Addendum to the Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
United Nations General Assembly Official Records: Twenty-third Session
Addendum to the Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
Supplement No.11A (A/7211/Add.1)
REPORT ON THE NINETEENTH SESSION OF THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE OF THE HIGH COMMISSIONER'S PROGRAMME1
(Geneva, 21 to 30 October 1968)
1. The Executive Committee of the High Commissioner's Programme held its nineteenth session from 21 October to 30 October 1968 at the Palais des Nations, Geneva.
Tributes to the memory of Mr. Elmer Falk and Mr. Leopold Boissier
2. At the beginning of session, the Committee paid a solemn tribute to the memory of Mr. Elmer Falk, of the Department of State of the United States of America, who had represented his country on the Executive Committee of the High Commissioner's Programme for many years and who died in August 1968.
3. The Committee also paid a solemn tribute to the memory of Mr. Leopold Boissier, former President of the International Committee of the Red Cross, who died after.
4. Under rule 10 of the rules of procedure, which provides that the officers shall be elected for the whole year, the Committee elected the following officers by acclamation:
|Chairman||H. E. Mr. E. A. Westerlind (Sweden)|
|Vice-Chairman||H. E. Dr. A. R. Ratsimamanga (Madagascar)|
|Rapporteur||Mr. D. L. MacWilliam (Canada)|
Representation on the Committee
5. All the members of Committee were represented at the session as follows:
|Belgium||Israel||United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland|
|China (Republic of)||Madagascar||United Republic of Tanzania|
|Federal Republic of||Norway||United States of America|
6. The Governments of Argentina, Burundi, the Central African Republic, the Congo (Democratic Republic of), Cuba, Finland, New Zealand, Paraguay, Senegal, Spain, the Sudan and Zambia were represented by an observer as was the Sovereign order of Malta.
7. The United Nations, the International Labour Office (ILO), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the World Food Programme (WFP), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the Council of Europe, the Commission of European Communities (EEC), the Intergovernmental Committee for European Migration and the Organization of African Unity (OAU) were also represented.
Introductory remarks by the Chairman
8. On behalf of the Committee, the Chairman paid a warm tribute to the outgoing Chairman, H. E. Mr. B. C. Hill and welcomed member Governments of the Committee, in particular, Uganda, which was taking its place as a full member of the Committee for the first time. He also welcomed observers of other Governments and representatives of United Nations organizations, other intergovernmental organizations and non-governmental organizations.
9. Referring to the tasks before the Committee, the Chairman said that many important developments had taken place since the Committee's last session in October 1967, in particular, in the fields of material assistance to refugees, interagency co-operation and international protection, and he stressed that new problems were facing UNHCR.
Adoption of the agenda - Decision of the Committee
10. The Executive Committee decided to adopt the following agenda:
(1) Election of Officers
(2) Adoption of Agenda
(3) Statement by the High Commissioner (A/AC.96/392)
(4) International protection (including in particular asylum, protection in Africa and naturalization) (A/AC.96/398)
(5) Resettlement of refugees (A/AC.96/395)
(6) Interagency co-operation (A/AC.96/402)
(7) Report on education for refugees (A/AC.96/394)
(8) UNHCR material assistance programmes
(a) Report on UNHCR current operations in 1967 (A/AC.96/390, A/AC.96/INF. 81, 83, 84, 85 and 85/Add.1, 86, 87, 88 and 89)
(b) UNHCR Programme for 1969 (A/AC.96/396)
(9) Financial statements for 1967
(a) Financial statements and report of the Board of Auditors (A/AC.96/391 and 397)
(b) Report on investments for the year ended 31 December 1967 (A/AC.96/3 93)
(10) Status of contributions and over-all financial situation for 1968 and 1969 (A/AC.96/400 and 401)
(11) Administrative expenditure for 1969 (A/AC.96/399)
(12) Any other questions
(13) Consideration of the draft report.
II. GENERAL QUESTIONS
Statement by the High Commissioner (agenda item 3)
11. In the statement made by the High Commissioner (see annex I), he evoked certain recent events which carried the seeds of new major potential refugee problems and explained the extent to which his Office had been called upon to provide assistance for the refugees concerned.
12. With regard to developments in the field of international protection, he recalled the considerable number of accessions (twenty-four) to the 1967 Protocol to the Convention of 20 July 1951 relating to the Status of Refugees and referred to the interest shown by African States, many of whom had become parties to both the 1951 Convention and the 1967 Protocol. He further stressed the need for the provisions of legal instruments of interest to refugees to be incorporated in national legislation. The High Commissioner also pointed out that protection and also material assistance must be viewed essentially from the point of view of promotion of permanent solution. Whenever voluntary repatriation could not provide the solution, naturalization was the normal culmination of the integration process, both in the interest of the host countries and of refugees themselves.
13. The High Commissioner also mentioned the considerable progress achieved in the local settlement of refugees in agriculture in Africa where less than 10 per cent of the refugee population were still receiving food rations. He stressed, however, that new problems had emerged on that continent which would call for increased assistance on the part of UNHCR. The consolidation of the settlement of refugees in developing areas was being facilitated through the growing co-operation that had developed between his own Office and other United Nations organizations. It was particularly gratifying that, upon the completion of UNHCR programmes in developing areas, refugees should be included in zonal development programmes put into effect by other members of the United Nations system.
14. Referring to the assistance programme for 1969, the High commissioner gave an account of the new problems which had emerged in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, India, the Sudan, Uganda, the United Republic of Tanzania and Zambia. He drew attention in this connexion to the criteria governing UNHCR intervention, that is, the extent and urgency of problems and the ability of countries of reception to deal with them without external aid. It was obvious that the level of international assistance provided for refugees in certain European countries with a high level of economic prosperity as compared with other nations had to be reduced. While a recent new problem in these countries had reactivated the general problem of European refugees in Europe, the assistance provided by the local authorities and the voluntary agencies, and the acceptance of new refugees by immigration countries made it possible at this juncture for the problem to be kept in check. The Office of the High Commissioner, however, would keep a close watch on this problem as well as on any residual problems with which some of the countries concerned might still be faced.
15. With regard to African refugees, the High Commissioner emphasized that in view of its limited means, his Office had to concentrate on the most sensitive points of the problem; in these areas, however, its efforts had to be sufficient in order to ensure the successful and complete integration of the refugees concerned. Assistance in the field of education and training was a very important aspect of the integration of refugees. The objective of his Office was that refugees should be included in existing national education systems and that a concerted effort to this effect should be made by the Governments and organizations concerned.
16. Referring to the financing of the UNHCR Programme, the High Commissioner stated that governmental participation had increased in comparison with previous years. Further efforts, however, were required. The inclusion of a special provision for contingencies would also be necessary and the High Commissioner hoped that increased administrative needs not included in the initial 1969 estimates would be taken into account when this provision was considered by the General Assembly.
17. In conclusion, the High Commissioner stressed that the successful accomplishment of the task of his Office depended largely on the readiness of Governments to continue to support UNHCR's action.
18. Members of the Committee paid a tribute to the High Commissioner for his presentation and for the considerable progress achieved by his Office during the period under review. They endorsed the policy underlying the work of UNHCR and expressed appreciation for its non-political and humanitarian character.
19. Several representatives expressed satisfaction at the manner in which Governments of members of the Executive Committee had been kept informed of the activities of UNHCR during the twelve months which had elapsed since the Committee's last session, and stressed the usefulness of informal meetings of Permanent Representatives of Governments of members of the Committee, such as the one which had been held in the spring of 1968. They stated their satisfaction that close relations were being maintained between the Office of the High Commissioner and the Governments concerned.
20. Most of the representatives expressed their concern about the new problems of refugees resulting from recent developments in Europe and Africa, which had been evoked by the High Commissioner in his opening statement and subsequently by the observers for the Council of Europe and International Council of Voluntary Agencies (ICVA). Some speakers expressed their Government's particular preoccupation with the protection of the refugees and uprooted populations. The representative of the Holy See emphasized the importance of giving the greatest care to the many children among them. He also expressed the hope that new refugees, victims of recent events in Africa, would not lose the benefit of international protection and assistance by the fact that a request for assistance to them had not been received by UNHCR.
21. Throughout the discussion, emphasis was placed on the importance of international protection, the basic function of UNHCR, and on the principles of asylum and non-refoulement, which are dealt with in detail in chapter III below. The representative of Yugoslavia said that in the view of his delegation, international protection should not be extended to refugees whose activities were directed against the Government of their country of origin or any other country. Referring to the universal principles of asylum and non-refoulement which had just been embodied in the United Nations Declaration on Territorial Asylum, the representative of China urged that, in accordance with article 33 of the 1951 Convention, Chinese refugees from the mainland should not in any manner whatsoever be expelled or returned to the frontiers of a territory where their life or freedom was threatened.
22. The Committee noted from statements made by the representatives of countries of first and second asylum in Europe that thousands of Czechoslovak citizens found themselves in these countries in August of this year, and that many more had since arrived, all of whom were being given facilities to prolong their sojourn if they so desired. The Committee noted in particular that the rate of applications for refugee status was growing. Members of the Committee paid tribute to the generosity with which the countries of asylum had welcomed new refugees which, in the case of Austria in particular, represented a considerable financial burden and a great demand in terms of accommodation and social services. Deep appreciation was also voiced for the resettlement facilities which had been generously offered by Switzerland, and other countries which had considerably simplified processing and admission procedures.
23. Concern was expressed that, as a result of recent developments, there had been an increased influx of refugees in Europe. This imposed an additional burden on the countries of asylum which had welcomed a number of these refugees on their territory. In the opinion of some delegation, this situation called for the increased attention of the High Commissioner's Office.
24. The representatives of some of these countries stated their awareness that a considerable part of the financial resources of UNHCR were required to deal with new problems of refugees outside Europe. They felt, nevertheless, that in the present circumstances the allocations for assistance to refugees in asylum countries in Europe should be maintained at an equitable level.
25. With regard to recent developments in Africa, the Committee was aware that the assistance of UNHCR could be extended only to refugees outside their country of origin and it noted with satisfaction that the Office was readily prepared to provide such assistance when requested to do so. Several representatives gave indications of the assistance they were providing the population which had been particularly affected by recent developments in Africa. The Committee also noted from a statement by the observer for the Council of Europe that its Consultative Assembly had recommended several measures to its members with a view to alleviating the plight of the populations concerned. The representative of Nigeria recalled the events which had resulted in the present situation in his country. He stressed that his Government had taken all necessary measures to provide civilian victims of the war with the necessary relief. Nigerian nationals outside the country would be welcomed back and their civil rights would be fully respected. He wondered therefore whether they could be regarded as refugees.
26. The importance of the problems of refugees in Africa, with the High Commissioner was dealing through his material assistance programme, was stressed by many speakers, who paid tribute to the important role which the Governments of receiving countries were playing in assisting these refugees. The Committee heard with interest statements made by the representative of Uganda and the observers for the Sudan and Zambia concerning certain aspects of the problems of refugees in those countries, summaries of which may be fund in the records of the 177th and 178th meetings. The Committee also noted from the statement made by the observer for the Organization of African Unity (OAU) that at their recent meeting, the Heads of State of States members of the OAU had reaffirmed their deep interest in the problems of African refugees and expressed their full support for the work of UNHCR. The Placement and Education Bureau, which had just been established within the OAU secretariat pursuant to a recommendation of Addis Ababa Conference on the Legal, Economic and Social Aspects of African Refugee Problems, had just started its operations and would be able to assist the increasing number of individual refugees, including an important proportion of white collar workers, to start a new life.
27. Referring in particular to the consolidation of the settlement of refugees, a number of representatives stated their satisfaction with the progress made in respect of interagency co-operation. Several representatives expressed their agreement with the present system whereby the work of assistance to refugees is carried out through the combined action of Governments, international organizations, and non-governmental organizations, both national and international, acting as operational partners of UNHCR.
28. Attention was also drawn to the needs of refugees in other areas, including in particular, Asia and Latin America.
29. With regard to the naturalization of refugees in their country of residence, several representatives stated that, as in the case of voluntary repatriation, this constituted the best solution, in principle, as long as no pressure was exerted on the refugees. The Committee further noted that agreements in respect of voluntary repatriation had been concluded between several countries which had welcome refugees in Africa, but that the number of refugees which had availed themselves of this possibility so far had been rather limited.
