Implementation of the 1951 Convention and the 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees - Progress Report
1. The Executive Committee of the High Commissioner's Programme has recognized on a number of occasions that the 1951 Convention and the 1967 Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees constitute the cornerstone of the international protection of refugees. In particular, at its thirty-seventh session in 1986, the Executive Committee adopted two important conclusions (nos. 42 and 43 (XXXVII)) dealing with accession to and application of the two instruments. In paragraph 3 of Conclusion 43, the Committee stressed the "utmost importance" of effective application of the two instruments.
2. The Executive Committee undertook a preliminary examination of the question of implementation of the 1951 Convention and the 1967 Protocol at its fortieth session in 1989, on the basis of a background note (document EC/SCP/54) submitted by the High Commissioner to the Sub-Committee of the Whole on International Protection, which contained a general survey of the types of problems which impede full and effective implementation of the Convention and Protocol in the territory of States Parties. That note also asked for information from States on methods of implementation adopted in their countries, successes achieved and obstacles encountered. As a result of its examination, the Executive Committee endorsed the draft conclusion of its Sub-Committee which:
"Requested the High Commissioner to prepare a more detailed report on implementation of the 1951 Convention and the 1967 Protocol for consideration by this Sub-Committee in connection with activities to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Convention and called on States Parties to facilitate this task, including through the timely provision to the High Commissioner, when requested, of detailed information on implementation of the Convention and/or Protocol in their respective countries." (paragraph 24(d) of document A/AC.96/737)
3. Pursuant to this Conclusion, Articles 35 and 36 of the 1951 Convention1 and Articles II and III of the 1967 Protocol2 a questionnaire on implementation of the instruments in question was developed by UNHCR and circulated to States Parties in late April of this year. The questionnaire contained two sets of questions grouped as follows:
PART 1 Information of a general nature.
PART 2 Information in relation to selected articles of the Convention, grouped into (A), those dealing with general rights and obligations and (B), those relating to socioeconomic, administrative and juridical rights and obligations.
Governments were requested to complete and return Part I and Section A of Part II by 20 July 1990 and Section B of Part II by 30 January 1991. As at the time of preparing this Note, insufficient replies from governments had been received for any preliminary analysis of information on implementation.
4. In the above-mentioned note (document EC/SCP/54) it was pointed out that the information being sought by UNHCR was required as the basis for dialogue on how States and UNHCR, individually and jointly, might facilitate and improve implementation of the Convention and Protocol on a global basis. It was intended that this dialogue should take place within the framework of the preparations for the 40th anniversary of the 1951 Convention in 1991. On the basis of material to be received from governments in response to the questionnaire, UNHCR will accordingly submit a more comprehensive paper on implementation to the forty-second session of the Executive Committee in 1991.
1 Article 35 of the Convention stipulates as follows:
"1. The Contracting States undertake to co-operate with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, or any other agency of the United Nations which may succeed it, in the exercise of its functions, and shall in particular facilitate its duty of supervising the application of the provisions of this Convention.
2. In order to enable the Office of the High Commissioner or any other agency of the United Nations which may succeed it, to make reports to the competent organs of the United Nations, the Contracting States undertake to provide them in the appropriate form with information and statistical data requested concerning:
a) the condition of refugees,
b) the implementation of this Convention, and
c) laws, regulations and decrees which are, or may hereafter be, in force relating to refugees."
Article 36 of the Convention stipulates as follows:
"The Contracting States shall communicate to the Secretary-General of the United Nations the laws and regulations which they may adopt to ensure the application of this Convention."
2 Articles II and III of the Protocol are essentially in the same terms as Articles 35 and 36 above.