committee that, following the survey made by the Administrative Management Service, a reorganization of UNHCR's headquarters office had taken place. One of the important developments had been the establishment of an Evaluation and Planning Section, which would help plan the phasing out of UNHCR projects once the refugees concerned had reached an economic and social position similar to that of the surrounding local population.
15. The High Commissioner pointed out that the General Assembly might take decisions at its present session in respect of budgetary management and planning which might affect the whole Organization, including UNHCR. The implications of the new formula, referred to as programme planning and budgeting, deserved to be closely studied. However, in view of the special nature of the work of UNHCR, the Office obviously needed to retain considerable financial and procedural flexibility.
16. In conclusion, the High Commissioner recalled that, through the adoption of the concept of good offices over a decade ago, the Assembly had made it possible for his Office to gear its activities to rapidly changing situations of diverse character and to act rapidly and efficiently. It was on the basis of the good offices that the High Commissioner had been able to respond to the Secretary-General's request that he should act as focal point of the United Nations system for assistance to refugees in India and, more recently, to refugees and displaced persons in the framework of the reconstruction programme in the South Sudan. Whether acting within his mandate or as a co-ordinator for a wider type of assistance based on his good offices, the High Commissioner was now in a better position to alleviate human suffering in keeping with the purposes of the charter.
17. The members of the Committee paid a warm tribute to the High commissioner on the accomplishments of his Office in its capacity as focal point for the co-ordination of assistance from members of the United Nations system to the East Bengali refugees in India and, more recently, as co-ordinator of the immediate United Nations relief programme in the Sudan, which would pave the way for the voluntary repatriation of thousands of uprooted persons. Several of the speakers noted that in both cases the problems of the refugees concerned had been or were being solved through voluntary repatriation, which they felt constituted the most desirable solution. Many speakers recognized that, by acting as a neutral and impartial intermediary of goodwill for the international community, the High Commissioner had been able to deal effectively with the challenging responsibilities entrusted to him.
18. The members of the Committee recognized the progress that was being achieved in respect of UNHCR current operations and international protection. They expressed general agreement with the High Commissioner's assessment of the present situation and with the policy of his Office as outlined in his statement. Many speakers recognized the sad reality that, at a time when many refugee problems were progressing towards a solution, new ones had emerged which called for the sustained attention of the Governments and organizations concerned. Some representatives and observers noted in particular that the influx of refugees from Territories under foreign administration in Africa continued unabated and felt that the trend was unlikely to be reversed until the countries concerned had acquired independence.
19. The representative of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland said that his Government had accepted full responsibility for Ugandan Asians holding British passports and would accept for admission those who had been unable to resettle in another country. These persons would not become the responsibility of UNHCR. However, there were indications that other Asians, who were experiencing difficulties in establishing their claims to Ugandan citizenship, would seem to run the risk of becoming stateless and their number might be as high as 12,000. While the 1954 Convention relating to the Status of stateless Persons4 provided that contracting parties could not expel a stateless person legally on its territory save for reasons of security or public order, there was a risk that a number of Asians would be forced to leave the country and the High Commissioner would thus be faced with a new problem of considerable magnitude. The United Kingdom Government had been glad to hear the assurances given by the Ugandan Government regarding the treatment of Asians who might not be able to leave by the deadline. A programme of assistance might need to be set in hand very rapidly with a view to their resettlement. The United Kingdom Government was ready to contribute generously to such a programme.
20. The representative of Uganda reaffirmed his Government's attachment to the cause of refugees. The Ugandan Government had already explained the reasons for the expulsion of "British Asians" and had given assurance that they would be treated in a humane manner. With regard to the question of statelessness, it was his Government's policy that persons did not automatically become stateless after it had been proved that they were not Ugandan citizens. Persons in possession of documents which had not been obtained in accordance with Ugandan law were considered to have reverted to their previous nationality. Among them there might be genuine cases of stateless persons, who would be treated in accordance with international law. As for the possible extension beyond 7 November of the time-limit for the expulsion of the Asians, he suggested that his Government be contacted directly.
21. Members of the Committee who spoke on the subject sympathized with the plight of the persons who were likely to become stateless. They felt that the problem should be treated from a strictly humanitarian point of view and that every effort should continue to be made to avert the emergence of such problems. With regard to immediate, practical assistance measures, the Committee noted with appreciation from statements made in the course of the session that the Governments of many countries had offered to admit a number of Asians from Uganda and that the Intergovernmental Committee for European Migration was prepared to make the necessary arrangements for their transportation.
22. With regard to the problems of protection, several representatives reaffirmed the need for intergovernmental instruments concerning refugees and stateless persons to receive the largest possible number of accessions, in keeping with the universal nature of the problems of refugees. While an increasing number of Governments were acceding to the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees of 19515, and the 1967 Protocol thereto,6 the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness had not yet come into force and it was to be hoped that further measures would be taken at the international and national level to reduce the risk of persons becoming stateless. Many speakers again stressed the vital importance of asylum and the principle of non-refoulement. Some representatives also drew attention to the importance of freedom of movement.
23. Referring to another new problem in Africa, several representatives and observers stressed that the large number of refugees from Burundi, who had generously been admitted by neighbouring countries, constituted a serious additional burden for those countries, which had already welcomed thousands of refugees. The Committee noted that sizable allocations had been provided by UNHCR to help the newcomers to settle on the land.
24. Some speakers also drew attention to the problems of asylum seekers and handicapped refugees in Europe.
25. Members of the Committee welcomed the High Commissioner's continuing efforts to phase out existing programmes as soon as the refugees concerned had attained a standard of living similar to that of the local population.
26. The observer for India gave the Committee a detailed account of the manner in which his Government had carried out the task involved in the assistance and repatriation of refugees. The Committee also heard a statement in which the observer from Pakistan gave the views of his Government on the subject.
27. The Chairman of the Commission on Migration and Refugees of the International Council of Voluntary Agencies made a statement in which he renewed the pledge of support of the voluntary agencies for the work of UNHCR.
28. The Committee was pleased to note the high degree of support which the work for refugees continued to receive from many Governments, the local population in countries of reception and other organizations. These included members of the United Nations system, OAU and non-governmental organizations, many of which co-financed or implemented refugee assistance projects and maintained the essential day-to-day contact with individual refugees.
29. During the debate, several representatives highlighted the role which the High Commissioner had been called on to play on behalf of the international community by applying his good offices to the solution of large-scale and complex humanitarian problems of refugees and persons in an analogous situation. They felt that UNHCR had proved eminently suited to act in conjunction with the other members of the United Nations system in cases of man-made disasters.
Decision of the Committee
30. The Executive Committee:
(1) Expressed its satisfaction with the manner in which the High Commissioner was dealing with the challenging problems facing his Office, both in the field of UNHCR operations and as focal point designated by the Secretary-General for the co-ordination of assistance by the organizations of the United Nations system;
(2) Expressed general agreement with the policies enunciated by the High Commissioner in his introductory statement;
(3) Expressed its deep concern that, while definite progress was noted in some areas, new and serious refugee problems were emerging;
(4) Appealed to States which had not yet done so to accede to the intergovernmental legal instruments having a direct, or indirect, bearing on the status of refugees, including, in particular, those relating to statelessness, and to avoid any measures which might lead to an increase in the number of refugees and stateless persons;
(5) Reaffirmed its support of the good offices concept, which enabled the High Commissioner to contribute without delay to the solution of delicate and complex humanitarian problems concerning, in particular, persons whose situation is analogous to that of refugees who are the habitual concern of his Office.