30. In the course of the general discussion or during the session, the representatives of Algeria, Burundi, Canada, Denmark, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Malta, the Sudan, Sweden, Sweden, Switzerland and Uganda made announcements in respect of their financial contributions, the details of which may be found in chapter VII. In announcing its contribution to the UNHCR material assistance programmes for 1960, 1970 and 1971, the representative for Sweden stressed that her Government had adopted a new procedure of forward pledging in order to facilitate advance planning of assistance programmes by the Office of the High Commissioner, and expressed the hope that this example would be followed by others. The representative of Norway expressed the hope that the totality of the financial target of UNHCR programmes would be met from governmental contributions so that contributions from non-governmental sources could be reserved for important complementary projects for refugees. Several other representatives stated that, while they were unable as yet to announce an increase in their Government's contribution, there were prospects of such increases being made in the future. Members of the Committee paid a warm tribute to the Governments of Denmark, Norway and Sweden for the exceptional increase in their financial participation.
31. With regard to educational assistance to refugees, the Committee heard proposals by the representatives of Denmark, Norway and Sweden, which are discussed in chapter V below.
32. The observer for the Organization of African Unity (OAU) recalled that his organization was drawing up a convention of the status of African refugees which could complement the provisions of the Convention of 28 July 1951, thus facilitating the task of international protection incumbent on UNHCR.
33. The Committee also heard a statement in which the observer for the Refugee Commission of the International Council of Voluntary Agencies (ICVA) gave an account of problems of particular concern to the voluntary agencies at present, the details of which may be found in the summary record of the 180th meeting. The Committee paid a tribute to the non-governmental organizations for the major contribution they were making to the work of assistance for refugees.
Decision of the Committee
34. The Executive Committee,
(a) Took note with appreciation of the general statement made by the High Commissioner and of the considerable progress achieved in respect of assistance to refugees within his competence;
(b) Further took note of the resolutions relating to refugees adopted by the General Assembly at its twenty-second session;
(c) Expressed its concern at the new problems of refugees which the High Commissioner is facing and which call for increased efforts on the part of his Office;
(d) Agreed on the course followed by the High Commissioner in dealing with those problems in accordance with the humanitarian and non-political character which is the basis for the work of his Office.
Interagency co-operation (agenda item 6)
35. The report on interagency co-operation submitted by the High Commissioner (A/AC.96/402) gave an account of developments in the field of interagency co-operation with regard to assistance to refugees, in particular in the fields of material assistance, human rights, untilization of human resources and education and training.2
36. The representative of the High Commissioner, introducing the report, recalled that the Office of the High Commissioner had entered the field of interagency co-operation largely upon the initiative of members of the Executive Committee. This co-operation was already proving very beneficial for the settlement of refugees, in particular in developing areas. Successful results had already been achieved in Burundi and there were good prospects of similar achievements in the Central African Republic, Uganda and possibly the United Republic of Tanzania. Whereas in its early stages, the main objective of co-ordination had been to avoid duplication and overlapping, it had today a more positive and far-reaching meaning, which was to strengthen the work of the United Nations system by enabling each agency to benefit from the activities of other agencies and thereby to achieve maximum results at a minimum cost.
37. He pointed out that the report before the Committee was largely devoted to co-operation in respect of assistance projects. There were, however, other aspects of co-operation which were equally important in fostering better understanding for the problems of refugees and a greater awareness of the positive contribution that refugees were able to make to the economic and social advancement of their country of asylum. Towards this end, UNHCR was participating in interagency activities on the question of the utilization of human resources which was playing an important role in preparations for the second Development Decade.
38. The representatives who spoke congratulated the High Commissioner on the rapid progress which had been achieved in the strengthening and intensification of his co-operation with other members of the United Nations system in accordance with General Assembly resolution 2197 (XXI) and the recommendation adopted by the Committee at its eighteenth session with regard to the inclusion of refugees in United Nations development programmes once UNHCR rural settlement programmes were completed. They trusted that in view of these encouraging initial results, the High Commissioner would pursue his efforts along the same lines.
39. Members of the Committee paid a warm tribute to other members of the United Nations system including the ILO, FAO, UNESCO, WHO, UNDP, UNICEF and WFP for their valuable contribution to the work of assistance to refugees. Some speakers expressed satisfaction at the fact that co-operation between UNHCR and other united Nations organizations extended to many fields including human rights, the development of human resources and other United Nations activities such as those of the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development. With regard to the particular question of settlement in rural areas, several representatives during the debate and in the course of the session recalled the relation between assistance to refugees in developing countries and technical aid to those countries. One of the aims of refugee settlement programmes in those countries was to enable the refugees to participate actively in the economic and social development of their new community. The United Nations Development Programme and the specialized agencies, as well as UNICEF and WFP, had a vital role to play in this respect.
40. The attention of the Committee was drawn to the different types of co-operation which had developed: co-operation at the planning stage whereby other members of the United Nations system had to be informed and consulted as soon as possible when the settlement of a new group of refugees was being planned; and co-operation at a later stage when UNHCR assistance programmes were about to be completed and refugees needed to be included in wider zonal development projects. Representatives reaffirmed the importance of the early inclusion of refugees in these projects. Such inclusion should prove beneficial to the integration of refugees and would, moreover, help to avoid the possibility of refugees being regarded by the local population as privileged group.
41. It was pointed out that there should be no break in continuity in material assistance to the refugees until such time as their integration was fully assured. Several representatives stated that in view of the limited means available to UNHCR, it was appropriate for the Office not to engage in long-term settlement programmes and they were grateful to the other members of the United Nations system for including refugees in zonal development projects when UNHCR programmes came to an end. In the course of the discussion, attention was drawn to the fact that it was for the host Governments to request appropriate priority for such projects.
42. The Committee welcomed the information concerning action by the United Nations organizations in the field of zonal settlement of refugees contained in the statement by the representative of Uganda (at the 181st meeting), by the observers for Burundi and the Central African Republic (at the 180th and 183rd meetings) and in the ILO report on zonal settlement in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (A/AC.96/INF.89).
43. The Committee heard statements in which the representatives of the ILO, WHO, UNDP and UNICEF (at the 181st meeting), of UNESCO (at the 182nd meeting) and of WFP (at the 183rd meeting), gave information on the participation of their organizations in the work of assistance to refugees, in which they outlined further plans in this respect including their proposed arrangements for closer liaison with UNHCR. These representatives stressed that their organization attached great importance to concerted action in the field of assistance to refugees so that the fullest utilization of resources at the disposal of members of the United Nations system could be achieved in the interest of the cause of refugees.
44. The representative of the International labour Office said that the joint zonal development programme for refugees in the Congo was now reaching its final stages. His organization fully recognized the need for the consolidation of refugee settlement. As the Committee was aware, the ILO was participating in the planning missions in Burundi and Uganda, and expected to take an active part in the implementation of the projects envisaged in those countries. He added that on the occasion of its fiftieth anniversary, the ILO would be launching a world survey of employment opportunities with a view to assisting Governments in the promotion of employment which should also benefit refugees.
45. The representative of WHO said that assistance to Governments on the question of health services was one of the essential tasks of WHO and it recognized that such services were particularly important in countries where refugees were being settled. The World Health Organization participated in the PAG mission to Uganda and hoped to take part in similar missions to other countries and to increase its co-operation with UNHCR.
46. The representative of UNDP said that his organization attached considerable importance to the development of projects for zonal development to include refugees, and hoped that other projects similar to those in Burundi and Uganda would materialize. The United Nations Development Programme was making every effort to strengthen its co-operation with other agencies including UNHCR.
47. The representative of UNICEF gave an account of the activities of her organization in various fields benefiting children. She said that the plight of refugee mothers and children was a matter of concern to the Board of UNICEF. A study was at present being undertaken by UNICEF for submission to the Board at its next session on joint activities with UNHCR which could be expanded provided the host Governments made a request for the projects concerned.
48. In reply to a suggestion made by a member of the Committee that the High Commissioner's Office might study the possibility of refugees being included in the wider framework of bilateral and multilateral aid projects for development outside the United Nations system, the High Commissioner said that he recognized the difficulties in this complex field. His Office would, however, give careful consideration to this possibility. He recalled that the inclusion of refugees in such projects would have to be subject to a request from the host Governments to that effect.
Decision of the Committee
49. The Executive Committee, having considered the report submitted by the High Commissioner on interagency co-operation (A/AC.96/402):
(a) Expressed satisfaction at the encouraging progress achieved in this field and particularly at the prospect that, upon completion of UNHCR programmes, refugees may be included in zonal development projects put into effect by other members of the United Nations system;
(b) Paid tribute to the Governments concerned and the other members of the United Nations system for their valuable co-operation;
(c) Recommended that the High Commissioner continue his efforts in the field of interagency co-operation;
(d) Further recommended that Governments of member States of the Executive Committee and other interested Governments instruct their representatives on the governing bodies of other members of the United Nations system to support the High Commissioner in his efforts to ensure that the needs of refugees be given a priority in the work programmes of these other agencies, with special reference to paragraphs (e) and (f) of the Committee's decision on education and training (see paragraph 109);
(e) Is confident that the contribution which refugees are able to make to the economic and social development of their country of reception will continue to be taken into account in the framework of United Nations activities for the development and utilization of human resources.
III. INTERNATIONAL PROTECTION (Agenda item 4)
50. The Committee considered the note on international protection submitted by the High Commissioner (A/AC.96/389), which gave information on a number of important development in the field of protection. These related in particular to asylum, accession to the 1951 Convention on the Status of Refugees and the 1967 Protocol, protection within the context of Human Rights Year and the promotion of naturalization.
51. Introducing the report, the representative of the High Commissioner referred to the continuing tendency towards the universal recognition of the principles embodied in the 1951 Convention and the 1967 Protocol. Since the report was issued, four additional States have acceded to the 1967 Protocol. These highly satisfactory developments were encouraged by the support of regional bodies, such as the Council of Europe, the Organization of African Unity and the Organization of American States, and resolutions voted within the framework of Human Rights year. An equally important aspect of the protection of refugees, however, was the implementation of the provisions of these instruments through national legislation and administrative practice. The High Commissioner stressed the importance of the legislation and practice of Governments being adjusted accordingly. As the Committee was aware, the High Commissioner was responsible for supervising the application of the 1951 Convention and the 1967 Protocol. With a view to discharging fully this responsibility, his Office had, after consultation with the ILO, drawn up a questionnaire for submission to Contracting States requesting information on the implementation of the most important provisions of these instruments
52. With regard to naturalization, the representative of the High Commissioner said that for certain groups of refugees who had spent many years in their country of asylum, in particular in Europe, the time had come to give serious consideration to completing their integration through acquisition of the nationality of their host country. UNHCR had approached Governments and voluntary agencies on this matter and hoped that naturalization of refugees would be further facilitated as was already the case in several countries.
53. Several representatives stressed that the importance of protection, which was the basic function of UNHCR and a permanent responsibility of the international community, had been further emphasized by recent development. Many delegations were pleased to note the rapid entry into force of, and numerous accessions to, the 1967 Protocol, the adoption by the General Assembly at its twenty-second session of a Declaration on Territorial Asylum, and the resolution adopted by the Teheran Conference on Human Rights, which called upon Governments to accede to international instruments concerning the protection of refugees and affirmed the importance of the observance of the principle of non-refoulement.
54. During the discussion as well as in the course of the session, several representatives indicated their Government's intention to accede to the 1967 Protocol as soon as parliamentary and administrative procedures permitted. Some representatives indicated that their Governments were already applying the principles of the Protocol, pending their accession.
55. The Committee noted with interest statements by the representatives of Australia, Canada, Norway and the United States of America and by the observers for the Central African Republic and Senegal concerning the positive measures envisaged or already taken to improve the status and situation of refugees in those countries, through accession to international legal instruments, the waiving of reservations to such instruments and the adoption of internal legal and administrative regulations. Similar measures were mentioned by a representative of the High Commissioner who gave an account of his recent mission to Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Senegal and Togo. Details of this account and of the above measures may be found in the summary records of the 177th and 178th meetings.
