Military and Armed Attacks on Refugee Camps and Settlements in Southern Africa and Elsewhere
1. The grave problem of military attacks on refugee camps and settlements in southern Africa and elsewhere, which was first brought before the Executive Committee at its thirty-second session, was the subject of an informal meeting of the Committee on 28 April 1983 to examine the report of Ambassador Felix Schnyder, who had been requested by the High Commissioner to study the question.
2. A working group of 12 member States, established to study the report and to consider the matter further, met on a number of occasions during 1983 under the chairmanship of H. E. Ambassador Ibrahim Kharma. it finally centred its deliberations on a draft set of principles to be submitted to the Sub-Committee of the Whole on International Protection at the thirty-fourth session of the Executive Committee.
3. In the course of these discussions it was generally agreed that military attacks on refugee camps or settlements should be condemned by the international community as a flagrant violation of fundamental principles of humanitarian law. Any set of principles drawn up should establish a balance as regards the respective responsibilities of the aggressor, the country of asylum, responsibilities of refugees vis-à-vis their country of asylum or refuge and the responsibilities of the international community as a whole.
4. The working group reached agreement on a draft set of principles on military attacks on refugee camps and settlements with the exception of three paragraphs which were annotated accordingly before being submitted to the Sub-Committee of the Whole. The text was discussed at the eighth meeting of the Sub-Committee, but despite the efforts of a small drafting. group no consensus could be reached. It was therefore decided to take note of the text and to submit it to the Executive Committee f or further consideration (see document A/AC.96/629).
5. The Executive Committee thereupon considered the report of the sub-Committee of the Whole on International Protection. The various delegations gave their views on the necessary balance as regards the responsibilities of the various parties involved. It was regretted that it had not been possible to reach a consensus on a statement Of principles on the question, but it was believed that, in view of the large measure of agreement already attained, it should still be possible to reach a consensus. The Committee thereupon decided to express its concern at the gravity and urgency of the problem, to take note of the report of the Sub-Committee of the Whole and of the draft set of principles and to request the Chairman to continue his consultation in order to seek final agreement on these principles with the least possible delay. (A/38/12/Add.1, para. 97(4))
6. Consultations with the members of the working group are in progress. It is hoped that it will be possible to submit a revised draft statement of principles for consideration by the Sub-Committee of the Whole on international Protection at its ninth meeting.