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Latin America makes important advance for world's displaced

Briefing notes

Latin America makes important advance for world's displaced

12 November 2010

UNHCR has welcomed yesterday's adoption of the "Brasilia Declaration on the protection of refugees and stateless persons in the Americas" by 18 countries from the Americas, during an international meeting in Brazil´s capital. Our High Commissioner, Antonio Guterres, yesterday applauded the declaration, describing it as a model for other regions of the world to follow.

This is, in our view, a very significant show of political will in that by taking a unified approach to displacement issues it places Latin America at the forefront of efforts to improve the global protection framework for refugees, the internally displaced, and stateless people.

Three elements in the declaration merit particular attention:

  • The first is the unrestricted respect countries have agreed to for the principle of non-refoulement, including non-rejection at borders and non-penalization of illegal entry.
  • The second is the fact that the Declaration supports the continued incorporation of gender, age and diversity considerations into national laws on refugees and IDPs.
  • And thirdly, it encourages States to adopt mechanisms to address new situations of displacement not foreseen by the Refugee Convention.

In response to UNHCR's appeal on October 6th for increased international efforts to address the plight of the world's estimated 12 million stateless people, government officials at the Brasilia meeting also pledged to accede to the two Statelessness Conventions.

The countries that adopted the Brasilia Declaration are Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela. The United States and Canada participated as observers in the Brasilia international meeting.