Addendum to the Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
United Nations General Assembly Official Records: Twenty-fourth Session
Addendum to the Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
Supplement No.12A (A/7612/Add.1)
1. The Executive Committee of the High Commissioner's Programme held its twentieth session from 20 to 29 October 1969 at the Palais des Nations, Geneva.
2. The Committee expressed its sympathy to the delegations of Algeria and Tunisia for the sufferings of the victims of the recent floods in their countries.
A. Election of officers
3. Under rule 10 of the rules of procedure, which provides that officers shall be elected for the whole year, the Committee elected by acclamation the following officers:
H. E. Mr. G. Schlumberger (Austria)
H. E. Mr. A. Aviedo (Colombia)
Mr. N. Kandemir (Turkey)
B. Representative on the Committee
4. All the members of the Committee were represented at the session as follows:
|China (Republic of)
|Federal Republic of Germany
|United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
|United Republic of Tanzania
|United States of America
5. The Governments of the Central African Republic, Congo (Democratic Republic of), Cuba, Czechoslovakia, Ethiopia, Finland, India, New Zealand, Senegal, Spain, Order of Malta.
6. The members of the United Nations system were represented as follows: the United Nations Secretariat, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), World Food Programme (WFP), the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).
7. The following intergovernmental organizations were represented by an observer: the Commission of the European Communities (CEC), 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
8. The Chairman, on behalf of the Committee, paid a warm tribute to the outgoing Chairman, Governor E. A. Westerlind, and welcomed representatives of member Governments of the Committee, observers of other Governments, and representatives of United Nations organizations, other intergovernmental organizations, non-governmental organizations, the Press and the public.
D. Adoption of the agenda - Decision of the Committee
9. The Executive Committee decided to adopt the following agenda:
1. Election of officers.
2. Adoption of the agenda (A/AC.96/406/REV.2).
3. Statement by the High Commissioner (A/AC.96/411).
4. International protection (A/AC.96/413).
5. Resettlement of refugees (A/AC.96/417).
6. UNHCR material assistance programme.
(a) Report on UNHCR current operations in 1968 and 1969 (A/AC.96/407 and A/AC.96/INF.84-87 and 90-101);
(b) UNHCR Programme for 1969 (A/AC.96/421 and A/AC.96/INF.102);
(c) UNHCR PROGRAMME FOR 1970 (A/AC.96/412 and Add.1).
7. Co-operation with the United Nations and other members of the United Nations system (A/AC.96/410 and Add.1).
8. Education for refugees (A/AC.96/418).
9. Financial statements for 1968.
(a) Financial statements and report of the Board of Auditors (A/AC.96/408 and 415);
(b) Report on investments for the year ended 31 December 1968 (A/AC.96/409).
10. Status of contributions and over-all financial situation for 1969 and 1970 (A/AC.96/416 and A/AC.96/420).
11. Administrative expenditure for 1970 (A/AC.96/414).
12. Control and limitation of documentation (HCR/EC(XX)/CRD.1).
13. Any other questions.
14. Consideration of the draft report on the session.
CHAPTER II GENERAL QUESTIONS
A. Statement by the High Commissioner and general debate (agenda item 3)
10. The High Commissioner made an introductory statement in which he outlined some of the major developments in the field of assistance to refugees since its inception by Fridtjof Nansen. In the half century that had elapsed since then, a proper legal status had been established for refugees, as reflected in the adoption of such essential instruments as the 1951 Convention and 1967 Protocol relating to the status of Refugees, the Convention Governing the Specific Aspects of Refugee problems in Africa recently adopted by the Organization of African Unity and the United Nations Declaration on Territorial Asylum. Every effort today was to be geared to the effective implementation of these instruments so that refugees might derive the fullest benefit from them.
11. Similar progress had been made in the implementation of programmes which had been started upon the establishment of UNHCR and were now put into effect in over fifty countries. These programmed were providing material assistance varying from help to the handicapped and educational assistance, to pioneering in the field of rural settlement, in which the present increased interagency co-operation constituted a very important factor. he particularly stressed the progress achieved in resettlement through migration which was essential in order to avoid the accumulation of refugees in camps and to relieve the burden on countries of first asylum. There were, of course, inevitable setbacks which required readjustments in projects or programme targets in several countries in Africa, where new problems had arisen or where large-scale settlement projects had had to be held in abeyance for some time. There were also the problems of individual refugees in urban centres in Africa; it was hoped that the Bureau for the Placement and Education of Refugees of the Organization of African Unity would contribute greatly to the solution of their problems.
12. At the same time as these various forms of assistance were being put into effect, there was the very important task of promoting voluntary repatriation, which was one of the best solutions to the problems of refugees.
13. The High Commissioner stressed the humanitarian and non-political character of the action taken by his Office and the beneficial effects this had had on the acceptance of its work for refugees by all members of the international community, as reflected in the unanimous adoption by the General Assembly of resolution 2399 (XXIII), concerning the High Commissioner's last annual report. Experience had shown that rapid and quiet action, in consultation with the Governments concerned, in order to solve political problems in a non-political manner, contributed to fostering the interest of stated Members of the United Nations in the problems of refugees and thus to further the cause of refugees.
14. To enable his Office to carry on its task, a strong financial structure was also needed and the High Commissioner was pleased to be able to state that, in 1969, for the first time, seventy Governments had participated financially in UNHCR programmes. The high Commissioner appealed to Governments to further increase their participation so that the day might come when the UNHCR programmes, which were governmental programmes, would be fully financed from governmental sources.15. In conclusion, the High Commissioner expressed the hope that the day might soon come when the concept of peace and justice would prevail, when human society would no longer produce refugees, and when civilization would mean, above all, the right of every human being to live in tranquility in his own country.
16. The members of the Committee paid tribute to the considerable results achieved in many different fields of assistance to refugees, including the consolidation of their legal position, the implementation of assistance projects geared to the varying situation of refugees in over fifty countries, resettlement through migration and assistance towards integration - which were essential to enable reception countries to pursue a liberal asylum policy - and educational assistance, an important factor in the integration of refugees. The ever-growing co-operation between the Office of the High Commissioner, Governments, other members of the United Nations system, regional organizations and the non-governmental organizations was also highlighted.
17. Representatives on the Committee were unanimous in pledging their Governments' support for the work of UNHCR and in endorsing the High Commissioner's humanitarian and non-political approach. They noted that unanimity had developed around UNHCR's action and that its r le had found complete acceptance within the international community. Many speakers recognized that UNHCR was impartial and so could play a useful r le in creating an understanding of refugee problems between neighbouring States. They were pleased to note that the High Commissioner, through his ability to solve political problems of refugees in a non-political manner and through his diversified range of activities in the economic, social and legal fields, was contributing to the attainment of the objectives of the United Nations.
18. With regard to developments in refugee problems throughout the world, the Committee noted with concern that the over-all number of those coming within the competence of UNHCR tended to increase.
19. One representative drew attention to the need to maintain appropriate allocations for assistance to refugees in some of the countries of asylum in Europe, the effect of which was that much larger funds could be released from other sources within the countries concerned.
20. Many representatives, including those of countries of asylum in Europe, drew attention to the increasing number of asylum seekers who had arrived in some of these countries and whose presence was placing a considerable strain on reception facilities and, in some cases, also on financial resources. They considered it important that, in order to avoid the accumulation of refugees in temporary centres, resettlement procedures should continue to be speeded up and they welcomed the measures taken to this effect by Governments of immigration countries in conjunction with the international and non-governmental organizations concerned. The representative of Yugoslavia voiced the hope that her country would be included in those to be visited by selection missions.
21. The Committee noted that, in Africa, where the problem of refugees had now reached greater dimensions than elsewhere, their number had further increased, with all that this entailed in respect of material assistance. It heard with interest statements by representatives and observers of African Governments, who gave accounts of developments in the situation of refugees in their countries, and was pleased to note the active contribution being made to the work of assistance by those Governments and by the Organization of African Unity, whose Bureau for the placement and Education of Refugees had now successfully begun operations for the resettlement of individual refugees in various African countries. As heretofore, important supporting contributions, including services, equipment and land, had been made available in African countries, where UNHCR projects were being put into effect.
22. From a statement made by the observer for the Organization of African Unity (OAU) in the course of the session,2 the Committee noted the fruitful co-operation which had developed between UNHCR and OAU. It also noted that the OAU Convention Governing the Specific Aspects of Refugee Problems in Africa, recently adopted by the Assembly of Heads of States and Governments of OAU, laid down the principle of the right of asylum as a contractual obligation and also provided that the granting of asylum to refugees was a humanitarian act and was not to be regarded as unfriendly towards any member State.
23. Referring to the provision relating to the prohibition of subversive activities contained in the OAU Convention, some representatives emphasized the importance that refugees would abstain from engaging in such activities. One of these representatives pointed out that persons engaged in subversive activities, wherever they be, should not be allowed to benefit from the protection of UNHCR.
24. Referring in particular to the integration of the considerable number of refugees who were being settled on the land in Africa, several members of the Committee stressed the importance for refugees of participating in the economic and social development of their country of adoption. This was essential not only from a humanitarian, but also from and economic point of view, since, as provided for in the proposed strategy for the Second United Nations Development Decade, rapid economic growth largely depended on equal opportunities for all. educational assistance was an important element in this respect. One representative recalled that the problems of refugees in Africa might be more easily contained if the recent resolutions of the General Assembly concerning the granting of independence to certain countries were more fully implemented.
25. The Committee also heard statements by some representatives who pointed out that, while there were already sizable problems of refugees in Asia, which required the continuing attention of UNHCR, developments on that continent might give rise to an increase in the number of refugees in need of assistance.