B. Relations between UNHCR, the United Nations and other members of the United Nations system (agenda item 9)
31. The Deputy High Commissioner, introducing the report on relations between UNHCR, the United Nations and other members of the United Nations system (A/AC.96/479), paid tribute to the members of the United Nations system who continued to make available, whenever called upon, valuable technical advice or other forms of aid, which were indispensable for the implementation of UNHCR assistance programmes. He said that participation by many of the agencies had now become an integral part of these programmes.
32. United Nations agencies had also co-operated fully with the High Commissioner in the special task entrusted to him by the Secretary-General of the United Nations as focal point of the United Nations system for assistance to East Bengali refugees in India and were taking an active part in the immediate United Nations relief programme in the South Sudan. The Director-General of the International Labour Office had personally visited the Sudan to make an assessment of the problem.
33. He recalled the major contributions made by the World Food Programme in terms of food supplies and those of WHO and UNICEF, which often acted as procurement agencies, the support of UNESCO in the field of education and training and the assistance given by technical agencies, such as ITU, UPU and WMO, which were also ready to assist in the training of refugees. As refugees continued to concentrate in urban centres in Africa, there was the possibility that UNHCR would need the further support of agencies such as the ILO to advise on their settlement in industry.
34. The Committee heard statements by the representatives of UNICEF, UNESCO, UNDP and FAO giving more detailed information on the type of assistance their organizations were providing, both in the case of UNHCR current operations and of the United Nations programme in the Sudan. The Committee was pleased to note the considerable amounts allocated by UNICEF for the immediate United Nations aid programme in the Sudan and for the subsequent long-term reconstruction phase; the proposed extension of UNESCO's co-operation with UNHCR representatives; the fact that UNHCR would maintain its close contact with UNHCR in connexion with programme planning in countries of reception of refugees; and the fact that FAO, in addition to its current co-operation with UNHCR in respect of agricultural settlement, was considering projects for the agricultural training of Mozambiquan refugees in the United Republic of Tanzania.
35. With regard to the important question of food supplies, the representative of the United Republic of Tanzania expressed concern at the time-lag between the submission of requests to WFP and the actual receipt of food, particularly at a time when the United Republic of Tanzania was faced with an influx of thousands of new refugees. The representative of WFP said that his organization would consider the launching of a further project to meet the needs of additional refugees. He recalled that requests from Governments, which were a pre-requisite for action by WFP, would be handled more rapidly if they were channelled through the UNDP Resident Representative and that WFP had recently launched so-called "quasi-emergency projects" to help expedite the procedure. He was pleased to inform the Committee that the quantity of resources available to WFP had improved since the Committee's last session.
36. Members of the Committee were pleased to learn that the High Commissioner was receiving the fullest co-operation of the members of the United Nations system, whose skill and resources were being made available for the benefit of refugees, and hoped that wherever possible they would be able to take over from UNHCR, once the refugees had achieved an adequate standard of living, in order to ensure that the benefits of UNHCR assistance would be maintained and the position of refugees consolidated with a view to their firm settlement.
Decision of the Committee
37. The Executive Committee:
(1) Took note with satisfaction of the report submitted by the High Commissioner concerning relations between UNHCR and the other organizations members of the United Nations system;
(2) Welcomed the favourable development of the existing co-operation between UNHCR and the other organizations members of the United Nations system;
(3) Hoped that this co-operation would continue and would expand further with due regard for the special responsibilities of each of the organizations concerned.
III. INTERNATIONAL PROTECTION (agenda item 4)
38. The Committee considered the note on international protection (A/AC.96/477). In introducing the item, the representative of the High Commissioner stated that the period under review had been one of consolidation and reassessment. He had visited a number of countries to study protection problems and, in particular, various countries in Africa, where he had found marked willingness to bring the law and administrative practice into conformity with international standards despite the problems which inevitably arose in the case of developing countries. One of the priority problems was to assist these countries in ensuring that those seeking asylum were given an opportunity to put forward their case with a view to the regularization of their situation. Appropriate procedures had already been introduced in some of the countries concerned. He expressed the hope that additional African states would accede to the 1951 Convention and the 1967 Protocol, as well as to the OAU Convention of 1969, so that this important instrument might shortly enter into force. He also reported on his missions to the Bahamas and the United States of America, and said that the Office continued to devote attention to protection problems in Latin America. In conclusion, he gave an account of his recent mission to Botswana, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, the Sudan, Uganda, the United Republic of Tanzania and Zambia.
39. During the ensuing discussion and in the course of the general debate, the members of the Committee highlighted the task of protection, which was the core of international aid to refugees. They recognized that, while considerable progress had already been achieved, a great deal more remained to be done. Thus, for example, in view of the universal character of the work of UNHCR, it would be desirable for many more States to accede to the basic instruments relating to the status of refugees, that is, the 1951 Convention and 1967 Protocol, and the 1969 Convention of OAU, and also to instruments having an important bearing on the problems of refugees, such as the 1954 Convention on the Status of Stateless Persons and the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness, which had not yet come into force. The importance of the latter instrument was stressed by many representatives. The committee was pleased to note that, in addition to the new accessions reported in the High Commissioner's note on protection, the following accessions had recently been made:
Austria - 1961, Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness
Sudan - 1951, Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and the 1967 Protocol
Switzerland - 1954, Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons.
40. Many representatives stressed that the implementation of legal instruments in practice was just as important as accession to them and they expressed the hope that the broader and more dynamic concept of protection, which was at present gaining international acceptance, would be further developed.
41. Several representatives considered that visits on the spot, such as those carried out by the High Commissioner's representative, would be an excellent means to further the objectives of protection and to help familiarize lawyers and government officials with this relatively little-known aspect of refugee work. The Committee noted with satisfaction the initiatives taken in this respect by the annual convention of the American Bar Association and the President of the World Peace through Law Center, with a view to promoting a better understanding of the problems of refugees. Some representatives also suggested that the work of protection be made better known to the public at large through special films on the subject.
42. The Committee devoted special attention to the vital questions of non-refoulement and asylum and to further action that might be taken following the drawing up of the text of a draft Convention on Territorial Asylum by a group of experts convened through the initiative of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
43. One representative questioned the need for binding instrument on territorial asylum. He wondered if such an instrument would achieve anything that could not be attained through more effective compliance with articles 1,32 and 33 of the 1951 Convention. He was apprehensive that the articles of the draft text annexed to the report of the High Commissioner to the General Assembly,7 would limit to an unacceptable degree the discretion which a government must be able to exercise. Another representative drew attention to the desirability of linking the law relating to asylum with the question of extradition.
44. A number of speakers agreed on the principle that an international instrument on territorial asylum with binding legal force would be drawn up in order to fill the present gap in the law relating to asylum. Some representatives endorsed the view that the text should be submitted by the General Assembly to a conference of plenipotentiaries for their consideration. They felt that this procedure, which had been successfully applied in the case of other legal instruments, would be the most appropriate and would save time.
45. One representative explained that the articles of the 1951 Convention to which reference had been made did not adequately cover the question of territorial asylum. He was aware of the reasons why there might be reluctance to accept a binding legal instrument on asylum. He felt, therefore, that the study of the proposed text should be carefully prepared and that it would be particularly useful for the text to be first submitted to Governments for comments, which could then be taken into account in the version which would ultimately be submitted to a conference of plenipotentiaries.
46. In the course of the discussion, several representatives emphasised the importance of ensuring that the unity of refugee families was maintained and they hoped that further measures would continue to be taken in order to achieve this important objective in the field of protection.
47. The Committee was informed by the statements of several representatives and observers of the legal measures taken by their Governments for the benefit of refugees. These statements brought out the considerable efforts which were being made, especially in some of the countries in Africa, in granting refugees facilities which could not be provided for all of their own nationals.
