Ad Hoc Committee on Refugees and Stateless Persons, Second Session: Summary Record of the Thirty-Eighth Meeting Held at the Palais des Nations, Geneva, on Thursday, 17 August 1950, at 3 p.m.
Chairman: Mr. LARSEN (Denmark)
Rapporteur: Mr. WINTER (Canada)
Belgium Mr. HERMENT
Brazil Mr. PENTEADO
Canada Mr. BERLIS
China Mr. CHA
France Mr. JUVIGNY
Israel Mr. ROBINSON
Turkey Mr. NURELGIN
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland Sir Leslie BRASS
United States of America Mr. HENKIN
Venezuela Mr. PEREZ PEROZO
Italy Mr. MALFATTI
Switzerland Mr. SCHÜRCH
Representatives of specialized agencies:
International Labour Organisation Mr. OBLATH
International Refugee Organization Mr. WEIS, Mr. KULIMAN
Representatives of non-governmental organizations:
Category B and Register
Catholic International Union for Social Service Miss de ROMER
Consultative Council of Jewish Organizations Mr. KARLIKOW
International Federation of University Women Miss BERG
International Union of Catholic Women's Leagues Miss de ROMER
Women's International League for Peace and Freedom Mrs. BAER
Mr. Humphrey Director, Division of Human Rights
Mr. Giraud Legal Department
Mr. Hogan Secretary to the Committee
PROPOSED DRAFT CONVENTION RELATING TO THE STATUS OF REFUGEES (E/1618, E/1618/Corr.1, E/1818, E/AC.32/2, E/AC.32/6, E/AC.32/6/Corr.1, E/AC.32/7, E/AC.32/L.3, E/AC.32/L.40 and E/AC.32/NGO/1) (continued)
The Committee continued consideration of the draft Convention contained in Annex I to its first report (E/1618).
Article 17: Public education (continued)
The CHAIRMAN asked whether there were any other comments on article 17, or whether the Committee preferred to proceed to a discussion of article 18. The comments of some of the delegations on article 17 might be regarded as reservations, which, though to be taken into consideration, were not so general in character and did not command such support as to justify an alteration of the text.
Mr. HERMENT (Belgium) suggested that the words "access to education", be inserted after the words "and in particular as regards" in paragraph 2, since access to education was a matter of considerable importance.
The Belgian representative's amendment was adopted, and the discussion on article 17 closed.
Article 18: Public Relief
Mr. MALFATTI (Italy) said that his Government had to its regret to make a reservation with regard to the possibility of according to refugees the same treatment in respect of public relief as it accorded to its nationals. Italian hospitals, which were anyhow inadequate to meet the needs of a constantly growing population, had suffered greatly during the war and, although their reconstruction was now far advanced, the hospital situation was still precarious. Hence, the Italian Government would not be able to assume any commitment which might aggravate the situation.
That reservation did not apply to emergency relief, which was always accorded as generously as possible.
Mr. SCHÜRCH (Switzerland) said that his Government would certainly have no reservations to make with regard to the principle on which the article was based. Assistance was accorded to refugees to the same extent as to Swiss nationals. But the article did not refer only to assistance: it required the Contracting States to accord the same treatment with respect to relief as was accorded to their nationals. In Switzerland, however, indigent Swiss nationals were helped by the cantons and communes, whereas refugees were helped by charitable organizations to which the Confederation refunded all of 60% of the cost of the relief given. In that way, refugees did not have to apply to officials in small communes for whom it was perhaps more difficult to understand their special position. He did not think that article 18 in its present form would have the effect of stopping that system from being applied.
The CHAIRMAN thought that the position of both Italy and Austria was at present quite exceptional, and of such a nature that it could best be covered by a reservation. The fact that certain Governments, for historical reasons, found themselves in such a position after the Second World War did not constitute a sufficient reason for a change in the text.
With regard to the Swiss observer's comments, it had to be remembered that the Committee had not intended to interfere with the administrative systems of any country. It had merely endeavoured to secure the same public relief and assistance for refugees as for nationals. It did not matter whether relief and assistance were provided out of federal, cantonal or municipal funds; the only thing that mattered was that the State should guarantee that in some way relief would be give to refugees.
