Report of the 17 and 18 May Meeting of the Sub-Committee of the Whole on International Protection
1. The Sub-Committee of the Whole on International Protection (Sub-Committee) met on 17 and 18 May 1993 under the chairmanship of His Excellency Ambassador Juan Archibaldo Lanus (Argentina). The following agenda (EC/1993/SCP/CRP.1/Rev.1) was adopted:
(1) Overview of regional developments in refugee protection;
(2) Physical protection of refugees;
(3) Sexual violence against refugee women and girls;
(4) Specific protection problems facing refugee children; and
(5) Any other business.
2. In his opening remarks, the Chairman recalled that the meeting had been convened in response to a decision of the forty-third session of the Executive Committee which had requested the High Commissioner to convene at least one inter-sessional meeting of the Sub-Committee during 1993. That decision had, in turn, been inspired by the Committee's recognition of the value of such meetings. The Chairman noted that the issues under consideration illustrated the variety of concrete, day-to-day challenges faced by UNHCR in pursuing its function to provide international protection to refugees worldwide, particularly as they relate to refugee women and children, the largest segment of the refugee population. Without pre-judging the outcome of the debate, he suggested that, given the extensive documentation and the preoccupying nature of the protection problems they described, the issues of personal security of refugees and sexual violence against refugee women might lend themselves to the elaboration of conclusions for adoption by the Executive Committee. He then invited Mr. Leonardo Franco, the Director of the Division of International Protection (the Director) to make some introductory remarks.
3. The Director noted that the Sub-Committee's work in its three inter-sessional meetings in 1992 had focused on complex questions of refugee law and doctrine, which had generated a very useful exchange of views on a number of topics and led to the adoption of a new Conclusion on the application of the cessation clauses. A number of protection issues, such as temporary protection, remained open for further consultations between the States concerned and UNHCR. The Note on International Protection submitted to the forty-third session of the Executive Committee (A/AC.96/799) had presented the broad outlines of a strategic response to the principal challenges facing refugee protection today, building on the High Commissioner's three-pronged strategy of emergency preparedness, prevention and solutions. The continued relevance of this approach and the basic concept of the Note had been underscored by a number of developments in 1993. The Office would return to these ongoing policy and strategic issues in the Note on International Protection for the forty-fourth session of the Executive Committee (A/AC.96/814).
4. In response to the wish for expressed by delegations discussion of practical protection issues, and in consultation with the Chairman, the Office felt that the issues pertaining to the personal security of refugees and to sexual violence against women and girls, which are part of the daily experience of States and UNHCR in providing international protection, merited the Sub-Committee's consideration.
II. OVERVIEW OF REGIONAL DEVELOPMENTS IN REFUGEES PROTECTION
5. The Chairman informed the meeting that this agenda item was intended to provide for an informal exchange of views between UNHCR and delegations on the protection challenges faced by the Office in each geographic region. Accordingly, interventions under this agenda item would not be reflected in the report of the meeting.
III. PERSONAL SECURITY OF REFUGEES
6. In introducing this agenda item, Mr. Pierce Gerety, the Deputy Director of the Division of International Protection (the Deputy Director) noted that although ensuring the admission of refugees to a country of asylum and protection against refoulement were rightly viewed as critical issues in international protection, it was unfortunately the case that many refugees continued to face threats to their safety even after arrival in a country of refuge. The protection of refugees against threats to their personal security was a fundamental element of international protection and, accordingly, a major preoccupation and activity of UNHCR in the field.
7. The background paper before the Sub-Committee was based on the practical experience of UNHCR. It described many of the concrete threats to the safety and well-being of asylum-seekers and refugees, including the special problems faced by women and children. It was pointed out that while the 1951 Convention and the 1967 Protocol, regional refugee instruments, international human rights law as well as humanitarian law provide the legal bases for the international protection of refugees, the practical responsibility for ensuring the safety of refugees rests, first and foremost, with the authorities of the country of asylum, acting in cooperation with UNHCR. The note entitled "The Personal Security of Refugees" (EC/1993/SCP/CRP.3) contained a number of recommendations for practical measures that UNHCR, States and refugees could adopt to prevent or remedy situations posing threats to the personal security of refugees. These included measures for developing institutional preparedness on the part of UNHCR, countries of asylum and the international community to deal with such threats; ensuring that UNHCR had unimpeded access to refugees and presence in refugee camps and settlements; and measures to improve law enforcement as well as the location and administration of camps and settlements and to involve refugees themselves in such administration. The note also underlined the duties of refugees to conform to the laws and regulations of the host country, and to the need to maintain the civilian and humanitarian character of refugee camps and settlements. The physical aspect of protection had not been the subject of much general or theoretical discussion, although a large number of the Conclusions adopted by the Executive Committee include references to it. The Office was therefore looking forward to the discussions in the Sub-Committee on this important protection issue and, in particular, to observations and advice from delegations on the practical measures suggested in the note as well as further action that could be taken by the international community to ensure the safety and well-being of refugees.
