Refugees and stateless persons Resolutions of 11 and 16 August 1950
A General Assembly resolution 319 (IV): Provisions for the functioning of the High Commissioner's Office for Refugees
The Economic and Social Council,1
Considering that, at its fourth session, the General Assembly requested the Council to prepare, at its eleventh session, a draft resolution embodying provisions for the functioning of the High Commissioner's Office for Refugees and to submit this draft resolution to the General Assembly for consideration at its fifth regular session, and
Having considered the draft resolution submitted by the Secretary-General,2
Decides to transmit to the General Assembly the following draft resolution for consideration by the General Assembly at its fifth session:
"The General Assembly,
"In view of its resolution 319 A (IV) of 3 December 1949,
"Adopts the Annex to the present resolution, being the Statute of the High Commissioner's Office for Refugees; and
"Calls upon Governments to co-operate with the High Commissioner in the performance of his duties concerning refugees failing under the competence of his Office, especially by:
"(a) Becoming parties to international conventions providing for the protection of refugees, and by taking the necessary steps of implementation under such conventions;
"(b) Entering into special agreements with him for the execution of measures calculated to improve the situation of refugees and to reduce the number requiring protection;
"(c) Admitting refugees to their territories, not excluding those in the most destitute categories;
"(d) Co-operating with the High Commissioner in efforts to promote the voluntary repatriation of refugees;
"(e) Promoting the assimilation of refugees, especially by facilitating their naturalization;
"(f) Providing refugees with travel and other documents such as would normally be provided to other aliens by their national authorities, especially documents which would facilitate their resettlement; and in particular, where a State is Party to the Inter Governmental Agreement on Refugee Travel Documents signed in London on 15 October 1946, by continuing to issue and accept as valid documents as provided by that Agreement until such State shall become a party to any agreement superseding it;
"(g) Permitting refugees to transfer their assets and especially those necessary for their resettlement; and
"(h) Providing the High Commissioner with information concerning the number and condition of refugees, and laws and regulations concerning them.
"ANNEX "Statute of the High Commissioner's Office for Refugees
"CHAPTER I - GENERAL PRINCIPLES
"(1) It shall be the duty of the High Commissioner for Refugees to provide international protection for the refugees falling under his competence and to seek permanent solutions for the problems of these refugees, by assisting Governments, and, subject to the approval of the Governments concerned, voluntary agencies, to facilitate the voluntary repatriation of such refugees, or their assimilation within new national communities.
"(2) The High Commissioner shall follow policy directives given to him by the United Nations according to methods determined by the General Assembly.
"(3) The High Commissioner's work shall be of an entirely non-political character, and shall relate, as a rule, to groups and categories of refugees.
"(4) The High Commissioner's Office shall be financed under the budget of the United Nations. Unless the General Assembly subsequently decides otherwise, no expenditure other than administrative expenditures relating to the functioning of the High Commissioner's Office shall be borne on the budget of the United Nations and all other expenditures relating to the activities of the High Commissioner shall be financed by voluntary contributions.
"CHAPTER II - ORGANIZATION
"A. High Commissioner's Office
"(1) The High Commissioner shall be elected by the General Assembly on the nomination of the Secretary-General. The terms of appointment of the High Commissioner shall be proposed by the Secretary-General and approved by the General Assembly.
"The High Commissioner shall be elected for a term of three years, from 1 January 1951.
"(2) The High Commissioner shall appoint, for the same term, a Deputy High Commissioner of a nationality other than his own.
"(3) Within the limits of the budgetary appropriations provided, the staff of the High Commissioner's Office shall be appointed by the High Commissioner and shall be responsible to him in the exercise of their functions.
"Such staff shall be chosen from persons devoted to the purposes of the High Commissioner's Office.
"Their conditions of employment shall be the same as those provided under the staff regulations adopted by the General Assembly and the rules promulgated thereunder by the Secretary-General. Provisions may also be made to permit the employment of personnel without compensation.
"B. Advisory Committee for Refugees
"The Economic and Social Council may decide, after hearing the views of the High Commissioner on the subject, to establish an advisory committee on refugees, which shall consist of representatives of States Members and States non-members of the United Nations, to be selected by the Council on the basis of their demonstrated interest in and devotion to the solution of the refugee problem.
"The High Commissioner's Office for Refugees shall be located in Geneva, Switzerland.
"CHAPTER III - POWERS, FUNCTIONS AND COMPETENCE
"(1) The High Commissioner shall consult the Governments of the countries of residence of refugees as to the need for appointing representatives therein. In any country recognizing such need, there may be appointed a representative approved by the government of that country. Subject to the foregoing, the same representative may serve in more than one country.
"(2) The High Commissioner shall be entitled to present his views before the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council and their subordinate bodies.
"The High Commissioner shall report annually to the General Assembly through the Economic and Social Council.
"(3) The High Commissioner may invite the assistance of the various specialized agencies.