Conclusions of the Committee
48. The executive Committee:
(1) Reaffirmed the vital role of international protection of refugees;
(2) Appealed to States which have not yet done so to accede to the inter-governmental instruments directly or indirectly affecting the status of refugees, including those who are stateless;
(3) Invited States which are bound by the aforementioned instruments to apply them, as well as the relevant national legislation, as completely and in as liberal a spirit as possible;
(4) Invited all States to continue to accord particular attention to essential aspects of protection, such as asylum, non-refoulement, the regularization of the status of refugees, family reunion and the right to work;
(5) Paid tribute to the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, whose initiative had enabled a group of international experts to meet to prepare a draft text relating to territorial asylum.
IV. RESETTLEMENT OF REFUGEES (agenda item 5)
49. The Committee had before it the report on the resettlement of refugees (A/AC.96/470), which gave an account of developments in this field during 1971.
50. The representative of the High Commissioner recalled that, at the end of 1971, over 30,000 refugees, including a number of handicapped, were still awaiting resettlement opportunities. Special schemes were necessary for refugees not possessing the required professional qualifications if their lengthy stay in refugee centres were to be avoided. Such special schemes had recently been announced by Denmark and Switzerland. Resettlement opportunities were also still urgently required for those refugees for whom local integration in the country of asylum was not possible. In Africa, where resettlement patterns for refugees were still evolving, the OAU Bureau for the Placement and Education of Refugees was intensifying its activities and prospects for the future were encouraging.
51. The Director of the Intergovernmental Committee for European Migration (ICEM), Mr. John F. Thomas, in a statement to the Committee, said that he was glad that ICEM had also been able to be of service to UNHCR in its task of assisting the East Bengali refugees in India and more recently, in the immediate relief programme for the South Sudan. The Intergovernmental Committee was likewise ready to help with the migration of Asians from Uganda. He recalled the humanitarian aspects of ICEM's activities and expressed the hope that Governments would accept ICEM in this role in the interests of all concerned. During 1973, ICEM hoped to be able to assist some 60,000 refugees to leave for new homes in several continents, at a cost of $8 million to $9 million to the organization. However, notwithstanding accelerated migration and improved integration possibilities, there were still too many refugees in centres in various parts of the world and strenuous efforts were still needed in order to give them the necessary resettlement opportunities.
52. Referring to the appointment of a United Nations co-ordinator for relief in cases of natural disasters, the Director of ICEM said that the "focal point" formula, which had proved so successful in recent refugee situations, had demonstrated the need for this type of co-ordination also in the case of man-made disasters. The Intergovernmental Committee would always be willing to co-operate in any similar international effort.
53. The Committee also heard a statement by Ambassador Ba, observer for the Organization of African Unity (OAU) and Director of the OAU Bureau for the Placement and Education of Refugees. Ambassador Ba said that the activities of the Bureau were being concentrated primarily on problems of employment and education and on legal and social protection. The Bureau was intensifying its activities in order to obtain increased employment opportunities for refugees with professional qualifications, and it was hoped that future prospects would be more encouraging. The national correspondents appointed by the Bureau in many countries in Africa were actively engaged in promoting employment and educational opportunities for refugees, and he was pleased to report that encouraging progress had been made in both areas. He drew attention to the resolution (CM/resolution 266 (XIX)) adopted at the nineteenth session of the Council of Ministers and ninth Conference of Heads of State and Government of OAU, appealing to each member State to make provision for employment opportunities, scholarships and vocational training opportunities for refugees. In the field of protection, the Bureau had successfully intervened to obtain a stay of execution of expulsion measures affecting more than 50 refugees.
54. During the ensuing discussion, members of the Committee noted that, while there had been some slowing down in the resettlement of refugees from several countries in Europe, there had also been a decrease in the number of asylum seekers during the period under review. They were satisfied that the rate of resettlement had, generally speaking, kept pace with the influx. One representative stressed that the downward trend in the influx of asylum seekers in Europe had been of a temporary nature and that it was now again running at a higher level. He recalled that a large number of refugees had been resettled from European countries during the current year, and that a still larger number was expected to require resettlement opportunities in 1973.
55. The representatives who participated in the debate stressed the vital role of resettlement through migration, which was one of the principal means of enabling a refugee to start a new life. They expressed their appreciation of the effective action being undertaken by Governments, UNHCR, ICEM and the voluntary agencies, and reaffirmed the support of their Governments for this important aspect of the work of international assistance to refugees. One member of the Committee noted with satisfaction the increased movement of European refugees from the Far East. He hoped that all the refugees of this group would soon be able to resettle in other countries.
56. The Committee received information from a number of speakers on the admission of refugees in their countries. Representatives from some of the main countries of immigration referred to the recent measures taken by their Governments to improve reception arrangements for refugees and to facilitate their successful integration into the social and economic life of the country.
57. Some representatives drew attention to the problems involved in the resettlement of the handicapped. The Committee heard from the representative of Denmark that, while his country traditionally received handicapped refugees for permanent settlement and would continue to do so, in recent years it had also become a country of resettlement for large groups of other asylum seekers. Some 3,300 of these refugees had been welcomed over the three-year period 1969-1971, under the auspices of the Danish Refugee Council, and their admission was continuing in 1972. Many of these persons were older refugees who benefited immediately from the Danish Social Security System in the same way as nationals.
58. Attention was drawn to the special needs of certain individual refugees in Europe, in particular African refugees, who were experiencing considerable difficulty in finding employment and settlement opportunities. The observer for OAU pointed out that the skills and qualifications of many of these refugees were badly needed in Africa and that resettlement on that continent would provide the best solution for them.
Decision of the Committee
59. The executive Committee:
(1) Took note with satisfaction of the report on resettlement of refugees and of the action taken in that field;
(2) Urged Governments to continue generously to receive refugees and persons in a similar situation, to whom UNHCR might be called upon to lend assistance.
V. UNHCR ASSISTANCE PROGRAMMES
A. UNHCR current operations in 1971 and use of the Emergency Fund from 1 October 1971 to 30 September (agenda item 7)
60. In introducing the item, the representative of the High Commissioner said that in spite of the pressure on his Office, which had resulted from operations outside the current programme, over 90 percent of the funds allocated under the current programme for 1971 had been committed at the end of that year. In commenting on the number of beneficiaries, he explained that, in order to present a clear picture, a distinction had been made in table IV (A/AC.96/467) between the number of refugees in rural areas who were being assisted under a comprehensive assistance programme and those who benefited from marginal assistance. With regard to educational assistance, he stressed that the number of young refugees who completed primary education was increasing every year. This meant that a growing number of requests were being received for assistance in post-primary education or training which had to be financed largely from the Education Account or other sources outside the programme.
61. Referring to the various documents submitted to the Committee in respect of UNHCR current operations, the proposed new and revised projects and the 1973 Programme, several representatives suggested that consideration of these documents might be facilitated if they could be condensed, and perhaps also merged, into one single document. It was agreed that the administration would consider the feasibility of doing this, taking into account the specific suggestions made on the subject in the course of the session.
62. During the detailed consideration of the item, the Committee heard a statement by the representative of the United Republic of Tanzania concerning his Government's plan gradually to assume responsibility for the administration of the settlements in his country.
63. In answer to a member's question, the representative of the High Commissioner explained that educational assistance was also being given to refugee students residing in countries of Africa where instruction was given in a language other than their own.
64. In reply to a request for clarification in respect of the origin of Latin American refugees in Chile, the representative of the High Commissioner Explained that the number of refugees was very limited and that they originated from several countries in the area.
65. The allocations from the Emergency Fund referred to in the documents submitted to the Committee were approved.
Decision of the Committee
66. The Executive Committee:
(1) Took note with satisfaction of the report on UNHCR current operations in 1971;
(2) Approved the allocations made from the Emergency Fund during the period 1 October 1971-30 September 1972.