8. In the ensuing discussion, all speakers expressed appreciation for the interesting and useful background paper, which they felt provided an excellent framework for the Committee's consideration of this important matter. In particular, they referred favourably to the note's pragmatic orientation, comprehensive analysis of the problems encountered in the area of violations of the personal security of refugees and the action-oriented nature of the recommendations, specifically those dealing with programming activities for improving protection. One delegation noted, in this connection, that the linkage in the note between theory and practical protection measures reflected the approach taken in the 1992 Note on International Protection and followed the recommendations made by the Sub-Committee at its last meeting as to the nature of its work. Another delegation noted that action that refugees enjoy personal security lends true meaning to the concept of refugee protection.
9. It was generally observed that any kind of violation of the personal security of refugees was unacceptable. Violations committed by officials, including camp authorities, should be viewed with particularly grave concern. Another problem was the recent occurrence of xenophobia in a number of countries which, in some instances, had exposed refugees and asylum-seekers to grave threats. Several delegations stressed that the issue of the personal security of refugees must be looked at from the perspective of human rights law and that refugees, as human beings, were entitled to respect for their fundamental human rights to life, liberty and security of person. One delegation stated that it was important for UNHCR to highlight this issue in its statement at the World Conference on Human Rights (Vienna, June 1993).
10. One delegation drew attention to the absence of a distinction in the note between asylum-seekers and refugees and suggested that such a distinction might be appropriate in discussing the rights of the two categories of persons. Another delegation commented on the need to recognize that the right to personal security is not limited to the enjoyment of physical safety but extends to enjoyment of a sense of psychological well-being. Positive action to ensure to refugees enjoyment of personal security should rightly be understood to include those measures intended to foster their psychological well-being. Examples of such measures given by the delegation were: facilitating family reunification for refugees forcibly separated from their families by the circumstances of their flight; provision of adequate shelter to refugees; and ensuring to them the right to avail themselves of voluntary repatriation to their homelands. The same delegation undertook to provide details to the forthcoming session of the Executive Committee of its Government's programme for the social integration of refugees.
11. The emphasis in the note on preventive measures to reduce the risk of physical attacks on refugees was welcomed by several delegations. The need for UNHCR to be accorded access to refugees and to camps and settlements in which they are accommodated was given particular importance throughout the discussion. One delegation stressed that access was of a legitimate interest not only to UNHCR, but also to other intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations and recommended that instances where the Office had been denied access to persons of its concern be, in the future, reported to the Executive Committee, possibly in connection with the informal briefings on regional developments. Another delegation felt that access must depend on agreement with the local authorities and on the security situation prevailing in the area where the refugees are accommodated. Some delegations noted that the provision of security for UNHCR staff and other relief workers to carry out their functions was often a necessary precondition for any activities to enhance the personal security of refugees. Concurring with this view, one delegation remarked that any efforts to safeguard the personal security of refugees must necessarily go hand-in-hand with measures to protect humanitarian personnel, as "in many situations where refugees themselves are at risk, so potentially are UNHCR staff".
12. Several delegations stressed that it was the responsibility of States to ensure the personal security of refugees and urged that States, in carrying out this responsibility, make systematic efforts to provide law enforcement officers and other personnel dealing with asylum-seekers and refugees with clear directives and guidance on measures to ensure their treatment in accordance with international standards. To complement such efforts, UNHCR was urged to organize or expand, where necessary and in cooperation with States, its training activities to enhance awareness and understanding of refugee protection among local military, police, border and camp officials, as well as any other targeted groups. Reference was made to the anti-piracy programme in Thailand, which was designed to train and promote better liaison with local security officials on the refugee physical protection of refugees, as a positive example of a non-traditional programme activity which could be pursued in appropriate circumstances. At the same time, it was stressed that refugees should be clearly informed of their obligations to observe the laws and regulations of the host country and to maintain the civilian and humanitarian character of their camps and settlements.