"(1) In order to promote, stimulate and facilitate the execution of the most suitable solution to the problem with which he is entrusted, the High Commissioner shall provide for the protection of refugees falling under the competence of his office by:
"(a) Promoting the conclusion and ratification of international conventions providing for the protection of refugees, supervising their application and proposing amendments thereto;
"(b) Promoting, through special agreement with Governments, the execution of any measures calculated to improve the situation of refugees and to reduce the number requiring protection;
"(c) Assisting Governments and private organizations in their efforts to promote voluntary repatriation or assimilation within new national communities;
"(d) Facilitating the co-ordination of the efforts of voluntary agencies concerned with the welfare of refugees;
"(e) Establishing contact in such manner as he may think best with private organizations dealing with refugee questions;
"(f) Keeping in close touch with the Governments and inter-governmental organizations concerned.
"(2) The High Commissioner shall administer any funds, public or private, which he receives for assistance to refugees, and shall distribute them among private and, as appropriate, official agencies which he deems best qualified to administer such assistance.
"The High Commissioner may reject any offers which he does not consider appropriate or which cannot be utilized.
"The High Commissioner shall not appeal to Governments for funds or make a general appeal, without the prior approval of the General Assembly.
"The High Commissioner shall include in his annual report a statement of his activities in this field.
"(3) The High Commissioner shall engage in such additional activities, including repatriation and resettlement activities, as the General Assembly may determine, within the limits of the resources placed at his disposal.
"(1) Persons falling under the competence of the High Commissioner's Office for Refugees shall be those defined in article 1 of the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees as approved by the General Assembly, and such other persons as the General Assembly may from time to time determine. The High Commissioner shall determine which cases fall within the categories mentioned in paragraph c of article 1 of the Convention, and are therefore excluded from his mandate.
"(2) At his discretion, the High Commissioner may intercede with Governments on behalf of other categories of refugees, pending consideration by the General Assembly as to whether to bring such categories within the mandate of the High Commissioner's Office for Refugees.
"CHAPTER IV - GENERAL PROVISIONS
"(1) The High Commissioner and the Secretary-General shall make appropriate arrangements for liaison and consultation on matters of mutual interest.
"(2) The administration of the Office of the High Commissioner shall be subject to the financial regulations of the United Nations and to the financial rules promulgated thereunder by the Secretary-General.
"(3) Transactions relating to the High Commissioner's funds shall be subject to audit by the United Nations Board of Auditors, provided that the Board may accept audited accounts from the agencies to which funds have been allocated. Administrative arrangements for the custody of such funds and their allocation shall be agreed between the High Commissioner and the Secretary-General in accordance with the financial regulations of the United Nations and rules promulgated thereunder by the Secretary-General.
"(4) The Secretary-General shall provide the High Commissioner with all necessary facilities within budgetary limitations.
"(5) The General Assembly shall review, no later than at its eighth regular session, the arrangements for the High Commissioner's Office for Refugees with a view to determining whether the Office should be continued beyond 31 December 1953.
"(6) All provisions of General Assembly resolution 319 A (IV) and the Annex thereto not expressly reproduced in this text shall remain in force."
B Draft Convention relating to the status of refugees
I REPORT OF THE AD Hoc COMMITTEE ON REFUGEES AND STATELESS PERSONS
The Economic and Social Council,
Takes notes of the report of the Ad Hoc Committee on Refugees and Stateless Persons including, in particular, the draft agreements contained therein, and of the comments of Governments thereon3
Submits to the General Assembly the report of the Ad Hoc Committee, together with the comments of Governments thereon, and the records of the proceedings of this Council on this subject;4
Requests the Secretary-General:
(1) To reconvene the Ad Hoc Committee on Refugees and Stateless Persons in order that it may prepare revised drafts of these agreements in the light of comments of Governments and of specialized agencies and the discussions and decisions of this Council at its eleventh session, which shall include the definition of "refugee " and the Preamble approved by the Council, making such other revisions as appear necessary; and
(2) To submit the drafts, as revised, to the General Assembly at its fifth session;
Draws to the attention of the Ad Hoc Committee the fact that, under rules 75 and 77 of the rules of procedure of the Council, the Committee is authorized to hear statements from Member States not members of the Committee and from such specialized agencies as may wish to participate without vote in the deliberations of the Committee;
Decides that, in addition, the Ad Hoc Committee is authorized to hear statements from such non-member States, because of their special interest in the problem, as may wish to participate as observers, without vote, in the deliberations of the Committee; and
Recommends to the General Assembly that it approve international agreements on the basis of the draft agreements prepared by the Ad Hoc Committee, as revised, taking into account comments of Governments and the views expressed at the eleventh session of the Council.
II DRAFT CONVENTION RELATING TO THE STATUS OF REFUGEES
The Economic and Social Council,
Having examined the Preamble of the draft Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, prepared by the Ad Hoc Committee on Refugees and Stateless Persons, and the definition of "refugee" contained in article I of the draft Convention,
Decides that the revised draft Convention to be submitted to the fifth session of the General Assembly after further review by the Ad Hoc Committee, shall contain the following texts of the Preamble and definition of the term "Refugee" (Article I).
