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General Conclusion on International Protection

Executive Committee Meetings

General Conclusion on International Protection
No. 74 (XLV) - 1994

7 October 1994
Executive Committee 45th session. Contained in United Nations General Assembly Document No. 12A (A/49/12/Add.1).

The Executive Committee,

(a) Expresses its deep concern over the immense human suffering and loss of life which have accompanied recent crises involving refugee flows and other forced displacement;

(b) Remains gravely preoccupied by the scale and complexity of current refugee problems, which have made more difficult the accomplishment of the High Commissioner's crucial functions of ensuring international protection for refugees and achieving timely and durable solutions to their plight;

(c) Reaffirms the importance of the 1951 Convention and 1967 Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees as the cornerstone of the international system for the protection of refugees, and underlines the role of the High Commissioner, pursuant to Articles 35 and II of these instruments, respectively, and to the Statute of her Office, in supervising their application;

(d) Welcomes the accession or succession to these instruments in the past year of Dominica, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and Tajikistan, bringing to 127 the number of States parties to one or both instruments, and, noting that the Member States of the United Nations now number 189, and in view of the global character of the refugee problem, urges States which are not yet parties to accede to these instruments, and all States to implement them fully;

(e) Warmly welcomes the demonstrated commitment of States to continue to receive and host refugees in cooperation with UNHCR, to provide them international protection;

(f) Deplores the fact that in certain situations refugees, as well as returnees and other persons of concern to UNHCR, have been subjected to armed attack, murder, rape and other violations of or threats to their personal security and other fundamental rights and that incidents of refoulement and denial of access to safety have occurred;

(g) Calls again upon States to uphold and strengthen asylum as an indispensable instrument for the international protection of refugees, to respect scrupulously the fundamental principle of non-refoulement, and to make every effort to ensure the safety and well-being of refugees within their jurisdiction;

(h) Stresses the importance of international solidarity and burden-sharing in reinforcing the protection of refugees, and calls upon all States to take an active part, in collaboration with UNHCR, in efforts to assist countries, in particular those with limited resources, that receive and care for large numbers of refugees and asylum-seekers;

(i) Reiterates the importance of ensuring access for all persons seeking international protection to fair and efficient procedures for the determination of refugee status or other mechanisms, as appropriate, to ensure that persons in need of international protection are identified and granted such protection;

(j) Recognizes that applications for asylum by large numbers of irregular migrants who are not in need of international protection continue to pose serious problems in certain regions, and reiterates in this connection its Conclusion No. 71 (XLIV) (1993), paragraphs j, k and l;

(k) Notes that a large number of those persons in need of international protection have been forced to flee or to remain outside their countries of origin as a result of danger to their life or freedom owing to situations of conflict;

(l) Recognizes that, while persons who are unable to return in safety to their countries of origin as a result of situations of conflict may or may not be considered refugees within the terms of the 1951 Convention and 1967 Protocol, depending on the particular circumstances, they nonetheless are often in need of international protection, humanitarian assistance and a solution to their plight;

(m) Recalls that UNHCR has often been requested by the United Nations General Assembly to extend protection and assistance to persons who have been forced to seek refuge outside their countries of origin as a result of situations of conflict, and encourages the High Commissioner to continue to provide international protection to such persons, and to seek solutions to the problems arising from their forced displacement, in accordance with relevant General Assembly resolutions, and calls upon all States to assist and support the High Commissioner's efforts in this regard;

(n) Recognizes that in Africa and Latin America, regional instruments provide for the protection of refugees fleeing armed conflict and civil strife, as well as those fearing persecution, and that in other regions, persons who require international protection, but who either are not considered refugees within the scope of the 1951 Convention and 1967 Protocol or are in countries that have not acceded to these instruments, have generally been provided protection and humanitarian assistance through specific measures adopted by States and in full cooperation with UNHCR;

(o) Recognizes the desirability of exploring further measures to ensure international protection to all who need it;

(p) Acknowledges the value of regional harmonization of national policies to ensure that persons who are in need of international protection actually receive it, and calls upon States to consult UNHCR at the regional level in achieving this objective;

(q) Encourages the High Commissioner to continue to promote international cooperation in providing international protection to all who require it, and to engage in further consultations and discussions concerning measures to achieve this objective, which might involve the elaboration of guiding principles, including for concerted action;

(r) Considers that temporary protection, which has been described by the High Commissioner in the context of the Comprehensive Response to the Humanitarian Crisis in the former Yugoslavia as including admission to safety, respect for basic human rights, protection against refoulement, and safe return when conditions permit to the country of origin, can be of value as a pragmatic and flexible method of affording international protection of a temporary nature in situations of conflict or persecution involving large scale outflows;

(s) Welcomes the further exploration by the High Commissioner, pursuant to Protection Conclusion (m) (1993), of temporary protection as an asylum strategy, in the context of addressing prevention, protection and solutions on a comprehensive regional basis, and looks forward to further discussions among interested Governments on this subject, including the duration of temporary protection;

(t) Notes that the beneficiaries of temporary protection may include both persons who qualify as refugees under the terms of the 1951 Convention and the 1967 Protocol and others who may not so qualify, and that in providing temporary protection States and UNHCR should not diminish the protection afforded to refugees under those instruments;

(u) Calls upon UNHCR, in close cooperation with the Governments concerned, to continue to coordinate and to provide guidance concerning the implementation of temporary protection and other forms of asylum oriented towards repatriation, in situations where return home is considered the most appropriate durable solution, including advice on voluntary repatriation and on safe return once the need for international protection has ceased;