26. Members of the Committee expressed their confidence in the ability of UNHCR, in conjunction with Governments and other organizations concerned, to continue to keep the new problems in check and to arrange for the necessary assistance to be dispensed to those refugees in need. The Committee was aware that, in view of the limited programme funds available to UNHCR, the High Commissioner must ensure the completion of assistance programmes for refugees as rapidly as possible in order to be able to deal with new problems as they arose. The Committee noted in this connexion that, through increased co-operation with other members of the United Nations system, the High Commissioner might be able to phase out his material assistance programme in certain developing countries - as was already being done in some countries. Several representatives felt, however, that in view of the dynamic and unpredictable character of the problems of refugees, UNHCR assistance programmes should not be discontinued at too early a stage, so that their benefit to refugees should not be lost. It was necessary in their opinion to maintain an effective machinery to handle the problems of refugees, particularly in view of their sizable number in many countries throughout the world.
27. It was also pointed out that, as the refugee population reached a more advanced age, the number of handicapped would be likely to increase, as had been borne out by a recent survey, and that a number of refugees whose problems had been solved in the early days might still require attention.
28. Several speakers informed the Committee of the facilities given to refugees with regard to the acquisition of nationality in the country of reception, which was the last step on the road to complete integration. Other representatives emphasized the importance of voluntary repatriation and stressed that the final integration of refugees through naturalization should apply only if voluntary repatriation proved to be inapplicable.
29. In the course of the discussion, the representative of the Holy See reaffirmed the great concern of the Holy Father for the problems of refugees, which was also reflected in the motu proprio of 15 August 1969 entitled Pastoralis migratorum cura.
30. With regard to the financing of UNHCR programmes, the Committee was encouraged to note that there was a marked increase in financial participation. The number of contributing Governments to the current programme for 1969 was expected to exceed seventy, and it was suggested that the 100 mark be set as a target on the occasion of UNHCR's twentieth anniversary. The Committee welcomed the announcements of increased governmental contributions, the details of which may be found in paragraph 136, below.
31. The Committee heard statements by the observer for the International Council of Voluntary Agencies and by the observer for the association for the Study of World Refugee Problems.3 The Committee was aware of the contribution made by voluntary agencies to the work of assistance to refugees and was informed that a national conference of non-governmental organizations was to take place in the United States later this year which would provide and opportunity of placing the problems of refugees in sharper focus.
32. In the course of the debate, several representatives emphasized the usefulness of public information activities in order to keep the work for refugees in the public eye. Several speakers suggested that the Office of the High Commissioner should continue its public information activities with this purpose in view and devote special efforts to increase public awareness of the problems of refugees on the occasion of the celebration of UNHCR's twentieth anniversary.
Decision of the Committee
33. The Executive Committee,
(a) Took note with appreciation of the statement presented by the High Commissioner and of the results achieved by his Office during the period under review,
(b) Agreed on the broad policies outlined by the High Commissioner in respect of the activities of UNHCR and, in particular, endorsed the non-political approach of UNHCR, which is in keeping with the general interest of member States,
(c) Was deeply aware that the Office of the High Commissioner was still confronted with problems of refugees in Europe, in addition to the large-scale problems in Africa and Asia, and that further assistance to a considerable proportion of refugees within its competence was will required,
(d) Paid tribute to the new initiatives taken in various fields by UNHCR, Governments and intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations and to their concerted efforts for the benefit of refugees,
(e) Recommended that public awareness of the needs of refugees continue to be fostered, particularly on the occasion of the forthcoming twentieth anniversary of UNHCR.
B. Co-operation between UNHCR and the United Nations and other members of the United Nations system (agenda item 7)
34. The Committee considered the report submitted by the High Commissioner, in document A/AC.96/410, together with the report of the Ad Hoc Inter-Agency Meeting on Assistance to Refugees (A/AC.96/410/Add.1).
35. Introducing the item, the Chef de Cabinet of the High Commissioner stated that the co-operation between UNHCR and other members of the United Nations system which had been initiated by the Executive Committee had now reached the stage of implementation. Close contact had been established with all the agencies concerned, which were being further strengthened through current exchanges of information.
36. In addition, the High Commissioner was participating in the meetings of the Economic and Social Council and of the Administrative Committee on Co-ordination (ACC), as well as in other interagency meetings, so as to ensure that his Office would derive the maximum benefit from those United Nations activities which might contribute to the settlement of refugees. Thanks were due to the numerous agencies which were showing their goodwill in supporting the work of assistance for refugees to every extent compatible with their constitutional and financial possibilities. Interagency co-operation was a continuing process, the full benefit of which could only be attained through progressive action.
37. The Committee also heard a statement by the UNHCR Inter-Agency Programme Co-ordinator, who gave an account of some of the practical problems encountered. These related firstly to the obtaining of the services of experts stationed outside the country in which their services were required, since in such cases government approval was required and certain costs were involved. Secondly, there was the general question of the need for a formal request from the Government of the host country to the organization concerned before the benefit of a project could be extended to refugees. Thirdly, in the case of a refugee settlement area being included in a UNDP rural development project when UNHCR assistance came to an end, UNDP could, even in the most favourable of cases, finance only pre-investment studies, while development aid as such required substantial capital investment, which could only be provided by financial institutions such as those of the World Bank Group.. It had thus been necessary for UNHCR to participate in the financing of UNDP projects in Burundi and the Central African Republic with a view to consolidating the economic and social position of refugees, pending the implementation of integrated rural development as such.
38. There were also difficulties in respect of the inclusion of refugees in education training programmed both as regards approval by the host Government, cost and availability of vacancies.
39. The speaker pointed out that, in addition to the possibilities of co-operation outlined in the document before the Committee, UNHCR might contribute financially to certain projects of benefit to refugees, the implementation of which was ensured by other members of the United Nations system.
40. The question arose of how the inclusion in the UNHCR programmes for 1969 and 1970 of water supply schemes for refugee settlements in the Sudan and Uganda could best be financed. The representative of France wondered if the sizable capital expenditure involved, which, in the case of national Governments, would be financed through loans, should not more appropriately be financed by UNDP. Another representative expressed concern at the possible recurrence of the need for this type of project to be implemented by UNHCR and expressed the hope that the Committee's approval would not constitute a precedent. A number of representatives wondered whether this type of capital expenditure could not be financed by a loan to be contracted by the Government concerned through the appropriate agencies of the United Nations system, particularly the agencies of the World Bank Group of the African Development Bank. Alternatively, initial capital outlay from UNHCR funds for such expenditure could possibly be reimbursed to UNHCR if and when the Government obtained, at a later stage, assistance from the United Nations agencies concerned with development aid. One representative suggested that, if a similar occasion arose, UNHCR might inform Governments members of the Executive Committee ahead of time, so as to enable them to further the consideration of such projects in the Governing Board of the United Nations agency concerned. The suggestion was also put forward that a study be made of the possibility of seeking loans for capital investment from other sources and that consideration be given to the use of funds provided under governmental bilateral aid programmes.
41. The Committee heard a statement in which the High Commissioner pointed out that his Office had had no alternative but to include the expenditure for water supply in the proposed projects, firstly, because the projects concerned did not come within the field of competence of UNDP, which was dealing mainly with pre-investment and, secondly, because under existing procedures, a formal request by the Government to UNDP or another member of the United Nations system could not have been considered in time. If the water supply scheme in the Sudan were to be deferred for another year, the Executive Committee might be confronted with the serious problem of care and maintenance of the refugees, pending their settlement in the new area. The Observer for the Sudan explained furthermore that the project concerned was intended in the first instance for the provision of essential drinking water, which was only available in very small quantities.
42. The Committee noted from a statement by the representative of the High Commissioner that the matter would receive the fullest attention and would be taken up by the High Commissioner with those United Nations agencies which could be of assistance in the matter.
43. Referring to the developments reported in document A/AC.96/410 and Add.1, several representatives stated their satisfaction at the progress that had been accomplished, particularly as a result of the Ad Hoc Inter-agency Meeting on Assistance to Refugees and expressed appreciation for the offers of practical support made by many agencies during that meeting. They realized that there were still many obstacles of an administrative, technical and constitutional nature to stepping up interagency co-operation. Confidence was expressed in the ability of UNHCR and the other agencies concerned to pursue and extend their concerted action in order that the optimum benefit might be derived from the activities of various members of the United Nations system, most of which had a complementary role to play in the work of assistance to refugees.
44. The Committee heard statements by the representatives of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), World Food Programme, the ILO, FAO, WHO and WMO in which they conveyed the keen desire of their organizations to co-operate with UNHCR and the host Governments to the limits of their constitutional and financial possibilities in the work of assistance to refugees. It was clear from these statements that possibilities varied from one organization to another and according to the area of location of refugees.4 In spite of various limitations imposed upon them for constitutional or other reasons, all the organizations concerned could assist in one way or another and it was largely a matter of working out the most appropriate formula for each case between UNHCR, the agencies and the host Governments which had an important role to play in giving due priority to projects of benefit to refugees.
45. It was also clear from these statements that some of the problems and difficulties that had been mentioned could be solved to some extent, as was already the case. For example, certain activities for the benefit of refugees could be financed from the UNDP revolving fund or from the regular funds available to the specialized agencies, at the request of the High Commissioner; in addition, a certain number of experts had already been made available for a certain period of time by such agencies, including the ILO, WHO, and FAO, considerable food supplies were being provided for refugees by the WFP without cost to UNHCR except for internal transportation and, under certain conditions, refugees could benefit from vacancies in education and training courses sponsored by some of the United Nations agencies.
46. With regard to the particular problem of governmental requests, which were usually necessary before United Nations agencies could extend assistance to refugees, it was pointed out that the United Nations Development Programme put forward requests and give them the necessary priority. It was also pointed out by the Observer for one of the countries of residence in Africa that a simplified procedure might be worked out along the lines of the formula adopted by the ILO, which should enable UNHCR, when it had received a government request for assistance to refugees, to inform the United Nations agencies concerned and enable the latter to take swift action on the basis of UNHCR's request.
47. In the course of the discussion, attention was drawn to the possibility of using volunteers in refugee assistance projects.