13. A number of delegations maintained the importance of involving the refugee community, including refugee women, in the design and implementation of all sectors of refugee programmes. One delegation noted that such involvement, as stressed in the Guidelines on the Protection of Refugee Women, would serve to empower the refugees. It would also assist in changing public perception that refugees are helpless victims of circumstance who cannot be asked to take part in the organization and administration of their camps and settlements and in decision-making about matters affecting their own lives which, naturally, includes their physical protection.
14. It was observed by one delegation that most of the protection measures discussed in the note, being of a preventive and pre-planned nature, would appear not to provide appropriate solutions for responding to critical, emergency situations where it is understood that no preventive measures would have been effective. This delegation asked what actions UNHCR would envisage for such situations and on what basis it would act.
15. A number of delegations stressed the need to achieve better inter-agency coordination among the relevant United Nations humanitarian and human rights institutions in strengthening measures in the field of human rights, initiated at national and regional levels, to promote respect for the right to personal security. On the issue of efforts to combat racist and xenophobic attacks on refugees and other aliens in some countries, it was suggested that the Office might find it useful to follow closely the work of the Special Rapporteur on Racism recently appointed by the Commission on Human Rights. At the regional level, mention was made of the initiatives within the Council of Europe which have led to a Ministerial Conference planned for later this year to focus attention on this growing problem.
16. Noting the importance of the issue of personal security for the international protection of refugees, one delegation pointed to the need for UNHCR to improve its institutional preparedness by elaborating a single set of guidelines on the physical protection of refugees. Another delegation expressed the wish to have regular and detailed reporting by UNHCR to the Sub-Committee in order to enable it to consider necessary follow-up measures. Virtually all delegations expressed agreement on the need for the Sub-Committee to submit a conclusion on this issue to the forty-fourth session of the Executive Committee for possible adoption.
17. In responding to the various interventions, the Deputy Director conveyed the Office's appreciation for the strong interest and support that had been expressed by delegations. The Office had taken careful note of the emphasis delegations had placed on certain activities and would follow-up on some of the new aspects that had been raised in the debate. In reply to questions from delegations, he noted that in the very diverse situations where the personal security of refugees is threatened, the Office's response is formulated in close cooperation with the authorities of the host country. The main initiative lies with the UNHCR Representatives in the field, who often have to come up with innovative approaches to resolve the protection problem in question. Referring to the question of the need to maintain a distinction between the rights of asylum-seekers and refugees with regard to personal security, he noted that such a distinction would not seem to be appropriate when the issue was ensuring respect for the fundamental human rights of all human beings.
18. In concluding discussions under this item, the Chairman noted that the debate had demonstrated a widely shared concern regarding the personal security of refugees. A clear consensus as to the appropriateness of adopting a Conclusion on this matter had also emerged. He therefore requested the Secretariat to prepare a draft conclusion which draws upon the note and the discussion within the Sub-Committee. Delegations would then be given time to consult their respective capitals on the draft text and could revert to the Secretariat with their comments by the end of June. Based on the comments received, the Secretariat would then prepare a revised draft which would be circulated well in advance of the next meeting of the Sub-Committee. The Sub-Committee would review the text and submit it to the Executive Committee for adoption.
IV. SEXUAL VIOLENCE AGAINST REFUGEE WOMEN
19. Introducing this agenda item, the Chairman noted that the tragic events in Bosnia and Herzegovina had brought home the timeliness of the Sub-Committee's consideration of the topic of sexual violence against refugee women. He explained that the note examined the various ways in which sexual violence is perpetrated against refugee women and girls, its implications for the search for durable solutions to their problems and ways in which the international community can combat it.
20. In presenting the "Note on Certain Aspects of Sexual Violence against Women" (EC/1993/SCP/CRP.2), Mr. Pierre Bertrand, the Chief of the General Legal Advice Section of the Division of International Protection (the Chief), asked the Sub-Committee, during its deliberations on the item, to recall that sexual violence is a problem which has caused, aggravated or perpetuated refugee situations in different parts of the world since the Office's creation. He added that the note was a logical outgrowth of the Guidelines on the Protection of Refugee Women in that it both resulted from and complemented the Guidelines' treatment of the subject. He reviewed the structure of the note and drew attention to the definition of sexual violence contained in paragraph six as the starting point for its discussion. He underlined the relevance of different domains of international human rights and humanitarian law to the issue, as well as the relationship between sexual violence when used as a method of persecution and the refugee definition.