Mr. WINTER (Canada) said that while his Government would support the principles of article 18 and 9, it would not, as a federal Government, undertake to guarantee that public relief and assistance would be accorded to refugees, as legislation in that field fell within the scope of the provinces and municipalities.
The CHAIRMAN explained that when he had mentioned federal funds, he had meant that if the federal clause applied to a country, and if the federal Government could take the action required, it would do so.
Mr. WINTER (Canada) asked whether the Committee would draft a federal clause.
Mr. HENKIN (United States of America) replied that the Economic and Social Council had decided to leave the question of a federal clause to the General Assembly.
It seemed to him that the principle of article 18 was clear: the refugees should be accorded the same treatment with respect to public relief and assistance as was accorded to nationals, and it did not matter how the treatment was accorded, provided the results were the same.
Mr. HERMENT (Belgium) noted that the implication of what the United States representative had just said was that, if, in a federal country, the individual states did not comply with the provisions of article 18, the central Government would have to assume responsibility for public relief.
Mr. HENKIN (United States of America) said that his interpretation of the article was that States should give public relief and assistance to refugees to the same extent as they did to their nationals; if no relief or assistance were given to their nationals, none need be give to refugees. The article, however, permitted the grant of relief and assistance in whatever way States desired; it did not specify the way.
Mr. WINTER (Canada) agreed with the United States representative's interpretation of article 18.
Mr. WEIS (International Refugee Organization) thought that the United States representative's interpretation expressed the intention of article 18. The Drafting Committee might, however, find a wording which would meet the objections of the Swiss observer. As it had been decided that the General Assembly would frame a federal clause, the question of whether a federal administration could accord the same treatment with respect to public relief and administration as was accorded to nationals would be covered.
He called the attention of the Committee to the Economic and Social Council's resolution regarding assistance to indigent aliens, which appealed to States to grant to such aliens the same treatment as was accorded to nationals and not to return them to their own countries only for the reason of indigency.
Mr. PEREZ PEROZO (Venezuela) said that in his country assistance was accorded to refugees not only in public hospitals and institutions, but also in special centres which had been created for the purpose. Nevertheless, his Government could at its discretion send immigrants out of the country especially in cases where they suffered from infectious diseases. That could not of course be done to a national.
Mr. HENKIN (United States of America) claimed that article 18 did not concern expulsion or whatever other measures might be taken against refugees suffering from infectious diseases or falling foul of immigration laws; it dealt only with public relief and assistance to be accorded to refugees lawfully resident in a country. The Venezuelan representative's comment therefore raised no serious objection to the article.
Mr. WINTER (Canada) thought that the Venezuelan representative's comments were relevant to article 27, not to article 18.
Discussion on article 18 was closed.
Article 19: Labour legislation and Social Security
The CHAIRMAN, speaking as representative of Denmark, said that it would be extremely difficult to explain in a few words the system of social legislation in force in his country, but he wished to state that his Government could not possibly give old age and disability pensions to alien refugees in the way it did to its own nationals. It would, however, be prepared to sign the Convention on the understanding that it would vote the same amounts for assistance to refugees as to nationals, but the funds would be voted under a different head and would be disbursed through different channels.
Mr. OBLATH (International Labour Organisation) recalled that the Director-General of the International Labour Office had also submitted comments on that article (E/AC.32/7).
The CHAIRMAN said that the points raised in those comments had already been discussed at the last session of the Committee, when the Convention had been drafted. He would regret the repetition of the entire discussion on those issues, and therefore suggested that discussion be limited to what to be done, so that the work could be finished within a reasonable time.
Mr. HENKIN (United States of America), while agreeing with the Chairman to some extent, thought that consideration should again be given to the comments of the Director-General of the International Labour Office, as the specialized agencies had been specially asked to forward their comments. Moreover, one or two points had not been considered when the Convention had first been drafted, and might well repay study.
