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Comprehensive and Regional Approaches within a Protection Framework

Executive Committee Meetings

Comprehensive and Regional Approaches within a Protection Framework
No. 80 (XLVII) - 1996

11 October 1996
Executive Committee 47th session. Contained in United Nations General Assembly document A/AC.96/878 and document No. 12A (A/51/12/Add.1).

The Executive Committee,

Recognizing that the underlying causes of large-scale involuntary population displacements are complex and interrelated and encompass gross violations of human rights, including in armed conflict, poverty and economic disruption, political conflicts, ethnic and inter-communal tensions and environmental degradation, and that there is a need for the international community to address these causes in a concerted and holistic manner,

Reaffirming in this regard conclusion No. 40 (XXXVI) on Voluntary Repatriation, which states that the aspect of causes is critical to the issue of solutions and that international efforts should also be directed to the removal of the causes of refugee movements; stressing further that the essential condition for the prevention of refugee flows is sufficient political will by the States directly concerned to address causes which are at the origin of refugee movements,

Recalling its encouragement to the High Commissioner to engage in consultations on possibilities and initiatives in specific areas with complex problems of coerced population movements as well as on achieving the objective of providing international protection to all who need it,

Noting that the prevention of and response to such situations may be beyond UNHCR's mandate and capacity,

Further noting that internally displaced persons remain within the territorial jurisdiction of their own countries and that the primary responsibility for their welfare and protection lies with the State concerned,

Aware that involuntary displacement, in addition to the human suffering involved, can impose significant intra-regional burdens, and may also affect security and stability at the regional level,

Acknowledging the desirability of comprehensive approaches by the international community to the problems of refugees and displaced persons, including addressing root causes, strengthening emergency preparedness and response, providing effective protection, and achieving durable solutions,

(a) Emphasizes the responsibility of States to ensure conditions which do not compel people to flee in fear, to uphold the institution of asylum, to create conditions conducive to voluntary repatriation, to take steps to meet essential humanitarian needs and to cooperate with countries on whom the large-scale presence of refugees weighs most heavily;

(b) Reaffirms the value of comprehensive approaches in which UNHCR has played a significant part, through its presence and activities in countries of origin as well as countries of asylum; notably the CIREFCA process, the Comprehensive Plan of Action and the repatriation to Mozambique; and recalls that the High Commissioner is mandated to promote voluntary repatriation by taking initiatives including promoting dialogue between all the main parties, facilitating communication between them, and by acting as an intermediary or channel of communication;

(c) Underlines the value of regional cooperation, as illustrated by these approaches, in addressing involuntary displacement in a manner which encompasses the political dimension of causes;

(d) Recalls that, while there is no blueprint for such approaches, protection considerations should govern the entire process towards solutions, and standards should be applied consistently;

(e) Encourages States, in coordination and cooperation with each other, and with international organizations, if applicable, to consider the adoption of protection-based comprehensive approaches to particular problems of displacement, and identifies, as the principal elements of such approaches:

(i) the protection of all human rights, including the right to life, liberty and the security of person, as well as to freedom from torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; the right to leave one's own country and to return; the principle of non-discrimination, including the protection of minorities; and the right to a nationality

(ii) promotion of the rule of law through national legal and judicial capacity-building

(iii) respect for the institution of asylum, including the fundamental principle of non-refoulement, and ensuring international protection to all those who need it

(iv) measures to reinforce international solidarity and burden-sharing

(v) support for long-term sustainable development

(vi) integration of developmental approaches into the relief stage by strengthening national capacities

(vii) support for rehabilitation, reintegration and reconstruction measures which will underpin the sustainability of repatriation

(viii) public information to raise awareness about refugee and migration issues in both host countries and countries of origin, particularly with a view to countering xenophobia and racism

(ix) the establishment and fostering of mechanisms designed to avoid or reduce the incidence of conflict, as conflict may result in population displacement

(x) reconciliation measures where necessary and possible, notably in post-conflict situations, to ensure the durability of solutions

(xi) education for peace and human rights, including at the community level, in both countries of origin and countries of asylum

(f) Invites UNHCR to provide its support and expertise in formulating comprehensive approaches and assisting States in exploring more systematically where and how such approaches might be appropriate and feasible.