Decision of the Committee
48. The Executive Committee,
(a) Took note with appreciation of the report on relations between UNHCR and the United Nations and other members of the United Nations system, submitted by the High Commissioner (A/AC.96/410) and of the progress accomplished in this important field;
(b) Paid tribute to the other members of the United Nations system for the active support they give to the work of assistance to refugees;
(c) Urged that co-operation between UNHCR and other United Nations agencies and programmes be increasingly translated into practical measures of assistance to refugees in order to ensure the optimal use of the totality of the resources available;
(d) Recommended that the Governments of countries of residence concerned give due priority to projects of members of the United Nations system which are carried out in areas where refugees are located, or may in any other way be of benefit to refugees;
(e) Stressed the need to avoid delays and interruptions in the implementation of assistance projects pending agreement on the long-term responsibility for their completion;
(f) Recommended that, in the case of the need for infrastructure equipment in settlement areas, which involved sizable expenditure and came within the framework of development aid, the High Commissioner should explore all avenues in order that such equipment be financed with the help of organizations specialized in the provision of development funds of that, alternatively, the High Commissioner should explore the possibility of obtaining from other sources of development funds, the reimbursement of the initial capital outlay made by UNHCR.
C. Control and limitation of documents - Question of summary records (agenda item 12)
49. The Committee considered a note on the Control and limitation of documents submitted by the High Commissioner on the question of summary records (A/AC.96/424.).
50. Introducing the item, the Secretary of the Committee recalled that the question of summary records was at present under consideration in a number of United Nations committees and that the conclusions of those bodies might be taken into account by the Executive Committee in due course.
51. The Committee devoted its attention to the various alternatives proposed in paragraph 5 of document A/AC.96/424. During the ensuing debate, the question arose as to whether the summary records should be entirely suppressed or maintained in a more condensed form.
52. The representative of Canada stated that, in the opinion of his Government, a great deal of time, effort and funds could be saved if they were suppressed. While the documentation of the Executive Committee was not excessive, the suppression of records would constitute a contribution to the over-all efforts of the United Nations system to reduce its volume of documentation . This view was supported by a number of representatives.
53. The representative of France stated, on the other hand, that, in addition to the Committee's report and draft decisions, there was a need to maintain some form of record of its proceedings which would indicate the motivation for the acceptance or rejection by government representatives of proposals out forward in the Committee. He was, therefore, in favour of succinct records, referred to in paragraph 5 (d) of the document. His views were supported by many representatives.
54. Some other representatives stated that whereas they were in favour of the complete suppression of the records, they would be prepared to go along with the proposal for succinct records on a trial basis, provided, however, that the size of the records did not increase as a result of subsequent amendments.
55. In reply to a question, the Secretary of the Committee recalled that the summary records had been reduced in size a few years earlier. Further reduction in their size could, he thought, be achieved by placing the emphasis on the motivation of proposals, while devoting less space than at present to general statements of a historical or descriptive nature, particularly when such information could be found in the documents submitted to the Committee. He added that the records were essential during the session for the speedy preparation of the draft report.
56. One representative suggested that there might be an advantage in maintaining the present system of records, with the proviso, however, that the provisional records would not be reissued in final form.
Decision of the Committee
57. The Committee decided to adopt the formula of succinct summary records in accordance with the proposal outlined in paragraph 5 (d) of document A/AC.96/424, on a trial basis for its twenty-first session, it being understood that every effort would be made to keep these records as brief as possible.
D. Presentation of documents to the Committee
58. A number of suggestions were made concerning the presentation of the documents. With regard to international protection, it was suggested that a more substantial report be submitted to the Committee at its next session. With regard to the UNHCR programmes, it was suggested that an attempt be made to reduce the number of documents by grouping some of them together and that an effort also be made to ensure easier comparability between the contents of documents of a similar nature.
Decision of the Committee
59. The Committee noted that the Administration would take into account the suggestions made with a view to facilitating the task of the Committee.
CHAPTER III INTERNATIONAL PROTECTION (Agenda item 4)
60. The Committee considered the note on international protection (A/AC.96/413), in which the High Commissioner highlighted some of the important developments which had taken place since the Committee's previous session.
61. In introducing the item, the representative of the High Commissioner recalled that fifty-seven States were now parties to the 1951 Convention and thirty-four to the 1967 Protocol, while another two States had just decided to accede to these instruments. He stressed the importance of the recent adoption by the Organization of African Unity (CAU) of an African Refugee Convention which constituted a complement to the basic international instruments for refugees and pointed out that the CAU Convention includes, inter alia, in its article 2, the principles contained in the United Nations Declaration on Territorial Asylum.
62. The representative of the High Commissioner also emphasized the importance of the effective implementation of legal provisions for the benefit of refugees, and explained that the standard questionnaires referred to in paragraph 9 of document A/AC.96/413 were intended to help Governments to draw up the necessary legislative texts to this effect. The High Commissioner intended to report to the Committee on the replies which his Office would receive to these questionnaires.
63. He further drew the Committee's attention to the need for laws concerning preventive detention to conform to the general principles of human rights and for States which could not permit a refugee to remain on their territory to allow him a reasonable delay in which to seek admission to another country. He also gave a brief account of the increased efforts made by UNHCR in the field of protection in Africa.
64. During the ensuing discussion, as well as during the general debate, most speakers stressed the fundamental importance of the international protection of refugees, and stated that they were satisfied with the results achieved during the period under review. They were pleased to find that the number of accessions to the 1951 Convention and 1967 Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees was rapidly growing and that the CAU Conference of Heads of State and Government had adopted a Convention Governing the Specific Aspects of Refugee Problems in Africa, the Provisions of which reflected their attachment to the principles of asylum and non-refoulement. Several representatives agreed that it would be desirable for the work of protection to be further extended in Africa as well as in other areas where the number of refugees was increasing.
65. The Committee noted from statements by the representative of the High Commissioner and by the representative of the Netherlands that his Government, in its capacity as depository of The Hague Agreement relating to Refugee Seamen or 23 November 1957, had drawn up a Protocol extending the benefits of that Agreement to refugees covered by the 1967 Protocol and that there were good prospects that Governments would accede to this new instrument.
66. Several representatives and some of the government observers recalled that, while their countries had not yet acceded to the Convention or the Protocol, they were granting refugees treatment similar to that provided for in those instruments.
67. Several speakers endorsed the view that the accession to legal instruments was not in itself sufficient unless it were matched by the full and effective implementation of the legal provisions contained therein. Attention was drawn in this connexion to the usefulness of the standard questionnaire which the High Commissioner proposed to send out to Governments and which included important items, such as the right to work.
68. Some representatives also emphasized that in addition to striving for a more appropriate status for refugees, international protection was also conducive to their economic and social integration in their country of reception. One representative pointed to the need to ensure the highest possible degree of uniformity in the status of refugees in each country.
69. The Committee gave careful consideration to the important question of assisting refugees to cease to be refugees through the acquisition of the nationality of their country of residence. The Committee noted with interest the new initiatives which had been taken in this respect and the facilities which several Governments were granting, or intended to grand, to refugees in the field of naturalization. Some representatives pointed out that naturalization should only be applicable once it had become clear that voluntary repatriation no longer constituted a possible solution. Some representatives also stressed that the acquisition of a new nationality constituted an important decision in a man's life, which should be taken with the full knowledge of all its implications.
Conclusions of the Committee
70. The Executive Committee,
(a) Reaffirmed the importance it attached to the international protection of refugees, the basic function of the High Commissioner's Office;
(b) Expressed its appreciation of the efforts made by the High commissioner in this field and stressed the need to continue these efforts, especially in areas where new refugee problems have arisen without, however, weakening international protection elsewhere;
(c) Paid tribute to the Organization of African Unity for its contribution to the work of international protection of refugees by having adopted the text of a Convention governing the Specific Aspects of Refugee Problems in Africa;
(d) Noted the new initiatives recently taken with regard to the acquisition, freely decided by refugees, of the nationality of their country of residence through naturalization once voluntary repatriation no longer constituted a solution, and hoped that positive measures would continue to be taken in this context;
(e) Noted the increasing number of parties to the 1951 Convention and 1967 Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees;
(f) Expressed the hope that the accession to legal instruments concerning the status of refugees would be followed by the fullest and most effective implementation of the legal provisions contained in these instruments;
(g) Welcomed the initiative taken by the Government of the Netherlands to widen the present scope of the 1957 Agreement relating to Refugee Seamen to bring it into with the 1967 Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees.
CHAPTER IV RESETTLEMENT OF REFUGEES (Agenda item 5)
71. The representative of the High Commissioner, introducing the report on the resettlement of refugees (A/AC.96/417) stressed the High Commissioner's promotional r le in this field. He pointed out that 13,359 refugees recognized under the terms of the 1951 Convention had been moved by the Inter-governmental Committee for European Migration (ICEM). As many asylum seekers had emigrated before a decision on their refugee status could be taken this figure represented only a proportion of the refugees resettled during the period under review. The representative informed the Committee of the following new developments. The Swedish government had authorized UNHCR to submit dossiers of refugees located in countries which the Swedish Selection Mission had not regularly visited; over 150 Albanian refugees had been moved from Yugoslavia to Italy in preparation for their resettlement in the United States; the movement of the present quota of Tukmenian refugees to Turkey had been finalized; and the resettlement of the group of Haitian refugees in the Bahamas virtually completed.
72. The Director of the Inter-governmental Committee for European Migration, Mr. John F. Thomas, in referring to the close working relationship between the UNHCR and ICEM, emphasized that ICEM's work contributed to relieving tensions by facilitating the departure of refugees and enabled Governments to continue their generous policy of granting asylum. The Convection Governing Specific Aspects of Refugee Problems in Africa of the Organization of African Unity contained comprehensive terminology which applied equally to Europe and perhaps to the whole world.
73. However, the open border policy of countries of asylum in Europe needed support from the international community, particularly from the immigration countries. The transport and resettlement machinery of ICEM could function effectively only if it received adequate contributions. A total of 55,574 persons had been moved between 1 July 1968 and 30 June 1969, and the prospects for 1970 were that those numbers would not substantially decrease.