The Austrian Government's comments (E/AC.32/L.40, page 48) indicated approval of the drafting of article 19 rather than criticism, except for the suggestion made in the last paragraph. The Committee should be grateful that the Austrian Government had scrutinized the articles so carefully in relation to its own laws.
Much time had been spent on the drafting of article 19, stress having been placed on the desirability of formulating a text in reasonable harmony with the relevant provisions of the Migration for Employment Convention. While the provisions did to some extent overlap, it had to be remembered that the two Conventions covered in general different problems. Refugees, unlike migrant workers, were to be settled in countries. In that connection, the French and Belgian representatives had devoted much time to producing an acceptable draft, their countries being the most concerned.
The question of trade union membership, which had already arisen during the discussion on article 10, deserved further consideration under article 19. In article 10, provision had been made for the most favourable treatment accorded to nationals of foreign countries; article 19 required national treatment. If the countries most concerned were prepared to accept the suggestion made in the International Labour Office's comments, his delegation would also be prepared to accept it. It was worth noting that paragraph 3 of article 19 was recommendatory, not mandatory. A similar provision regarding sympathetic consideration for better treatment in respect of trade union rights might well be added to the article.
In connection with paragraph 3, he suggested to the United Kingdom representative that, as it was merely a recommendation, it did not seem one in respect of which a reservation was justified.
He proposed formally that, as the International Labour Office suggested, a paragraph be inserted in the article to permit the beneficiaries of an injured person to receive benefits in cases of fatal employment injuries, even if they were not resident in the country where the injury occurred. The Drafting Committee could decide on the exact wording.
With regard to the International Labour Office's suggestion to revert to the word "invalidity", he recalled that the reason for the change to the word "disability" was that "invalidity" apparently had no connection in English with the state of being an invalid. As "disability" was in any case wider in its meaning than what was meant by "invalidity", he saw no reason why the International Labour Office should object to it; but he would not oppose a decision to use in preference the word "invalidity".
The CHAIRMAN proposed, for the simplification of the discussion, that the various points raised by the International Labour Office be taken seriatim.
It was so agreed.
Mr. ROBINSON (Israel) said that the International Labour Organisation's comments implied that the situation might arise in which a person could be defined from one point of view as a refugee and from another as a migrant, so that two different solutions would be possible, according to whether the convention under consideration or the Migration for Employment Convention was applied. In his opinion, it was impossible to foresee all the future developments in the field of international social agreements which might affect the Convention. The Committee would do better to continue with the task of drafting an acceptable convention, and to leave aside the question of discrepancies between one convention and another, for if refugees were given more favourable treatment under one convention than another, so much the better for them.
Mr. JUVIGNY (France) agreed with the Israeli representative. The problem before the Committee at the moment was one of substance. It was necessary to determine whether the Committee should go beyond the decision it had taken at the 37th meeting on article 10, and whether the majority of States were prepared to accord to refugees, with respect to trade union rights, not only most-favoured-nation treatment, but also the treatment accorded to their own nationals.
In France, aliens generally and, consequently, refugees were allowed to belong to trade unions unconditionally. His Government, however, would be unable to accept a provision which would make it possible for refugees to participate in the administration or management of unions comprising French nationals and aliens, or which would, by implication, make it possible to organize unions of workers or employers consisting entirely of aliens. His delegation adhered to the second vote on article 10 taken at the previous meeting.
His Government was prepared to accord refugees most-favoured-nation treatment, but was not prepared to accord them treatment equal to that accorded to its nationals.
Mr. HERMENT (Belgium) said that that was also the position which his Government would have to take in the matter.
Mr. SCHÜRCH (Switzerland) stated that the Swiss federal laws relating to the questions referred to in paragraph 1 (a) of article 19 contained no provision whereby refugees were accorded treatment less favourable than that accorded to Swiss workers, and the same was true of the various cantonal laws. In practice, the authorities saw to it that the principle of equal treatment was applied.