56. Several delegations expressed their agreement with the plan envisaged by the High Commissioner for follow-up measures on the implementation of the provisions of the 1951 Convention and 1967 Protocol.
57. With regard to the fundamental problem of asylum, the representative of Switzerland drew attention to the difficulties that might result from the establishment, as an international legal obligation, of a subjective right to asylum. His delegation and that of Belgium expressed themselves in favour of a most liberal interpretation of the term "refugee", in particular with regard to the granting of asylum. The representative of UNHCR recalled that in his report to the General Assembly at its twenty-third session, the High Commissioner had expressed the hope that countries which had not already done so would bring their legislation into line with the principles of the United Nations Declaration on Territorial Asylum. The principles of the Declaration had already found expression in several regional legal instruments and the right of asylum had been embodied in the constitution or legislation of a considerable number of countries. It was also encouraging to note that the definition of "refugee" as contained in the 1951 Convention and the 1967 Protocol was being increasingly adopted as the criterion for the granting of asylum.
58. The Committee noted from a statement by the representative of Norway that, pursuant to a resolution recently adopted by the international Labour Office, his Government would extend the benefits of the Hague Agreement on Refugee Seamen to those refugee seamen covered by the 1967 Protocol. The representative of the Netherlands recalled in this connexion that, under article 5 of The Hague Agreement, the benefits of the Agreement could be extended to further categories of refugee seamen. As depositary of The Hague Agreement, the Government of the Netherlands was prepared to initiate steps with a view to extending the scope of the Agreement to refugees covered by the 1967 Protocol and would keep the Office of the High Commissioner informed of developments. This proposal was warmly welcomed by the Committee.
59. With regard to the determination of eligibility for refugee status, the representative of Italy suggested that the harmonization of existing criteria might usefully be studied, particularly in so far as it had a bearing on the movement of refugees from one country to another for employment.
60. The Committee recognized the increasing importance which international protection was assuming in various countries in Africa where the legal infrastructure was now rapidly developing. Several representatives expressed appreciation for the sympathetic understanding shown by the Governments of these countries for the legal problems of refugees. These was general agreement on the need for UNHCR activities in the field of protection to be intensified in areas where new problems of refugees had arisen. Several speakers expressed the view that it was essential at the same time not to weaken staffing arrangements for the protection of refugees in Europe.
61. The High Commissioner's views on the question of naturalization of refugees found a favourable echo among most representatives. The Committee noted from statements by the representatives of France, Italy, Switzerland and the United Kingdom at its 177th and 178th meeting, and Greece, at its 183rd meeting, indications of the legal provisions in force, of recent improvements in their legislation and of the numbers of refugees who had become naturalized in those countries. Several speakers considered that naturalization was an important factor in the economic and social integration of refugees, in particular in the case of those who had been living in a country of residence for a long period of time. Several representatives reaffirmed their view that naturalization should be a spontaneous process. It was pointed out in this connexion that, while refugees should be given every opportunity to become assimilated to the local population, as was already the case in many instances, they should be allowed the possibility of leading their lives in their own familiar cultural background. The question arose as to whether it would be appropriate for naturalization to be encouraged in those countries where refugees had only recently arrived and who might at a later stage return to their home country. The Committee noted from statements by the representatives of several countries in Africa that the importance of naturalization in Africa would vary according to the country and group of refugees concerned, and that, furthermore, under the terms of the resolutions adopted by the Organization of African Unity, repatriation should constitute the primary solution to the problems of refugees, it being understood, however, as particularly emphasized by the High Commissioner, that such repatriation should be entirely voluntary.
Conclusions of the Committee
62. The Executive Committee,
(a) Recognizing that international protection constitutes the basic task of UNHCR,
(b) Considering that there should be no break of continuity in the protection activities of UNHCR in any area or in respect of any group of refugees within the competence of UNHCR;
(i) Noted with appreciation the positive measures taken in the field of protection since the Committee's eighteenth session, particularly through accessions to the 1967 Protocol and the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and the adoption of a Declaration on Territorial Asylum by the General Assembly;
(ii) Expressed the hope that every effort would continue to be made by Governments to apply the principles of asylum and non-refoulement;
(iii) Took note of the need for UNHCR activities in the field of protection to be intensified in areas where new problems of refugees have arisen, without, however, adversely affecting protection activities in other areas;
(iv) Supported the High Commissioner's efforts to promote naturalization, particularly in those areas where refugees have been residing in their country of residence for a long period of time, when voluntary repatriation proves inapplicable;
(v) also expressed its support for the High Commissioner's proposal to establish a plan to facilitate the follow-up of the implementation of the 1951 Convention and the 1967 Protocol;
(vi) Noted with interest that OAU is preparing a convention on African refugees with a view to complementing the provisions of the 1951 Convention and 1967 Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees, thus facilitating the High Commissioner's task of international protection
(vii) Noted with appreciation that the Government of the Netherlands will seek ways and means to extend the scope of The Hague Agreement relating to Refugee Seamen of 23 November 1957, so as to apply its provisions to refugees covered by the 1967 Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees.
IV. REPORTS ON UNHCR ACTIVITIES
Resettlement of refugees (agenda item 5)
63. The representative of the High Commissioner, introducing the report on the resettlement of refugees (A/AC.96/395), reported that the well-established mechanism for the resettlement of refugees continued to operate in an effective manner. This had been strikingly demonstrated in connexion with recent developments in Europe when special immigration and resettlement programmes were put into effect at short notice for the benefit of new asylum seekers. The representative also stressed that all but a few of the severely handicapped refugees had been successfully resettled through the active co-operation of the Governments which had generously accepted them.
64. Mr. Besterman, Deputy Director of the Intergovernmental Committee for European Migration (ICEM), made a statement, the details of which may be found in the summary record of the 197th meeting. He described the complex problems facing his organization in view of the fact that ICEM's movement figures for 1968 would be the highest in ten year. Recent developments in Europe had created a particularly serious problem for ICEM. By the end of 1968, the Committee would have moved some 4,500 new refugees and the numbers to be transported in 1960 were provisionally estimated at over 10,000. Furthermore, there was a continuous increase in the total number of refugees being transported by ICEM each year so that the financial figures had constantly to be revised. The increased demand for ICEM's services had resulted in such a serious financial situation that heavy deficits had to be expected in 1968 and 1969. All interested Governments and organizations had been approached and it was hoped that further contributions would enable ICEM to continue its activities for refugees at the required level. Mr. Besterman also outlined ICEM's services for national migrants including the processing of technicians for Latin America. In conclusion, he called for a close and continuing scrutiny of the situation of refugees in Europe, the alleviation of whose problems could be solved by the continuing co-operation of UNHCR, the United States Refugee Program, the voluntary agencies and interested Governments using the facilities of ICEM.
65. In the course of the discussion, members of the Committee emphasized the importance of resettlement as a solution to the problems of refugees and recognized the need to make increased provision for their movement to resettlement countries, taking present developments into account. The Committee heard statements in which the representatives of Australia, Canada, Switzerland, Turkey and the United States of America gave information of the functioning of the resettlement mechanism in their countries and on the measures taken in their respective countries with a view to the admission of refugees.
66. After outlining his country's record, the representative of Australia pointed out that the number of refugees arriving in his country was increasing and mentioned, in addition, that over 1,000 Czechoslovak migrants had been accepted and that admission would be granted to more of them. Tribute was paid to the immigration countries in Europe and overseas which were accepting considerable numbers of these refugees, as also indicated in the course of the general debate. The Australian Government would also be prepared to admit a number of Cubans who were at present in Spain. The representative of the United States had recalled at an earlier meeting that some 7,000 new European refugees were being assisted by the United States Refugee Program with the active support of the voluntary agencies.
67. The Committee also heard statements by the representatives of Italy and Yugoslavia (at the 178th and 179th meetings), on the emigration of refugees from these two countries. Support was expressed for further efforts to be made in order to facilitate the resettlement of Albanian refugees from Yugoslavia.
68. The Committee was also informed by the representative of Turkey of the arrangements made for the admission and integration of Turkmenian refugees admitted for resettlement in that country.
69. The Committee noted from the statement by the representative of Canada that the immigration policies of that country were under review and that a proposed interdepartmental advisory committee would made recommendations regarding the granting of refugee status. The Canadian authorities would discuss the establishment of future refugee immigration programmes with UNHCR.
70. Some representatives, referring to the financial problem facing ICEM, supported the plea of the Deputy Director of ICEM for further contributions to enable that organization to meet the important task with which it was confronted. They stressed the essential role played by ICEM in the established mechanism for resettlement in which Governments, UNHCR, USRP and the voluntary agencies co-operated.
71. With regard to the problems of the severely handicapped refugees in Europe, the Committee noted from a statement by the chief medical officer of ICEM that the problem still existed to a certain extent and continued to be dealt with through the proven method of the special resettlement dossiers. The Committee welcomed information that the Canadian Government, which had already accepted some of these cases, hoped to accept more in 1969.
72. The continuing nature of the caseload of handicapped refugees was emphasized by the representative of Switzerland, whose Government had approved a new programme for eighty handicapped cases without limitations in respect of timing or with regard to the nature of their handicap.
73. The chief medical officer of ICEM stressed that handicapped refugees, far from being a burden, could prove to be an asset to the country of acceptance and urged increasingly liberal immigration criteria.
74. With regard to resettlement in Africa, the Committee noted that there was an increasing problem of individual refugees including a certain proportion of white collar workers in such countries as the United Republic of Tanzania, for whom resettlement through migration would probably be the most suitable solution, unless they could be found a job in their present countries of residence. The newly established Bureau for the Placement and Education of Refugees would no doubt be able to contribute to the solution of this problem.
75. The observer for Cuba stated that in the view of his Government, Cubans in Spain and the United States of America should be regarded as Cuban citizens who had left Cuba voluntarily to take up residence in another country.
Decision of the Committee
76. The Executive Committee, having considered the report on the resettlement of refugees (A/AC.96/395):
(a) Emphasized the importance of resettlement in providing practical solutions to the problems of refugees and in alleviating the burden of countries of first asylum and thereby encouraging them to apply a liberal asylum policy;
(b) Recognized the need to make increased provision for the movement of refugees to resettlement countries, in view of the growing rate of applications for resettlement through migration in several countries and areas throughout the world;
(c) Expressed satisfaction that the difficult problem of severely handicapped refugees in Europe is on its way to being solved through the combined efforts of Governments, international organizations and voluntary agencies;
(d) Urged countries of immigration to continue to facilitate the admission of refugees, particularly through the liberalization of selection criteria.
Report on UNHCR current operations (agenda item 8 (a))
77. The Executive Committee considered together the report on UNHCR current operations in 1967 (A/AC.96/390), the summary of information on material assistance operations during the period 1 January to 30 June 1968 (A/AC.96/INF.88) and the progress report by the International Labour Office on the integration and zonal development projects in Kivu, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (A/AC.96/INF.89).
78. In introducing the item, the director of Operations said that, in 1967, over 214,300 refugees had been assisted at a cost to UNHCR of approximately $4,300,000, an average of $20 per refugee. In some countries, such as Burundi and Senegal, refugees had reached the stage of self-sufficiency. In others, projects had had to be amended because of changing circumstances. No major new problem had, however, arisen during 1967.
79. Referring to the cumulative figure of funds spent on assistance projects since the current programme started in 1963, the Director of Operations pointed out that considerable amounts of supporting contributions had been received from other sources within the countries of residence of the refugees and that some 35 per cent of the total cost of the projects had been borne by UNHCR. Upon the proposal of the High Commissioner, the Committee agreed that the report on current operations for 1968 would include the cumulative figures showing the position since the beginning of the Office in 1951 instead of since 1963.
80. The Director of Operations also gave an eye-witness account of various activities in establishing refugees in settlements in Africa, such as distribution of rations, digging of wells, building of roads and bridges and the construction of houses by refugees.
