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Global Consultations: 60 governments participating

Briefing notes

Global Consultations: 60 governments participating

29 June 2001

The current round of the Global Consultations on the international protection of refugees goes into its second day today. About 60 governments and more than 40 NGOs and other observers are participating in the ongoing discussions. Yesterday's discussions centred around the difficult subject of how to reconcile proper and effective protection for refugees with measures to control illegal migration. There were, as you might expect, some very different views on the subject, particularly between the richer industrialized countries and some developing countries. The former tended to be preoccupied with issues such as trafficking and how to combat it. Several of the latter, along with the NGOs, stressed that migrants have human rights like everybody else.

The NGOs also expressed their opinion that measures to control migration, such as trying to seal borders, are simply encouraging the development of trafficking networks. The NGOs also came down hard on the practice of placing asylum-seekers in detention, and using this as a deterrent - a practice that is carried out to varying degrees by a handful of countries.

Today's discussions will centre on asylum procedures. There will also be discussion of the growing practice of interdiction of migrants and asylum-seekers in international waters and countries of transit, a subject explored thoroughly during an earlier session of the Global Consultations in Ottowa.

At 12:15 UNHCR will hold a press briefing here in Salle III, involving Erika Feller, UNHCR's Director of International Protection, who is in overall charge of the Global Consultations Process - and Judith Kumin, who has been focusing in particular on the questions of interception and interdiction.