With regard to old-age and widows' and orphans' insurance, refugees were treated as favourable as aliens generally. They had to be insured if they carried on any gainful activity, but were entitled to a grant only if they had paid contributions for at least 10 years, and the grant they received was only two-thirds of that received by Swiss nationals. In addition, aliens were not entitled to temporary grants. The question of improving the position of refugees with respect to old-age and widows' and orphans' insurance had already been examined in detail, but in view of the fact that the majority of claims by Swiss citizens could not be considered, it would hardly appear possible for the moment to accord to refugees treatment more favourable than that accorded to aliens. Only the nationals of States which had concluded treaties with Switzerland on a basis of reciprocity were entitled to a larger measure of old-age insurance benefits. In those conditions, his Government would probably be compelled to make a reservation on that provision.
With regard to unemployment insurance, refugees and aliens were treated in the same way as Swiss nationals but, in addition, were required to reside in the country for not less than five years before they could join an unemployment insurance scheme.
The benefits of the other social security institutions were accorded to refugees generally, to the same extent as to Swiss nationals.
Mr. OBLATH (International Labour Organisation) said that the various statements made, particularly that of the United States representative, had given him great satisfaction and he wished to add that the Migration for Employment Convention (Revised 1949, International Labour Conference, Conventions and Recommendations, 1919-1949, page 863) applied to all types of migrant, and to refugees also, so that, in practice, if article 19 were retained in its present form, the States which had ratified both conventions would find themselves required to accord different treatment to he same persons. He did not, however, press that point, and noted the statements which had been made, by the Israeli representative in particular. The same thing could be said about article 16. He had not dealt with that article the pervious day, so that the Committee should not have to revert to a matter which had already been decided.
Mr. HENKIN (United States of America) asked whether any class of refugee came under the Migration for Employment Convention, and whether that convention conferred the right upon a refugee or migrant worker to join a union or form a union himself. If the existence of two conventions overlapping to any degree caused confusion, it would be advisable to bring the Convention before the Committee into conformity as regards the right of refugees to join a trade union.
Mr. OBLATH (International Labour Organisation), in reply to the first question raised by the United States representative, quoted article 11 of the Migration for Employment Convention:
"1. For the purposes of this Convention the term 'migrant for employment' means a person who migrates from one country to another with a view to being employed otherwise than on his own account and includes any person regularly admitted as a migrant for employment.
2. This Convention does not apply to-
(a) frontier workers;
(b) short-term entry of members of the liberal professions and articles; and
It had been understood at the meetings which had preceded the voting on the Convention that its provisions would also apply to refugees and displaced persons.
With regard to the second question raised by the United States representative, he repeated the statement contained in the document submitted by the Director-General of the International Labour Office (E/AC.32/7), namely that article 6 of the Migration for Employment Convention provided for "treatment no less favourable than that which [each Member] applies to its own nationals in respect of the following matters:
"(a) insofar as such matters are regulated by law or regulations, or are subject to the control of administrative authorities-
(i) remuneration, including family allowances where these form part of remuneration, hours of work, overtime arrangements, holidays with pay, restrictions on home work, minimum age for employment, apprenticeship and training, women's work and the work of young persons;
(ii) membership of trade unions and enjoyment of the benefits of collective bargaining."
The last sub-paragraph had been embodied in the draft Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. It was a question solely of membership of trade unions; it was not a question of providing in the Convention for equal treatment with regard to the organisation of trade unions and participation in their administration.
Mr. JUVIGNY (France) thanked the representative of the International Labour Organisation for his explanatory statement and said that on that point there was no divergence from French law. He wished, however, to reassure him the even if the Migration for Employment Convention applied to wage-earning refugees and provided for the same treatment as that accorded to nationals, any States which ratified that convention and also ratified the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees would not find themselves faced with a contradiction, since the latter provided merely for minimum treatment. Hence, if a State considered itself able to ratify the Migration for Employment Convention, and if that Convention accorded better treatment than the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, that State would, insofar as it accepted migrants who were refugees, apply for preference the provisions of the Migration for Employment Convention. Thus, even if the texts conflicted, the facts did not.
