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General Conclusion on International Protection

Executive Committee Meetings

General Conclusion on International Protection
No. 102 (LVI) - 2005

7 October 2005
Executive Commitee 56th session. Contained in United Nations General Assembly document A/AC.96/1021

The Executive Committee,

(a) Welcomes the information provided on continued implementation of the Agenda for Protection contained in this year's Note on International Protection1; and encourages States, UNHCR, other intergovernmental as well as non-governmental organizations to cooperate and to redouble their efforts to implement the Agenda, as appropriate, to provide timely information on their respective follow-up activities, and to explore with UNHCR the merits of a consolidated report to the Executive Committee on its implementation, taking into account the time and resources that might be required, to enable the Committee and UNHCR jointly to assess progress;

(b) Recalls paragraph (o) of its Conclusion No 99(LV); notes the need for UNHCR to continue efforts to strengthen its protection presence in the field, including in particular female protection staff; and continues to call upon States to extend their support in this regard through the timely and predictable provision of resources;

(c) Welcomes the accession of Afghanistan to the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol, bringing the number of States parties to either one or both of these instruments to 146; also welcomes the inclusion of the 1951 Convention and its 1967 Protocol in the list of instruments identified by the Secretary-General for the annual treaty event entitled "Focus 2005: Responding to Global Challenges" held in New York in September 2005; and appeals to States which have not yet acceded to these instruments to consider doing so and to States which have made reservations to consider lifting them;

(d) Welcomes the successful meeting hosted by the Government of Mexico in November 2004 to commemorate the 20th Anniversary of the Cartagena Declaration on Refugees; notes with interest the Plan of Action endorsed by that meeting; and encourages those States concerned to follow through on their commitments to strengthen refugee protection in the region and respond accordingly to other situations of forced displacement;

(e) Recalls the 1996 Geneva Conference on the problems of refugees, displaced persons, migration and asylum issues in the countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States; concludes with satisfaction that the ten-year follow-up process generated by the Conference is nearing its completion and has been successful in pursuing the original goals of addressing the multi-faceted protection and migration challenges of the countries of the CIS in a coherent and concerted way; and encourages States, UNHCR and other relevant actors to continue to work collaboratively, building on the successes of the Conference Process to date;

(f) Expresses concern at instances of persecution, generalized violence and violations of human rights which continue to cause and perpetuate displacement within and beyond national borders and which increase the challenges faced by States in effecting durable solutions; condemns all forms of threats, harassment and violence directed against refugees and other persons of concern, and expresses its deep concern about such acts experienced by refugee women and children, including sexual and gender-based violence; and calls on States to promote and protect the human rights of all refugees, and other persons of concern, paying special attention to those with specific needs, and to tailor their protection responses appropriately;

(g) Deplores the continuing violence and insecurity which constitute an ongoing threat to the safety and security of humanitarian personnel and an obstacle to the effective fulfilment of UNHCR's mandate, and the ability of UNHCR's implementing partners and other humanitarian personnel to discharge their respective humanitarian functions; and calls on States and concerned parties to take all possible measures to ensure the safety and security of UNHCR personnel and property and that of all humanitarian organizations discharging UNHCR mandated functions;

(h) Acknowledges the value of a focused and concrete pursuit of a range of activities aimed at strengthening the protection capacities of States, particularly those dealing with protracted refugee situations; welcomes in this regard the development and promotion of a comprehensive framework for assessing protection capacity needs within the context of the Strengthening Protection Capacity Project; and encourages the continued facilitation of consensus building through participatory stakeholder consultations at national levels, bringing together all the relevant actors, including refugee men, women and children, in parallel with improved coordination within UNHCR, and with States and relevant partners to elaborate and operationalize the strategies and initiatives required to address the protection needs identified, in particular through comprehensive approaches aimed at providing practical solutions for protracted caseloads;

(i) Recalls its Conclusion No 82 (XLVIII) on Safeguarding Asylum; reiterates the fundamental importance of the High Commissioner's international protection function; and emphasizes the need to apply scrupulously the exclusion clauses stipulated in Article 1 F of the 1951 Convention to ensure that the institution of asylum is not abused by the extension of protection to those who are not entitled to it;

