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General Conclusion on International Protection

Executive Committee Meetings

General Conclusion on International Protection
No. 71 (XLIV) - 1993

8 October 1993
Executive Committee 44th session. Contained in United Nations General Assembly Document No. 12A (A/48/12/Add.1).

The Executive Committee,

(a) Notes with concern the dimension and complexity of the present refugee problem, the potential risk of new refugee situations and the challenges confronting refugee protection;

(b) Reaffirms the importance of the 1951 Convention and 1967 Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees at the centre of the international legal framework for the protection of refugees;

(c) Welcomes, in this connection, the recent accession or succession of Armenia, Azerbaijan, the Bahamas, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Cambodia, the Czech Republic, the Republic of Korea, the Russian Federation and the Slovak Republic to the 1951 Convention and the 1967 Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees, bringing the number of States parties to one or both instruments to 123, and encourages other States to accede to these instruments and to implement their provisions and thus to promote further international cooperation in responding to and resolving refugee problems;

(d) Recognizes the crucial importance of the High Commissioner's functions of providing international protection to refugees and seeking solutions to refugee problems, the exercise of which has become increasingly difficult owing to the increasing numbers of persons in need of protection and the growing complexity of the problems of coerced displacement;

(e) Notes with appreciation that States confronted with refugee situations, including in particular developing countries with limited resources, continue to observe the fundamental principles of international protection, admitting and providing asylum to more than eighteen million refugees, and welcomes the continuing strong commitment of States to provide protection and assistance to refugees and to cooperate with the High Commissioner in the discharge of her international protection responsibilities;

(f) Notes however with concern that the protection of refugees continues to be seriously jeopardized in certain situations as a result of denial of access, expulsion, refoulement and unjustified detention, as well as other threats to their physical security, dignity and well-being;

(g) Calls upon States to uphold asylum as an indispensable instrument for the international protection of refugees and to respect scrupulously the fundamental principle of non-refoulement;

(h) Stresses the importance of international solidarity and burden-sharing in reinforcing the international protection of refugees, and calls upon all States in conjunction with UNHCR to cooperate in efforts to lighten the burden borne by States that have received large numbers of refugees and asylum-seekers;

(i) Reiterates the importance of establishing and ensuring access consistent with the 1951 Convention and the 1967 Protocol for all asylum-seekers to fair and efficient procedures for the determination of refugee status in order to ensure that refugees and other persons eligible for protection under international or national law are identified and granted protection;

(j) Recognizes that in certain regions the arrival and presence of large numbers of applicants for asylum and refugee status who have no valid claim to international protection creates serious problems both for refugees and for the States concerned by adversely affecting the institution of asylum, jeopardizing the effectiveness of national procedures for the determination of refugee status, and preventing the prompt and effective protection of refugees;

(k) Stresses the usefulness of measures to promote the prompt determination of refugee status in fair procedures, and recognizes the advisability of concluding agreements among States directly concerned, in consultation with UNHCR, to provide for the protection of refugees through the adoption of common criteria and related arrangements to determine which State shall be responsible for considering an application for asylum and refugee status and for granting the protection required, and thus avoiding orbit situations;

(l) Emphasizes that such procedures, measures and agreements must include safeguards adequate to ensure in practice that persons in need of international protection are identified and that refugees are not subject to refoulement;

(m) Supports the further exploration by the High Commissioner and States of various asylum strategies, such as temporary protection, in relation to persons compelled to flee their countries in large numbers and who are in need of international protection, pending the identification of an appropriate solution, and reaffirms the importance of Executive Committee Conclusion No. 22 (XXXII) on Protection of Asylum-Seekers in Situations of Large-Scale Influx;

(n) Recognizes the importance of addressing prevention, protection and solutions on a comprehensive regional basis, and encourages the High Commissioner to consult with States, the United Nations Department of Humanitarian Affairs (DHA), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and other relevant international organizations and regional bodies on possibilities for additional measures and initiatives in specific areas with complex problems of coerced population movements, and to keep the Sub-Committee of the Whole on International Protection and, where appropriate, the Sub-Committee on Administrative and Financial Matters informed;

(o) Looks forward to events commemorating the twenty-fifth anniversary of the adoption by the Organization of African Unity of the OAU Convention governing the specific aspects of refugee problems in Africa as well as the tenth anniversary of the Cartagena Declaration on Refugees and encourages UNHCR to participate actively in their commemoration;

(p) Recognizes the close link between protection, assistance and solutions and supports the High Commissioner's efforts to pursue wherever possible opportunities to promote conditions conducive to the preferred solution of voluntary repatriation, noting with appreciation the Office's development of operational guidelines to further these efforts;

(q) Reaffirms the role of resettlement as an instrument of protection as well as its continuing value as a durable solution in specific circumstances, and suggests that States together with the High Commissioner explore possibilities for the more effective and flexible use of this measure, particularly to meet refugee protection needs;

(r) Encourages the High Commissioner, on the basis of her broad humanitarian experience and expertise, and the particular competence of UNHCR staff in the field, to continue to explore and to undertake protection and assistance activities aimed at preventing conditions that give rise to refugee outflows, bearing in mind fundamental protection principles, in close coordination with the Governments concerned and within an inter-agency, intergovernmental and non-governmental framework, as appropriate, and requests the High Commissioner to keep the Sub-Committee of the Whole on International Protection and the Sub-Committee on Administrative and Financial Matters informed of developments;