74. The United States Refugee Program and the numerous voluntary agencies were all affording invaluable aid to refugees both within and outside Europe, and he reaffirmed his faith that these bodies, working with UNHCR and ICEM, would continue to preserve human values and offer help to any individual who felt that he must leave his hove country and consequently become a refugee or a displaced person.5
75. The Committee also heard a statement by Ambassador M. L. B, the observer for the Organization of African Unity and Director of its Bureau for the Placement and Education of Refugees. Members of the Committee noted with appreciation that the resettlement operations of the Bureau, which was receiving the full support of UNHCR, were gaining momentum and that over 650 refugees had already been settled or resettled in thirteen African countries. The majority had been helped in particular in obtaining gainful employment. The observer for CAU also described the organization of the work of the Bureau, which now benefited from the services of twenty-five correspondents in various countries throughout Africa.
76. The representatives who took part in the discussion agreed on the importance of maintaining the well-established mechanism for resettlement through co-operation between countries of asylum and reception, UNHCR, ICEM, the United States Refugee Program, and the voluntary agencies, in order to enable newly arriving European refugees to be rapidly moved to permanent homes. One representative pointed out that this co-operation was in keeping with the principles sit out in the United Nations Declaration on Territorial Asylum, which provided for assistance to asylum countries in helping them to solve the problems of refugees. The representatives of several countries of first asylum in Europe stressed the importance of resettlement through migration as a means of reducing the burden which these countries were shouldering by admitting an increasing flow of those seeking asylum to their territory.
77. Appreciation was expressed for the greater flexibility and speed applied by immigration countries to the selection of refugees and to their processing for settlement and the hope was voiced that this course would be pursued. Appreciation was also expressed of the progress made by the Bureau for the Placement and Education of Refugees in developing its resettlement operations in Africa.
78. The Chief Medical Officer of ICEM, responsible for the UNHCR/ICEM programme for handicapped refugees, for whom special individual dossiers were prepared, stressed that a continuing programme of assistance for the handicapped would be required. He thought that all countries should be prepared to take their share by admitting a small number of handicapped refugees on a regular basis, as was already being done by some countries. He explained that the potential value of handicapped refugees for receiving countries would be much higher if their professional qualifications received some form of international recognition.
79. Having heard statements by the representatives of Belgium, Canada and Switzerland, who gave information on programmes for handicapped refugees in their respective countries, the Committee paid tribute to all those countries which were contributing to the solution of this tragic problem by admitting handicapped refugees to their territory, and expressed the hope that they would spare no effort to admit such refugees to their territory.
Decision of the Committee
80. The Executive Committee,
(a) Took note with satisfaction of the report on the resettlement of refugees and, in particular, of the generous of immigration countries which contribute to alleviating the burden of countries of first asylum;
(b) Expressed the hope that still greater flexibility and speed world be applied to the selection of refugees and to their processing for resettlement than heretofore, in order to avoid the accumulation of refugees in countries of first asylum;
(c) Expressed the hope that immigration countries will also continue to pay special attention to the admission for resettlement of individual handicapped cases among refugees;
(d) Further recommended that the greatest possible support be given to the activities of the recently established Bureau for the Placement and Education of Refugees of the Organization of African Unity;
(e) Paid a tribute to the close and fruitful co-operation which has developed between the Inter-governmental Committee for European Migration and the Office of the High Commissioner in the field of resettlement.
CHAPTER V EDUCATION FOR REFUGEES (Agenda item 8)
81. The Committee considered a note on education for refugees (A/AC.96/418), which contained a review of the educational assistance provided by UNHCR and outlined future prospects in this field.
82. The representative of the High Commissioner recalled that, at its nineteenth session, the Committee had approved guidelines for future action by UNHCR in the matter of education. The document described how these directives were being applied and gave a general indication of future needs and prospects instead of detailed definite plans which might prove unrealistic. The scope of present activities was illustrated by the fact that commitments from the Education Account would amount to some $1.3 million during 1969. He pointed out that educational assistance to refugees at the post-primary level would have remained insignificant without the generous support of the Scandinavian countries. The day-to-day co-operation with UNESCO both at headquarters and in the field had proved an indispensable element. UNHCR intended to take advantage of International Education Year to urge Governments to grant to refugees equality with their own nationals in respect of educational opportunities, which was UNHCR's objective in this field.
83. The representative of UNESCO informed the Committee of the continued interest of her organization in educational assistance for refugees and of its co-operation with UNHCR, UNRWA and the United Nations Educational and Training Programme for Southern Africa. During 1969, UNESCO's field and headquarters staff had given technical advice in planning certain activities in the field of primary and secondary education and in-service teacher training for African refugees. Recognizing the handicap to development of large numbers of illiterate adult refugees. UNESCO would also co-operate with UNHCR with regard to UNESCO's Functional Literacy Programme, which linked the teaching of literacy to vocational training and productivity. Steps had already been taken by UNESCO to meet the wish, expressed by the Executive Committee at its nineteenth session, that the needs of refugees should be taken into account when drawing up education and training programmes. Furthermore, it was envisaged that a UNESCO mission would study educational facilities in certain countries in Africa and put forward recommendations in consultation with the national authorities and UNHCR. UNESCO was conscious that the educational facilities provided by the international community for refugees were limited and represented only a complement to the considerable efforts being made by the host countries.
84. The representatives who participated in the ensuing debate agreed on the fundamental importance if education and training as a means of enabling refugees to become self-supporting and to achieve their economic and social integration in the countries in which they had been welcomed. They were aware that, while primary education for refugees in Africa was included in the UNHCR current programme, assistance in respect of post-primary education had to be provided under the UNHCR Education Account, and some of them expressed the view that secondary education should be included in the UNHCR Programme.
85. The representatives of the United Republic of Tanzania and Uganda and the observers for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Senegal gave an account of the facilities provided in their countries for primary and post-primary education for nationals and refugees.6 Every effort was made by them to treat refugees on the same basis as nationals. However, facilities for secondary education, for which there was a great demand, were still very limited and could meet the needs of only a fraction of the children concerned. There was an urgent need to increase them and a request to that effect by the Government of the United Republic of Tanzania was being seriously considered. The representative of Uganda pointed out that, if refugees were deprived of secondary education, this might lead to dissatisfaction in the refugee settlements, with all the consequences this might entail for the countries concerned.
86. The representative of Sweden, speaking also on behalf of Denmark and Norway, said that the Scandinavian countries attached great importance to post-primary education for refugees and felt that the principle of including this form of education in the UNHCR Programme should be borne in mind. They were convinced that the process of development would create a steadily increasing need for qualified persons at all educational levels, and, in particular, for those who had received appropriate vocational training and in respect of whom demand invariably exceeded supply.
87. With regard to the form in which UNHCR assistance towards post-primary education could best be given, the representative of Sweden said that, in view of the inadequacy of existing facilities, the Scandinavian Governments actively supported the principle of creating additional school facilities for refugees rather than entering into long-term commitments to pay school fees. In their opinion, assistance should be oriented towards the expansion of facilities either through the construction of new schools or the creation of new "streams" of classrooms.
88. The representative of the Holy See recalled the appeal he had made, at the nineteenth session of the Committee, that consideration be given to assistance for adult education.
89. The Committee noted from a statement by the representative of the High Commissioner that increasing attention was being paid to adult literacy and functional literacy activities both in rural and in urban areas, but that the study of such activities for the benefit of refugees was still largely at the exploratory stage.
90. Several representatives agreed that it was desirable to clarify the respective spheres of competence of the United Nations Education and Training Programme for Southern Africans and UNHCR in order to ensure that no refugees would forfeit their chances of educational assistance.7
91. Some representatives drew attention to the difficulties experienced in providing education to refugee children speaking a different language from that of their country of asylum and suggested that more language training facilities be offered to them.
92. In reply to questions by the representative of the Holy See as to whether new teachers were being recruited for educational assistance to refugees and whether the skills of refugee teachers were being used, the representative of the High Commissioner explained that, as a rule, the Governments of countries of asylum and the voluntary agencies had been able to provide the necessary number of teachers. However, attention would continue to be paid to the possible need for special teacher-training projects. In reply to a further question as to whether private schools and institution of learning came within the purview of UNHCR education projects, the representative of the High Commissioner stated that such assistance could be provided as long as the curricula and standards of these establishments were in conformity with those set by the host Government.
93. The replies to requests for detailed information concerning projects for educational assistance made during the course of the debate may be found in the summary record.8
Decision of the Committee
94. The Executive Committee,
(a) Took note with satisfaction of the results achieved in respect of assistance to refugees in the field of education;
(b) Requested the High Commissioner to continue to investigate all possibilities to increase further educational opportunities for refugees;
(c) Noted that, in the frame of increased co-operation between UNHCR and other members of the United Nations system, it might be possible for a larger number of refugees to be included in some of the educational and vocational training projects of other United Nations agencies;
(d) Paid tribute to UNESCO for the support it is giving to UNHCR in the field of educational assistance;
(e) Expressed its deep appreciation to the Governments of the Scandinavian countries for their outstanding contribution to the work of assistance to refugees in the field of education;
(f) Expressed the hope that Government will see their way to supporting the measures envisaged by the High Commissioner in the field of education;
(g) Agreed on the course of action outlined in the report submitted by the High Commissioner on this subject (A/AC.96/418).
CHAPTER VI UNHCR MATERIAL ASSISTANCE PROGRAMME (Agenda item 6)
A. Report on UNHCR current operations in 1968
95. The Committee considered the report on UNHCR current operations for 1968 (A/AC.96/407) and the summary of information on UNHCR material assistance operations during the period 1 January to 30 June 1969 (A/AC.96/INF.101) together with notes on allocations made from the Emergency Fund (A/AC.96/INF.84 to 87 and 90 to 100).