(j) Recalls its Conclusions No 6 (XXVII) and 7 (XXVIII), as well as numerous subsequent references made in its other Conclusions to the principle of non-refoulement; expresses deep concern that refugee protection is seriously jeopardized by expulsion of refugees leading to refoulement; and calls on States to refrain from taking such measures and in particular from returning or expelling refugees contrary to the principle of non-refoulement;

(k) Acknowledges the long-standing generosity extended by many countries of asylum, including those in the developing world, with economies in transition and in particular least developed countries, notwithstanding their limited resources, hosting large numbers of refugees sometimes over a protracted period of time; underlines the importance of burden and responsibility sharing at all stages of a refugee situation, including ensuring access to protection in responding to the assistance needs of refugees as well as in addressing and facilitating durable solutions; and recognizes the need for States and international organizations to equip themselves with appropriate planning, coordination and financial tools that make international solidarity and the realization of durable solutions more predictable;

(l) Reaffirms that respect by States for their protection responsibilities toward refugees is strengthened by international solidarity involving all members of the international community and that the refugee protection regime is enhanced through committed international cooperation in a spirit of solidarity and burden and responsibility sharing among all States;

(m) Recognizes that the participation of refugee women and men in the economic life of the host country is an important means of facilitating their active contribution to the attainment of their own self-reliance; and encourages State Parties to respect the full range of rights included in the 1951 Convention and its 1967 Protocol and, mindful of the particular conditions applicable, to explore the most practical and feasible means to accord freedom of movement and other important rights underpinning self-reliance;

(n) Notes UNHCR's global priorities relating to refugee children; calls on States to support the efforts of UNHCR in ensuring that the needs of refugee children, particularly unaccompanied and separated children, are fully met through their identification and registration, and through UNHCR's overall protection and assistance activities, including management support, training and monitoring activities; and reminds UNHCR of Goal 2, Objective 2 of the Agenda for Protection regarding the convening of an experts meeting focusing on the protection needs of trafficked children;

(o) Stresses the importance of States intensifying their efforts, in cooperation with UNHCR and other relevant organizations, to ensure that all refugee children benefit from education, consistent with the Millennium Development Goals, and that such education pays due regard, as appropriate, to their cultural identity while facilitating a greater understanding of the country of asylum;

(p) Acknowledges the important contribution of the age and gender and diversity mainstreaming strategy in identifying, through a participatory approach, the protection risks faced by the different members of the refugee community; encourages UNHCR and its NGO partners to continue to roll out and implement on the ground this important strategy, as a means to promote the rights and wellbeing of all refugees, in particular the non-discriminatory treatment and protection of refugee women and refugee children and minority groups of refugees; and looks forward to learning more on UNHCR's intentions regarding diversity;

(q) Notes the activities in pursuit of the objectives of the Convention Plus initiative; stresses the value of innovative, practical, situation-specific and solution-oriented approaches within a multilateral context; strongly encourages UNHCR, in consultation with host countries, to identify protracted refugee situations which might lend themselves to resolution through comprehensive approaches, such as the elaboration of a Comprehensive Plan of Action for Somali Refugees; and recognizes that effective partnerships should be designed and implemented in the field;

(r) Welcomes continued progress in the attainment of durable solutions, particularly through the voluntary repatriation, in safety and dignity, of large numbers of refugees this past year; reiterates that UNHCR, in line with its mandated responsibilities, be given free and unhindered access to returning refugees, as needed, in particular to monitor the latter's proper treatment in accordance with international standards; and, in this context, encourages UNHCR to strengthen its returnee monitoring activities, where necessary, in the interests of consolidating sustainable return;

(s) Also welcomes the progress that has been achieved in increasing the number of refugees resettled and the number of States offering opportunities for resettlement; and encourages UNHCR to ensure high quality and well-documented resettlement referrals, to continue to strengthen its resettlement capacity and to work with resettlement countries to improve the efficiency and timely provision of resettlement opportunities, where resettlement is an appropriate solution, including through the group resettlement referral methodology;