21. The Chief explained that the measures recommended in sections IV and V of the note for adoption by States and others concerned with this problem were based on the High Commissioner's three-pronged approach - emergency preparedness, prevention and solutions - for addressing the refugee problem. He stressed UNHCR's need for support from the international community in obtaining the access to refugee women and girls necessary to protect them from sexual violence and in training to prepare those working directly with the victims to prevent, deter and redress its commission. Finally, he suggested three key steps for the international community to take in combatting this phenomenon: the qualification of sexual violence as a human rights violation where it is used as a method of persecution or where the State is unwilling or unable to prevent or remedy its occurrence; recognition of the fact that such use of sexual violence in the receiving country puts in doubt the viability of the asylum granted; and understanding of how sexual violence limits the availability and durability of solutions to the refugee situation of its victims.
22. In the ensuing debate, the note was unanimously commended as an important document which was comprehensive in its factual and legal analysis of the problem and approach to the prevention of, and methodology for combatting, sexual violence. A number of delegations cited the usefulness of evaluating the phenomenon as it occurs in the various stages of a refugee movement: as a cause of flight, during flight and in the country of asylum. There was also consensus on the advisability of pursuing a conclusion on this issue, drawing in large part from the measures and methods set out in sections IV and V of the note.
23. Several delegations commented the timeliness of the note given the recent upsurge in the incidence and gravity of the use of sexual violence as a method of persecution, particularly in the former Yugoslavia. One delegation commended the Senior Coordinator for Refugee Women for her work on this particular issue. Several delegations highlighted the fact that many of the victims of the forms of sexual violence discussed in the note are children.
24. The Sub-Committee discussed in relative detail a number of issues addressed in the note. One delegation stressed the risk of contracting HIV to which victims of sexual violence are exposed. Several delegations supported its analysis of the relationship between the refugee definition and the use of sexual violence as a method of persecution. A number of examples were given. Some delegations indicated their need to consider the issue further. One delegation recommended that States not confuse the issue of this particular method of persecution with other issues relating to the refugee definition, for example the various categories of well-founded fear of persecution. Another delegation asked why the discussion of the relevance of this method of persecution to refugee status determination had been linked solely to the definition contained in the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and not to other, broader refugee definitions which contemplate situations often involving sexual violence. Yet another delegation suggested that the preventive and remedial measures referred to in the note be applied to persons benefitting from temporary protection and to internally displaced persons. Most delegations endorsed the note's legal analysis and condemnation of the use of sexual violence as an instrument of persecution in violation of international human rights and humanitarian law, while a few delegations expressed the need to study the matter further.
25. Several delegations pointed out the link between this note and related initiatives in other United Nations fora, such as the decision by the Security Council to establish an international tribunal responsible for trying cases of serious violations of international humanitarian law (Security Council resolution 808 of 22 February 1993). Also mentioned was the draft Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women, adopted by the Commission on the Status of Women at its thirty-seventh session (E/CN.6/1993/9) and to be submitted to the General Assembly for adoption at its forty-eighth session; the resolution of the forty-ninth session of the Commission on Human Rights condemning the systematic practice of rape as a weapon of war and instrument of "ethnic cleansing" in the former Yugoslavia (E/CN.4/1993/L.21); and General Recommendation 19 on Violence against Women (A/47/38) of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). Numerous delegations recommended that UNHCR coordinate in its work on the issue with these fora, and some urged that all action taken by States or UNHCR to address sexual violence against refugee women and girls be guided by the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (General Assembly resolution 180/34).
26. With a view to pursuing a Conclusion on this subject, many delegations addressed the specific measures proposed in sections IV and V of the note. These measures received widespread overall support from the Members of the Sub-Committee. A few delegations expressed particular interest in pursuing preventive measures, with an emphasis on the responsibility of States to ensure a proper administration of justice as well as prompt and proportional disciplinary action, including in cases where sexual violence is perpetrated by Government employees. In this regard, several delegations supported UNHCR's collaboration with intergovernmental or non-governmental organizations with specializations relevant to combatting this problem.