81. With regard to the Programme for 1968, the Director of Operations reported that projects had in general been implemented as planned, with the exception of the project for Sudanese refugees in the north-east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which had not been started owing to the situation in the resettlement area and the possibility that the refugees might return to their country. The High Commissioner proposed to reinstate the project under the 1969 programme. However, heavy calls on the reserve of the 1969 Programme had made it necessary for the Office, in accordance with established practice, to transfer the $350,000 allocation originally earmarked for the project in the Congo the various other projects.
82. The Committee heard a statement by the observer for the World Food Programme, who reported that his organization had committed over $6,000,000 for food intended for refugees in settlements in Africa. His organization was anxious that emergency food supplies should reach their destination as soon as possible and it was important therefore that a request to that effect be received at the earliest possible moment. In order to help refugees to become self-supporting as quickly as possible without, however, suffering any hardship, rations were withdrawn or reduced progressively in accordance with a selective approach varying from country to country and taking into account the need to maintain rations for vulnerable groups such as the aged, children or persons engaged in heavy physical work.
83. In expressing appreciation for WFP assistance to his country, the observer for the Sudan drew attention to the situation of Sudanese refugees who had returned to their homes from neighbouring countries. While his Government was making every effort to help these persons to settle, food aid from WFP was very necessary for them, the more so since the High Commissioner, under his Statute, was unable to assist them.
84. The representative of Uganda and the observer for the Central African Republic gave an account of developments in respect of the settlement of refugees in their respective countries, the details of which may be found in the summary records of the 183rd and 184th meetings. The committee noted in particular the increase of the total number of refugees in Uganda from nearly 163,000 to over 167,000 during the first six months of 1968, the progress achieved in the field of health and the prospect that, during the first half of 1969, the refugees in settlements would probably be self-supporting provided that the threat of a locust invasion did not materialize. It also noted with appreciation the considerable importance attached to the work of assistance to refugees by the highest authorities of the Central African Republic.
85. The Committee welcomed a statement by the representative of Greece in which he gave an account of recent progress in respect of the housing of refugees under the major aid programmes and noted with satisfaction the further plan of the Greek Government in this respect.
86. With regard to the work of assistance in Turkey, the representative of Turkey stated that his Government had taken numerous measures with a view to facilitating the integration of refugees; further assistance from UNHCR, however, should not be excluded.
Decision of the Committee
87. The Executive Committee,
(a) Took note with appreciation of the report on UNHCR current operations in 1967 (A/AC.96/390);
(b) Approved the expenditure incurred under the Emergency Fund during the period 1 January 1967 to 30 September 1968 as shown in A/AC.96/390, table VII and A/AC.96/INF. 88, tables I and IA.
V. EDUCATION FOR REFUGEES (Agenda item 7)
88. The Committee had before it the note submitted by the High Commissioner in respect of education for refugees (A/AC.96/394), and the attached report on Education and Training of Refugees in Africa prepared by Mr. Conrad Opper, consultant, seconded by UNESCO to the office of the High Commissioner.
89. The Committee also considered the recommendation put forward by the representatives of Denmark and Norway with a view to including post-primary education for refugees in Africa in the High Commissioner's annual material assistance programme, and a proposal by the representative of Sweden, supported by the representative of Norway, to the effect that the relevant financial and technical implications should be studied by the Office of the High Commissioner.
90. In introducing the documents, the representative of the High Commissioner recalled that under the terms of the 1951 Convention, refugees should receive the same treatment as nationals as far as primary education was concerned. The Executive Committee had accordingly authorized the High Commissioner to include primary education in his annual programme.
91. He said that with regard to post-primary education, which was essential in providing developing countries with the teachers, technicians and skilled workers required for their economic development, the Convention provided that refugees should receive treatment as favourable as possible and, in any event, not less favourable than that accorded aliens generally in the same circumstances. The reason for this distinction between primary and post-primary education was of a practical nature; the latter involved considerable investment expenditure and running costs which the countries of residence could not assume in respect of refugees without any counterpart contribution. The High Commissioner hoped that it would be possible for refugees to be admitted to secondary schools under the same conditions as nationals. To alleviate the resulting increased financial charges of the countries of residence in Africa, he felt that he should be in a position to make a matching contribution to the initial cost of investment for secondary schools which not necessarily be reserved only for refugees. The High Commissioner wondered whether this expenditure should be included in the High Commissioner's material assistance programme.
92. With regard to vocational training, refugees might be granted scholarships and vacancies in vocational training centres established or run under projects put into effect by other members of the United Nations system. Offers to this effect had already been received by the High Commissioner's Office. The importance of guiding young refugees towards the type of studies which would enable them to make a practical contribution to the economic development of their country of residence was fully realized and would be taken into account in the High Commissioner's further plans.
93. With regard to higher education, the High Commissioner's action would be confined to the provision of scholarships for particularly deserving cases.
94. Members of the Committee expressed their appreciation for the reports before them. Proposals in these reports such as those for a co-ordinated approach to vocational training, the establishment of a pool of African experts to be formed from African students who had not yet found appropriate employment opportunities, and the establishment of advisory committees were emphasized by some representative. The importance of literacy courses for adults was also emphasized. A number of representatives also stressed the importance of bringing to a satisfactory conclusion projects for educational assistance to refugees now under implementation.
95. In the course of the discussion, the Committee heard statements by the representatives of Madagascar, the United Republic of Tanzania and Uganda and by the observers for Senegal and Zambia on the attitude of their Governments to educational assistance, on the problems facing them in respect of their own nationals and on the measures being taken to promote education for refugees. The Committee noted that in most of these countries, as in most other developing countries in Africa, primary education was neither universal nor free, that education facilities in general were inadequate for nationals and that the authorities concerned were making every effort to provide educational facilities for refugees. The Committee was aware that educational needs for refugees varied considerably according to the demographic breakdown of the refugee population, their location, knowledge of the language of the country and the scope of education facilities available to nationals. Members of the Committee agreed that refugees should as far as possible benefit from educational assistance to the same extent as nationals. They recognized that educational assistance to refugees in developing areas was an important factor in helping them to become self-supporting and in promoting their economic and social integration. They also agreed that most of the countries concerned needed the active support of the international community if they were to provide adequate educational facilities for refugees, particularly at the post-primary level.
96. The question arose as to where the responsibility should lie for the implementation of post-primary education projects, and on the extent to which such projects, which were at present being financed under the Education Account, should be included in the UNHCR regular material assistance programme.
97. Th representatives of Denmark, Norway and Sweden, supported by the delegates and observers for several host countries and for OAU, emphasized that the host countries in Africa could not at this stage assume the financial burden involved in providing adequate educational facilities for refugees, particularly at the post-primary level. Several delegations considered that assistance from the international community to the host countries in this respect would be in keeping with the recommendations concerning the utilization of human resources contained in the Secretary-General's second report on this subject, and with the recommendation on educational assistance to refugees (No. X) adopted by the Conference on the Legal, Economic and Social Aspects of African Refugee Problems in Africa, held in October 1967. They further considered that the host countries were already making very considerable effort in welcoming refugees and facilitating their integration. A number of representatives and observers stressed that the Governments of Denmark, Norway and Sweden had considerably increased their financial contributions to the Education Account in order to enable the High Commissioner to increase educational assistance to refugees. Stronger support from the international community in respect of education assistance would enhance the High Commissioner's role of catalyst, and would no doubt also encourage further action by the host countries. Attention was drawn in this connexion to the contributions which could be made by the Bureau for the Placement and Education of Refugees, which had just been established within the OAU secretariat. The host countries in Africa had thus shown their concern for this important problem.
98. Several representatives were of the opinion that the inclusion of allocations for post-primary education in the UNHCR current programme would ensure that educational assistance was given the place it deserved in the frame of UNHCR activities.
99. Other representatives considered that post-primary education should not be included in the High Commissioner's regular material assistance programme and wished to make reservations in respect of paragraphs 29 and 30 of the High Commissioner's note, which provided for the possibility of including, in future regular yearly programmes of UNHCR, allocations to assist in the financing of one or two secondary schools where the need was most urgent. They felt that the countries of residence had a basic responsibility for educational activities in their territory, and that it would be inappropriate to include in the UNHCR annual material assistance programme projects which the Committee had only recently decided should be financed from a special account.
100. While paying tribute to the governments which had generously contributed to the Education Account, they feared that the inclusion of allocations towards projects for post-primary education such as those envisaged in paragraphs 29 and 30 of the High Commissioner's note, might endanger the implementation of projects designed to meet more immediate needs of refugees, for which the major part of UNHCR Programme funds were intended. They were particularly afraid that, taking into account the need not to interrupt educational assistance projects in course of implementation, the High Commissioner might have to commit himself to considerable recurring costs for an unknown period of time and they found it difficult to support such action in the absence of information on the resources that would be available for this purpose in the future.
101. Several representatives stressed that UNESCO and a number of specialized agencies and programmes of the United Nations were carrying out projects for assistance in the field of education; they felt that projects for post-primary educational assistance to refugees fell more properly within the sphere of competence of UNESCO and the other organizations concerned.
102. The Committee noted from a statement by the representative of the High Commissioner that both the Education Account and the current material assistance programme were financed from voluntary contributions. Furthermore, by undertaking the type of projects described in paragraphs 29 and 30 of the note, UNHCR would not be entering into long-term commitments for the secondary education of refugees, since the objective of these projects was that, once UNHCR had contributed to the initial investment, the Government would admit refugee children to secondary schools and ensure that they received the same educational facilities as the local population.
103. The question then arose as to whether UNHCR should be the organization mainly responsible for the promotion of educational assistance to refugees, or whether this responsibility should be left to the Government and other United Nations organizations concerned.
104. The representative of UNESCO made a statement in which he outlined the arrangements made for closer liaison between his organization and UNHCR with a view to the implementation of the High Commissioner's proposals in section III of document A/AC.96/394. He pointed out that UNESCO's role, as set out in a Memorandum of Understanding between UNESCO and UNHCR, was limited to technical co-operation in a number of specialized fields listed in paragraph 11 of document A/AC.96/394. He pointed out that there was a danger that the needs of refugees would be covered neither by specialized agencies' programmes nor by national Governments.
105. The representative of the Holy See stressed that the responsibilities of UNHCR in respect of assistance to refugees in the field of education were very different from those of UNESCO and other members of the United Nations system and that it might prove difficult for these organizations to assume the tasks of UNHCR in this particular field. In the opinion of the representative of the Holy See, the High Commissioner was confronted with all the problems facing refugees in view of their particular situation and it was in the light of this responsibility that the High Commissioner's activity in the field of education should be defined and encouraged.
106. The representative of the United States of America supported the view expressed by many speakers that education would enable refugees to become more rapidly self-supporting. He also agreed that the inclusion of allocations for post-primary education in the UNHCR current programme would not increase the mandatory assessment for governmental contributions to the United Nations budget. He feared, however, that such inclusion might have the effect of diminishing the amounts available from Governments for other urgent UNHCR projects.
107. He pointed out, on the other hand, that considerable resources should be available to other United Nations organizations, including UNESCO, the ILO and UNDP, for purpose of educational assistance. It was a matter for the Governing Boards of these other organizations, at the request of the host Government concerned, to raise the priority of educational assistance projects of benefit to refugees. The United States Government would be prepared to support to support action to that effect. It was the understanding of his delegation that the proposal in paragraph 30 of document A/AC.96/394 regarding the inclusion of secondary education in the programme was not intended to be put into effect in 1969. There would therefore be an opportunity in the coming year to undertake the action he had just outline. If this course proved unsuccessful, it would still be possible for the Committee to consider the inclusion of allocations for post-primary education in the UNHCR current programme.
108. In adopting the following decision, the Committee agreed that, as indicated in paragraph 109 (d), primary education would continue to be financed under the current programme, while post-primary education would be financed from the Education Account.
