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Conclusion on International Protection

Executive Committee Meetings

Conclusion on International Protection
No. 89 (LI) - 2000

13 October 2000
Executive Commitee 51st session. Contained in United Nations General Assembly document A/AC.96/944 and document no. 12A (A/55/12/Add.1)

The Executive Committee,

Warmly commending UNHCR on the fiftieth anniversary of the establishment of the Office; and welcoming the emphasis of this year's Note on International Protection on measures taken by the Office to make protection effective;

Recognizing that international protection is a dynamic and action-oriented function, carried out, in co-operation with States and other partners, to promote and facilitate admission, reception, treatment of refugees and to ensure protection-oriented solutions, towards the overall goal of enhancing respect for the rights of refugees and resolving their problems;

Welcoming the continued grant of asylum to large numbers of refugees by many States but deeply disturbed by violations of internationally recognized rights of refugees which include refoulement of refugees, militarization of refugee camps, participation of refugee children in military activities, gender-related violence and discrimination directed against refugees, particularly female refugees, and arbitrary detention of asylum-seekers and refugees; also concerned about the less than full application of international refugee instruments by some States Parties;

Affirming the importance of according priority attention to the protection needs of women, children, adolescents, and the elderly in the planning and implementation of UNHCR programmes and State policies;

Taking note of complex features of the evolving environment in which refugee protection has to be provided, including the nature of armed conflict and current patterns of displacement, mixed population flows, the high costs of hosting large numbers of refugees and asylum-seekers and of maintaining asylum systems, the growth in trafficking and smuggling of persons, the problems of safeguarding asylum systems against abuse and of excluding those not entitled to refugee protection, as well as the lack of resolution of long-standing refugee situations;

Recognizing that countries of asylum carry a heavy burden, in particular, developing countries, countries in transition and countries with limited resources which host large numbers of refugees and asylum-seekers; reiterating in this regard its strong commitment to international solidarity, burden-sharing and international cooperation to share responsibilities; and reaffirming UNHCR's catalytic role in assisting and supporting countries receiving refugees, particularly developing countries, and in mobilizing assistance from the international community to address the impact of large-scale refugee populations;

Recognizing the positive contributions that refugees make to host countries;

Recognizing the need for Governments, UNHCR and the international community to continue to respond to the asylum and assistance needs of refugees until durable solutions are found; and while noting that voluntary repatriation, local integration and resettlement are the traditional durable solutions for refugees, affirming that voluntary repatriation is the preferred solution, when feasible;

Noting the discussions in the Standing Committee on the interception of asylum-seekers and refugees, and recognizing the importance of adopting comprehensive measures, between all relevant States and in cooperation with UNHCR, international organizations and other appropriate organizations, to deal effectively with irregular migration, trafficking and smuggling of persons, potentially including refugees and asylum-seekers, and ensure in this context that international protection and assistance needs of asylum-seekers and refugees are identified and fully met, consistent with international protection responsibilities, in particular the principle of non-refoulement;

Reaffirming that the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and the 1967 Protocol remain the foundation of the international refugee regime; noting that complementary forms of protection adopted by some States are a pragmatic response to ensure that persons in need of such protection receive it; and recognizing in this context the importance of full application of the 1951 Convention and the 1967 Protocol by States Parties;

Noting UNHCR's initiative to launch Global Consultations on International Protection and encouraging UNHCR, in parallel with these Consultations, to continue to seek practical responses, in cooperation with States and other relevant actors, to address current and future protection challenges;

(a) Welcomes the proposal of UNHCR to commence a process of Global Consultations with States, with the close involvement, inter alia, of refugee protection experts, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and refugees, to revitalize the international protection regime and to discuss measures to ensure international protection for all who need it, while taking into account the legitimate concerns of States, host communities and the international community generally;

(b) Affirms in this context that such a process, on the eve of the 50th Anniversary of the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, offers important prospects for revitalizing refugee protection and promoting the effective implementation of the Convention and the Protocol, while at the same time identifying approaches to meet new situations not covered by these instruments;

(c) Calls upon UNHCR to report to the Executive Committee at its fifty-second session on progress made on this process.