B. UNHCR Programmes for 1972 and 1973 (agenda item 8)
67. The Committee considered proposals for new and revised projects in the 1972 programme and the proposed programme for 1973. It noted that the High Commissioner's proposals for the 1973 assistance programme called for expenditures totalling $7,839,400, and that this figure was $129,500 lower than the $7,968,900 approved by the Committee at its twenty-second session as the target for 1972.
68. In introducing the item, the representative of the High Commissioner said that an estimated $1.5 million less than in 1972 would be required for Sudanese refugees on the assumption that large numbers of them would be voluntarily returning to the Sudan. On the other hand, $1,350,000 had been allocated to provide for the settlement of refugees from Burundi in Rwanda, the United Republic of Tanzania and Zaire. He pointed out that the rate at which Sudanese refugees would be returning from the Central African Republic, Ethiopia, Uganda and Zaire could not yet be forecast with any certainty. Meanwhile, capital investment projects for their benefit had been held in suspense and equal caution would be required in 1973. The programme of assistance to refugees from Burundi had been drawn up to meet new needs and could therefore not yet be presented in full detail, except for the United Republic of Tanzania. It was based on an estimated total of some 50,000 refugees.
69. The representative of the High Commissioner recalled the problems of individual refugees who tended to be attracted to urban centres and gave an of an arrangements made for counselling these refugees by promoting the establishment of special services in some of the African capitals, such as Addis Ababa, Dakar and Nairobi.
70. The projects submitted to the Committee were approved. During their examination, a number of representatives and observers from countries of reception took the opportunity to provide additional information on the situation of refugees in their countries.8 They outlined the measures taken by their Governments, with UNHCR assistance, to aid refugees to become self-supporting, and emphasized the need for continuing international aid to enable their economies to bear the additional strain imposed by the presence of new refugees. Several speakers emphasized that the need for assistance to newcomers was bound to continue until such time as the countries under foreign administration had acquired their independence.
71. Referring to the problem of Sudanese refugees, the representative of Uganda pointed out that the rate of repatriation would necessarily be slow and that meanwhile assistance for these refugees in Uganda would continue to be required, including assistance in the field of education.
72. The observer from Senegal recalled that, in spite of the difficulties his Government was facing, it was granting refugees the same facilities that it was providing its own nationals.
73. A number of representatives and observers indicated that their Governments might need to approach UNHCR for further aid to enable them to deal with new of developing situations.
74. At an earlier meeting, the Committee heard with great interest an account by the representative of the United Kingdom, who had recently visited a number of countries of reception of refugees in the eastern part of Africa.9
75. Referring to the presentation of programme documentation, a representative reiterated his previous suggestion that data showing trends covering present, past and, where possible, future developments, might usefully be combined in a single document. The representative of the High Commissioner assured the Committee that careful note had been taken of the representative's suggestions and that they would be thoroughly examined.
Decision of the Committee
76. The Executive Committee decided:
A. 1972 programme
(1) To authorize the High Commissioner to make available for the implementation of the relief project for refugees from Burundi at Ulyankulu, United Republic of Tanzania, an amount of $414, 000 from funds to be reallocated within the 1972 programme;
(2) To authorize the High Commissioner to continue the emergency relief action for refugees from Burundi in Zaire until 31 December 1972 in an amount of $240,000 on the understanding that this amount will be reallocated within the 1972 programme;
(3) To authorize the High Commissioner to commit the allocation of $105,000 in the 1972 programme to assist refugees in the Middle East only in 1973, as recommended in his report on the UNHCR assistance programme for 1973 (A/AC.96/471, paragraph 75).
B. 1972 and 1973 programmes
(4) To authorize the High Commissioner to conclude the necessary arrangements with the Government of Rwanda for the implementation of the rural settlement project for refugees from Burundi in the East Bugbear area (A/AC.96/471/Add.2).
C. 1973 programme
(5) To approve the financial target for the UNHCR programme for 1973 in an amount of $7,839,400;
(6) To approve the specific allocations in an amount of $7,839,400 set out in annex II to the present report;
(7) To finance the 1973 phases of settlement assistance to refugees from Burundi in Rwanda, the United Republic of Tanzania and Zaire, from the global allocation of $1,350,000;
(8) To authorize the High Commissioner, in the event that additional funds should be required for certain projects, to use the reserve or to adjust the approved allocations by transfers between allocations or parts of allocations, subject to their being reported to the Committee at its next session.
VI. IMMEDIATE UNITED NATIONS RELIEF PROGRAMME IN THE SUDAN (agenda item 10)
77. The Committee had before it an information note (A/AC.96/INF.133), submitted by the High Commissioner, which summarized the progress achieved in implementing the relief programme in the South Sudan since it was started at the beginning of July 1972. The note reported that, by 8 October, $3,938,665 in cash and $8,595,286 in kind had been contributed in response to the Secretary-General's appeal and that additional cash resources were urgently needed.
78. In introducing the item, the High Commissioner's senior adviser on special projects, Mr. Thomas Jamieson, reported on the progress which had been made in the reconstruction of the southern region. He stressed that the relief programme had helped to consolidate the reconciliation between the parties concerned. The Sudanese authorities and people were participating to the fullest extent in the programme, as were many non-governmental organizations and other members of the United Nations system. Measures had been taken to ensure the most effective co-ordination between the various relief activities at UNHCR headquarters, in Khartoum, and at Juba in the southern region. It had recently been agreed to adjust the original budget in the light of the experience gained during the first three months of operations and the substantial efforts undertaken by the Government from its own resources and from resources contributed by other Governments on a bilateral basis. The revised budget, with a financial target of nearly $18 million, would be submitted to Governments by the High Commissioner in a follow-up on his appeal of 6 July 1972.
79. Members of the Committee joined in expressing satisfaction with the results achieved so far. They recognized that the programme was making a significant contribution to the reconstruction of the region as a whole and to the peaceful settlement of thousands of uprooted persons who would be able to return to their homes. They expressed the hope that the programme would be brought to a satisfactory conclusion and that the responsibility for long-term assistance with a view to the further development of the region would be fully assumed by the competent United Nations agencies. Several members stated that it was important to ensure a high degree of co-ordination of the various relief activities and noted the arrangements made to this effect.
80. Referring to the need for further financing, a number of representatives recalled the amount of contributions in cash or in kind which their Government had made or intended to make in the near future. Some representatives also gave information on the contributions provided from non-governmental sources in their respective countries. The details of contributions announced may be found in chapter VII below.
81. The Committee recognized that, in an operation such as the present relief programme, priorities were apt to change and there would be a need for periodic adjustments in the programme budget.
82. Some representatives pointed out that it was essential for their Governments to be kept currently informed of the developments in the programme so that they could be in a better position to decide on the type of contributions required. The senior adviser informed them that this type of information would henceforth be published on a regular basis.
83. The observer for the Government of the Sudan expressed his Government's satisfaction that peace had been established and that there was a widespread desire to rebuild the country. The authorities had already expended a considerable amount on relief needs. However, the Government faced serious financial difficulties and it was highly appreciative of the aid it was receiving.
84. The representative of the World Food Programme said that it could make its contribution most effectively by expanding or accelerating the three large projects it was carrying on in the country so that the refugees and displaced persons could benefit from them. It felt that this approach would be more effective than the launching of new projects designed specifically for the returning population. Extra supplies had, however, been shipped to the Sudan to enable the organization to meet the needs that might arise.
Conclusions of the Committee
85. The Executive Committee,
(1) Paid tribute to the High Commissioner for the manner in which he was carrying out the United Nations immediate aid programme in the Sudan;
(2) Expressed the hope that further contributions in cash and kind, which were still required, would be provided as soon as possible in order to permit the full financing of this programme.
