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Note on International Protection

Executive Committee Meetings

Note on International Protection
No. 62 (XLI) - 1990

5 October 1990
Executive Committee 41st session. Contained in United Nations General Assembly Document No. 12A (A/45/12/Add.1). Conclusion endorsed by the Executive Committee of the High Commissioner's Programme upon the recommendation of the Sub-Committee of the Whole on International Protection of Refugees.

The Executive Committee,

Welcoming the significant progress made over the past forty years in resolving refugee situations in a number of regions and in guaranteeing protection and assistance to millions of refugees on the basis of accepted legal principles and a spirit of international solidarity and burden-sharing;

Taking into account, however, that despite these positive developments and international co-operation to resolve situations, the refugee and asylum problem in its entirety is bigger, more complex and as persistent as ever;

Convinced that those humanitarian and human rights principles at the base of international concern for, and protection of, refugees are as relevant today as they were in 1951;

Believing though, that the current size and characteristics of the refugee and asylum problem necessitate appropriate reassessment of international responses to the problem to date, with a view to developing comprehensive approaches to meet present realities;

Stressing that, to succeed, comprehensive approaches must in addition endeavour to respond to the concerns of all affected States including first asylum and receiving States;

Appreciating the comprehensive approach taken in the High Commissioner's Note on International Protection in presenting some considerations for developing refugee strategies;

a) Takes note of the High Commissioner's emphasis in the Note on International Protection on the following:

i) prevention and early warning of developing situations, and mediation as an effective method to contain problems;

ii) the possible human rights dimensions of refugee flows, which can also be a source of national and international instability;

iii) the difference between refugees and persons seeking to migrate for economic and related reasons, and the need for any refugee policy to respect fundamental distinctions between the two categories of people, and be fully consonant with the principles particular to, and essential for, the protection of refugees, including first asylum and non-refoulement;

iv) the fact that voluntary repatriation, local settlement or resettlement, that is, the traditional solutions for refugees, all remain viable and important responses to refugee situations, even while voluntary repatriation is the preeminent solution;

v) development of measures which would underpin and broaden the acceptance of the three traditional durable solutions;

vi) the need for countries of origin to assume a significant responsibility in the search for appropriate solutions, including through addressing root causes and facilitating voluntary repatriation and the return of their nationals who are not refugees;

vii) more detailed articulation of the concept of State responsibility, particularly as it relates to the responsibilities of the countries of origin;

viii) more active and effective utilization by States and UNHCR of United Nations and other qualified expert bodies as appropriate, including human rights bodies, in their relevant areas of competence;

ix) consideration of development aid as a complementary measure to address causes of, prevention of, and solutions to, refugee and refugee-like situations;

x) encouragement to regional bodies or groupings more actively to contribute to positive resolution of problems in their respective regions;

xi) development of measures by States to deal responsibly and effectively with rejected asylum-seekers;

xii) full integration of public information activities into strategies;

xiii) encouragement of full and open debate on new approaches;

xiv) consideration of the relationship between asylum problems and international migration.

b) Decided to refer these matters for reflection to the Executive Committee Working Group on Solutions and Protection.