The CHAIRMAN did not think it was necessary to alter the draft of article 19. There seemed to be some overlapping of the Convention and the Migration for Employment Convention, but a refugee would not suffer by coming within the scope of both conventions, as he would receive whichever was the more favourable treatment.
Mr. CHA (China) said that, partly because of the presence of surplus labour in his country, there was no question of any alien joining a trade union there. In the case of the White Russians and European Jews, the trades they had adopted were not organized, or they had gone into the liberal professions. Nevertheless, his Government was prepared to accept the principle that refugees should be give the most favourable treatment accorded to nationals of foreign countries. No obstacle would be put in the way of any one trying to join a trade union.
Mr. WINTER (Canada) understood that there would be no extension of the principle laid down in article 19 to apply to what was called in his country the "frontier movement" of labour; such movement had been called migration until the application of the Migration for Employment Convention.
Sir Leslie BRASS (United Kingdom) said that his Government did not particularly like the duplication of provisions in two conventions, but would not press for its removal. Nor would it press its view that "national treatment" might well be given to refugees in respect of other matters than those provided for in article 19, in particular the right of association. In view of what had been said in the discussion, he thought that the text might be left as it stood and the next point taken up.
The CHAIRMAN, summarizing the discussion, said that a certain minimum of rights would be guaranteed in the Convention, another and different minimum in the Migration for Employment Convention. A person covered under both conventions would get whichever treatment was the better, and a person covered by only one would receive the treatment conferred by that convention.
As regards the question of housing, dealt with in article 6, there was also a discrepancy between the conventions. He suggested therefore that the remarks that had been made on the question of a discrepancy between the two conventions on the subject of trade union membership should be considered also as applying to the discrepancy on the subject of housing.
It was so agreed.
The CHAIRMAN invited discussion on the question of the beneficiaries of injured persons.
Mr. WINTER (Canada) supported the proposal previously made by the United States representative that the Committee's interpretation of article 19 quoted by the International Labour Office in paragraph 5 of its comments should be included in that article.
Sir Leslie BRASS (United Kingdom) said that, subject to consultation with his Government and without prejudice to the requirements of exchange controls over the transmission of funds, he would support that proposal.
The CHAIRMAN, speaking as representative of Denmark, said that the remarks of the United Kingdom representative covered the position of his own country.
Mr. JUVIGNY (France) associated himself with the comments of the United Kingdom representative and the Danish representative. The principle was good, but France, which had ratified a convention of a substantially similar nature, had been criticized by the Committee on the Application of Conventions. Both because of its financial situation, particularly its exchange control system, and because of the absence of reciprocity in certain cases, France could not apply in full the rule concerning the maintenance of rights. If he agreed to the insertion in the article of the relevant section of the commentary, he would do so subject to consideration of the question by the technical departments concerned.
The CHAIRMAN suggested that it be left to the Drafting Committee to make the insertion, which would be considered by the full Committee when article 19 came before it again.
It was so agreed.
The CHAIRMAN invited comments on the International Labour Office's suggestion that the word "disability" be replaced by the word "invalidity".
Sir Leslie BRASS (United Kingdom) stressed that the word "invalidity" had no connection with health. If it was desired to indicate that the disability was permanent, then the words "permanent disability" should be used. "Invalidity" was obviously a mistranslation of a French term, which had crept into previous instruments.
The CHAIRMAN suggested that the term "invalidité" be retained in the French text and that in the English text the word "disability" be replaced by the words "permanent disability", which would be understood to mean the same as the term "invalidity" as it was defined in the International Labour Office's Income Security Recommendation, 1944 (paragraph 11).
Mr. CHA (China) had thought that the question of which term was to be employed had already been decided by a vote. It seemed unnecessary to reopen the question.
The CHAIRMAN admitted that a formal or informal vote had at some time been taken on every question before the present session of the Committee; but the task of the Committee was, surely, to revise the draft Convention in the light of comments submitted since those votes had been taken.
