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Safeguarding Asylum

Executive Committee Meetings

Safeguarding Asylum
No. 82 (XLVIII) - 1997

17 October 1997
Executive Committee 48th session. Contained in United Nations General Assembly Document No. 12A (A/52/12/Add.1).

The Executive Committee,

(a) Recalls the fundamental importance of the High Commissioner's international protection function;

(b) Reaffirms that the institution of asylum, which derives directly from the right to seek and enjoy asylum set out in Article 14 (1) of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, is among the most basic mechanisms for the international protection of refugees;

(c) Notes with concern that the growing complexity of refugee crises poses serious and novel challenges to the institution of asylum;

(d) Reiterates, in light of these challenges, the need for full respect to be accorded to the institution of asylum in general, and considers it timely to draw attention to the following particular aspects:

(i) the principle of non-refoulement, which prohibits expulsion and return of refugees in any manner whatsoever to the frontiers of territories where their lives or freedom would be threatened on account of their race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, whether or not they have been formally granted refugee status, or of persons in respect of whom there are substantial grounds for believing that they would be in danger of being subjected to torture, as set forth in the 1984 Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment;

(ii) access, consistent with the 1951 Convention and the 1967 Protocol, of asylum-seekers to fair and effective procedures for determining status and protection needs;

(iii) the need to admit refugees into the territories of States, which includes no rejection at frontiers without fair and effective procedures for determining status and protection needs;

(iv) the need for rapid, unimpeded and safe UNHCR access to persons of concern to the High Commissioner;

(v) the need to apply scrupulously the exclusion clauses stipulated in Article 1 F of the 1951 Convention and in other relevant international instruments, to ensure that the integrity of the asylum institution is not abused by the extension of protection to those who are not entitled to it;

(vi) the obligation to treat asylum-seekers and refugees in accordance with applicable human rights and refugee law standards as set out in relevant international instruments;

(vii) the responsibility of host States, working, where appropriate, with international organizations, to identify and separate any armed or military elements from refugee populations, and to settle refugees in secure locations at a reasonable distance, to the extent possible, from the frontier of the country of origin, with a view to safeguarding the peaceful nature of asylum;

(viii) the duty of refugees, and of asylum-seekers, to respect and abide by the laws of host States;

(e) Calls upon all concerned parties to respect and comply with the precepts on which the institution of asylum is based, and to implement their obligations in a spirit of true humanitarianism, international solidarity and burden-sharing.