VII. ADMINSTRATIVE AND FINANCIAL QUESTIONS
A. Financial reports for 1971 (agenda item 6 (a) and (b))
86. The Committee considered the financial statement for 1971 (A/AC.96/468)10 with the reports of the Board of Auditors11 and the advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (A/AC.96/480) and the report on investments for 1971 (A/AC.96/469).
87. The representative of the High Commissioner, referring to the Report of the Board of Auditors, drew attention to the measures taken by the High Commissioner to ensure the feasibility of agricultural settlement projects for refugees in Africa. The report on investments for 1971 showed that, as a result of the lower rates prevailing during the year, interest on investments had declined by about 20 per cent from the record level of 1970, although the volume of investments had remained at approximately the same level. However, there was a profit on exchange of more than $130,000, so that the total result of the investment operations in 1971 was again at the level of $700,000.
88. In answer to a question, the representative of the High Commissioner emphasized that sustained efforts were made by UNHCR to ensure the collection of pledged contributions.
89. One representative, referring to paragraph 12 of the report of the Board of Auditors, wished to know which particular group of persons the auditors had in mind. The representative of the High Commissioner explained that the persons concerned were either refugees who had become naturalized before the completion of projects put into effect for their benefit, or persons belonging to the local population in developing countries who benefited from certain UNHCR projects, for example, in the field of health and education. The High Commissioner would inform the Committee of the consideration given by the General Assembly to this matter.
Decision of the Committee
90. The Executive Committee:
(1) Took note of the accounts for the year 1971 and the financial statistics for the period 1967-1971 (A/AC.96/468), as well as of the report of the Board of Auditors and of the Advisory Committee on administrative and Budgetary Questions submitted in respect of the financial year 1971 (A/AC.96/480).
(2) Noted with satisfaction the report on investments for the year ended 31 December 1971 (A/AC.96/469).
B. Status of contributions and over-all financial situation for 1972 and 1973 (agenda item 11)
91. The Committee considered the report on the status of contributions and the over-all financial situation for 1972 and 1973 as at 31 July 1972 (A/AC.96/472) and a note on the UNHCR long-playing records (A/AC.96/476).
92. In introducing the item, the representative of the High Commissioner, informed the Committee that an additional four Governments - Gabon, the Libyan Arab Republic, New Zealand and Qatar - had announced contributions to the 1972 programme since 31 July 1972, bringing to 72 the number of Governments contributing an amount of $6,020,000. This amount, plus contributions from non-governmental sources, brings to $6,351,276 the amount so far contributed to the UNHCR assistance programme for 1972. A total of 85 Governments had contributed to the UNHCR programme for 1971 and it was hoped that increases in governmental contributions for 1973, combined with anticipated economies, would enable the financial target of $7,839,400 to be fully covered. Taking into account the welcome additional donations announced during the session, an amount of $420,000 was still required. However, this amount would still not suffice to cover anticipated expenditures for 1973, firstly, because allocations from the Emergency Fund in recent years had exceeded income paid into the Fund by more than $500,000, entailing a corresponding reduction in the funds available for the programme. Furthermore, greater demands would be made on the Education Account in order to meet the increased need for post-primary education.
93. In the course of the session, the Committee welcomed announcements of increased contributions from representatives of Governments members of the Committee and from observers, as shown in detail in the following paragraphs.
(i) Contributions to UNHCR
94. The contribution of Algeria for 1972 and following years had been increased from $US 7,000 to $US 8,000.
95. The Australian Government would make a contribution of $A 200,000 to the UNHCR assistance programme for 1973, that is, an increase of $A 25,000 over 1972.
96. The Danish Government intended to increase its contribution to the UNHCR assistance programme. It would also contribute an unearmarked amount to be used under the Education account or for other technical assistance activities for the benefit of refugees.
Federal Republic of Germany
97. The Government of the Federal Republic of Germany would contribute DM 2 million to the UNHCR assistance programme for 1973.
98. The Government of Israel would, subject to parliamentary approval, increase its contribution to the UNHCR assistance programme by one third to $US 10,000 in 1973.
99. The Norwegian Government intended to contribute 3,700,000 Norwegian kroner ($US 550,000) to the UNHCR assistance programme for 1973 thereby increasing its contribution by $60,000 as compared with 1972. Of this amount, 700,000 kroner was to be used by the High Commissioner for his Education Account.
100. In accordance with the practice of the Government of Sweden to announce their contributions for a three-year period in order to facilitate the long-term planning of UNHCR, the Swedish Government had indicated its intention to contribute as follows for the work of UNHCR inside and outside the programme:
1973, $1 200,000
1974, $1 300,000
1975, $1 400,000
101. In addition, the Swedish Governments had decided to make a special contribution in an amount of about $175,000 to compensate for the loss due to changes in the dollar exchange rate.
102. The Swiss contribution towards the 1973 assistance programme would be considerably increased.
United Republic of Tanzania
103. The Government of the United Republic of Tanzania would contribute 26,000 Tanzanian shillings towards the 1972 UNHCR assistance programme, that is, an increase of 1,000 shillings compared with 1971.
(ii) Contributions to the relief programme in the South Sudan
104. The representative of Canada announced that, subject to parliamentary approval, his Government proposed to make a contribution of 500,000 Canadian dollars towards the relief programme in the Sudan.
105. The representative of the Netherlands informed the Committee that, subject to the completion of certain formalities, his Government could make available to the relief programme in the Sudan a Fokker Friendship plane for transportation purposes.
106. The representative of Switzerland informed the Committee that a joint action in involving the Government and private organizations was under consideration in his country, to cover the total cost of rebuilding or repairing primary schools in the southern Sudan within the framework of the relief programme in the Sudan.
107. The Government of Turkey expressed its readiness to provide medical supplies for the relief programme in the Sudan.
Sovereign Order of Malta
108. The observer from the Sovereign Order of Malta offered to place one or two aircraft at the disposal of the relief programme in the Sudan for the return transport of handicapped refugees.
Decision of the Committee
109. The Executive Committee:
(1) Took note of the report submitted by the High Commissioner on the status of contributions and on the over-all financial situation for 1972 and 1973 (A/AC.96/472) and of the note on the UNHCR long-playing records (A/AC.96/476);
(2) Was gratified by the increased governmental participation in the financing of UNHCR programmes, both with regard to the number of contributing Governments and the level of regular contributions;
(3) Expressed the hope that this encouraging trend would continue in 1973 and that, in spite of the calls made upon their resources with a view to the financing of humanitarian assistance, Governments would respond to the High Commissioner's appeals by making new and increased contributions so as to ensure the full financing of the UNHCR programme for 1973.
(4) Took note of the allocations made from the UNHCR Records Account during the period 1 July 1971-30 June 1972 (A/AC.96/476, annex).
C. Regular budget of UNHCR for 1973 (agenda item 12)
110. The Committee had before it the regular budget of UNHCR for 1973 (A/AC.96/474). In introducing the item, the representative of the High Commissioner said that the Secretary-General had recently recommended to the General Assembly that the work programme and budget of the United Nations should in future be prepared in the form of a consolidated programme budget covering a period of two years, and that, at the same time, an outline of proposed activities for the following two-year period be submitted to the Assembly in the form of a medium-term plan. Both documents would take fully into account such extra-budgetary resources as might be available for the activities of the organization (including, inter alia, the voluntary funds expected to be available for the UNHCR material assistance programme), which would be indicated in the programme budget for purposes of information.
111. The Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions had largely endorsed the Secretary-General's proposals and had recommended to the General Assembly a time-table according to which the programme budget for two years and a medium-term plan for four years would be submitted by the Secretary-General to the competent organs of the United Nations by the end of February of the preceding year. They would then be examined by the competent programme-formulating bodies (that is, the Executive Committee in the case of the UNHCR programme budget) in May or early June, prior to its consideration by the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions and the Fifth Committee of the General Assembly.