27. Many delegations supported the need for access and training. The concept of access was addressed in two ways. First, it was recognized that UNHCR has a need for prompt and unhindered access to refugee populations as soon as they reach or cross a national boundary in order to ensure their protection and to supervise properly States' application of the international instruments relating to refugees. Secondly, it was recognized that refugee women have a need for easy access to female professionals in the field, including protection personnel, with whom they may feel more comfortable broaching the delicate issue of sexual violence. While several delegations highlighted the latter point, one called for the increased presence of UNHCR staff generally, including female professionals, and another suggested that it should be a short-term and immediate goal of the Office to staff every field office with female professionals. Given the often culturally sensitive character of the issue, a number of delegations called the attention of the Sub-Committee to the importance of employing staff who are familiar with the society of the victim, that of her host country, or both; several focused on the importance of a community-based approach to psychosocial care for victims of sexual violence, in part in an effort to avoid their being ostracized.
28. In the area of training, several delegations added that both UNHCR and other intergovernmental organization staff needed training in the norms referred to in the Note. Several also emphasized the related importance of educating refugee women and girls on their right to personal security. On this and the active involvement of refugee women in decisions affecting their lives and their communities - including refugee status determination - one delegation made the point that the empowerment of refugee women was the most effective and efficient way to ensure their protection.
29. Some delegations proposed additional measures to those set out in section IV and V of the note. One delegation stressed the need to find more ways to deter sexual violence during flight. Concrete suggestions included the following: public information campaigns on the right of women and girls to protection from this violation of the right to personal security; the expansion of programmes aimed at meeting the needs of torture and trauma victims; universal condemnation by the international community of sexual violence as a form of persecution and a crime against humanity, perhaps by means of an international instrument; and the organization of more wage-earning activities in refugee camps. States also reaffirmed measures previously recommended in the Guidelines on the Protection of Refugee Women. These included the documentation of women and girls, and action aimed at ensuring their basic subsistence, as well as the overall linkage of programming to protection. One delegation underlined the importance of continued dissemination and application of the Guidelines.
30. Finally, several delegations said that they looked forward to learning of progress made by States and the Office in this area from reports on the implementation of the Guidelines on the Protection of Refugee Women.
31. The Senior Coordinator for Refugee Women closed the debate by calling the Sub-Committee's attention to three themes in its discussions: prevention, remedial action and coordination. She understood the Sub-Committee to support the placement of female professional staff from UNHCR and other concerned institutions in the field, training of personnel and potential victims, as well as the linkage of programming to protection as the three principal ways to prevent sexual attack, coercion or exploitation. Delegations appeared to support the use and adjustment of the Guidelines on the Protection of Refugee Women to respond to the victims' needs in a manner which is more community-based and culturally appropriate. Finally, the inter-institutional cooperation recommended to UNHCR seemed to focus on the Security Council, the Division for the Advancement of Women and the Centre for Human Rights. The Senior Coordinator concluded by reminding the Sub-Committee that the Office was currently preparing guidelines on dealing with victims of sexual violence and that other aspects of the issue could be addressed within the framework of the Joint Meeting of the Sub-Committee on Administrative and Financial Matters and the Sub-Committee of the Whole on International Protection.
32. A draft conclusion was shared with delegations during the joint meeting of the two Sub-Committees it was requested that comments be transmitted to the Director of International Protection by 30 June 1993. A revised draft will be prepared by the Secretariat along the lines recommended above in paragraph 18.
V. SPECIFIC PROTECTION PROBLEMS FACING REFUGEE CHILDREN
33. In introducing this agenda item, the Chairman informed the meeting that the "Information Note on Refugee Children: UNHCR's Efforts to Address Some Persistent Protection Problems" (EC/1993/SCP/CRP.4) was intended as an update on some protection issues of concern to UNHCR which will be included in the High Commissioner's policy on refugee children to be submitted to the forty-fourth session of the Committee and reflected in related training materials and programmes.
34. Presenting the Note, the Chief of the General Legal Advice Section added that the topics covered by the note - military recruitment, detention, irregular adoption, obstacles to ensuring the right to education, and monitoring the situation of children in families not their own - will also be addressed in depth in the revised version of the Guidelines on Refugee Children, to be issued later this year. He concluded by saying that the scope of the issues may change as UNHCR addresses them in greater detail and that any contribution that Sub-Committee Members might wish to make to the Office's analysis of these issues would be much appreciated.
