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General Conclusion on International Protection

Executive Committee Meetings

General Conclusion on International Protection
No. 55 (XL) - 1989

13 October 1989
Executive Committee 40th session. Contained in United Nations General Assembly Document No. 12A (A/44/12/Add.1).

The Executive Committee,

a) Reiterated the primary nature and fundamental importance of the High Commissioner's protection responsibilities;

b) Expressed deep concern about UNHCR's present financial situation and, in this context, called on UNHCR as well as States, governmental and non-governmental organizations and the international community at large to continue to give the necessary priority to protection activities and to work to ensure their efficiency and effectiveness;

c) Recognized that the safety and physical integrity of refugees depend on respect for the basic protection principles and urged States to continue to admit and receive refugees, pending identification of their status and of an appropriate solution to their plight;

d) Expressed deep concern that refugee protection is seriously jeopardized in some States by expulsion and refoulement of refugees or by measures which do not recognize the special situation of refugees and called on all States to refrain from taking such measures and in particular from returning or expelling refugees contrary to fundamental prohibitions against these practices;

e) Noted with concern that applications for refugee status by persons who clearly have no valid claim to be considered as refugees under the relevant criteria continue to constitute a serious problem in a number of States and may be detrimental to the interests of those applicants who have good grounds for requesting recognition as refugees;

f) Emphasized in this context the importance of quick and effective status determination procedures in accordance with internationally accepted criteria and appropriate legal guarantees;

g) Noted with deep concern that large numbers of refugees and asylum-seekers in different areas of the world are currently the subject of detention or similar restrictive measures by reason of their illegal entry or presence in search of asylum, pending resolution of their situation and reiterated its Conclusion No. 44 (XXXVII) which circumscribes the grounds for detention of such persons;

h) Expressed strong concern about serious violations of the rights and security of refugees and asylum-seekers in different parts of the world including through forced recruitment of refugees into armed forces;

i) Reiterated its Conclusion No. 48 (XXXVIII) concerning military or armed attacks on refugee camps and settlements and urged all parties concerned to respect the guidelines, including on UNHCR access, contained therein;

j) Expressed 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 hoped that efforts would continue within the United Nations system to address their protection needs;

k) Expressed the strong hope that, consistent with international practice, States will ensure that their extradition legislation or arrangements maintain the protections or exemptions necessary to safeguard the basic rights of refugees;

l) Noted with satisfaction that large numbers of refugees had found a durable solution to their problem by availing themselves of voluntary repatriation and recalled in this context the relevance of Conclusion No. 40 (XXXVI) on Voluntary Repatriation;

m) Underlined that resettlement is not only a possible solution for some refugees, but is also an urgent protection measure in the individual case, welcomed the fact that several African States provide such resettlement opportunities, and invited all states to make places speedily available to respond to urgent or emergency protection situations facing individual refugees;

n) Noted the accomplishments of the Office in the promotion and dissemination of refugee law, including particularly the organization of protection training courses for government and other concerned officials, and urged the High Commissioner to pursue his activities in this regard, making every effort to ensure that such protection training courses continue on a significant scale;

o) Welcomed the recent accession of Hungary to the 1951 United Nations Convention and the 1967 Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees and encouraged the High Commissioner actively to promote further the universal applicability of these instruments;

p) Reaffirmed the crucial role played since its inception by the Sub-Committee of the Whole on International Protection in identifying existing shortcomings and problems in the field of refugee protection and by formulating conclusions which serve as international guidelines to be drawn upon by States, UNHCR and others when developing or orienting their policies on refugee issues;

q) Decide that, in view of the importance of this task and in order to allow the Sub-Committee to consider all aspects of any issue in depth, the agenda for the Sub-Committee should preferably be limited to one or two subjects of practical benefit to refugees, that greater use could be made of informal working groups between annual meetings and that, whenever required, a particular issue should be considered at consecutive sessions of the Sub-Committee.