Decision of the Committee
109. The Executive Committee,
(a) Took note with satisfaction of the High Commissioner's note on education for refugees and expresses appreciation of the annexed report on education and training of refugees in Africa, submitted by the consultant seconded by UNESCO, Mr. Conrad Opper;
(b) Recognized that education for refugees, a fundamental human right, is the concern of the international community;
(c) Further recognized that the active support of the international community is essential in helping host countries to provide adequate educational facilities for refugees, particularly at post-primary level;
(d) Authorized the High Commissioner to provide educational assistance to refugees in 1969 in accordance with the general guidelines set forth in section III of document A/AC.96/394, it being understood that assistance at the primary level should continue, to the extent possible, to be incorporated in the regular programme of his Office;
(e) Requested the High Commissioner:
(i) To continue to emphasize the need for educational assistance to refugees in the framework of interagency co-operation; and
(ii) To bring to the attention of UNESCO and other members of the United Nations system the need for educational assistance to refugees to b e taken into account when drawing up their education and training programmes, particularly in developing countries, so that programmes may benefit both refugees and nationals;
(f) Requested Governments of member States of the Executive Committee and other interested Governments to support the action of the High Commissioner in this respect;
(g) Requested the High Commissioner to report to the Committee, at its twentieth session, on the progress achieved in respect of educational assistance under the current programme and through the Refugee Education Account and to submit proposals to enable him to take the necessary action in this field in 1970;
(h) Decided to review the activities of UNHCR in respect of educational assistance in the light of the results obtained from the action envisaged above, in particular with regard to secondary education and vocational training.
VI. UNHCR PROGRAMME FOR 1969 (Agenda item 8 (b))
110. The Committee considered the UNHCR Programme for 1969 submitted to it by the High Commissioner (A/AC.96/396 and Add.1) in a total amount of $5,681,000 and covering allocations for assistance to refugees in more than forty countries throughout the world.
111. In introducing the item, the Director of Operations recalled that the financial target of the 1969 Programme was one million dollars higher than that for 1968, largely because of additional requirements in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Sudan, Uganda and India.
112. He explained that in the six months required to draw up the programme, the necessary exchanges of views had taken place with interested Governments and/or organizations to ensure that adequate supporting contributions were obtained as had been the case in 1967 when UNHCR's share in the total value of projects had been less than 40 per cent. The policy of the Office, he explained, was to act progressively until the refugees were really self-supporting and their integration was assured. In many areas in Africa, refugees were being settled in new rural communities with all that this entailed in terms of infrastructure, including roads, schools and clinics.
113. Projects for assistance to refugees in Africa accounted for nearly $3 million. A major increase was required in the allocation for the Democratic Republic of the Congo ($876,000) to provide for the settlement of the Sudanese in the north-eastern part of the country (as explained in the introduction to A/AC.96/390), for the settlement of the refugees from Zambia belonging to the Lumpa Sect for whom the Government of the Congo had requested assistance and for the largest group of refugees in Africa, the Angolans in the southern part of the Congo. With regard to the Angolans, a thorough study had revealed that the refugees concerned needed further assistance in their settlement on the land.
114. The second substantial allocation in Africa ($820.000) was to help resettle the refugees from Ethiopia in the Sudan, from Kassala to the Abu Sabeka area, as well as the Congolese refugees in the southern provinces of the Sudan.
115. There was also an increased allocation for assistance to refugees in Uganda ($523,000), where it was essential to provide primary school facilities in settlements where these were inadequate.
116. In India, a tremendous effort had already been made for the settlement of Tibetan refugees for whom a considerable amount had been allocated from the proceeds of the European Refugee Campaign. This amount, however, was intended to help the refugees settle in industry and on the land. The $300,000 allocation proposed in the UNHCR Programme was to assist the handicapped and the aged within this large group of refugees.
117. The Director of Operations further explained that the allocation for assistance to refugees in a number of countries in Europe had been reduced, not because of lack of interest on the part of UNHCR for the problems concerned, but because it was felt that economic conditions in those countries permitted such a reduction, without which the target for the 1969 Programme would have had to be increased by $300,000. The High Commissioner on the other hand would continue the work of protection and legal assistance in these countries and trusted that the Governments which had traditionally supported the work for refugees would appreciate the reasons for this policy.
118. Members of the Committee expressed appreciation for the detailed projects submitted to them and for the introductory statement which they had just heard. They welcomed the fact that, as pointed out at various times during the session, every effort was made by UNHCR to assist refugees in becoming self-supporting and that, whenever possible without detriment to the situation of the refugees, arrangements for assistance to them were transferred to the local authorities or other organizations. While some delegations regretted that it should be necessary to increase the financial target in 1969, there was agreement on the need for the increased allocations submitted to the Committee. Agreement was expressed with the High Commissioner's approach to his assistance programme as explained by the Director of Operations.
Assistance to refugees in Africa
119. The Committee noted from an exchange of views between the representative of Belgium and the representative of the High Commissioner that, in accordance with resolutions adopted by the Organization of African Unity, and with agreements concluded between a number of Governments in Africa, whenever refugees did not opt for voluntary repatriation, they should be settled at a reasonable distance from the borders of their home countries. The representative of the High Commissioner pointed out that the projects to which UNHCR was contributing were conceived so as not to cause of difficulties between States.
120. During the consideration of allocations for the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the observer for that country stressed that the Congo had received the largest number of refugees in Africa and was facing increasingly complex problems in achieving solutions for them.
121. The Committee heard from an exchange of views between the representative of Australia and the representative of the High Commissioner that the allocations for the Congo, including that for assistance to Sudanese in the Province orientale, was intended to be used in 1969.
122. In reply to a question, the Director of Operations confirmed that the Counselling Service set up in Dakar was establishing dossiers for individual refugees, some of whom were highly qualified, to enable the government services concerned to assist them in finding solutions to their problems.
123. The observer for the Sudan made a statement in which he informed the Committee of the areas of land his Government was making available for the settlement of refugees from Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and also of the expenditure it would incur in assisting these refugees. In addition, it was providing considerable aid to Sudanese refugees who returned to their homes from other countries.
124. The Committee noted from a statement by the Director of Operations that, in order to put the project for the Congolese refugees into effect before the end of the dry season, an amount of $50,000 would be made available through adjustments to be made in the 1968 Programme.
125. The Committee heard a statement in which the representative of Uganda gave details in respect of the various projects which were to be financed from the 1969 allocation, the details of which may be found in the summary record of the 185th meeting. The Committee also heard a statement by the representative of the United Republic of Tanzania concerning the influx of new refugees into that country and the possible need to find a new settlement area, for which additional assistance might be required from UNHCR.
126. The observer for Zambia explained his country's attitude to the problem of refugees. As it was difficult for Zambia to admit unlimited numbers of refugees, its present policy consisted in accepting those who came direct from their country of origin, which represented a rather large number. The others, whose number was smaller, could only remain in Zambia in transit, with the exception of those who, in view of their qualifications, would not be a burden on his country's limited resources. Meanwhile the refugees were expected to remain in settlements and were being encouraged to work on the land, on a communal basis. The Director of Operations explained that a mere care and maintenance programme only for refugees would be of no avail and that a permanent solution should be achieved. However, the problem of the Zambian Government was understood and the High Commissioner would have further discussions with the Zambian authorities on the most effective use to be made of the proposed allocation of $266,000 for the settlement of refugees in that country.
127. The Committee further noted that allocations for rural settlement of Angolan refugees in the Baritse Province in an amount of $200,000 would be cancelled and the allocation for the rural settlement of Angolan refugees at Mayukwayukwa would be increased to $23,000.
Assistance to refugees in Europe
128. The representative of Austria recalled that there was a considerable influx of new refugees in his country. Without the support of the international community, it would be difficult for Austria to meet its responsibility in dealing with this additional problem and he hoped that UNHCR would be able to adjust its programme to help Austria meet increasing needs in respect of local settlement. In response to a proposal by the Australian delegation that favourable consideration be given to an increase in the allocation for Austria, the Director of Operations explained that the Office of the High Commissioner had agreed that additional funds would be provided from resources available to help the Austrian authorities deal with the new problems it was facing. As far as 1969 was concerned, the High Commissioner had agreed with the Austrian delegation that the programme reserve could be used to meet any additional requirements that might arise.
129. In connexion with the allocations for refugees in Spain, the observer for Spain drew the attention of the Committee to the fact that the number of refugees in Spain was growing and might cause serious problems to the Spanish authorities.
Assistance to refugees in other areas
130. The representatives of Colombia and Venezuela made statements in which they expressed their appreciation for the fact that an allocation of $315,000 had been included in the 1969 Programme for assistance to refugees in various Latin American countries. They recalled that a considerable number of refugees had been welcomed to Latin America since the Second World War and their Governments would be glad to continue to give sympathetic support to the work of the High Commissioner. Appreciation was expressed for the efforts made to intensify UMICR action in Latin America.
131. The Committee noted from an exchange of views on the question of assistance to Tibetan refugees in India that the activities of UNHCR and the voluntary agencies had been closely co-ordinated. Tribute was paid in this connexion to the major contribution made by the voluntary agencies to the work of assistance to these refugees.
Promotion of resettlement
132. Several representatives expressed their satisfaction with the proposed allocations for the promotion of resettlement in 1960. The representative of Australia recalled that his country would be ready to continue to accept refugee immigrants as heretofore.
Decision of the Committee
133. After consideration and approval of all the proposed allocations and taking into account the amendments made to the allocations for Zambia, the Committee adopted the following decision.
134. The Executive Committee, having considered the UNHCR Programme for 1969 submitted by the High Commissioner in document A/AC.96/396,
(a) Approved the financial target of the UNHCR Programme for 1969 in an amount of $5,681,000 meet the requirements of the High Commissioner in the field of material assistance in 1969;
(b) Approved the specific allocations in a total amount of $5,681,000 as listed in the summary of proposed allocations under the UNHCR Programme for 1969, and amended in paragraph 127 above;
(c) Authorized the High Commissioner to adjust the allocations approved by transfers between projects or parts of projects subject to their being reported to the Committee in the report on current operations.
VII. ADMINISTRATIVE AND FINANCIAL QUESTIONS
Financial statements for 1967 and report on investments (agenda item 9)
135. The Committee considered the financial statements and report of the Board of Auditors (A/AC.96/391 and A/AC.96/397) and the report on investments for the year ended 31 December 1967 (A/AC.96/393).
136. The representative of the High Commissioner, introducing the documents, drew attention to the tables and charts included in the first part of A/AC.96/391, which illustrated the financial developments of the UNHCR material assistance programmes from 1963 to 1967. Chart 1 showed that the total UNHCR assets had decreased from more than $10 million in 1963 to some $7 million in 1965 and thereafter. Chart 2 showed the gradual reduction from 1963 to 1967 in the proportion of governmental participation in the financing of the programmes. This trend seemed to indicate a tendency to leave an increasing proportion of the programme to be financed from private sources while, at the same time, the private donors themselves insisted that the regular programme, which covered only essential needs, should be fully financed by governmental contributions. However, recent information indicated that governmental contributions might cover some 75 per cent of the 1969 Programme, which suggested a reversal of this tendency. Chart 3 showed that within the programme the share of projects in Africa and Asia had increased from 53 per cent in 1963 to 68 per cent in 1967. During the same period, the total expenditure in Africa and Asia increased from $2.4 million to nearly $4 million, as shown in chart 4. The last chart demonstrated the relative stability of total annual expenditures, including those relating to allocations from the Emergency Fund.
137. The report on investments for 1967 (A/AC.96/393) showed that in spite of as light reduction in the average of available funds and a considerable reduction in the average interest rate, the amount of interest earned in 1967 had been only slightly less than in 1968.
138. The representatives who spoke expressed their appreciation of the charts contained in part A of document A/AC.96/391, which would assist Governments in understanding the financial implications of the High Commissioner's Programme. In replying to a suggestion made by the representative of Australia, the representative of the High Commissioner said that consideration would be given to the possibility of including in future financial statistics information on the number of refugees assisted under the programmes.
139. During the debate, the representative of the High Commissioner replied to a number of questions, the details of which may be found in the summary record of the 186th meeting.
Decision of the Committee
140. The Executive Committee,
(a) Took note of the financial statistics for the period 1963-1967 and provisional accounts for the year 1967, of the report of the Board of Auditors (A/AC.96/391) and the report of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions submitted in respect of the financial year 1967 (A/AC.96/397);
(b) Further took note of the report on investments for the year ended 31 December 1967 (A/AC.96/393).
Status of contributions and over-all financial situation (agenda item 10)
141. The Committee considered the report on the status of contributions and the over-all financial situation for 1968 and 1969, as at 31 August 1968 (A/AC.96/400), and a note concerning the issue of a third UNHCR long-playing record (A/AC.96/401).