Mr. HENKIN (United States of America) was satisfied that due attention had been given to the comments of the Director-General of the International Labour Office and that any action by the Committee would be taken in the light of those comments. He still felt some concern with regard to the question of trade union membership and reserved the right to reopen it.
Though he did not support it and would vote against it unless it found favour with a majority of the Committee, he thought that the Austrian suggestion of replacing the phrase "payable wholly out of public funds" in article 19, paragraph 1 (b) (ii), by "payable wholly or partially out of public funds" should receive some consideration.
Mr. WEIS (International Refugee Organization) said that in the absence of an observer from the Austrian Government he could speak on the comments of the Austria Government only in the light of the experience of his Organization with refugees in Austria. It appeared that with regard to emergency help Austria was more liberal than was stated in the comments, since the Austrian Minister of Social Security had agreed to grant such help to refugees though, according to the strict letter of the law, they would be excluded from it.
Mr. OBLATH (International Labour Organisation) stated that refugees would lose certain rights deriving from their own contributions, if, as the Federal Government of Austria proposed, the words "payable wholly or partially out of public funds" were substituted for the words "payable wholly out of public funds".
The word "partially" meant that part would be paid out of the contributions of the refugees themselves. Paragraph 1 (b), (ii) referred to "benefits or portions of benefits payable wholly out of public funds", that was to say, exclusive of any contribution paid by the insured person. If the word "wholly" were qualified in any way, the insured person would lose certain rights.
Mr. JUVIGNY (France) said that in France certain social security benefits were paid wholly out of funds subscribed by individuals, namely, employers' contributions or employers' plus workers' contributions. In that case migrant refugees, who were wage-earners like the others and, consequently, paid social security contributions, should receive the counterpart of those contributions, namely, benefits. It was, however, possible that under certain social security systems the contributions paid by employers and workers were not sufficient to ensure financial stability; in such cases there was often a system of State assistance to redress the balance. If the Austrian proposal were accepted, in countries where the system was financed partly by the State but mainly by contributions from the persons insured, wage-earning refugees who paid contributions might find themselves deprived of all right to benefits, that was to say, of the counterpart of the contributions they had paid. The explanatory remarks made by the representative of the International Labour Organisation were holly apposite, at least in regard to certain social security systems.
Sir Leslie BRASS (United Kingdom) thought that the intention of the Austrian Government might be covered by employing the words "to such extent as they are payable out of public funds". He was sure that the Austrian comment indicated no desire to deprive a worker of the benefits of his own or his employer's contributions, but had regard only to such portions of benefits as were payable out of public funds.
Mr. HERMENT (Belgium) also thought that what the Austrian Government had in mind was the possibility of its being responsible for all or part of the benefits, in which case the portion contributed out of State funds would not be paid over to refugees. It was certainly not the Austrian Government's intention to deprive refugees who had paid contributions of the benefits to which those contributions entitled them.
In Belgium, in the case of certain workers who had paid contributions for a few years only and were thus entitled to too low a rate of pension, the Belgian Government made up the difference by paying out of State funds part of the pension granted to refugees at the age of 65. He imagined that he Austrian Government had some such situation in mind.
Mr. HENKIN (United States of America) thought that, so far as could be ascertained in the absence of the Austrian observer, the foregoing observations seemed to be to the point. He suspected that the Austrian Government's problem would be covered largely by paragraph 3 of article 19 and that it was either a very special problem or covered a very narrow field.
The CHAIRMAN found the text, as it stood, satisfactory. A Government so peculiarly placed as that of Austria would probably have to make reservations however the text was modified, and it would be undesirable to lower the general standard.
Sir Leslie BRASS (United Kingdom) had no observations to make with regard to paragraph 1, but paragraph 2 raised some difficulties. He could agree to it only if it were put in the form of a recommendation. In the matter of social security, the United Kingdom Government had concluded a number of bilateral treaties under which contributions paid in one country counted towards benefits in the other. His Government would consider sympathetically extending the treaties so as to cover refugees and concluding more such treaties, but did not consider the subject a suitable one for a general international convention. The treaties already conclude contained various carefully worked-out financial provisions, and similar provisions would be required for any future commitments.
