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General Conclusion on International Protection

Executive Committee Meetings

General Conclusion on International Protection
No. 95 (LIV) - 2003

10 October 2003
Executive Commitee 54th session. Contained in United Nations General Assembly document A/AC.96/987 and document no. 12A (A/58/12/Add.1)

The Executive Committee,


(a) Welcomes this year's Note on International Protection1 which focuses on the operational, legal and policy, as well as promotional tools of protection; notes with concern the manifold protection problems and challenges identified by the Note, while appreciating the range of field initiatives undertaken by UNHCR, in cooperation with States, to operationalize protection;

(b) Recognizes that international protection is both a legal concept and at the same time very much an action - oriented function, directly benefiting millions of refugees and others of concern to UNHCR.

(c) Notes in this context that the delivery of international protection is a staff - intensive service at the core of UNHCR's mandate which requires the Agency to have adequate protection staff with the appropriate expertise;

(d) Welcomes the accession of Ukraine and Timor-Leste to the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, and its 1967 Protocol, bringing the number of States party to either one or both instruments to one hundred and forty - five; and in view of the global character of the refugee problem, urges States which are not yet parties to consider acceding; and stresses the importance of their full implementation by States;

(e) Appreciates that the design of realistic protection policy directions for the future rests on the indispensable base of the 1951 Convention and its 1967 Protocol as well as additional initiatives, such as the Agenda for Protection and arrangements which may develop through "Convention Plus";

(f) Recognizes the importance for States to promote an age and gender - sensitive approach in the application of international refugee instruments and for UNHCR to ensure consideration of age and gender in its policy making and operations through further mainstreaming;

(g) Recognizes that countries of asylum often carry a heavy burden, in particular, developing countries, countries in transition and countries with limited resources which host large numbers of refugees and asylum - seekers, especially those who have hosted refugees for a long period of time; reiterates in this regard its strong commitment to international solidarity, burden and responsibility sharing; and reaffirms UNHCR's catalytic role in assisting and supporting countries receiving refugees, particularly developing countries, and in mobilizing assistance from the international community to address the impact of large - scale refugee populations;

(h) Stresses the value of strengthening protection capacities in host countries as well as of initiatives enhancing the ability of refugee communities to become self - reliant, where appropriate with adequate support from the international community for the host country and the refugees living there;

(i) Reiterates the crucial importance of achieving durable solutions for refugees and urges States and UNHCR to continue their efforts in this regard to promote and facilitate, in conditions of safety and dignity, voluntary repatriation as the preferred solution, in addition to working proactively on local integration and resettlement opportunities where appropriate and feasible;

(j) Notes the willingness of UNHCR, with the support and assistance of the international community, to participate in regional efforts, where appropriate, to provide protection and to achieve durable solutions for refugees, by working closely with countries in the region and other partners;

(k) Acknowledges the multifaceted linkages between refugee issues and human rights and recalls that the refugee experience, in all its stages, is affected by the degree of respect by States for human rights and fundamental freedoms;

(l) Notes the complementary nature of international refugee and human rights law as well as the possible role of the United Nations human rights mechanisms in this area and therefore encourages States, as appropriate, to address the situation of the forcibly displaced in their reports to the United Nations Treaty Monitoring Bodies, and suggests that these bodies may, in turn, wish to reflect, within their mandates, on the human rights dimensions of forced displacement;

(m) Encourages UNHCR and States jointly to examine how to enhance discussion on protection issues and challenges primarily within the Standing Committee framework, as well as in relevant regional fora, as appropriate;

Agenda for Protection

(n) Recalls its Conclusion No. 92 (LIII) endorsing the Agenda for Protection as a statement of goals and objectives as well as an important inventory of recommended actions to reinforce the international refugee protection regime, guiding action by States and UNHCR, together with other United Nations organizations, and other inter - governmental as well as non - governmental organizations; and welcomes in this context the updates2 provided by UNHCR and by some States on implementation of the Agenda for Protection and UNHCR's follow - up actions to date;

(o) Notes that the Agenda for Protection is a shared undertaking and in this context encourages States, other organizations as appropriate and NGOs to provide timely information on their own follow - up activities, to enable UNHCR to comply with the Executive Committee's request to be kept informed, through its Standing Committee, of the progress achieved and initiatives taken to implement the Agenda for Protection;

(p) Welcomes the High Commissioner's "Convention Plus" initiative and encourages the High Commissioner and those States which have offered to facilitate "Convention Plus" agreements to strengthen the international protection regime through the development of comprehensive approaches to resolving refugee situations, including improving international burden and responsibility sharing and realizing durable solutions; and calls on UNHCR to report regularly to the Executive Committee on "Convention Plus" developments;

(q) Welcomes the report of the Working Group on Resettlement3, particularly its important reflections on how this durable solution can be enhanced and used more strategically, including as part of comprehensive durable solutions arrangements and reaffirms the vital role of international resettlement in providing orderly, well targeted durable solutions;

(r) Looks forward to the review by UNHCR of protracted refugee situations which will enable States and UNHCR to identify and further analyze situations which might benefit from a comprehensive plan of action;4

(s) Acknowledges the importance of early and effective registration systems and censuses as a tool of protection and as a means to enable the quantification and assessment of needs for the provision and distribution of humanitarian assistance and to implement appropriate durable solutions;


(t) Recalls its Conclusion No 78 (XLVI) on the Prevention and Reduction of Statelessness and the Protection of Stateless Persons and notes the global dimension of the problem of statelessness;

(u) Notes UNHCR's work on the survey on statelessness undertaken pursuant to the Agenda for Protection and looks forward to reviewing the recommendations resulting from this survey which will be made available to States in the hope that follow - up measures aimed at reducing statelessness and protecting stateless persons will be taken;

(v) Encourages States to co-operate with UNHCR on methods to resolve cases of statelessness and to consider the possibility of providing resettlement places where a stateless person's situation cannot be resolved in the present host country or other country of former habitual residence, and remains precarious;

(w) Encourages UNHCR's efforts to promote all State activities that reduce or resolve statelessness and to promote further accessions to the 1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons and the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness, as effective tools for the prevention of statelessness, which may lead to the reduction of refugee flows and the implementation of durable solutions, and reiterates its encouragement for States to consider accession to these instruments, where appropriate;

(x) Encourages UNHCR to provide to the Standing Committee an outline of nationality issues impacting women and children that increase their vulnerability to statelessness, such as problems faced in the registration of births, marriages and nationality status;

(y) Calls on UNHCR to continue to provide technical and advisory services concerning statelessness to all interested States and partners.

1 A/AC.96/975

2 EC/53/SC/CRP.10

3 EC/53/SC/CRP.10/Add.1

4 Agenda for Protection, Goal 5, Objective 1, Action 1.