112. Should the General Assembly adopt the Advisory Committee's recommendations, the High Commissioner would be expected to submit a consolidated programme and budget for 1974 and 1975, as well as a medium-term plan for the years 1974 to 1977, by the end of February 1973. The Executive Committee would then be expected to examine the proposals in May. However, it was obviously too early to foresee what decisions the General Assembly would actually take and what could be the exact consequences as regards the planning and financing methods of UNHCR. The High Commissioner considered it desirable to plan the activities of his Office over as long a period of time as feasible and to establish the closest possible correlation between the expenditures incurred and the results achieved. However, as the Committee was aware, it was difficult to foresee refugee developments with any degree of accuracy, even for a period of two years ahead. It would therefore be necessary, in order to enable the Office to continue to respond rapidly to new situations and changing circumstances, for it to retain a considerable degree of financial and procedural flexibility. The High Commissioner would not fail to keep the Executive Committee informed of any decisions in this area which might have an impact on the functioning of his Office, and would in due course seek its guidance on the matter.
113. A number of representatives recalled the continuing influx of new refugees in several countries in Europe. They were aware of the need for the High Commissioner to make the best use of the staff at his disposal, but they nevertheless felt that full account should be taken of the continuing requirements of refugees in Europe, and were convinced that no staff reductions would be made which might impair the efficiency of the High Commissioner's protection function.
Decision of the Committee
114. The Executive Committee:
(1) Took note of the regular budget of UNHCR for 1973 submitted by the High Commissioner (A/AC.96/474) and the report thereon submitted to the General Assembly by the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (A/AC.96/474, annex II);
(2) Also took note of the reservations made by some representatives in respect of the proposed staff reduction in UNHCR Branch Offices in some countries in Europe.
D. Financial Rules for Voluntary Funds administered by the High Commissioner - proposed revision (agenda item 6 (c))
115. The representative of the High Commissioner, introducing the draft revised Financial Rules for Voluntary Funds administered by the High Commissioner (A/AC.96/475), said that the new text was based on the Financial Regulations of the United Nations. It incorporated provisions of the relevant resolutions of the General Assembly and directives of the Executive Committee on the financial operations of UNHCR. The financial rules of other United Nations bodies, such as UNDP, the ILO and FAO, had furthermore been taken into account where relevant.
116. Referring to rule 6.3 of the new text, one representative wondered whether there were not some risk involved in using the Funds Set Aside to guarantee commitments up to the total amount available in the funds and, at the same time, as a working capital fund and to replenish the High Commissioner's Emergency Fund. He wondered if this arrangement might not involve the risk that the funds available at any particular time might be insufficient to replenish the Emergency Fund.
117. The representative of the High Commissioner explained that, while expenditures from the Funds Set Aside to maintain the Emergency Fund at its ceiling were necessarily less than $1 million a year, income to the Funds Set Aside, which came from the repayments of loans, savings on prior years' programmes and interest from investments, amounted to well over $1 million a year. The need to make essential payments (para. 6.3 (b) of the new text) from the Funds Set Aside had not once arisen in the 10 years of its existence, and he believed therefore that the risk that the Funds Set Aside would fall below their ceiling of 1.5 million dollars, or that there would not be enough cash to replenish the Emergency Fund, was negligible.
118. Upon the proposal of one representative, the Committee agreed that the English title of the Funds Set Aside be changed to "Working Capital and Guarantee Fund".
Decision of the Committee
119. The Executive Committee:
Having considered the draft text of the revised Financial Rules for Voluntary Funds administered by the High Commissioner (A/AC.96/475), and having heard the High Commissioner's comments and explanations,
(1) Concurred with the revised text as submitted by the High Commissioner;
(2) Agreed that the term "Funds Set Aside" in the English text be replaced by the term "Working Capital and Guarantee Fund".
ANNEX I OPENING STATEMENT BY THE HIGH COMMISSIONER TO THE TWENTY-THIRD SESSION OF THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE OF THE HIGH COMMISSIONER'S PROGRAMME
Some of the distinguished delegates in the room and many of us here in the Office may feel sometimes that international organizations tend after a while to drift into the doldrums of routine and complacency. Let me assure you that we in UNHCR have not been affected in the slightest by monotony or boredom during the year that has just elapsed. Indeed, momentous developments have taken place in the field of refugee situations, and this is evidenced, I believe, by the heavy agenda that is before you. As a result, I do not propose to dwell at length on the details of our activities since the last meeting of the Executive Committee, but rather to restrict myself to the main themes and draw the conclusions, with the members of the Executive Committee, which I think emanate from these themes. I leave to my colleagues, who will be introducing the individual items as we progress in our work, the responsibility of going into some of our chapters in more detail.
The world today is rich in problems and poor in solutions, and it is for this reason that, whenever we note an improvement in the world refugee picture, we have to make sure that our enthusiasm is guarded and that our optimism, if there is any cause for optimism, is qualified. It is for this reason that I am particularly happy to report on two instances of repatriation - one where the refugees have already returned to their homeland, and another where a great many refugees are on the verge of doing so. Who indeed would have thought when we met in this room last year that, in February of 1972, the millions of refugees who had been in India would have returned to their homeland. As the Executive Committee knows, the High Commissioner was acting in this situation at the request of the Secretary-General of the United Nations as the focal point for the aid to be channelled through the United Nations. I have reported already on the role of the Office in this respect and the report which I addressed to the Secretary-General has been forwarded to the General Assembly. I commented on this report during the spring session of the Economic and Social Council. Therefore there is little to add to what has already been said in great detail, but I think we can all be happy that these unfortunate, uprooted millions have now gone home.
In the Sudan, I believe we have been making considerable progress in co-ordinating the assistance measures. This came about as a result of the request which the Government of the Sudan addressed to the Secretary-General and the new responsibility which Mr. Waldheim entrusted to me. This programme, I hope, will also bring about the repatriation of many hundreds of thousands of refugees and displaced persons. What we are doing there is essential not only to bring back the 180,000 refugees whom this Committee had been helping for so many years in the neighbouring countries of the Central African Republic, Zaire, Ethiopia and Uganda, but also indeed to assist those displaced persons who are coming out and returning gradually from the bush and the forest to their villages. During the special meeting which took place here in Geneva on 27 June 1972, the Executive Committee was fully apprised of the historical developments which led to the assumption of this responsibility by UNHCR. I hasten to add that an information paper is going to be circulated to bring the Committee up to date with the developments that have occurred since 27 June. They are extremely significant.
I have just been to the Sudan myself and I spent a long time visiting the three southern provinces. I had the privilege of being received by his Excellency the President and I visited the south in the company of the Vice-President, who is also the President of the High Executive Council for the Southern Region. I was able to see for myself that the Addis Ababa Agreement had indeed brought peace to the Sudan. It was so encouraging to see the atmosphere of hope and confidence which prevailed everywhere. But clearly this peace must be consolidated and consolidated speedily in an area which has always been poor, which has always been faced with the problems of underdevelopment, which, in addition, has been affected by 17 years of civil strife and where, if the people are going to return to their homes and their villages, a great deal has to be done to re-establish the normal economic and social conditions without which the return of the refugees could not take place.
Mr. Jamieson, who is well known to the Committee, who is master-minding our assistance in the Sudan and who has himself just returned from that country, will be giving you a much more detailed account of the developments there when we reach that point on our agenda. I think also that we should avail ourselves of the presence of the very distinguished delegation of observers from the Sudan headed by Sayed Mamoun Beheiri, who is the President of the Board of Directors of the Special Fund for the Southern Region and who certainly will be able, better than anyone else, to give the Committee a picture of the developments and the needs in the Southern Region of his country.