"1. Considering that the Charter of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights establish the principle that human beings shall enjoy fundamental rights and freedoms without discrimination;
"2. Considering that the United Nations has, on various occasions, and most recently in General Assembly resolution 319 A (IV), manifested its profound concern for refugees and endeavoured to assure refugees the widest possible exercise of these fundamental rights and freedoms;
"3. Considering that, in the light of experience, the adoption of an international convention would appear to be one of the most effective ways of guaranteeing refugees the exercise of such rights;
"4. Considering further that it is desirable to revise and consolidate previous international agreements relating to the protection of refugees, to extend the scope of such agreements to additional groups of refugees, and to increase the protection accorded by these instruments;
"5. Considering, however, that the exercise of the right of asylum may place unduly heavy burdens on certain countries, and that a satisfactory solution of a problem of which the United Nations has recognized the international scope and nature cannot therefore be achieved without international co-operation;
"6. Considering that the High Commissioner for Refugees will be called upon to supervise the application of this Convention, and that the effective implementation of this Convention depends on the full co-operation of States with the High Commissioner and on a wide measure of international cooperation.
"7. Expressing the hope, finally, that this Convention will be regarded as having a value as an example exceeding its contractual scope, and that without prejudice to any recommendations the General Assembly may be led to make in order to invite the High Contracting Parties to extend to other categories of persons the benefits of this Convention, all nations will be guided by it in granting to persons who might come to be present in their territory in the capacity of refugees and who would not be covered by the following provisions, treatment affording the same rights and advantages.
"DEFINITION OF THE TERM 'REFUGEE' (Chapter I, Article I)
"A. For the purposes of this Convention, the term 'refugee' shall apply to any person
"(1) Who in the period between 1 August 1914 and 15 December 1946 was considered a refugee under the Arrangements of 12 May 1926 and 30 June 1928 or under the Conventions of 28 October 1933 and 10 February 1938, and the Protocol of 14 September 1939;
"(2) Who has been accepted by the International Refugee Organization as falling under its mandate;
"(3) Who has had, or has, well-founded fear of being the victim of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality or political opinion, as a result of events in Europe before 1 January 1951, or circumstances directly resulting from such events, and, owing to such fear, has had to leave, shall leave, or remains outside the country of his nationality, before or after 1 January 1951, and is unable, or, owing to such fear or for reasons other than personal convenience, unwilling, to avail himself of the protection of the government of the country of his nationality, or, if he has no nationality, has left, shall leave, or remains outside the country of his former habitual residence
"The decision as to eligibility taken by the International Refugee Organization during the period of its activities shall not prevent the status of refugees being recognized in the case of persons who otherwise fulfil the conditions of this Article.
"B. This Convention shall not apply to any refugee enjoying the protection of a Government because
"(1) He has voluntarily re-availed himself of the protection of the government of the country of his nationality;
"(2) Having lost his nationality, he has voluntarily reacquired it;
"(3) He has acquired a new nationality and enjoys the protection of the government of the country of his nationality;
"(4) He has voluntarily re-established himself in the country which he left or outside which he remained owing to fear of persecution;
"(5) As a former member of a German minority, he has established himself in Germany or is living there.
"C. No contracting State, shall apply the benefits of this Convention to any person who, in its opinion, has committed a crime specified in Article VI of the London Charter of the International Military Tribunal. No contracting State shall be obliged, under the provisions of this Convention, to grant refugee status to any person whom it has serious reasons to consider as falling under the provisions of article 14 (2) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights."
III PROVISIONS RELATING TO THE PROBLEM OF STATELESSNESS
The Economic and Social Council,
Recalling its concern with the problem of statelessness as expressed in its resolution 248 B (IX) of 8 August 1949, in which it established an ad hoc committee to study this problem,
Having considered the report of the Ad Hoc Committee and its recommendations concerning the elimination of statelessness,
Taking note of article 15 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights concerning the right of every individual to a nationality,
Considering that statelessness entails serious problems both for individuals and for States, and that it is necessary both to reduce the number of stateless persons and to eliminate the causes of statelessness,
Considering that these different aims cannot be achieved except through the co-operation of each State and by the adoption of international conventions,
Recommends to States involved in changes of territorial sovereignty that they include in the arrangements for such changes provisions, if necessary, for the avoidance of statelessness;
Invites States to examine sympathetically applications for naturalization submitted by stateless persons habitually resident in their territory and, if necessary, to re-examine their nationality laws with a view to reducing as far as possible the number of cases of statelessness created by the operation of such laws;
Requests the Secretary-General to seek information from States with regard to the above-mentioned matters and to report thereon to the Council;
Notes with satisfaction that the International Law Commission intends to initiate as soon as possible work on the subject of nationality, including statelessness, and urges that the International Law Commission prepare at the earliest possible date the necessary draft international convention or conventions for the elimination of statelessness;
Invites the Secretary-General to transmit this resolution to the International Law Commission
1 See 406th, 407th and 414th meetings of the Council.
2 See document E/1669.
3 See documents E/1618, E/1618/Corr.1, E/1703, E/1703/ Corr.1, E/1703/Add.1-7, E11704, E/1704/Corr.1 and 2.
4 See documents E/AC.7/SR.158 to 161 and 165 to 170, also E/SR.406 and 407.