142. In introducing the item the representative of the High Commissioner said that the over-all position of the voluntary funds administered by UNHCR and the status of contributions had been included in one document in order to give an integrated picture of the financial situation. As indicated in table I of A/AC.96/400, it was expected that the 1968 Programme would be fully financed and that the Emergency Fund could be maintained at its ceiling of $500,000 by the income from repayments of loans. The document also contained a proposal to set a ceiling of $1,500,000 on the Funds Set Aside and to credit any income which would increase those funds beyond that ceiling to the annual programme, as foreseen in Rule 4.2 of the Financial Rules for Voluntary Funds. Should circumstances justify a change in the ceiling of the Funds Set Aside, the High Commissioner would bring the matter to the attention of the Executive Committee.
143. There was agreement with the suggestions made.
144. With regard to the status of contributions for 1968, the representative of the High Commissioner said that sixty-one Governments had now announced contributions the highest number since 1965. It was expected that more Governments would contribute before the end of the year. The total of governmental contributions now amounted to $3,433,066.
145. With regard to the 1969 Programme, a forecast of income and expenditures for 1969 was given in table V, following a request made at the last session of the Executive Committee. Since document A/AC.96/400 had been issued, announcements of increased contributions totalling some $250,000 had been made. An amount of $500,000 would, however, still be required to meet the 1969 target in spite of the generous increases in the contributions of Denmark, Norway and Sweden, since most of these increases had been earmarked for projects outside the Programme. The High Commissioner would therefore shortly be appealing to a large number of Governments to increase their contributions or to make special contributions to the 1969 Programme.
146. The representative of the High Commissioner, referring to document A/AC.96/401, said that the High Commissioner intended to issue a third long-playing record of popular music to be entitled "World Star Festival". As with earlier records, the High Commissioner had again received the full co-operation of the record industry and the generous support of a number of famous artists in the field of popular music. Referring to the important question of import duties and taxes, he suggested that the Executive Committee might wish to recommend that Governments respond sympathetically to the request which the High Commissioner would shortly be addressing to them to waive taxes and import duties on "World Star Festival" so that refugees might benefit to the maximum extent possible from the sale of the record. While it was not expected that the income from "World Star Festival" would be as great as for "All Star Festival", it was nevertheless hoped that the results would fully justify the desire of the artists and the record industry that a large number of refugees would ultimately benefit from their generosity.
147. As mentioned in chapter II above, announcements in respect of contributions in cash and kind or through services were made in the course of the session as follows:
The Government of Algeria decided to increase its contribution to the UNHCR Programme from $6,000 to $7,000 starting in 1968.
The representative for Belgium announced that subject to parliamentary approval, his Government would increase its contribution from $180,000 in 1968 to $200,000 in 1969.
The Government of Burundi would make a contribution of $1,000 to the High Commissioner's Programme, as from 1969
The Canadian Government intends to increase its contribution to the UNHCR Programme from 350,000 Canadian dollars (US$324,074) in 1968 to 400,000 Canadian dollars (approximately US$374,000) in 1969.
CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC
Would raise its contribution for 1968 to $1,800.
Subject to parliamentary approval the Government of Denmark intends to increase its contribution for 1969 from $125,333 to about $175,000. The Danish Government had also approved a contribution of $47,700 for the CAU Bureau for the Placement and Education of Refugees and a special contribution of $200,000 to the Education Account. The total Danish contribution to UNHCR programmes for refugees for 1969 would thus amount to $422,700.
Legislation was in the process of ratification for the purpose of raising the Italian Government's annual contribution from $3,000 to $20,000 as from 1969.
The Government of Malta intends to issue stamps with a surcharge in 1969. The profits on the sale of the stamps would be placed at the disposal of UNHCR.
Subject to parliamentary approval the Government of the Netherlands will increase its contribution to the UNHCR Programme, from $146,945 in 1968 to approximately $170,000 in 1969. (DFI,600,000)
Subject to parliamentary approval the government of Norway intend to increase its contribution by 25 per cent from $175,737 in 1968 to $22,000 in 1969. In addition a contribution of $30,000 would be made for the OAU Bureau for the Placement and Education of Refugees, an unearmarked contribution of $50,000 for the Education Account and an amount of $97,500 for educational assistance under the UNHCR Programme to refugees in Senegal. The total amount of the Norwegian contribution will thus reach approximately $400,000. Although budgetary procedures in Norway prevented the announcement of contributions more than a year in advance, the High Commissioner could count on its continuing support.
In addition to its regular contribution of $250,000 to the 1968 Programme, the Swedish Government had decided to make a special contribution of $50,000 to that Programme and another of $21,000 to the Education Account. The Swedish Government would in future adopt a new procedure, and would announce its contributions several years in advance. The representative thus announced a contribution of $625,000 for 1969, of which $300,000 would go towards the UNHCR Programme for that year and $25000 to the OAU Bureau for the Resettlement and Placement of Refugees. The remaining $300,000 was to be used by the High Commissioner at his discretion for assistance to refugees through projects either within or outside his Programme. In 1970, the Swedish Government planned to contribute a minimum amount of $700,000 of which $400,000 would go towards the Programme and for 1971 a minimum amount of $750,000 of which $450,000 would go towards the Programme. In these two cases the sum of $300,000 to be used at the High Commissioner's discretion would be subject to the annual approval of Parliament.
The Swiss contribution to the 1969 Programme would be increased from $152,778 in 1968 to approximately $162,000 in 1969, the equivalent of Sw.fr. 700,000.
The Government of the Sudan would make a contribution of 1000 Sudanese pounds (approximately $3,000), to the High Commissioner's Programme.
The Government of Uganda would make a contribution of $5,000 to the High Commissioner's Programme for 1969. The representative hoped that Uganda would be able to make regular annual contributions in future.
148. A warm tribute was paid to members of the Committee who had thus again shown their countries' attachment to the cause of refugees and the opinion was expressed that governmental participation in the financing of UNHCR programmes would increase still further.
149. The representative of Norway proposed that the Executive Committee should support the High Commissioner's suggestion that it adopt a recommendation to Governments to waive duties on the importation of the record "World Star Festival" and taxes on its sale.
150. The High Commissioner, in thanking Governments for their announcements of increased contributions, said that these would go a long way towards strengthening the position of the Office in 1969. While initiatives such as the launching of long-playing records had brought good results, they could in no way replace contributions by Governments, which provided stability and gave the moral and political support which was so essential to the work of international assistance for refugees.
Decision of the Committee
151. The Executive Committee took the following decisions:
Having considered the report on the status of contributions and the over-all financial situation for 1968 and 1969 as at 31 August 1968 (A/AC.96/400);
(1) Agreed that any income which would increase the amount of Funds Set Aside beyond $1,500,000 will be credited to the annual programme as foreseen in Financial Rule 4.2, it being understood that should the need arise in the future to raise the ceiling of $1,500,000 for the Funds Set Aside, the High Commissioner would bring this to the attention of the Committee;
(2) Took note of the fact that increased financial resources are required for the settlement of refugees, as reflected in the financial target of the UNHCR Programme for 1969;
(3) Urged Governments which regularly contribute to UNHCR programmes and which have not yet increased their contribution, to do so in respect of the 1969 and subsequent programmes, or to consider making a special contribution to the 1969 Programme;
(4) Expressed the hope that Governments which have not yet participated in the financing of UNHCR programmes will become regular contributors in order that the programme may be financed to the fullest extent possible from governmental contributions;
(5) Authorized the High Commissioner to use the Funds Set Aside as a guarantee of contributions pledged to the Refugee Education Account in the same manner as they are used as a guarantee of contributions pledged to the annual programme.
The Executive Committee,
(1) Having considered the note concerning the issue of a third UNHCR long-playing record (document A/AC.96 401) submitted by the High Commissioner;
(2) Noting that the waiver of taxes and import duties on the new record, or the remission of such impositions, by Governments will contribute considerably to the sale of this record and encourage others to match the generosity of the artists and the whole record industry;
(a) Recommended that all States Members of the United Nations and members of the specialized agencies give sympathetic consideration to the possibility of waiving duties on the proposed third long-playing record "World Star Festival "as well as taxes on its sales;
(b) Noted that, as from 1 January 1968, the proceeds from the sale of all records issued by UNHCR will be credited to the UNHCR Records Account;
(c) Authorized the High Commissioner to use the unallocated balances of the proceeds of the first two records to guarantee the cost of manufacture of the initial stock of "World Star Festival", it being understood that, once sales have begun, the funds will again be available for allocation for assistance to refugees as required;
(d) Requested the High Commissioner to convey to the artists, their record companies and the copyright holders, as well as his commercial partners, the Committee's deep appreciation for their ready and wholehearted co-operation.
Administrative expenditure for 1969 (agenda item 11)
152. The Committee considered the administrative budget estimates for UNHCR for 1969, which had been prepared for the General Assembly and submitted by the High Commissioner (A/AC.96/339). The document also contained the report of the United Nations Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) on the estimates.
153. The Deputy High Commissioner, introducing the item, said that the budget estimates were very tight, as had been those for 1968. They represented once again the efforts of the High Commissioner to comply with the views of the General Assembly on the administrative expenses of the United Nations, while at the same time permitting the High Commissioner to carry out his tasks effectively. The ACABQ had approved the first eight chapters of the estimates without change. They contained, however, a new chapter IX entitled "Contingencies", which had been included with a view to enabling the High Commissioner to meet the administrative cost involved in dealing with unforeseen refugee emergencies for which no provision was otherwise included in the estimates for administrative expenditures. The appropriation of a small amount for contingencies was in line with a suggestion contained in the second report of the Ad Hoc Committee of Experts to Examine the Finances of the United Nations and the Specialized Agencies. The Deputy High Commissioner pointed out that in spite of the expansion in the High Commissioner's work in the field, particularly in Africa, and its efforts in the field of interagency co-operation, there had been no staff increases in recent years and that other major items in the administrative budget had remained constant. The High Commissioner could go no further in holding down administrative costs and would be unable to deal adequately with any major new tasks that might arise in 1969 without additional resources to meet the administrative costs involved. Possibilities of transferring staff, in particular from countries in Europe, had already been fully exploited when the estimates were prepared and no further significant reductions could be foreseen, particularly in the light of recent developments in Europe. Members of the Committee had also recognized this fact when insisting at this session that the High Commissioner maintain an adequate standard of legal protection in Europe. However, the ACABQ had recommended the deletion of the contingency item in chapter IX of the estimates. The High Commissioner would abstain from contesting the decision of the ACABQ when the estimates were considered by the Fifth Committee. However, he had reserved the right to seek the concurrence of that committee under the provisions of the General Assembly resolution for unforeseen and extraordinary expenses, in making additional commitments in 1969 to meet new and unforeseen expenditures, and had been assured that the ACABQ would deal expeditiously with any requests he might be compelled to make. The High Commissioner had, furthermore, expressed the hope that the ACABQ would give further consideration in the future to the possible inclusion of a contingency provision in the UNHCR section of the United Nations budget estimates for subsequent years.
154. The representatives who spoke expressed their sympathy with the High Commissioner's proposal to include an appropriation for contingencies in the budget estimates. They recognized the dynamic nature of the problems of refugees and that unexpected expenditures might have to be incurred in the future. Several representatives said that their Governments supported the findings of the ACABQ with regard to contingency funds for bodies established by the General Assembly. The representative of Australia suggested that the ACABQ approach was probably based on the desirability of retaining central control over contingency appropriation. However, he recognized the special problem facing UNHCR. He agreed with other representatives that it would be advisable to await further development. It was agreed, however, that the High Commissioner should be able to seek additional funds if necessary.
155. The representative of Belgium said that the Belgian delegation to the General Assembly would support the High Commissioner's proposal for a contingency item in the future.
156. In reply to a question, the Deputy High Commissioner said that while it was not possible to generalize with regard to appropriations for contingencies, the need for such an appropriation was fully justified in the case of UNHCR. The budget estimates were very tight indeed and chapters I to VIII made provision for only those expenditures which could be foreseen. A contingency item was necessary to provide the required flexibility.