96. The Director of Operations recalled that the UNHCR programme was characterized by the great diversity of projects implemented in various areas and by the promptness with which some of these projects needed to be carried out if human suffering were to be avoided. This explained why UNHCR might sometimes appear to enter a field of activity which, were it not for the time factor, would come more logically within the scope of other members of the United Nations system. The Director of the Americas and Europe Division and the Director of the Africa/Asia Division gave the Committee supplementary information on the main developments which had taken place in their respective spheres, indicating, in particular, the size of the problems involved and the stage which projects had reached.9
97. The representatives who spoke expressed satisfaction with the progress reported in respect of UNHCR current operations in 1968, which had enabled over 220,000 refugees to benefit from UNHCR assistance projects. With reference to the voluntary repatriation of refugees, the observer for the Sudan pointed out that, after two recent amnesties, it should be easier for Sudanese refugees to return to their home country. The Committee was informed by the Director of Operations that an amount of $6,500 had been made available by UNHCR to meet the cost of transporting a group of Sudanese refugees in Uganda who wished to return to their homes. the High Commissioner had also drawn the attention of the World Food Programme to the need for food of those returning.
98. Some members of the Committee expressed their complete agreement with the manner in which the High Commissioner had used the latitude given to him by the Committee to enable him to meet urgent refugee situations through his Emergency Fund.
Decision of the Committee
99. The Executive Committee,
(a) Took note with satisfaction of the report on UNHCR current operations in 1968 (A/AC.96/407);
(b) Approved the expenditure incurred under the Emergency Fund during the period 1 January 1968 to 30 September 1969 as shown in documents A/AC.96/407, table VIII and A/AC.96/INF,101, tables I and IA.
B. UNHCR Programme for 1969
100. The Committee considered new and revised projects under the UNHCR Programme for 1969 (A/AC.96/421), as well as more detailed information on certain assistance projects within that Programme (A/AC.96/INF.102).
101. The Director of Operations explained that the projects outlined in document A/AC.96/421 had been presented under the 1969 Programme rather than under the 1970 Programme in order to ensure an immediate start.
102. He described the situation of a group of some 20,000 Sudanese refugees in the Gambela Province of Ethiopia, for whom the Government had asked assistance from UNHCR early in 1969. The High Commissioner had already made a contribution from the Emergency Fund towards the movement of refugees form the border area. A programme allocation was now required in order to assist them in their rural settlement.
103. The observer for Ethiopia recalled that his country had a long tradition of asylum. Its basic policy was to encourage voluntary repatriation. Since this solution had proved inapplicable, however, the Ethiopian Government had decided to request assistance from UNHCR for the rural settlement of the Gambela group. Health and educational facilities were also urgently needed. He informed the Committee of the support which was being received in this connexion from the Swedish Government and from international and non-governmental organizations and of the financial commitments accepted by the Ethiopian Government with a view to assisting this group.
104. The Committee noted from statements by the representatives of Switzerland and Norway that the Swiss Government would make a special contribution towards the Gambela project and that the community development measures (referred to in paragraph 13 of A/AC.96/421) would be financed through contributions made from non-governmental sources in Norway.
105. Referring to the rural settlement of Mozambiquan refugees, the Director of the Africa and Asia Division reported that, owing to a continuing influx of Mozambiquan refugees into the southern part of the United Republic of Tanzania, the settlements were filled to capacity and the population figure for the Mputa settlement had risen from 5,300 at the end of July 1969 to 8,300. An additional allocation was needed towards the cost of settlement of the new refugees. The representative of the United Republic of Tanzania announced, in this connexion, that his Government was considering the establishment of another settlement area to accommodate additional newcomers.
106. With regard to assistance to Tibetan refugees, the Director of the Africa and Asia Division described the role of UNHCR in India, where a representative of the High Commissioner had arrived in February 1969 and where the task of UNHCR was to complement the assistance provided by the Government of India, the voluntary agencies and the Common Project of the European Refugee Campaign.
107. The observer for India stated that there were good prospects that the 56,000 Tibetan refugees in India would become self-supporting in a few years. He informed the Committee of the considerable sum the Government of India had contributed for assistance to these refugees, to which should be added the cost of land made available to the refugees and the cost involved in enabling them to receive education. Tibetans could, if they wished, become Indian citizens and own houses and land, they required no work permits and could obtain travel documents.
108. In referring to the settlement of Ethiopian refugees in the Sudan, the Director of Operations explained why the site at Abu Sabeka originally chosen had had to be abandoned in favour of a new site at Qala-en-Nahal, a sparsely populated area with good development possibilities. He stressed the importance of the adduction of water to the settlement (see Chapter VI C below).
Decision of the Committee
109. The Executive Committee,
(a) Approved the additional allocation of $315,800 submitted by the High Commissioner (A/AC.96/421) with a view to increasing the financial provisions required for assistance to new Mozambiquan refugees in the settlement of Mputa in the United Republic of Tanzania and to Sudanese refugees in Ethiopia;
(b) Took note of the information contained in document A/AC.96/INF.102 in respect of the break-down of projects within the allocation of $300,000 towards the local settlement of Tibetan refugees in India and in respect of the financing of the rural settlement of refugees from Ethiopia in the Sudan;
(c) Decided to increase the financial target of the 1969 Programme by $315, 800 to $5,996,800.10
C. UNHCR Programme for 1970
110. The Committee considered the UNHCR Programme for 1970 submitted by the High Commissioner (A/AC.96/412 and Add.1), and including allocations in a total amount of $5, 769,400 for assistance to refugees in some forty countries throughout various parts of the world.
111. In introducing the item, the Director of Operations recalled that, in accordance with previous practice, the Programme had been so conceived as to take the basic needs of refugees into account, while its financial target had to be geared at the same time to the amount that could be reasonably expected from financial contributions. The Director of Operations also gave the Committee an account of the missions he had undertaken to the new settlement areas in Ethiopia and the Sudan.
112. The members of the Committee who took part in the discussion expressed agreement with the proposals made by the High Commissioner. They agreed that the High Commissioner should be able to apply the necessary flexibility to enable him to deal with ever-changing situations and to adjust projects according to actual developments. Several representatives expressed the hope that, in view of the limited financial scope of the Programme, the High Commissioner would, in accordance with the catalytic role of his Office, continue to explore the possibility of obtaining additional financial resources to enable him to supplement basic assistance to refugees. It was pointed out in this connexion that, as heretofore, important supporting contributions in cash and in kind, including land, equipment, social and other services, would be forthcoming from within the countries where projects were put into effect. Among these were a considerable number of developing countries which, in spite of their economic problems, were making a substantial effort to match the resources provided by the international community. In the course of the discussion, it was pointed out that the problems of individual urban refugees were likely to increase further and should receive the fullest attention of UNHCR.
Assistance to refugees in Africa
113. The representative of Sweden gave the Committee and eyewitness account of the visit he had made, in his capacity as Chairman of the Committee's nineteenth session, to Burundi, the Central African Republic, Senegal, the Sudan, Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania. He had been impressed by the generous welcome given by the local population to new refugees and by their rapid integration, which was often facilitated because they shared the same language or were of the same ethnic origin. He had also noted that the necessary infrastructure, including accommodation, access roads and health facilities seemed to be completed more rapidly than elsewhere. The refugees were rapidly becoming self-supporting and some of them were beginning to grow cash crops. He found that the UNHCR projects were being fully implemented through the considerable efforts of the very limited number of UNHCR field staff and of the various implementing agencies. Zonal development projects in Burundi and the Central African Republic deserved the Committee's full support and he felt that UNHCR should be able to bridge the gap in order to ensure the continuation of such projects.
114. The morale of the refugees seemed particularly good and he had noticed that many of the refugee children were very gifted and should be able to benefit considerably from educational assistance. He had had an opportunity to attend the opening of a number of schools and was convinced of the need for more assistance in respect of secondary education. The representative had been struck by the exemplary spirit of international solidarity displayed by the Governments of the countries concerned and felt, as they did, that further visits to these countries form members of the Executive Committee, particularly its Chairman, would be useful and appreciated.
115. The Committee heard statements in which the representatives and observers of various countries of residence in Africa gave further information concerning developments in the situation of refugees in their countries and outlined some of the problems with which they were confronted. The observer for the Democratic Republic of the Congo pointed out that there was a continual influx of refugees into his country. A large segment of the existing refugee population was living outside settlements and was therefore not included in the statistical data provided by UNHCR.
116. The observer for Ethiopia stated that the number of Ethiopian refugees in the Sudan was lower than the figure of 31,000 quoted in the document before the Committee (A/AC.96/412), and that his Government wished to reserve its position in this matter. The observer for the Sudan explained that the number had been established on the basis of vaccinations given to the refugees and of their registration for assistance.
117. The Committee noted form statements by the representative of Uganda and the Director of Operations that there was a great shortage of water in certain areas and particularly at Nakapiripirit and that negotiations had been entered into by UNHCR with other members of the United Nations system with a view to enlisting their financial support towards the water adduction scheme at Nakivale, for which over $636,000 would be required.
118. Referring to the problems of displaced Nigerians in various countries of West Africa, the representative of Nigeria informed the Committee that the Federal Government was prepared to assist in their settlement, if necessary.
Assistance to refugees in Asia
119. In considering the allocations for Tibetan refugees, the Committee noted the considerable assistance which had been given to these refugees in Nepal, and in India by the Indian Government and by non-governmental organizations in that country, as well as the close co-operation which had developed between the Indian Government and UNHCR, which had recently established a Branch Office in India.
120. Referring to the allocations for assistance to Chinese refugees in Macao, the representative of China questioned the statement in paragraph 106 of document A/AC.97/412, which seemed to indicate that there had been a gradual return to stability and that there was a growing confidence in the area's economic future. He felt that, in view of the present difficult situation and in order to help the authorities to pursue a generous asylum policy, it would be helpful to increase the proposed allocations, or to make an allocation from the UNHCR Emergency Fund if necessary.
Assistance to refugees in Europe
121. The representatives of some of the countries of first asylum in Europe drew the Committee's attention to the new problems which their Governments had to face, as indicated in more detail in paragraph 20 of chapter II above. The representative of Turkey pointed out that his Government was making every effort to assist the refugees, but that the need for UNHCR financial support from its over-all allocations was not to be excluded.