(s) Recalls paragraph 14 of General Assembly resolution 47/105 and, in this connection, reaffirms its support for the High Commissioner's activities, on the basis of requests from the Secretary-General or the competent principal organs of the United Nations and with the consent of the concerned State, in providing humanitarian assistance and protection to internally displaced persons in specific situations which call for the Office's particular expertise, and notes the establishment by the High Commissioner of criteria for responding to requests to her Office for involvement in such activities, with due regard to the complementary mandates and specific expertise of other relevant organizations as well as the availability of sufficient resources;

(t) Requests the High Commissioner, in pursuance of the need for the international community to explore methods and means to address better within the United Nations system the protection and assistance needs of internally displaced persons, to promote further consultations on this priority issue with the Department of Humanitarian Affairs (DHA) and the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Internally Displaced Persons, and with other appropriate international organizations and bodies including the, International Committee of the Red Cross, and to report on the results of these discussions to the Sub-Committee of the Whole on International Protection and, as appropriate, the Sub-Committee on Administrative and Financial Matters;

(u) Reiterates that UNHCR's activities in the field of prevention must be complementary to its international protection responsibilities and consistent with the principles of international human rights and humanitarian law and that the institution of asylum must not in any way be undermined;

(v) Calls upon the High Commissioner to pursue her efforts to ensure the protection of refugee women and girls and reaffirms in this regard its Conclusion No. 64 (XLII) on Refugee Women and International Protection and paragraphs (i) to (k) of Conclusion No. 68 (XLIII);

(w) Notes with concern the especially vulnerable situation of refugee children and therefore welcomes the High Commissioner's Policy on Refugee Children (EC/SCP/82) and stresses the importance of the Convention on the Rights of the Child as a normative framework for action to protect and care for children of her concern;

(x) Calls upon the High Commissioner to make every effort to ensure that the needs of refugee children, particularly unaccompanied minors, are fully met in UNHCR's overall protection and assistance activities, through inter alia appropriate management support, training and monitoring, and encourages UNHCR to continue its cooperation with Governments, non-governmental organizations and intergovernmental organizations, including in particular the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the Committee on the Rights of the Child, in the implementation of the Policy on Refugee Children and the UNHCR Guidelines on Refugee Children;

(y) Requests the High Commissioner, given the diversity and persistent character of certain obstacles hampering the protection of refugee women and refugee children, in consultation with the Chairman of the Executive Committee, to convene an informal working group of the Committee to examine these obstacles, as well as review options and propose concrete measures to overcome them;

(z) Expresses concern about the lack of adequate international protection for various groups of refugees in different parts of the world, including a large number of Palestinians, and, while noting recent positive developments, calls upon the international community to continue its endeavours to address satisfactorily their protection needs;

(aa) Notes with satisfaction UNHCR's activities with regard to the promotion and dissemination of refugee law and protection principles and calls upon the High Commissioner to continue to expand and strengthen the Office's promotion and training activities with the active support of States and through increased cooperation with bodies and organizations concerned with human rights and international humanitarian law, including the International Institute of Humanitarian Law (San Remo), academic institutions and others involved in the programmes of the Decade of International Law;

(bb) Calls upon States in cooperation with UNHCR and non-governmental organizations to pursue their efforts to foster greater public understanding and acceptance of people of different backgrounds and cultures with a view to dispelling hostile attitudes and other forms of intolerance towards foreigners;

(cc) Reaffirms its support for the High Commissioner's contributions to concerned international bodies promoting a broader awareness of the close link between safeguarding human rights and preventing refugee problems, and calls upon the High Commissioner to continue her active participation in and cooperation with the Commission on Human Rights, the Centre for Human Rights and relevant bodies and organizations;

(dd) Recognizes that the underlying causes of population displacements are complex and interrelated and include poverty and economic disruption, political conflicts, ethnic and inter-communal tensions and environmental degradation, and that there is a need for the international community to address these causes in a concerted and comprehensive manner;

(ee) Welcomes the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action of the World Conference on Human Rights, particularly as it reaffirms the right to seek and enjoy asylum, and the right to return to one's country; stresses the importance of the 1951 Convention and 1967 Protocol; expresses appreciation to UNHCR; recognizes the link between gross violations of human rights and displacement, as well as the need for a comprehensive approach by the international community for refugees and displaced persons including addressing root causes, strengthening emergency preparedness and response, providing effective protection, and achieving durable solutions; and notes also its recognition of the special needs of women and children in terms of protection and assistance, and its emphasis on the importance of solutions for internally displaced persons;

(ff) Notes the importance of availability of and access to objective and accurate information concerning the various causes of coerced displacement in order to facilitate informed decision-making at all stages of refugee situations and supports in this regard the High Commissioner's efforts to develop an appropriate information strategy and to maintain relevant information databases;

(gg) Recognizes the value in recent years of inter-sessional meetings of the Sub-Committee of the Whole on International Protection, and requests the High Commissioner to convene at least one inter-sessional meeting to pursue in-depth consideration of relevant protection issues and to report on progress in the deliberations of the Sub-Committee at its forty-fifth session.