157. The Deputy High Commissioner replied to a number of questions put during the discussion, the details of which may be found in the summary record of the 186th meeting.
Decision of the Committee
158. The Executive Committee,
(a) Took note of the budget estimates for 1969 submitted by the High Commissioner in document A/AC.96/399;
(b) Endorsed the views of the High Commissioner as expressed in paragraph 4 of that document, that the nature of this task and the uncertainties involved therein make it necessary for a contingency provision to be available to his Office.
VIII. OTHER QUESTIONS (Agenda item 12)
Summary records of meeting of the Executive Committee
159. The representative of the United Kingdom drew the attention of the Committee to resolution 1379 (XLV) adopted by the Economic and Social Council at its forty fifth session, in which it recommended that its subsidiary bodies should consider the possibility of either abolishing or reducing the size of their summary records. Although the Executive committee was not a subsidiary body of the Council, the representative said that it might usefully consider this matter without, however, taking a decision of it at its present session.
160. In reply to a question in respect of the financial implications of publishing summary records, the Deputy High Commissioner said that the expenses did not form part of the under Administrative Budget, but were included in the relevant chapter of the United Nations budget.
161. As the Committee was aware, the Secretary-General had established a Committee of Experts on the review of the activities and organization of the Secretariat to study various problems facing the Organization. The Committee had prepared an elaborate series of recommendations on the subject of summary records and the report of the Committee would presumably be transmitted to the present session of the General Assembly for its consideration. He felt, therefore, that it would be advisable to postpone consideration of this item until the next session of the Committee, when the views of the General Assembly would be known.
Decision of the Committee
162. The Committee decided that it would consider the question of its summary records at its twentieth session on the basis of a note to be prepared by the Office of the High Commissioner on this subject.
ANNEX I OPENING STATEMENT BY THE HIGH COMMISSIONER AT THE NINETEENTH SESSION OF THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE OF THE HIGH COMMISSIONER'S PROGRAMME
Mr. Chairman, distinguished delegates and observers, ladies and gentlemen, before I tell you of the developments in the work of my Office, I should like to extend a warm expression of gratitude to our outgoing Chairman, Ambassador Hill, for the way in which he has conducted our meetings and for the advice which he has given to UNHCR during his term as Chairman of the Executive Committee. He always understood our work and always gave me and my colleagues the feeling that, as a representative of a country which does so much for refugees, he was always prepared to listen and to help. I would also like, Mr. Chairman, to extend the heartfelt and most sincere congratulations of my colleagues and myself on the occasion of your appointment. You have followed our meetings for so many years, representing a country which has a proud record of understanding of refugee problems and which confirmed its interest in the cause of refugees during my recent visit to Stockholm, where you did so much to promote a deep understanding for the problems we face. This nomination is indeed welcome, and I look forward to working with you and benefiting from your views and your advice.
I should also like to greet the new member of our Executive Committee, the Government of Uganda, a country which knows the refugee problem only too well. May I also welcome the observers from Argentina, Finland and Paraguay. Finland and Paraguay are here for the first time as observers; Argentina has been with us before. Finally, on a note of sadness, Mr. Chairman, I should like to associate myself with what Ambassador Hill said, and, on behalf of my colleagues and myself, express our sorrow and our sense of loss following the sad demise of our friend Elmer Falk. Elmer was a close friend of mine. He was someone who had followed refugee problems for so many years in the Department of State in Washington that we really felt he was one of our own. It is a great loss to all of us and to the Committee. I should like to extend, through the United States delegation, my sincere condolences and those of the entire staff of UNHCR, to his family and, indeed, to the Government of the United States for the Loss which we share.
A great many thing have occurred since our last meeting and I should not be doing my duty if I did not refer at the outset to two recent events, one in Africa and one in Europe, which shook the world's conscience, and which carried the seeds of new major potential refugee problems. I refer to the situations in Nigeria and in Czechoslovakia.
In Nigeria, UNHCR has not been competent, as you know, for the relief operations within the borders of that country. The victims of this tragic war have been referred to as refugees by the Press and by public opinion, but they are not refugees who come within the terms of reference of UNHCR. These uprooted peoples in Nigeria have been assisted, sometimes in very trying circumstances, by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), UNICEF and by a great many non-governmental organizations, which have been doing a splendid and extremely difficult job in trying to bring relief to the innocent victims of this tragic conflict. We have maintained the closest co-operation with ICRC here in Geneva. This has been greatly facilitated by the fact that the Commissioner General of the Red Cross in Nigeria is one of my distinguished predecessors, Ambassador Lindt. Further, the representative of the Secretary-General in Nigeria, Mr. Nils Gussing, is a UNHCR staff member, who was seconded at the request of the Secretary-General of the United Nations to carry out this mission. We know what the situation is inside the country, and, to a large extent, we have been able to foresee what problems might arise for UNHCR outside the country. Here UNHCR has been giving a great deal of attention to the problems of refugees, whose total number is approximately 2,500. They have sought asylum in countries which can be divided into two categories. First, there are the three main countries where there are groups of various sizes; there are 1,000 in Gabon, 700 in Dahomey and approximately 500 in Cameroon, for whom an assistance programme cannot be carried out by my Office without a prior governmental request. This has not yet been made, although we are being kept informed of the situation regarding these groups. Before UNHCR can actually implement any programme, which would probably be linked with a settlement scheme, a request from the Government has to be received. The second category are the other West African countries, such as Togo, Ghana, the Ivory Coast, Liberia and Sierra Leone, where we are dealing with individual cases, through UNDP, since we do not have Branch Offices in these countries, and through voluntary agencies. Here we have been assisting Governments in issuing travel documents, studying the needs of refugees who wish to be resettled, and granting scholarships, supplementary aid and care and maintenance.
The events in Czechoslovakia have given rise to a number of migratory movements which at the beginning were difficult to distinguish from the usual movement of tourists, and which have not yet resulted in a major refugee problem for my Office. The known figures are as follows:
Austria - 2,600 persons who have officially applied for asylum of whom 556 has already emigrated;
Federal Republic of Germany - 1,624 persons of whom 331 have already emigrated; and
Italy - 103 persons of whom 52 have already emigrated.
The refugees are generally accommodated in official centres. However, there are a considerable number of Czechoslovak citizens in these countries, mainly in Austria, where we are told there are approximately 10,000 and in the Federal Republic of Germany, where there are from 5,000 to 10,000. These people are living with relatives or friends, and they have not yet made up their minds about the future. Large groups of others have also received assistance from local authorities and from voluntary agencies. I wish to pay a particularly warm tribute, Mr. Chairman, to all the countries and private agencies, which have done everything within their power to accommodate these people and to facilitate their free movement and emigration to other countries. I would also express appreciation to those countries of immigration which have accepted them, particularly Australia, Canada and the United States of America, as well as Switzerland, where today 7,000 Czechoslovaks are residing, of whom 1,200 are refugees, and to your country, Sweden, Mr. Chairman, which has done so much and which has a selection mission in Austria at the moment to facilitate the movement of some of these Czechoslovak citizens to Sweden. One can say now, Mr. Chairman, that if this movement has not developed into a major refugee problem, it has, nevertheless, unfortunately reactivated to some extent the largely settled refugee problem in Europe.
In other areas of our activity, there has been no radical change in the scope of the problems confronting UNHCR. We felt therefore that there was no need to call a special session of the Executive Committee in the course of the year. We did, however, carry out an increased information effort by holding an unofficial meeting in the spring, which was attended by all the member Governments with permanent missions in Geneva, by issuing the quarterly bulletin, which has been very well received, and by attempting to meet the deadlines for the issuance of the Committee's documents. You will note, Mr. Chairman, that the Committee has before it an information document just issued, which gives an account of the latest developments in the field of material assistance.
Mr. Chairman, what has been the main progress in our work? I believe it is particularly significant in four fields: protection, aid to rural integration in Africa, interagency co-operation and in the financing of the programme.
In the field of protection, since October 1967, two additional Governments, Finland and Madagascar, have acceded to the Convention, bringing the total to sixty-four. Eighteen additional Governments, including Finland, the United Kingdom and the United States of America, have acceded to the Protocol, bringing the total to twenty-six. In this connexion, I should like to thank the American Council of Voluntary Agencies for the support given to us in encouraging the United States Government to accede to this very important instrument. We expect new signatures soon and already have promising news from Belgium, France and the Netherlands.
It is interesting to note also that twenty-two African States have signed the Convention, and eight have signed the Protocol. The interest of Africa in our work also demonstrated again in the resolutions of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) at its recent summit meeting in Algiers, which I attended, and which again invited the member States of OAU to adhere to the Convention and the Protocol.
With respect to rural integration in Africa, land settlement is a process which takes several years to complete. In view of the gradual nature of this process, it is not always easy to determine the settlement stage at which the various groups find themselves. I believe it is significant, however, that of the approximately 850,000 refugees on the African continent, only about 70,000 are receiving food rations at present. This means that the settlement process is fairly well-advanced for the majority of refugees, and is in certain cases completed, subject to the refugees' participation in general economic and social development schemes, implemented for the entire population of the region where they live within the framework of the United Nations development assistance or otherwise. Considerable progress is thus being made every year in those areas where UNHCR has been able to concentrate its efforts. This is illustrated by the fact that for East Burundi, an area which has been discussed for many years in this Committee and is one of the most important refugee settlement areas in Africa numerically and otherwise, no UNHCR allocation has been included in the 1969 programme. This does not mean, of course, that all these refugees have been completely integrated. A lot still remains to be done to consolidate this.
Turning now to interagency co-operation, this is no longer something in sight, but a practical reality. A detailed analysis of the procedure for co-operation with our main partners - UNDP, UNESCO, UNICEF, the ILO and the World Food Programme will be found in A/AC.96/402. The results are extremely encouraging. The most striking example, once again, is the UNDP project in Burundi where the new integrated approach is effective and is progressing satisfactorily. I would like to stress here that a takeover by UNDP when the refugees have reached a stage similar to the living standard of the local population tends now to become a normal feature of African operations, although dependent, of course, on the governmental request, which raises the all-important question of priority. They matter has been discussed in the Committee before, and I think tat in a country like Burundi we have proved that it is the right way to solve the refugee problem. We hope very much that the example of Burundi will be followed in other countries, such as Uganda, the Central African Republic and possibly the United Republic of Tanzania.
With regard to our co-operation with UNICEF, which was a matter of particular interest to the Committee and also to the General Assembly of the United Nations, great progress has been achieved. This has been based on exchanges which I had the privilege of having here in Geneva with Mr. Labouisse and which have been followed up in the field. In Senegal, medicaments in the amount of $25,000 have been made available by UNICEF for the Casamance area, in view of the great proportion of refugees in that region. In Uganda, it is expected that health equipment could be made available by UNICEF and that refugees might also benefit from immunization programmes and training courses for nurses. In the Sudan too, we hope that health equipment for refugees and refugee areas might be obtained from UNICEF. These contributions are naturally subject to the concurrence of the Governments concerned. Consultations in other areas are in other areas are in progress and I am confident that the much closer approach to needs of children and women in refugee areas can be achieved through a common effort of UNICEF and my Office.
Last, but by no means least, the World Food Programme, whose contribution is so decisive in the first stage of emergency assistance and integration, is still one of our most faithful partners, in Burundi, in the Central African Republic, in the Sudan, in Uganda, in the United Republic of Tanzania and in Zambia. May I stress here, Mr. Chairman, that the progress which we have achieved in this field of interagency co-operation is also very much in line with the General Assembly resolutions on the implementation of the declarations on the granting of independence to colonial countries by the specialized agencies and the international institutions associated with the United Nations. I am referring particularly to General Assembly resolutions 2151 (XXI), 2181 (XXI), 2184 (XXI) and the more recent resolution 2311 (XXII), which was discussed in detail during the joint meeting of the Administrative Committee on Co-ordination and the Economic and Social Council in Bucharest, which I attended, and in the Economic and Social Council in Geneva in July. All these resolutions refer to UNHCR and to the need for closer interagency co-operation.