122. Further to a statement by the observer for Spain concerning increasing difficulties experienced in respect of resettlement, the representative of the United States of America explained that the competent authorities would make every effort to facilitate the issue of immigration visas within the frame of present legislation. In response to the representative's suggestion that other resettlement opportunities might be explored, the representative of Australia stated that his country was prepared to offer resettlement opportunities for the persons concerned.
123. The observer for Cuba questioned the granting of refugee status to Cubans, who were freely leaving their country in order to settle elsewhere as migrants, a they had been doing for many years.
Assistance to refugees in Latin America
124. From statements made by the representatives of Brazil and Colombia, the Committee noted the progress made in the settlement of aged of otherwise handicapped refugees in Latin America through co-operation between UNHCR and local organizations in the field of social services. The wisdom of use being made of these organizations and also of volunteers in the work of assistance for refugees was noted. Several representatives expressed satisfaction at the fact that the problems of needy refugees in Latin America continued to receive the full attention of the High Commissioner.
Decision of the Committee
135. The Executive Committee,
(a) Approved the financial target of the UNHCR Programme for 1970 in an amount of $5,769,400 to meet the requirements of the High Commissioner in the field of material assistance in 1970;
(b) Approved the specific allocations in a total amount of $5,769,400 as listed in table III of document A/AC.96/412/Add.1;
(c) Agreed that the balance of those allocations for assistance to refugees in Greece under the major aid projects, which are still uncommitted at the end of 1969, be cancelled and that any necessary measures of assistance to refugees falling under these projects be gradually absorbed within subsequent UNHCR current programmes;
(d) Authorized the High Commissioner to commit and expend in 1970 the balance of the allocations in an amount of $958,27611 for the consolidation of the settlement of Angolan refugees in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and for the establishment of a new settlement for Sudanese and Zambian refugees, which were originally included in the 1968 and 1969 programmes (see paragraphs 46 to 58 of document A/AC.96/412);
(e) Noted from a statement made by the Administration at the 198th meeting that the rural settlement of these refugees might call for the subsequent inclusion of special allocations in the Programme for 1970;
(f) Authorized the High Commissioner to adjust the allocations approved by transfers between projects or parts of projects, subject to their being reported to the Committee in the report on current operations.
CHAPTER VII ADMINISTRATIVE AND FINANCIAL QUESTIONS
A. Financial statements. report of the Board of Auditors and report on investments for 1968 (Agenda item 9)
126. The Committee considered the financial statements and the report of the Board of Auditors (A/AC.96/408 and A/AC.96/415) and the report on investments for the year ended 31 December 1968 (A/AC.96/409/Corr.1).
127. The representative of the High Commissioner, introducing the documents, said that there had been a substantial improvement with regard to the share of total programme expenditures covered by government contributions. In 1968, Governments had contributed 85.5 per cent of the total programme cost, compared with 70.5 per cent in 1967. He pointed out however that the figure for 1964 had been 92.6 per cent. He gave additional information concerning the presentation of the statements12
128. The report on investments showed that the High Commissioner had been able to realize a record amount in interest on investments in 1968, which had enabled him to cover entirely from investments the grant-in-aid to the United Nations budget. In was hoped that this achievement could be repeated again in 1969 in spite of the increase in the grant-in-aid as a result of the decision of the Executive Committee to increase the financial target for 1969 to nearly $6 million.
129. The Executive Committee warmly congratulated the High Commissioner on his successful management of investments.
130. The reply to a question by the representative of Australia may be found in the summary record of the 199th meeting.
Decision of the Committee
131. The Executive Committee,
(a) Took note of the accounts for the year 1968 and of the financial statistics for the period 1964-1968 (A/AC.96/408), of the report of the Board of Auditors and of the report of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions submitted in respect of the financial year 1968 (A/AC.96/415);
(b) Also took note with satisfaction of the report on investments for the year ended 31 December 1968 (A/AC.96/409).
B Status of contributions and over-all financial situation (Agenda item 10)
132. The Committee considered the report on the status of contributions and the over-all financial situation for 1969 and 1970 as at 31 August 1969 (A/AC.96/416) and a note concerning the UNHCR record scheme (A/AC.96/420).
133. The representative of the High Commissioner said that the increase to some $6 million in the financial target for 1969 would not affect the prospects of fully financing the Programme, indicated in table IV of A/AC.96/416, since the increase of $320,000 would be covered from special governmental and non-governmental contributions, from residual proceeds of earlier long-playing records and from the initial proceeds of the sale of "World Star Festival".
134. As regards the 1970 Programme, an additional seven Governments had announced contributions since A/AC.96/416 had been issued, making a total of seventy contributing Governments compared with fifty-three in 1967. He emphasized that the fullest governmental support was needed for 1970. Taking into account that the original financial target had been increased to $5,769,000 and the fact that additional contributions had been announced at the present session, a further amount of some $400,000 would be required. The High Commissioner would shortly appeal to Governments to announce contributions to UNHCR for 1970 at the forthcoming pledging conference of the General Assembly.
135. Although the final results of the sales of the new long-playing record "World Star Festival" were not yet available since sales were still continuing, it was already clear that this record would yield substantial profits for refugee assistance. In this connexion, he emphasized the importance of Governments waiving taxes and duties on the record. A full report on the subject would be submitted to the Committee at its next session.
136. Announcements in respect of new or increased governmental contributions were made in the course of the session as follow:
The Government of Australia would increase its contribution to the UNHCR Programme by 30 per cent, that is, from $150 000 in 1969 to approximately $195 000 in 1970.
The Government of Austria intended to raise its financial contribution by $6 000 from $24 000 in 1969 to $30 000 in 1970. Furthermore as Austrian legislation did not allow a refund of taxes the Government of Austria had decided that the equivalent of up to 100 000 Austrian schillings of the taxes levied on the long-playing record "World Star Festival" would be added to its pledge for 1970 as a special contribution.
The Government of Denmark* subject to parliamentary approval* was prepared to contribute $253 300 to the UNHCR Programme for 1970* which represented an increase of 46 per cent over its contribution for 1969 ($174 000). The Danish Board of Technical Co-operation with Developing Countries has approved an un-earmarked grant of $213 300 to the Education Account for 1970 for education and other activities which have the character of technical assistance to refugees. The Danish Board of Technical Co-operation with Developing Countries world consider and additional grant for the OAU Bureau for the Placement and Education of Refugees if this should be required and justified.
FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF GERMANY,
The Government of the Federal Republic of Germany subject to parliamentary approval would increase its contribution to the UNHCR Programme for 1970 by DM.200 000.
The French Government intended to refund directly to UNHCR all taxes that might be levied on the sale of "World Star Festival".
Subject to parliamentary approval* the Government of the Netherlands would raise its contribution to the UNHCR Programme from $166 000 in 1969 to approximately $180 000 in 1970.
Subject to parliamentary approval, the Government of Norway would increase its un-earmarked contribution to the Programme from $220 000 in 1969 to $273 100 in 1970 an, increase of 25 per cent* and would raise its contribution to the Education Account by 20 per cent from $50 000 in 1969 to $60 000 in 1970.
The Government of Sweden would increase its contribution to the UNHCR Programme from $300 000 in 1969 to $400 000 in 1970* a 33 per cent increase. The un-earmarked annual contribution for use inside or outside the Programme would be similarly increased from $300 000 in 1969 to $400 000 in 1970. An earmarked contribution for $310 000 would be made to the Education Account for the secondary school streams in Uganda half of the contribution a firm pledge the remaining half subject to parliamentary approval. The Swedish Government would also contribute a minimum of $450 000 to the 1971 Programme and $500 000 to the 1972 Programme and subject to parliamentary approval would make an un-earmarked contribution of at least $400 000 in each of these two years.
Subject to parliamentary approval, the Swiss Government intended to raise its contribution to the UNHCR Programme from Francs 700 000 ($162 000) for 1969 to Francs 800 000 (approximately $185 000) for 1970*a 14 per cent increase. The Swiss Government would also make a special contribution of 250 000 Swiss francs ($58 000) in 1969 towards the project for rural settlement of Sudanese refugees in Gambela, Ethiopia.
137. The Committee heard a statement by the representative of the United Kingdom of great Britain and Northern Ireland concerning a new fund-raising campaign entitled "The student Appeal for Refugees in Africa" (SARA), which was to be carried out in the United Kingdom with the full support of the Government. Student organizations throughout the country would be participating in the Campaign, through which it was hoped to raise substantial funds fort assistance to refugees in Africa. One representative suggested that the organizing of similar campaigns should also be encouraged in other countries.
138. In thanking all the Governments concerned, the Committee also paid a tribute to the Scandinavian countries, whose global contribution to financial participation in the work of assistance to refugees in 1969, including the UNHCR Assistance Programme and Educational Account, totalled some $2 million.
139. The High Commissioner, in thanking Governments for their announcements of contributions stressed that the Programme, which provided only the basic minimum assistance, should be financed to the greatest possible extent by government contributions so that more could be done outside the Programme from private donations. Moreover, the private sector considered that it was inappropriate for them to have to bridge the gap between the financial target of the UNHCR Programme, which was a governmental programme, and the contributions received from Governments to carry it out.
Decisions of the Committee
140. The Executive Committee took the following decisions:
A. The Executive Committee,
(1) Took note of the reports submitted by the High Commissioner in document A/AC.96/415 on the status of contributions and in document A/AC.96/420 on the long-playing record "World Star Festival";
(2) Expressed appreciation for fact that, while the over-all level of governmental support still falls short of the UNHCR programme targets, the number of governmental contributions, as well as the number of contributing Governments, has increased during the period under review;
(3) Further expressed the hope that this trend will continue, particularly in view of the growing problems of refugees in certain areas;
(4) Urged Governments which contribute regularly to increase their annual support;
(5) Requested the High Commissioner to continue his appeals in order that the widest number of Governments may become regular contributors.
B. The Executive Committee,
(1) Noted with satisfaction that considerable progress had been made in the sale of the new long-playing record " World Star Festival" and that representatives of other United Nations agencies and of non-governmental organizations had contributed to these results;
(2) Expressed appreciation for the fact that a number of Governments had seen fit to waive taxes and import duties on the new record, or had agreed to the remission of such impositions, as recommended by the Committee in its earlier decision on the subject;
(3) Urged Governments which had not yet done so, to consider favourably the remission or refund of duties and taxes collected on the dale of "World Star Festival".