The appeal which we launched has brought very positive results. All I want to say about this for the time being is the following: we have received to date a total in pledges and contributions of 12.5 million dollars, of which 3.9 million are in cash and 8.6 million are in kind. We still have a long way to go. Mr. Jamieson will be giving you all the details. It is clear that, since we started, a number of changes have taken place. Priorities have changed. As a result and particularly because there is still a very dire need for generous contributions on the part of the international community, I propose, when we get to the end of our meeting, to launch a follow-up appeal with a revised budget, which will be circulated to all Governments as soon possible.
It is clear that what UNHCR can do in this one-year period is only going to be significant if it can be linked with an over-all development and reconstruction programme for the whole of the South Sudan. What we can achieve in the year which has been accorded to us by the Secretary-General and by the Economic and Social Council must be continued. What is at stake here is not only the return of the refugees, but the peace and stability of the whole area. Once we have come to the end of the emergency, together with all the United Nations agencies, which here deserve to be praised once more for their excellent collaboration, it will be up to the United Nations Development Programme to rise to the challenge and take over what is going to be a much more important and long-term exercise.
Turning now to other parts of Africa, it is clear that refugees will continue to come from the areas which are still under colonial administration. I think it is interesting to note that this is an ongoing problem and that the Office will have to continue either to establish new centres or consolidate existing settlement centres in many of the countries in which refugees from areas which are still under colonial administration continue to seek asylum.
There is a limit to preventive diplomacy when it comes to trying to arrest the trends which produce the uprooting of vast numbers of people. I am thinking particularly here of the recent tragedy we have witnessed in Burundi, which has produced a very large number of refugees in Rwanda, in the United Republic of Tanzania and in Zaire. Isn't it ironic that, while we are about to reduce substantially the allocations which we requested from the Committee for the refugees from South Sudan, we should at the same time have to increase the budget to meet the needs of 50,000 new refugees from Burundi in another part of Africa.
We are now studying the techniques of settling these new groups. As you know, it is a difficult thing to find the right operational partners, methods of implementation and techniques which should be used, taking into account the social, climatic and agricultural realities of settlement. We are at present studying this very carefully with our operational partners, with the help of the technical expertise of the United Nations agencies. We hope very soon to have precise figures and an account of how the funds would be utilized for the resettlement of these refugees. For the time being, we do know that the substantial increase in our caseload in Africa will require allocations amounting to $1,350,000 within the over-all 7.8 million target for 1973. This is a very large and substantial part of our new programme requirement and, when we are able to discuss the "new and revised projects", which are going to be placed before you, we will go into some detail to explain the reasons for this expenditure. The presentation is perhaps not as specific and detailed as I would have wanted it to be, but, as I have pointed out, we are presently studying the ways to settle these people most effectively. This requires time and we must act with caution. However, there is no doubt that funds of this magnitude, added to about $1 million already committed or spent in 1972, will be required for this group of refugees in 1973.
We have been watching very closely the developments in Uganda, particularly with regard to the repercussions this may have on problems related to individual protection. As distinct from these developments, I am very happy to report that we have received assurances from the Government of Uganda that the refugees from some of the neighbouring countries, whom this Committee has been helping for many years in Uganda, will be able to remain and continue to benefit from the advantages which the Government of Uganda has granted to these groups in the past.
Now it is clear that just as we have to intensify our activities in some countries, and I have referred to them briefly already, we hope very much to effect savings in others. It is with this in mind that, in the light of the recent re-organization, which I shall come back to in a moment, we established a new evaluation and planning team in the Office, which is responsible for keeping our activities under permanent review. This means that we will be in a better position to initiate the phasing out of our assistance activities when the standard of living of the refugee is by and large that of the local population . This has always been our yardstick and I think we can ensure that this is applied even more effectively in the future.
This also means that in the countries of Europe, for instance, we shall be continuing to phase out our assistance as the problem is reduced in magnitude and in complexity, while at the same time keeping a very watchful eye on the continuous implementation of effective protection measures and the protection mechanism. Indeed, we have found that in some countries, where there is a great tradition of granting asylum most generously to refugees, the question of the implementation of protection is still not entirely satisfactory. I feel that the recent events which have caused terrorism to be placed on the agenda of the General Assembly may be partly responsible for what I would call a restrictive mood, which perhaps is understandable. However, I think that the role of the High Commissioner is to make sure that the bona fide refugees who are peaceful and law-abiding people should in no way be made to suffer as a result.
Turning now to Latin America, I believer that, as a result of the long-standing association which we have evolved with the Governments of the area, with the voluntary agencies, and other partners, the old problem of European refugees who were resettled in Latin America will be solved and that we shall no longer be asking you for substantial funds in the future. This is long overdue, but we have the solution in sight. Now, of course, this does not mean that we should not be concerned with new problems in Latin America. The Office has been called upon to assist with certain new problems of Latin American refugees. Here again, our objective will remain the same, namely, to assist Governments in finding speedy and permanent solutions in the non-political and humanitarian spirit, which is the one to which the Latin American Governments subscribe.
Our work is not of a permanent nature and, contrary to the specialized agencies and other subsidiary organs of the United Nations, our representations abroad are not permanent either. We consider that our branch offices in the countries where we have representatives should be there as long as the problem requires a presence and, indeed, in many areas of the world our assistance is nearing completion. In Asia, our assistance measures in Macau and Nepal may not be continued beyond 1973. It is for this reason that we hope to be able to terminate our activities in these areas. The Committee will therefore not find separate chapters on these two areas in the report which is before it. We feel that, since only marginal assistance measures will be required in 1973, there was no need for the report to have individual references to these activities. In the same way, I have been recently in a position to withdraw my representative from Saigon, largely because the refugees which were of direct concern to UNHCR have been adequately integrated and have reached by and large the same standard of living as that of the local people. Whatever problems of concern to my Office remain to be kept under review will be the concern of the branch office in Bangkok.
Turning now to protection, there has been considerable progress with respect to the 1951 Convention and 1967 Protocol and we have many new accessions to both instruments. When my distinguished colleague, Mr. Dadzie, introduces the protection item of our agenda, he will go into some of the details, including the number of accessions to these instruments. Unfortunately there are still notable exceptions and it is unfortunate that a great many countries in Asia and the Far East have not seen fit as yet to accede to these two basic instruments. There are a number of African Governments as well that have not yet acceded. It is unfortunate also that the OAU Convention, which represents such an improvement on existing refugee legislation in the region, has not yet come into force because of the fact that one third of the members of OAU have not yet acceded to it. We hope, therefore, that there will be many new accessions in the near future to the Convention and the Protocol, as well as to the OAU Convention.
The problems of asylum seekers and their protection needs still keep us very much concerned in the sense that clearly refugees are not ordinary aliens. It is absolutely essential that many countries still should take a very close look at what I would call adequate procedure in the implementation of the instruments they have ratified. Otherwise it is clear that all the benefits and the rights which are given by these various legal instruments are illusory and mean very little for the refugee himself. In this field I would stress particularly the regularization of residence status. I must appeal to all Governments once more to make sure that refugees are not only given the benefit of generous asylum and non-refoulement, but that their residence status should be regulated as quickly as possible. Indeed, I would also appeal that refugees should not unneccessarily be submitted to arbitrary detention or imprisonment because of the fact that their presence in the country is irregular. Indeed how else would a refugee come into a country?
Finally, with regard to the implementation of these legal instruments, we attach great importance to the right of the refugee to work. Clearly, in many countries, if the refugee is not in a position to work, he becomes a burden not only to himself, but to the Government which has welcomed him. In many urban areas of Africa, for instance, where I recognize that there is a problem of unemployment and under-employment, the refugee finds it extremely difficult to obtain the right to work, a right which is normally guaranteed to a refugee in the legal instruments which we promote.