Turning now, Mr. Chairman to the financing of the Programme, the total amount of contributions to the 1968 Programme received to date is $3,375,000, that is to say, 73 per cent of the target as against 63 per cent in 1967. The number of Governments contributing to the programme is at present fifty-nine compared to fifty-four last year. We have, I believe, good reason to think that this number may still increase before the end of the year. I should like to stress, Mr. Chairman, that of these fifty-nine Governments, ten are contributing for the first time to the Programme, while nineteen have increased their contributions as compared with 1967. These are most encouraging factors, particularly in view of the situations with regard to the 1969 Programme, to which I would now like to turn.
Despite the very positive trends and the good results which make 1968 a year not only of consolidation, but also of substantial progress, present developments have made it necessary to submit for 1969 a Programme target which exceeds the 1968 target by $1 million, that is to say, $5.6 instead of $4.6. The reasons for this are twofold. First, we are facing new emerging problems in many different areas. In the Congo, we have new refugees from Zambia belonging to the Lumpa sect, who now appear to wish to be settled there. We have new refugees from Angola in the southern provinces of the Congo, we have new refugees from Angola in Zambia, new refugees from Mozambique in the United Republic of Tanzania, some refugees from the Sudan who have arrived in Uganda, and some Congolese refugees in the Sudan. Recently, and this was discussed with the delegation of Botswana, when I was in Algiers, quite a substantial group of Angolans have arrived in Botswana and UNHCR has been requested by the Government to assist in the settlement of this group. The total aggregate number of all these new refugees groups amounts to 40,000, which will impose considerable expenses on the Office. The second reason for the increase in the target figure is the necessary follow-up of the action already taken for refugees in a number of areas. This is true in the Sudan, where a major settlement project has been set up. In India, also, UNHCR must now share in the concerted effort to finalize the Tibetan refugee problem. A request has been put to us by the Government of India, which has also asked us to open a Branch Office in New Delhi to supplement what is being done by the voluntary agencies following the October 1966 campaign.
Last, but certainly not least, a new general effort must be made to provide more adequate primary education facilities in a number of African countries, particularly in the Congo, Senegal and Uganda. I would like to stress, Mr. Chairman, that in line with our usual concern for economy, we do only what we deem essential to achieve the solution of refugee problems. These items are vital and have been included in the submission made to you for 1969 after very careful consideration. One of the main characteristics of our activities is that they have to be adjusted to actual needs, which vary from one year to another. The trend at present is towards an increase. We hope that this will not continue in the future, but we have to accept this for 1969, while drawing practical conclusions as to the policy to be adopted in the face of these various problems. One of these conclusions then, Mr. Chairman, is certainly that the Office, whose resources, as we know, are not inexhaustible, must focus its effort on the most acute problems where international aid is most necessary and urgent.
It may be useful in this respect to call attention once more to the criteria governing UNHCR's intervention, of which we should not lose sight. The criteria are (a) the extent and the urgency of the problem, and (b) the inability of the host countries to deal with these problems unaided. A level of assistance, modest though it may be, has been maintained in various European countries, notwithstanding their economic prosperity, particularly when compared with the situation of the less developed nations which face today very burning refugee problems. This is done to take into account certain psychological factors, and to stimulate the efforts required of these countries of asylum. This is part of UNHCR's catalytic function, which has been stressed frequently in this Committee. However, notwithstanding recent developments, the time must come when this financial aid should be discontinued, since it is no longer in keeping with the criteria which UNHCR laid down with the agreement, if not at the request, of the Executive Committee. This does not mean that the Office, in its appreciation of the need for international help, should not take into account exceptional new situations, or situations which may result from the event which I mentioned at the beginning of this statement. Neither does this imply that the Office is disregarding the residual problem with which these countries may still be faced, and particularly that of the handicapped caseload, of which the Committee is fully aware. On the contrary, these problems, and every aspect of protection, are still a matter of primary concern to the Office. These are the ideas and this is the policy on which the 1969 Programme is based.
Another conclusion, Mr. Chairman, in view of the relatively fluid nature of refugee problems, is that the Programme should not be laid down too rigidly. Some latitude, some measure of flexibility in the use of funds is necessary, subject, of course, to subsequent control. At the same time, and in the light of these developments, we believe that a reasonable reserve of funds is essential.
Let us now, Mr. Chairman, look at the main aspects of our activities as they may be projected into next year in the light of the present situation.
With regard to emigration, which is still a matter of great concern to our Office, and which relates, so far, mainly to Europe, recent events have demonstrated once more the efficiency of the existing machinery which can be used whenever required to ensure the free movement of refugees who wish to emigrate and who are able to do so. In Africa, on the other hand, emigration constitutes the solution for a relatively limited, though increasing number of refugees. It is to be hoped that the Bureau for Resettlement and Placement of Refugees, created under the auspices of the Organization of African Unity in Addis Ababa, will succeed, with the assistance of the African Governments, which was requested during the last summit meeting in Algiers, in setting up and ensuring the operation of the necessary machinery on the continent of Africa. We have made our contribution to this work, Mr. Chairman, by assigning to the Addis Ababa Branch Office an official to aid and to advice this Bureau. The Secretary-General of the OAU has appealed to UNHCR to lend its good offices to assist in financing the administrative overheads of the Bureau. Recently, when I was in Scandinavia, the Bureau was discussed in great detail, particularly in Sweden, Mr. Chairman, and I was very encouraged by the interest which these countries expressed in its activities and in the possible financing of its operations. In this connexion, I should like to extend a warm welcome to the observers of the OAU, Ambassador Bà and Mr. Ouattara, who are here both on behalf of the Bureau and of the OAU.
Turning now to integration, Mr. Chairman, if my Office is forced by its very nature and the limited means at its disposal to concentrate its efforts at the most sensitive points, a realistic policy leads it at the same time to make sufficient effort in scale and duration for the refugees to reach the point in integration where the Office can discontinue its assistance without any risk of jeopardizing the results achieved. The temptation is very great to withdraw as soon as the refugees appear able to meet the major part of their own needs, but the effort must be followed up until the integration process has reached a stage at which it can be effectively incorporated in the over-all development effort, for the promotion of which other bodies are responsible, in collaboration with Governments. I should like to stress here that in some countries it may take a little longer than in others. We had hoped very much, in the Central African Republic, for instance, where considerable funds have already been invested, that UNDP and the reacted agencies might assist us quite soon in an over-all integrated rural settlement project. However, a UNDP representative, who made a study on the spot, feels that, as a result of the movement of the refugees from the border areas to a new area settlement, their needs are still too great. They are not yet in a position where UNDP can take over and UNHCR may have to continue assisting them for some time before an integrated general development project can, in fact, be initiated by UNDP.
Our experience in developing countries has shown that it is of paramount importance for UNHCR to select a really qualified and impartial operational partner. This partner, to be effective, must possess the capacities of an expert and also a good knowledge of the land, the customs and the psychology of both the refugees and the indigenous population.
Let us turn now to education. Whether we view education from the purely economic and social angle of a quick and complete integration and of the proper utilization of human resources, or whether we view it from a psychological point of view related to human rights, its importance for refugees in developing countries scarcely calls for emphasis. We have, therefore, stepped up and diversified our efforts. We have increased our co-operation with the Would University Service and other bodies particularly with regard to the granting of scholarships. Our policy of encouraging Governments to assume the burden of financing and running the primary schools established by us is now generally accepted in quite a few areas, particularly in Burundi and in the Kivu province of the Congo. As far as the Bureau for Resettlement and Placement of African Refugees is concerned, the representatives of a number of international organizations and voluntary agencies are showing great interest. Avery detailed analysis of all aspects of educational needs will be found in A/AC.96/394, to which the Opper Report is annexed. I do not wish at present to enter into details, but may I say that whatever decisions we may take on the responsibilities to be assumed by my Office in this field, the action will necessarily be limited in nature and size and must be realistic. Refugees cannot be the focal point around which educational structures are built up in the countries concerned. We are not equipped, either technically or financially, to set up a comprehensive educational system for refugees, who should be included in existing national systems. All the suggestions which have been made in the documents before you take their inspiration from this simple and, I believe, practical consideration.
Finally, turning to the subject of protection, it must be remembered that both the protection function and material assistance must be viewed essentially from the point of view of promotion of permanent solutions. If voluntary repatriation is not possible, and if integration should lead to assimilation, then it must also lead to the acquisition of citizenship of the host country. It is clear that economic and social integration, which is the first step in this process, is possible only if refugees benefit from an adequate legal status. This is why it is so important that the progress already achieved through the accession of Governments to the Convention and the Protocol should be continued. For it to be fully effective, however, the countries concerned must ensure that the provisions of these instruments are in fact applied and incorporated in their national legislation. This is why the Office now intends to adopt a systematic approach to Governments in this respect.
Mr. Chairman, whenever repatriation proves to be impossible, naturalization is ultimately the logical and normal conclusion of any integration process. It is important also, be it only from a humanitarian point of view, to put an end as soon as possible to the anomaly of de jure or de facto statelessness. A generous and realistic naturalization policy is thus necessary. It is beneficial to all concerned, as it is clearly in the interest of the host countries to bring about the complete assimilation of peoples cut off from their countries of origin so that they may cease to feel alien to the community in which they live. This is true of the developed countries, but apply to an equal degree to the developing countries where ethnic diversity makes it even more desirable to facilitate and speed up the process which can only help to strengthen the blossoming concept of nationality. We have to try to persuade Governments that facilities for naturalization should be given to those refugees who, clearly, will stay in these countries. In the second place, we also have to encourage refugees, particularly through the voluntary agencies, our traditional partners, to take full advantage of the facilities which are granted to them. May I in this connexion pay a sincere tribute to the Governments of Greece and Switzerland, who in the last year have made great efforts to extend naturalization opportunities to refugees.
Mr. Chairman, an intensified effort is required in all fields of UNHCR's activities. The 1969 Programme reflects this fact. In accordance with my mandate, I will not fail to try to satisfy the most urgent needs wherever they may appear, according to the general policy suggested, if this is approved by the Committee. We shall be faced, in 1969, with increased work and I am concerned that our staff should have to remain the same as it was in 1967, even though a greater strain will be placed on it. The Office must remain small and flexible, but at the same time we must be able to discharge our responsibilities and duties in connexion with the problems that confront us and in line with the Executive Committee's wishes. When the 1969 administrative budget was being prepared at the beginning of the year, we had asked for the provision of $75,000 for contingencies. Unfortunately, the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions in New York decided to recommend the deletion of this amount, and this very much aggravates my concern. The growing difficulties which we face should not be allowed to affect our ability to face our duties, and I trust that the Advisory Committee and perhaps the Fifth Committee will look again at the position of the Office in 1969. We will have, I think, a number of needs in 1969 in some of the duty stations in the field which are entirely justified. In the Middle East, for instance, we feel that it will be essential to have a second officer in Beirut. We have only one man there and, in view of the situation in the Middle East, we do not feel that this is adequate. We also feel that our Branch Office in the Far East, which deals with Macao, Hong Kong and other related areas, is seriously in need of a second officer. Finally, Mr. Chairman, we feel that, with the growing need and importance of education, an Education Officer is very much needed at Headquarters to undertake the work at present being done, essentially on an ad hoc basis, by members of the existing staff.
The experience which we have gained this year proved that the final success of the Office's efforts depends largely on close and effective co-operation with all other bodies involved in refugee work, either public or private, and, as far as Africa is concerned, also with those involved specifically in development activities. I would like to say to all those who represent these various agencies here in this room how much we value and appreciate their unstinting support and co-operation.
Mr. Chairman, success also depends on the Governments' readiness to support the humanitarian action of UNHCR in all fields, moral, political and financial. That is why the increasing interest shown by many Governments is a source of encouragement and an indication of a better understanding of UNHCR's position.
Mr. Chairman, the purely humanitarian and constructive nature of our actions brings about, I am convinced, a reconciliation and a better understanding between Governments on the one hand and individuals on the other. This is why I feel certain that the Governments which have already shown genuine interest in our work for so many years, and the new Governments contributing to our programme, will continue to give the necessary backing to this Office in the future.
(Note: Statistical and financial tables not included in this online version. See your nearest UN Depository Library.)
1 Previously issued under the symbol A/AC.96/403.
2 For further details on education and training, see chapter V below.