Mr. HERMENT (Belgium) was afraid that he could not quite agree with the United Kingdom representative that the matter should be regulated by bilateral treaties.
In August 1949, at the suggestion of the Belgian Government representative in the Social Security Committee of the Permanent Commission of the Brussels Pact, it had been proposed that refugees should be admitted to benefit under existing bilateral social security conventions. The five signatories of the Brussels Pact had replied that the question should be dealt with in the special convention on refugees. He therefore felt that the time had come to reach a decision o that point.
Mr. JUVIGNY (France) recalled that paragraph 2 was the outcome of a Franco-Belgian proposal submitted at the first session of the Ad hoc Committee and was inspired by the conventions relating to the unification of the social legislation of the signatories to the Brussels Pact. In his view, the best procedure for those countries, including the Untied Kingdom, Belgium and France, would be to study the scope of that provision in the agencies set up by virtue of the Brussels Pact, so as to adjust their respective positions on that point.
He felt that the text could be retained, but if the United Kingdom representative submitted a formal amendment, he would be prepared to accept it.
The CHAIRMAN put to the vote the Untied Kingdom proposal that the Drafting Committee be asked so to modify paragraph 2 of article 20 as to give it the form of a recommendation.
The proposal was rejected by 3 votes to 1 with 6 abstentions.
Mr. HENKIN (United States of America), explaining his abstention, said that, had the Untied Kingdom proposal received more support, he would have voted for it. He reminded the Committee that he had said that the opinions of countries faced with special problems should be given particular weight in the discussion of articles which raised those problems.
The CHAIRMAN explained that as representative of Denmark he had abstained in the expectation of a general reservation by his Government with regard to paragraph 2.
He suggested that the discussion of article 19 be closed.
It was so agreed.
Article 20: Administrative Assistance
The CHAIRMAN drew attention to the United Kingdom Government's comments on article 20 (E/AC.32/L.40, page 50).
Mr. SCHÜRCH (Switzerland) said that the Swiss authorities endeavoured to provide refugees with the documents they needed, so far as lay within their competence. He found it difficult to understand paragraph 3, since everything depended on the nature of the document held by the refugee. To take the case of a passport, by issuing a passport to one of its nationals a State guaranteed his return to his country of origin. That was not the case with the other documents issued to refugees in place of a passport. The State authorities to whom a refugee presented such documents could not regard them as having the same value as a national passport. The idea behind article 20, paragraph 3 was interesting, but its scope was not as wide as might at first appear.
Mr. HENKIN (United States of America) was grateful to the Swiss observer for pointing out that article 20 might appear to cover travel documents, which were properly the subject of article 23. The Drafting Committee might wish to make some change to remove the possibility of confusion, but the Swiss observer could feel sure that the intention of the Committee had been to exclude travel documents from the provisions of article 20.
The CHAIRMAN thought that no change was necessary but that if it was the matte could be left to the Drafting Committee.
Mr. HERMENT (Belgium) suggested that to clarify the issue the words "of identity" should be inserted after the word "certifications", since it was, mainly, certificates of identity that were referred to.
The CHAIRMAN explained that the "certifications" referred to in article 20 were not identity papers but documents giving evidence of such matters as marital status or medical proficiency.
Mr. HERMENT (Belgium) said that his Government regarded a certificate of identity as a document issued when the person concerned could not obtain a national registration certificate. That was just what refugees very often needed.
The CHAIRMAN suggested that the discussion of article 20 be closed.
It was so agreed.
Article 21: Freedom of Movement
The CHAIRMAN drew attention to the comments of the Austrian and United Kingdom Governments on article 21 (E/AC.32/L.40, page 50 and 51).
Sir Leslie BRASS (United Kingdom) had nothing to add to the comment of his Government and his own formal proposal (E/AC.32/L.41) which would receive consideration by the Drafting Committee.
Mr. WINTER (Canada) said that the United Kingdom comment on article 21 covered the position of his own Government.