I should now like to turn to another problem which is of great concern to us at this time and that is the problem of statelessness and the link of statelessness to refugee status. Any acts which produce refugees or stateless persons are, of course, to be deplored from the point of view of the principles of the Charter and the principles for which the United Nations stands. I should like to recall that for many years - since the inception of UNHCR, in fact - the question of statelessness has been very closely linked with the problem of refugee status. In many ways, the position of refugees and stateless persons is similar. Many refugees indeed are stateless. (The difference, it would seem to me, is that whereas a refugee is often a de facto unprotected person, the stateless person is a de jure unprotected person.) And just as a refugee, though he has not lost his nationality, may not be able to avail himself of the protection of his national authority when he crosses the border and finds himself in a foreign land, a stateless person, in fact, may not be in a position to enjoy any protection from any legal authority either in his country of habitual residence where he is or outside it. It is for this reason that year after year I have called on the Executive Committee and appealed to the General Assembly through my reports on the importance of the reduction of statelessness. The 1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons has so far been ratified by only 26 States. The 1961 Convention on the Reduction of statelessness has been acceded to by only four States and therefore is not even in force, as six ratifications are necessary to make this instrument effective. In this connexion, I would like to extend appreciation to the Government of Austria for its recent decision to accede to the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness. This is indeed very encouraging, but I do hope that two Governments at least will see fit to ratify this instrument in the very near future so that it can be brought into force. I sincerely believe that it is of the utmost importance that Governments and, indeed, the whole of the international community should give the problem of statelessness its utmost attention as soon as possible.
The principle of asylum is, of course, embodied in the 1951 Convention and the 1967 Protocol thereto and, by and large, Governments have been subscribing to this fundamental principle very generously. We also saw, in 1967, the adoption by the General Assembly of the Declaration on Territorial Asylum. My Office continues to be very much interested in the improvement, the development and the strengthening of law relating to asylum and it is with this in mind that we have reported to you the results of the efforts of 16 jurists from different countries, who recently drafted what might hopefully one day become an instrument of binding importance with respect to asylum. This has been forwarded to the General Assembly.
May I add that all adherences to international instruments, to the 1951 Convention, the 1967 Protocol, the conventions on statelessness and on asylum are really quite academic if they are not somehow linked with proper and adequate implementation and if they do not penetrate the legal thinking of the officials in the Governments who are responsible for their supervision. Therefore, the efforts of UNHCR in this area have been concentrated very much on what I would call persuasion and education. We have had discussions and will continue to have discussions with officials at the highest level of Government and with junior civil servants as well to make sure that they understand that basically these instruments are not only in the interest of the refugees themselves, but indeed they are also in the interests of the Governments, and that it is in their interest that generous and humane status should be guaranteed to refugees and also to persons in similar circumstances.
I wish to turn briefly to financial contributions to our programme. Here again I am happy to report that we have made continued progress. The contributions have grown not only in number but also in size. Last year, 85 Governments contributed to our efforts. Incidentally, this was a new high. So far in 1972, 71 Governments have contributed, including many Governments that have never contributed heretofore. We hope, therefore, this year to repeat or perhaps even surpass last year's record. The income also has been substantial and has, in fact, increased by 14.5 per cent, from 5.2 million to 6 million, and thus we foresee in 1972 the full financing of the programme. For 1973, we clearly will continue to need the very strong support of Governments and this is particularly true because of the competition that exists in the field of fund-raising. It is particularly significant, I think, that the international community has been recently approached for so many different courses, for so many different appeals and for so many different humanitarian efforts that it is becoming increasingly difficult to obtain necessary support and voluntary contributions. Clearly the important challenge which has been posed by the operation in the Sudan may handicap somewhat other fund-raising efforts for the regular programme and also hamper much-needed outside activities, like education and vocational training, which are funded from the Education Account. So we will need your support and your understanding. We feel that the needs are fully justified both outside the regular programme and within the programme and that the financial support must continue to respond to the requirements.
Turning now to administration, we have had since we last met a very substantial and detailed survey of our activities and of our structure at headquarters and in the field, conducted by the Administrative Management Service. The survey has given us valuable guidance. In the light of its recommendations, we have effected a reorganization of our Office and, although the two pillars of our activities clearly remain assistance, on the one hand, and protection on the other, we have given increasing attention to evaluation and planning like other organs of the United Nations. It is clear that rational and systematic planning must be based on thorough analysis and that this is necessary for organized and effective action.
In this context, I should like to refer briefly to the question of programme planning and budgeting, which is now before the United Nations. As you know, this question has been discussed for a long time and it is now under review by the General Assembly, particularly in the Fifth Committee. Whatever discussions will take place will be based on the Secretary-General's report on the matter and the very important recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions. Any General Assembly decision will, of course, have important implications for the Organization as a whole and the agencies, not only as far as the budget presentation is concerned, but indeed also with respect to programme planning. It is, of course, clear that the budget structure of UNHCR and the nature of the problems which condition the make up of the Office cannot really be compared easily to the activities of other United Nations bodies. It is difficult to foresee refugee problems in advance. It is extremely difficult to project the size, the nature and the complexity of the refugee problems with accuracy and, therefore, we must retain our capacity to react to changing circumstances which may require a very large degree of financial and procedural flexibility. We are following these developments very closely and the decisions and the implications of the decisions taken by the General Assembly will be brought to the Executive Committee and fully shared with you.
The most significant conclusion that I think can be derived from this past year is that this small Office, with its limited staff resources, has been called upon to deal with monumental tasks not as an integral part of its traditional activities and its limited programme, but indeed as a separate albeit parallel responsibility. The General Assembly appears to have acted with extraordinary foresight when in many resolutions it called upon the High Commissioner to, and I quote, "pursue his activities on behalf of refugees within his mandate or those for whom he extends his good offices". The underlying philosophy of the good offices and the whole concept of good offices was - and continues to be - that the High Commissioner, while adapting himself to rapidly changing situations, should act speedily and efficiently.
When the Secretary-General called upon UNHCR last year and then again recently in a completely different situation, to act as focal point or co-ordinator of the whole United Nations system, we were able to respond on the basis of the good offices. The world community supported our action in India very generously and is supporting us again this year in the Sudan, because of the realizations that it is through practical co-ordination of the complex multilateral apparatus that the United Nations can adequately respond to one of the challenges of our time. May I here extend a sincere tribute to all the agencies which have made this possible. Whether acting on behalf of refugees within the mandate of UNHCR or as a co-ordinator for wider assistance based on its good offices, UNHCR has endeavoured and will continue to endeavour to fulfil one of the main purposes of the Charter, as set out in article 1, "To be a centre for harmonizing the actions of nations in the attainment of these common ends", and indeed what common ends could be more natural or satisfying than the alleviation of human suffering which man has brought unto himself.
(Note: Statistical and financial tables not included in this online version. See your nearest UN Depository Library.)
1 For the text of the statement, see annex I, below.
2 Organization of African Unity document CM/267/Rev.1.
4 United Nations, Treaty Series, vol. 360 (1960), No. 5158.
5 United Nations, Treaty Series, vol. 189 (1954), No. 2545.
6 United Nations, Treaty Series, vol. 606 (1967), No. 8791.
7 Official Records of the General Assembly, twenty-seventh Session, Supplement No. 12 (A/8712), annex I.
8 For details, see the summary records of the 229th and 230th meetings.
9 For details of the statement, see the summary record of the 226th meeting.
10 For the printed text, see Official Records of the General Assembly, Twenty-seventh Session, Supplement No.7 E (A/87907/Add.5).
11 Ibid., section C.