(v) Reiterates that voluntary repatriation, when it is feasible, is the ideal solution to refugee problems, and calls upon countries of origin, countries of asylum, UNHCR and the international community as a whole to do everything possible to enable refugees to exercise freely their right to return home in safety and dignity;

(w) Notes that numerous obstacles to voluntary repatriation have been encountered, including threats to the safety of repatriating refugees both in countries of asylum and countries of origin and the persistence or recrudescence of conditions causing refugee flight;

(x) Stresses in this connection the responsibilities of States of origin to readmit their nationals and to ensure their safety and welfare, and of countries of asylum to provide for the security and safeguard the fundamental rights of refugees, and calls upon the international community to assist States to discharge these responsibilities with respect to refugees and returnees;

(y) Reaffirms its Conclusions Nos. 18(XXXI) (1980) and 40(XXXVI) of 1985 on voluntary repatriation, and underscores the leading role of UNHCR in promoting, facilitating, and coordinating voluntary repatriation of refugees, in cooperation with States concerned, including ensuring that international protection continues to be extended to those in need until such time as they can return in safety and dignity to their country of origin, assisting, where needed, the return and reintegration of repatriating refugees and monitoring their safety and well-being upon return;

(z) Acknowledges the usefulness, in appropriate circumstances, of visits by representatives of the countries of origin to refugee camps in countries of asylum within the framework of information campaigns to promote voluntary repatriation, and requests UNHCR, in cooperation with the countries of asylum concerned, to facilitate such visits;

(aa) Recognizes that for repatriation to be a sustainable and thus truly durable solution to refugee problems it is essential that the need for rehabilitation, reconstruction, and national reconciliation be addressed in a comprehensive and effective manner, and calls upon the international community to continue to support the High Commissioner's efforts to promote comprehensive and regional approaches to prevention, protection and solutions in consultation with States and the relevant international, regional and national governmental and non-governmental bodies, as appropriate;

(bb) Reaffirms the continued importance of resettlement as an instrument of protection and its use as a durable solution in specific circumstances;

(cc) Emphasizes the need, particularly in complex emergencies that include humanitarian and peace-keeping operations, to ensure respect for the High Commissioner's protection mandate and to preserve the impartial and purely humanitarian nature of UNHCR activities;

(dd) Reiterates its support for the High Commissioner's activities for internally displaced persons in accordance with General Assembly resolution 48/116 (1993) and expresses its appreciation for the detailed and productive discussions that have been held within the Sub-Committee of the Whole on International Protection and in other fora concerning ways in which the international community can better address the protection and assistance needs of the displaced;

(ee) Notes with concern the persistent problems of stateless persons in various regions and the emergence of new situations of statelessness, and, acknowledging the responsibilities already entrusted to the High Commissioner by the United Nations General Assembly with respect to the prevention of statelessness (General Assembly resolution 3274 (XXIX)), calls upon UNHCR to strengthen its efforts in this domain, including promoting accessions to the Convention relating to the Reduction of Statelessness and the Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons, training for UNHCR staff and government officials, and a systematic gathering of information on the dimension of the problem, and to keep the Executive Committee informed of these activities;

(ff) Calls on the High Commissioner to ensure UNHCR's active participation in the 1995 World Conference on Women and its Regional Preparatory Conferences in order that the situation of refugee women remain high on the international agenda of women's issues;

(gg) Urges UNHCR, in cooperation with Governments, other United Nations and international and non-governmental organizations, especially UNICEF and ICRC, to continue its efforts to give special attention to the needs of refugee children, ensuring, in particular, that arrangements are made for their immediate and long-term care, including health, nutrition and education, and, in the case of children who are separated from their families, for prompt registration, tracing and family reunion;

(hh) Calls upon States hosting refugees, in close collaboration with UNHCR and other relevant organizations, and consistent with the UNHCR Guidelines on Refugee Children, to safeguard the security of refugee children and to ensure that they are not recruited into the military or other armed groups;

(ii) Notes with distress the injury and loss of life caused to refugees and returnees, including women and children who are maimed and incapacitated in large numbers, by the indiscriminate use of land-mines, as well as the harmful and long-term impact of these weapons on the voluntary repatriation, rehabilitation, and resumption of normal lives of millions of refugees and displaced persons, and endorses the High Commissioner's efforts to further international efforts to reduce or eliminate the threat that land-mines pose to them;

(jj) Recognizes the importance of ensuring access to current and reliable information on involuntary displacements in the interests of promoting solutions at all levels of the refugee situation and reaffirms support for the High Commissioner's continuing effort in this regard to develop an information policy and databases capable of addressing new challenges with relevant information sources;

(kk) Notes with satisfaction UNHCR's activities with regard to the promotion and dissemination of refugee law and protection principles and calls upon the High Commissioner to continue to expand and strengthen the Office's promotion and training activities, with the active support of States and through increased cooperation with human rights organizations, academic institutions, including the International Institute of Humanitarian Law (San Remo), and other relevant organizations within and outside the United Nations system;

(ll) Welcomes the High Commissioner's growing cooperation with the High Commissioner for Human Rights and her continued cooperation with the Centre for Human Rights and calls on UNHCR to continue its active involvement and cooperation with the Commission on Human Rights;

(mm) Recognizes the continuing usefulness of inter-sessional meetings of the Sub-Committee of the Whole on International Protection and requests the High Commissioner to convene at least one such meeting to consider current protection issues and to report on progress in the deliberations of the Committee at its forty-sixth session.