The CHAIRMAN hoped that the present discussion of article 21, could be short since it was one of those articles which would require reconsideration when they returned from the Drafting Committee.
Mr. CHA (China) said that the Chinese Government had in the past been involved in embarrassment through granting complete freedom of movement to aliens. Visitors endowed with more courage than prudence, who had insisted on exploring parts of China which harboured bandits or disaffected persons, had sometimes got themselves into trouble. Usually the representatives of the countries from which such visitors came had brought the gravity of their position to the attention of the Chinese Government, which had been embarrassed by its lack of means to rescue them. None of the cases which had so far occurred had actually involved refugees, but it would be understood why the Chinese Government was unable to accept a provision for absolute freedom of movement.
The CHAIRMAN pointed out that article 21 provided not for absolute freedom of movement but for freedom of movement subject to any regulations applicable to aliens generally in the same circumstances. If a Government, to avoid diplomatic embarrassments, closed some areas of its territory to aliens, those areas would also be closed to refugees.
He suggested that article 21 should be sent to the Drafting Committee which would consider the formal proposal (E/AC.32/L.41) submitted on the basis of the comment of the United Kingdom Government by the United Kingdom representative.
It was so agreed.
Article 22: Identity Papers
The CHAIRMAN drew attention to the comments submitted on article 22 by the Governments of Austria and Chile (E/AC.32/L.40, page 51) and suggested that the Committee defer consideration of the comments of the Government of Chile until it came to discuss article 23, since the real subject of those comments was travel documents and not identity papers.
Mr. WINTER (Canada) said that article 22 was a matter of concern to his Government, which had not been accustomed to issue documents guaranteeing re-admission to its territory except in the case of returning Canadians, but which a few months previously had concluded a reciprocal agreement with the United States Government to receive back United States citizens returning to Canada within twelve months. It was hoped that further similar agreements might be country's goodwill, as the United Kingdom representative the day before had cited his Government's liberalisation of its policy with regard to granting work permits to aliens.
Mr. HERMENT (Belgium) asked whether the authors of the draft Convention would have any objection to the insertion of the word "lawfully" before the words "in their territory".
He failed to see how any contracting party could agree to issue identity papers to refugees who were unlawfully in its territory or who were there on an essentially temporary basis. He assumed that the text referred to refugees who had been granted permission to reside in a country.
Mr. HENKIN (United States of America) believed that at the invitation of the International Refugee Organization the Committee had agreed to extend the provisions of article 22 to all refugees, so that a refugee illegally present in any country, thought still subject to expulsion, would be free from the extra hardships of a person in possession of no papers at all. He sought confirmation of that from the representative of the International Refugee Organization.
Mr. WEIS (International Refugee Organization) confirmed that the intention of the Committee had been that every refugee should be provided with some sort of document certifying his identity, without prejudice to the right of the Government of any country in which he might be illegally present to expel him. A man without papers was a pariah subject to arrest for that reason alone.
Mr. JUVIGNY (France) thought that was undoubtedly what the members of the Committee had had in mind. Where an alien whose position was irregular entered a country and the authorities of that country decided not to expel him immediately, he would be given a provisional document which he could produce if, say, he were stopped in the street; such a document would be purely provisional and its owner's stated identity might even prove to be false, but he would not be entirely an outcast and he would hold a provisional document enabling him to be identified.
That did not prejudice the application of the other articles of the Convention or of the national regulations concerning the grant of rights to aliens.
Mr. HERMENT (Belgium) thanked the French representative for his explanation.
Mr. MALFATTI (Italy) stated that his Government had no objections to article 22, since identity cards for refugees had been issued in Italy for the last two years, in full agreement with the International Refugee Organization.
His Government considered that on assuming his functions the High Commissioner for Refugees should approach each of the Governments concerned with a view to prolonging the existing agreements with the International Refugee Organization and improving them in the light of experience.
The same observation applied to the following article.
Discussion on article 22 was closed.
The meeting rose at 5.20 p.m.