C. Administrative expenditure for 1970 (agenda item 11)
141. The Committee considered the regular budget estimates for UNHCR for 1970 which had been prepared by the High Commissioner for the General Assembly (A/AC.96/414) and the report of the United Nations Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions on the estimates (A/AC.96/414, annex II).
142. The representative of the High Commissioner explained that the regular budget included not only the general overhead costs of the Office and the cost of administering the Material Assistance Programmes, but also the whole international protection programme and the public information programme of the Office, as well as the cost of maintaining the regular contacts with Governments, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, without which it would be impossible for UNHCR to carry out its task. The Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions had recommended to the General Assembly the adoption of the UNHCR budget for 1970 as submitted, with the exception of a reduction of $25,000.
143. The High Commissioner had succeeded during recent years in holding down administrative costs at the same level by the transfer of staff, whenever possible, to areas where the need was greatest. Possibilities for such transfers within the existing establishment, however, had been exhausted in 1969, and, in order to maintain a minimum of staff in branch offices in Europe, the High Commissioner had been obliged to propose a small number of additional posts for 1970. This had been recognized as fully justified by the Advisory Committee.
144. The representative of the High Commissioner drew attention to a suggestion made by the Advisory Committee that the possibility might be explored of replacing some of the UNHCR representatives in Europe and the Americas by correspondents. The High Commissioner had, of course, already considered this possibility wherever it had seemed applicable. He would appreciate, however, receiving the views of the Committee on the suggestion of the Advisory Committee. In 1970, UNHCR would have nine branch offices in Europe and three offices in the Americas, including the office at United Nations Headquarters in New York. In addition, there were four correspondents in Europe and two in Latin America. The correspondents were local personalities whose work for UNHCR was undertaken in addition to their normal activities. The honorary fee paid to them was therefore mainly an allowance for expenses.
145. No item for unforeseen expenditures had been included in the budget estimates. This matter was under consideration by the General Assembly at its present session and the High Commissioner hoped that the Assembly decision would enable him to have recourse to such a provision. Meanwhile he had the possibility of submitting revised estimates in November, if required.
146. Most speakers stressed that, while favouring the principle of reducing administrative costs, this should not be allowed to compromise the indispensable work of providing international protection and appropriate assistance to refugees. They found it difficult to see how this task could be properly discharged in countries with a large refugee population without the daily contacts between UNHCR and government departments at the administrative and technical levels. They doubted if a part-time correspondent would be able to handle this task successfully and felt that a branch office with full-time staff was still indispensable, particularly in view of the recent new influxes of refugees. Several representatives emphasized that, in addition to protection and assistance activities, the branch offices performed a valuable role in maintaining public awareness of the problems of refugees, particularly through their contacts with private organizations working for refugees, awareness which was essential if the Governments were in turn to strengthen their own support of the High Commissioner's action.
147. Three representatives felt that the suggestion of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions should be carefully explored. In view of the considerable changes which had taken place in refugee problems, they believed that it might be possible in the future to replace some of the branch offices in Europe by correspondents and thereby enable the funds released to be utilized in areas of greater need.
148. One representative stressed the importance of protection activities in Latin America and considered that the regional office for that continent corresponded to an essential need.
149. The High Commissioner said that he always attached great importance to the views of the Advisory Committee and had already discussed this suggestion with some Governments in Europe, but that those Governments were unable to accept the replacement of branch offices by correspondents in view of the considerable numbers of refugees in their countries and the difficulty of foreseeing future developments. He confirmed that apart from protection activities, the branch offices played an active role in private fund-raising activities and in the field of public information. His Office was quite ready, however, to take up the matter again with the Governments concerned with a view to examining the individual situation of each country concerned. The attitude of governments in the countries in which UNHCR was represented would, however, be a decisive factor.
Decision of the Committee
150. The Executive Committee.
Aware of the considerable and increasing demands on the High Commissioner's resources for the solution of the large-scale refugee problems in Africa and Asia; Aware also of the refugee problems still existing in Europe and the Americas, which continued to require the full attention of the international community;
Considering that the High Commissioner's efforts to cope with the demands in Africa and Asia should not weaken his ability to provide international protection and limited assistance to refugees in Europe and the Americas, and to gather in these regions maximum support for his universal action;
(a) Took note with appreciation of the High Commissioner's budget estimates for the financial year 1970;
(b) Expressed the view that the replacement of the High Commissioner's full-time representatives in Europe and the Americas by part-time correspondents at this stage would lead to an undue weakening of his ability to play his important role in these regions;
(c) Expressed the hope that the High Commissioner's view, which it had endorsed at its nineteenth session, namely, that the nature of the task of his Office and the uncertainties involved therein make it necessary for a contingency provision to be available to his Office, will be fully taken into account by the General Assembly at its twenty-fourth session.
OPENING STATEMENT BY THE HIGH COMMISSIONER TO THE TWENTIETH SESSION OF THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE OF THE HIGH COMMISSIONER'S PROGRAMME
May I be permitted first to extend my sincere congratulations to you, Mr. Chairman, for your election to the chairmanship of our session, and also to extend my congratulations to the distinguished Vice-Chairman, Ambassador Oviedo, and to the Rapporteur, Mr. Kandemir. I look forward to working in close contact with the officers of the Committee and I am sure that this is going to be a stimulating and interesting session. I should also like to associate myself with what the outgoing Chairman said about the serious floods which took place recently in Algeria and Tunisia and convey to the distinguished representatives of those countries, and through them, to their Governments, the condolences of my Office and its sympathy to all the victims for the plight which that are suffering.
Mr. Chairman, a year has gone by since our last meeting and the state of the world has not improved. Much to the contrary, I fear, and this has also had repercussions on the refugee problems which we are called upon to try to solve. In Africa alone, the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees has become a millionaire ... not in terms of funds, but as far as the number of refugees is concerned. In Europe also, we have been following developments with concern and, whereas in past years we hoped very much that there would no longer be a major European refugee problem, we have become aware recently of the existence of a certain problem in Europe which we have to follow very carefully indeed.
With your permission, Sir, I would like to limit myself to taking stock and try to assess where we have come to in international refugee work, because the international community has been tackling this problem now for nearly twenty years and meanwhile many developments have taken place. In the days of Fridtjof Nansen, the first League of Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, who has always been a symbol to us and whose memory we were honouring again recently in this very room at the time of the Nansen Medal Award Ceremony, international protection, which is still the fundamental responsibility of UNHCR, was at its very beginning stage. It is interesting, I think, to recall that, at that time, refugees really did not have the rights and status that they have today. There were, broadly speaking, tow categories of people: nationals and foreigners - and you could treat foreigners more or less as you wished. At least they could go back to their countries, but legally there was no such person as a refugee and even the issue or recognition of the Nansen passport, which we all remember, did not constitute a binding obligation for Governments. Even upon the inception of UNHCR activities in 1951 and later, refugees were considered to some extent in the context of East-West relations and basically it was a slow evolutionary process for the Office to get the necessary legal instruments adopted to define the rights of these refugees. Many developments have taken place since then. The 1951 Convention defines the rights of refugees; it has been completed by the 1967 Protocol. The recent figures of accession to these two instruments are fifty-seven for the Convention and thirty-four for the Protocol, the most recent accession coming from Zambia, and I am happy to announce this very important new accession. We hear that more ratifications are to be expected and we look forward to further announcements, perhaps even during this session.
Furthermore, a Convention Governing the Specific Aspects of refugee Problems in Africa was unanimously adopted on 10 September 1969 in Addis Ababa during the recent summit meeting of the Organization of African Unity. The adoption of this Convention is a great step forward. It defines in precise terms the responsibilities of States with regard to asylum. It stresses the sacrosanct principle of non-refoulement. Also, it defines the need to control and contain subversive activities, which is a fundamental aspect of any work for refugees not only in Africa, but indeed in any areas where such activities may jeopardize relations between States and create serious problems for member Governments.
Among the basic legal instruments, there is also the Declaration on Territorial Asylum, which was adopted unanimously in the General Assembly, and which again strengthened the principle of asylum. After all, it should be recalled that the essence of asylum is that a country accepts a fellow whether it likes him or not, and this is precisely what this Declaration stipulates.
So good progress has been achieved and today it is our responsibility and our duty to see to it that what has been subscribed to in writing is, in fact, practiced and implemented; in other words, that we practice what we preach. Governments today have a bad conscience about refoulement, about sending refugees back to a country where they fear for their life. But, when it comes to ensuring that these same refugees are actually granted rights in the host country where they have received asylum, then sometimes there is a slight difference between theory and practice. Sometimes, in some of the countries where I have had the opportunity of raising problems of international protection, this is not so much a matter of whether existing legal instruments have been signed. It is more a question of an attitude of mind, a question of approach to refugee problems. This varies from one country to another, from one continent to another. So the role of UNHCR, it seems to me, is to try to continue this educational process.
If we simply limited ourselves to international protection and legal assistance, then, of course, we would be of little use to the refugees themselves who are in need, and this is why we have a programme. In fact, this very programme is the raison d'être for our gathering here today, since this Committee is the Executive Committee of the High Commissioner's Programme. And, if you look at that Programme, you become aware of the developments which have taken place. In the early days of UNHCR, there was no Programme, and the first High Commissioner for Refugees was desperately trying to raise voluntary contributions to finance material assistance projects for the most needy refugees and more to finance material assistance projects for the most needy refugees and more specifically to start the Programmes of the United Nations Refugee Fund (UNREF), which included property for housing in the Federal Republic of Germany and Austria, and which some of the Committee members present today may still remember. Today, over forty UNHCR delegations and correspondents all over the world attend to the implementation of programmed, sometimes small, sometimes large, in more than fifty countries. These programmes comprise a great variety of complex activities and have a great meaning for the refugees themselves. As an illustration, let me recall that, while we are implementing individual care projects for handicapped refugees, old people, for instance, in some European countries, we are also pioneering large-scale rural development schemes in Equatorial Africa. At the same time, we are helping Tibetan refugees in the heights of Nepal, in Asia, and we are implementing programmes of education and vocational training for Zanzibaris in the sweltering heat of the Persian Gulf. These are just a few examples of the programme activities which can be linked with significant development in the history of international assistance to refugees.