35. The Senior Coordinator for Refugee Children added a few words. She explained the ways in which UNHCR's integration into its normal work of the concerns of refugee women, on the one hand, and refugee children, on the other, were at different stages. She also set out some of the factors which made necessary a revision of the Guidelines on Refugee Children. These included the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the growing relevance of voluntary repatriation as a durable solution for unaccompanied minors, as well as the increasing interest of the international community in issues relating to the evacuation of refugee children and to the adoption of unaccompanied refugee children. A questionnaire on the Guidelines had been sent out to field offices and the responses received highlighted, inter alia, their usefulness as a tool for working with Governments.
36. Delegations thanked UNHCR for the note and stressed the degree of importance and urgency that their Governments assigned to the protection of refugee children. One delegation said that this paper could not be disassociated from the "Note on Certain Forms of Sexual Violence against Refugee Women". Another added that attention to the protection needs of refugee children should be an integral component of programme planning and implementation. Several delegations expressed their eagerness to receive more details on the issues covered in the High Commissioner's policy on refugee children and in the revised version of the Guidelines, as well as any concrete measures these may contain.
37. Addressing specific issues, two delegations queried the Office's intentions regarding the minimum age of military recruitment allowed by law and suggested that UNHCR consider protection against military recruitment in line with related international norms. It was suggested that UNHCR pursue - including through educational efforts and social services support - the problem of military recruitment in cooperation with the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the Committee on the Rights of the Child. A few speakers requested more information on the nature of UNHCR's involvement in the lives of families who care for unaccompanied refugee children as regards both protection and assistance. One stressed the need for UNHCR, in cooperation with other agencies and social service organizations, to ensure the monitoring and protection of children in the care of families not their own. Two questioned the concept of irregular adoption, while others supported the combined efforts of institutions like UNHCR and the Hague Conference on private international law, to prevent the irregular adoption of uprooted children.
38. Several delegations recommended that the voluntary repatriation of unaccompanied refugee children, and the disturbing view that refugee education could be a "pull factor" to be avoided, be added to the list of topics to be addressed in depth by the Office. On the subject of voluntary repatriation, one country asked what mechanism UNHCR used to ensure respect for the child's best interests. A few stressed the importance of education in working towards a solution, in particular that of voluntary repatriation. Therefore, they stressed the need to find ways to educate refugee children, even where the local or home country populations did not yet enjoy equivalent access to, or quality of, education. One delegation added that the donor community should give more support to the efforts of governmental, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations to educate refugee children. Two delegations suggested that UNHCR increase its activities in support of family reunification. One delegation recommended that UNHCR step up its efforts to combat the enhanced vulnerability of refugee children in situations of armed conflict.
39. UNHCR was commended for establishing the post of Senior Coordinator for Refugee Children. Some delegations specifically expressed their appreciation for the Senior Coordinator's work to date.
40. The Director of International Protection concluded the debate by thanking the participants for their comments and questions which raised very current and complex issues. He cited, as an example, the minimum age of military recruitment, which goes beyond the scope of the Executive Committee and enters other domains of international law. He assured the delegations that their queries would be answered within the High Commissioner's policy on refugee children to be presented to the forty-fourth session of the Executive Committee as well as in the revised version of the Guidelines on Refugee Children.
VI. ANY OTHER BUSINESS
41. No new business was raised under this item. A few delegations presented their initial reactions to the draft conclusion on personal security that had been circulated the previous day. The Secretariat took note of these, and recommended that any comments that delegations might wish to make be submitted in writing to the Secretariat.
42. At the end of the debate, the Director of International Protection stressed that he had found this inter-sessional meeting of the Sub-Committee particularly useful. He thanked all delegations for their enriching contributions and their support of UNHCR's activities. The active participation of delegations from all regions of the world had demonstrated the universal character of and interest in the issues under discussion. He also found it particularly important that discussions had focused on matters of critical importance for refugees and on pragmatic and action-oriented responses to vital protection problems. Finally the issues had presented a human rights perspective, which gave the Sub-Committee the opportunity to emphasize the importance of human rights for the protection of refugees and thereby contribute to the World Conference on Human Rights.
43. As no other delegation wished to take the floor, the Chairman proceeded to close the meeting.