(t) Reaffirms the importance of timely and adequate assistance and protection for refugees; that assistance and protection are mutually reinforcing and that inadequate material assistance and food shortages undermine protection; notes the importance of a rights and community-based approach in engaging constructively with individual refugees and their communities to achieve fair and equitable access to food, and other forms of material assistance; and expresses concern in regard to situations where minimum standards of assistance are not met, including situations where adequate needs assessments have yet to be undertaken;

(u) Strongly condemns the unscrupulous actions of individuals or entities who misuse or abuse, in any manner whatsoever, assistance intended for refugees, for their own ends to exploit and abuse refugees and other persons of concern; and calls on States, UNHCR, relevant United Nations agencies and non-governmental organizations, to denounce and to take action to prevent abuse or exploitation which may deprive refugees and other persons of concern of adequate assistance and which may heighten the vulnerability in particular of refugee women and children;

(v) Recalls its Conclusion No 91 (LII) on the Registration of Refugees and Asylum-Seekers; notes the many forms of harassment faced by refugees and asylum-seekers who remain without any form of documentation attesting to their status; recalls the responsibility of States to register refugees on their territory; reiterates in this context the central role early and effective registration and documentation can play, guided by protection considerations, in enhancing protection and supporting efforts to find durable solutions; calls on UNHCR, as appropriate, to help States conduct this procedure should States be unable to register refugees on their territory; welcomes the continued progress being made in the roll-out and implementation on the ground of improved registration practices under the auspices of Project Profile, including efforts taken to ensure the appropriate documentation of all refugees and asylum-seekers, including women and children; encourages further progress in introducing new techniques and tools, including biometrics features; underlines that the registration process should abide by the fundamental principles governing the protection of personal data; and requests that UNHCR explore the modalities for sharing data with States, for the specific purposes acknowledged in paragraph (f) of Conclusion No. 91, in a manner that fully respects international norms and standards regarding personal data protection;

(w) Acknowledges that access to HIV and AIDS prevention, care and treatment, as far as possible in a manner comparable with the services available to the local hosting community, is increasingly recognized by States as an essential component in the protection of refugees, returnees and other persons of concern; encourages UNHCR to pursue activities in this regard, in close collaboration with relevant partners, in particular in the implementation of the objectives agreed in the UNAIDS Unified Budget Work Plan, ensuring specific emphasis on the rights of refugee women and children affected by the pandemic; and notes the recommendations of the Global Task Team on Improving AIDS Coordination among Multilateral Institutions and International Donors;

(x) Notes with interest the results of the Humanitarian Response Review and welcomes the proposals made by the Secretary General and United Nations General Assembly to strengthen the United Nations humanitarian system; takes note also of deliberations by the Inter-Agency Standing Committee aimed at following up on the outcomes of the response review and to bring about greater consistency in the response to humanitarian emergencies; encourages UNHCR to continue to explore the feasibility of taking on coordination responsibilities for clusters related to internally displaced persons' protection, camp management and shelter in conflict situations as part of a broader United Nations coordination effort in support of United Nations humanitarian coordinators, with a view towards ensuring a more effective, predictable, and timely response to humanitarian crises, including a system of accountability; looks forward to elaborating in partnership with UNHCR the details regarding how, without prejudice to its core mandate for refugee protection and assistance, UNHCR can respond to these commitments including on financial, administrative and operational implications;

(y) Welcomes the accession of Senegal to the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness; acknowledges UNHCR's role, where applicable, in providing technical and operational support and advisory services to States with the aim of addressing the problem of statelessness and in furthering the protection of stateless persons, where necessary; and calls on States, in cooperation with UNHCR and other relevant actors to address the needs of persons in protracted situations of statelessness and to assist stateless persons to access legal remedies to redress statelessness, in particular that which results from arbitrary deprivation of nationality.

1 A/AC.96/1008