Ministerial Meeting on the 1951 Refugee Convention
Around 75 Ministers are now coming to next week's Ministerial Meeting here. As always happens with big meetings like this, there are many last-minute changes concerning the exact composition of delegations, the speakers' list and the Agenda etc. Two ministers whom we thought were coming - that is the UK Home Secretary Mr. Blunkett, and the German Foreign Minister, Mr. Fischer, we understand are now unable to attend.
Although the final agenda is not yet available, the meeting will roughly speaking proceed as follows: on Wednesday, Dec. 12, the Plenary session will commence at 10:00 am with statements by Switzerland's Minister for Justice and Police, Mrs. Ruth Metzler-Arnold, who is chairing the meeting, followed by the President of the UN General Assembly, a video message from the UN Secretary-General, and statements by the High Commissioner for Refugees, the President of Latvia, Ms. Vaira Vike-Freiberga - a former refugee - and a current refugee, called Amina. The rest of Dec. 12 will then be taken up with statements from the chief delegates of some of the countries that have acceded to the 1951 Refugee Convention. At the end of the day, around 18:00 hours, the Secretary-General of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, Mr. Anders Johnsson, will launch a joint IPU/UNHCR Handbook on International Refugee Law.
On Day Two - that is Thursday, Dec. 13 - the plenary will continue with more statements. Three roundtables will also take place, one on strengthening the implementation of the 1951 Convention and its 1967 Protocol; one on how to protect refugees in mixed flows, chaired by Ms. Elinor Caplan, Canada's Minister for Citizenship and Immigration; and one on international cooperation to protect masses in flight, chaired by Mrs. Rosalinda V. Tirona, a senior Foreign Affairs official of the Philippines. It now looks as though the adoption of the Declaration and a press conference will take place some time between 15:00 and 16:00 on 13 December.