These programmes have now been strengthened and consolidated, not only through the generous support of Governments, but also as a result of the recent developments in interagency co-operation. A debt of gratitude is due in this connexion to the members of the United Nations system dealing more specifically with economic and social development, many of whom are represented in this room. This is also an important new development. In many ways, the strengthening of the programme through interagency co-operation is something which we have to develop further, because, if UNHCR is to be able to phase out, if we are to be able to establish a cut-off date in certain developing countries, it will be, as previously discussed in the Committee, through the strengthening of interagency co-operation. Important new procedures for this co-operation were planned and determined at the Inter-Agency Meeting, which we convened in January 1969, where, through the concerted efforts of representatives of the specialized agencies and of the United Nations programmes, we succeeded in determining what the roles of the various agencies would be in assisting UNHCR in the developing countries.
The UNHCR programme has also been strengthened as a result of what has been done in the field of primary education. We should also note the important measures taken outside the programme in respect of post-primary education through the Education Account. Without education, both primary and secondary, we could not really speak of integration, and we could not equip refugees so that they might become self-supporting. I must stress here that, had it not been for the very generous support of the Scandinavian Governments, our activity in the field of education would have remained largely theoretical.
With regard to resettlement through migration, a large step forward has been made. The immigration quotas are no longer so restricted that they impose hardship on refugee families whose members were sometimes placed before the difficult choice between remaining together and accepting resettlement opportunities overseas. Thanks to the smooth machinery of resettlement, the admirable efforts of the Inter-governmental Committee for European Migration, the unstinting support of the voluntary agencies represented here in this room, and through the generosity of the countries of immigration which have always, in recent year, taken a humanitarian attitude to the special needs of refugees, we have been able to contain situations which otherwise would have become very difficult to handle, and I refer particularly to the situation which arose recently as a result of certain developments in Europe. It is because of the special measures taken by countries like Switzerland, and by countries of immigration like Australia, Canada and the United States of America, that the movement of people has been assured, so that we are not faced again in Europe with the situation of the post-war days, when there was an enormous accumulation of misery in camps. And we must make sure that this movement continues. This is why I must appeal to all the Governments that can play a role in the very important field of resettlement to continue to be liberal in welcoming refugees in response to the requests which we put to them, in order also to help to the countries of first asylum which have so generously opened their doors to those in search of asylum and which might well find themselves in a very difficult situation without the help of the Governments of immigration countries. should like to recall that, if the movement cannot be kept up, we shall soon be faced with political and financial problems which would be much more difficult to solve in the countries of first asylum, because, if these countries cannot count on the smooth resettlement of the caseload, they will be bound to request UNHCR for assistance in its local integration. This means that ultimately I might have to come back to the Committee with a request for a financial contribution for assistance to refugees in Europe which, as we all know, is something we would like to avoid, because we face so many other priorities in other parts of the world.
Now, of course, in a dynamic programme of this kind with so many different problems in different parts of the world, we are bound to have to present you with occasional readjustments, and to face occasional setbacks. In Ethiopia, where we have had indications recently that a very important programme is about to be implemented, after some delays, for which no one is responsible, it is possible that the 1969 programme might have to be slightly revised. Adjustments may also be necessary, for example in the United Republic of Tanzania and other countries of Africa, in view of continuous arrivals of new refugee groups. In the Democratic republic of the Congo, large rural integration schemes had to be held in abeyance until we could get the necessary arrangements made with a view to this implementation. The 1970 Programme may have to be adjusted to take this development into account. In the field of interagency co-operation, we have also occasionally to face some delay in arranging for other agencies to take over where we leave off. We cannot always count, as we did in Burundi, on a smooth take-over by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the specialized agencies, and further investments on the part of UNHCR may be indispensable. This is owing to the fact that sometimes Governments in the developing parts of the world, in Africa, are rather reluctant to give priority to refugees in the long-term economic and social zonal development plans. They are a little slow therefore in appealing to UNDP and the agencies for a take over. Sometimes, also, the mechanism itself is rather complex and more expeditious measures would be helpful. This is why I always try to participate fully in the Administrative Committee on Co-ordination and this is why I value the efforts made by the Economic and Social Council in seeking further to improve the United Nations machinery.
We also, of course, suffer occasional problems as a result of the development of new situations, and we are at present receiving a number of new requests, particularly form Governments in West Africa as a result of the situation in Nigeria and particularly of the fact that some individuals have been uprooted and have overflowed into neighbouring countries. These are now contacting UNHCR to discuss the problems on their merit.
It is also true that, as the Committee knows, we have witnessed an accumulation of individual cases in urban centres in Africa. This also occasionally necessitates adjustments to the programme. It is for this reason that we value so much the creation of the Bureau for the Placement and Education of Refugees within the Organization of African Unity and the successful start of its operations. We are gratified that Ambassador B, who is the head of the Bureau, is with us today and will be here for the session. It is clear that the Organization of African Unity and the Bureau will be very largely responsible, together with UNHCR, for the effort to eliminate this accumulation of individual cases in the African urban centres. It is also clear to me that the Bureau will mainly be able to place people who are already technically qualified, or have some kind of educational background or skill, and who will be welcome in African countries in whose economic life a place can be found for them. For the others who are not trained, who do not have a skill or a profession and who have no educational background, a programme may need to be put into effect.
In considering the progress which has been achieved in both protection and material assistance, we must remember that before it sets up these programme activities, the Office continues, in line with General Assembly resolutions, to promote voluntary repatriation, which remains one of the best, if not the best solution to any refugee problem. The figures speak for themselves. Since the Office started its activities, we have repatriated nearly 200,000 refugees. So the principle of voluntary repatriation must also be kept alive.
If you consider all these aspects of our work, what then are the effects on the political and diplomatic role of UNHCR? Here again I think we have to take stock of the progress which has been achieved. In the early days of the Office, the Governments of the countries of origin of refugees had no relations with UNHCR. Within the United Nations family, UNHCR was considered to deal with very difficult highly sensitive problems in which other United Nations agencies did not want to get too involved. Today the situation has changed considerably. A certain amount of unanimity has developed around UNHCR's action. The Governments of countries of origin discuss with UNHCR the problems of their nationals who, because of unforeseen circumstances, find themselves outside the borders of their country. We can now exercise protection for these nationals and, at the same time, maintain contacts with the Governments of the countries of origin. Furthermore, the United Nations agencies, as I said, are now ready to associate themselves with UNHCR's activities and find that this may sometimes enable them to fulfil some of the responsibilities devolved upon them under certain United Nations resolutions. I think it is interesting to note also that Governments have understood the role that UNHCR can play towards the establishment of better relations between neighbouring States by solving refugee problems quickly and quietly, without publicity. This is precisely what we want - to create an atmosphere which contributes to the general interest of States Members of the United Nations. It is probably for this reason that UNHCR received what I consider its greatest tribute from the General Assembly since its inception, that is, the adoption by acclamation of the UNHCR annual report submitted to the Assembly at its twenty-third session, and this, at a time when the world was going through considerable difficulties. Let us hope that this resolution can be translated into concrete facts and that it will be an inspiration for the future. Indeed, the United Nations is frequently criticized because of the sometimes academic nature of the debates. This kind of criticism cannot be levelled at this Executive Committee. The Committee is dealing with human problems in a concrete way, and, during the coming week, you will be called upon to discuss concrete solutions to these problems. This is the reason why I am sure that this meeting will be stimulating and productive.
You will forgive me if I have touched upon some rather philosophical considerations. The work of the Office is, as you know, of a strictly humanitarian and non-political character. This is the very essence of my mandate, and it is this, probably, which allows the Office sometimes to solve highly political problems in a non-political way. I believe that the record speaks for itself. Unfortunately, many examples have to go unmentioned, but I hope that the results achieved will convince Governments in other parts of the world, where the refugee problem is as yet undefined, or has not fully come to light, to call upon UNHCR for assistance, if we are in a position to give it.
All this, Mr. Chairman can be done only if the structure of the Office remains financially strong, and here also a great improvement may be reported. More Governments contribute than heretofore and many increases in contributions have been announced. In 1969, for the first time, seventy Governments are participating in the financing of the UNHCR Programme. However, as stressed previously, the Programme should be fully financed through government contributions. This would be possible if a few more Governments agreed to increase their contribution and if Governments which had never contributed were to do so. It would be easy if some Governments, which contribute such considerable amounts in terms of bilateral aid, devoted a small proportion of these amounts to the multilaterally financed programme of UNHCR.
To sum up, I believe that UNHCR has set a certain pattern. However, our thinking must go beyond this pattern and just as the refugee concept has developed, just as refugees now have rights, can we not hope and pray that one day States will no longer produce refugees so that one day peace and justice will prevail and the Office may no longer be needed. For indeed, Mr. Chairman, civilization may mean, above all, the right of an individual to live in his own country. Thank you.
(Note: Financial and statistical data tables not included in this online version. See your nearest UN Depository Library.)
1 Previously issued under the symbol A/AC.96/422.
2 For the full text of this statement, see A/AC.96/419.
3 For the text of these statements, see the summary record (A/AC.96/SR.193).
4 For the text of these statements, see the summary record (A/AC.96/SR.195).
5 For the text of the statement, see A/AC.96/423.
6 For details of this account, see the summary record (A/AC.96/SR.196).
7 See A/AC.96/418.
8 See A/AC.96/SR.196.
9 For the details of these statements, see the summary record (A/AC.96/SR.192).
10 This is a consequential amendment resulting from the approval of sub-paragraph (a) above
11 Uncommitted balance as of 29 October 1969.
12 See the summary record (A/Ac.96/SR.199).