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General Conclusion on International Protection

Executive Committee Meetings

General Conclusion on International Protection
No. 77 (XLVI) - 1995

20 October 1995
Executive Committee 46th session. Contained in United Nations General Assembly document A/AC.96/860 and document no. 12A (A/50/12/Add.1).

The Executive Committee,

(a) Distressed at the continued suffering of refugees for whom a solution has yet to be found; reaffirms that respect for fundamental humanitarian principles, including safeguarding the right to seek and enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution, and full regard for the principle of non refoulement, is incumbent on all members of the international community; and urges the continued commitment of States to receive and host refugees and ensure their protection in accordance with accepted legal principles;

(b) Notes that the search for solutions to refugee problems is an integral part of the High Commissioner's mandate for international protection, and that identifying and implementing solutions to the problems of refugees requires the constant support of the international community in order that the will and capacity of individual States are reinforced in this common pursuit;

(c) Emphasizes the primacy of the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol as forming the international legal basis for the protection of refugees; and underlines the value of regional instruments, as applicable, notably the OAU Convention, as well as the Cartagena and San José Declarations;

(d) Welcomes the accession of Namibia, the Solomon Islands, Samoa, and Antigua and Barbuda to the 1951 Convention and/or the 1967 Protocol, bringing to 130 the number of States parties to one or both instruments, and urges States which are not yet party to accede to these instruments, and all States to implement them fully;

(e) Reaffirms the competence of the High Commissioner in supervising the application of international instruments for the protection of refugees. Stresses the importance of their interpretation and application by States in a manner consistent with their spirit and purpose. Reminds States party to the 1951 Convention and/or the 1967 Protocol of the undertaking in Article 35 of the Convention, reiterated in Conclusion 57 of the fortieth session of the Executive Committee in 1989, to provide the High Commissioner with detailed information on the implementation of the Convention and urges those state parties who have not yet complied with this undertaking to do so;

(f) Recalls its conclusion 74 (XLV), which encouraged the High Commissioner to engage in consultations and discussions concerning measures to ensure international protection to all who need it; and reiterates its support for UNHCR's role in exploring the development of guiding principles to this end, consistent with fundamental protection principles reflected in international instruments, and calls on UNHCR to organize informal consultations on this subject;

(g) Calls upon the High Commissioner to support and promote efforts by States towards the development and implementation of criteria and guidelines on responses to persecution specifically aimed at women, by sharing information on States' initiatives to develop such criteria and guidelines, and by monitoring to ensure their fair and consistent application. In accordance with the principle that women's rights are human rights, these guidelines should recognize as refugees women whose claim to refugee status is based upon well-founded fear of persecution for reasons enumerated in the 1951 Convention and 1967 Protocol, including persecution through sexual violence or other gender-related persecution;

(h) Condemns all forms of ethnic violence and intolerance, which are among the major causes of forced displacements as well as an impediment to durable solutions to refugee problems; and appeals to States to combat intolerance, racism and xenophobia and to foster empathy and understanding through public statements, appropriate legislation and social policies, especially with regard to the special situation of refugees and asylum-seekers;

(i) Recognizes that for States to fulfil their humanitarian responsibilities in receiving refugees and in reintegrating returning refugees, and in addressing some of the causes of refugee movements, an effective human rights regime is essential, including institutions which sustain the rule of law, justice and accountability; and in this connection calls on UNHCR to strengthen its activities in support of national legal and judicial capacity-building, where necessary, in cooperation with the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights;

(j) Calls on all States to promote conditions conducive to the return of refugees and to support their sustainable reintegration by providing countries of origin with necessary rehabilitation and development assistance in conjunction, as appropriate, with UNHCR and relevant development agencies;

(k) Reiterates the right of all persons to return to their country, and emphasizes in this regard the prime responsibility of countries of origin for establishing conditions which allow voluntary repatriation of refugees in safety and with dignity and, in recognition of the obligation of all States to accept the return of their nationals, calls on all States to facilitate the return of their nationals who are not refugees;

(l) Emphasizes in this context the need to address problems pertaining to the return of persons not in need of international protection, and encourages UNHCR to cooperate with other international organizations in looking into ways in which the return process can be facilitated, and to inform the Standing Committee;

(m) Calls upon the High Commissioner to continue to expand and strengthen the Office's activities with regard to the promotion and dissemination of refugee law and protection principles with the active support of States and through increased cooperation with non-governmental organizations, academic institutions and other relevant organizations; further calls upon the High Commissioner to explore ways to integrate its activities in the areas of documentation, research, publications and electronic dissemination;

(n) Recognizes the role refugee community education can play in national reconciliation and encourages UNHCR, in cooperation with other organizations, to strengthen its efforts in assisting host country Governments to ensure the access of refugees to education, including the introduction into such programmes of elements of education for peace and human rights;

(o) Calls on all States to manifest their international solidarity and burden-sharing with countries of asylum, in particular those with limited resources, both politically and in other tangible ways which reinforce their capacity to maintain generous asylum policies, through cooperation in conjunction with UNHCR to support the maintenance of agreed standards in respect of the rights of refugees; reiterates the critical importance of development and rehabilitation assistance in addressing some of the causes of refugee situations, as well as their solutions, including voluntary repatriation when deemed appropriate; and also in the context of development of prevention strategies;

(p) Reiterates the continued importance of resettlement as an instrument of protection and its use as a durable solution to refugee problems in specific circumstances; welcomes the initiative in commissioning an evaluation study and the UNHCR-sponsored consultation on resettlement; and encourages UNHCR to continue the process of dialogue with interested Governments and non-governmental organizations to strengthen its activities in this connection, and to provide regular reports to the Executive Committee;

(q) Reaffirms its Conclusion 48 (XXXVIII) on Military or Armed Attacks on Refugee Camps and Settlements and reiterates that, the grant of asylum or refuge being a peaceful and humanitarian act, refugee camps and settlements must maintain their exclusively civilian and humanitarian character, and all parties are obliged to abstain from any activity likely to undermine this; condemns all acts which pose a threat to the personal security of refugees and asylum-seekers, and also those which may endanger the safety and stability of States; calls on States of refuge to take all necessary measures to ensure that the civilian and humanitarian character of refugee camps and settlements is maintained and, in this regard, calls on all other States to assist them; and further calls on States of refuge to take effective measures to prevent the infiltration of armed elements, to provide effective physical protection to refugees and asylum-seekers, and to afford UNHCR and other appropriate organizations prompt and unhindered access to them.