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Draft Conclusion on Military Attacks on Refugee Camps and Settlements

Executive Committee Meetings

Draft Conclusion on Military Attacks on Refugee Camps and Settlements

2 October 1984

The Executive Committee

Considered that States and other parties concerned should be guided by the following considerations:

1. Refugee camps and settlements as such shall not be the object of military attacks. Such attacks are in grave violation of existing and fundamental principles of international humanitarian law and should expressly be condemned by the international community.

2. All possible action should be taken in the relevant bodies of the United Nations and other organisations to prevent such attacks or their recurrence.

3. States and other parties to armed conflicts of an international or internal character shall respect the applicable rules and principles of international humanitarian law and in particular shall respect those rules and principles relating to the treatment of civilian populations.

4. Refugee camps and settlements shall be used exclusively for civilian and humanitarian purposes, relevant organs of the United Nations as well as the States of refuge or asylum shall do all within their capacity to ensure that the exclusively civilian and humanitarian character of such camps and settlements is maintained.

5. UNHCR and other concerned organs of the United Nations shall make every effort, within their respective terms of reference and the principles of the United Nations Charter, to promote conditions which ensure that refugees in camps and settlements are not exposed to the danger of or suffer from military attacks. This may include maintaining close contact with the Secretary-General of the United Nations or liaising as appropriate with the parties to the armed conflict and States of refuge on methods of protecting such refugee camps or settlements including their relocation whenever possible.

6. In order to enable UNHCR to accomplish its humanitarian task with regard to refugees in camps and settlements of its concern, it is essential that UNHCR be granted access to such camps and settlements.

7. States in whose territory refugee camps and settlements are located shall do all within their capacity to ensure that such camps and settlements are protected against military attacks. For reasons of security, countries of asylum shall, as far as possible, settle refugees at a reasonable distance from the frontier of their country of origin.

8. The grant of asylum or refuge shall be regarded as a peaceful and humanitarian act, and as such shall not be regarded as unfriendly by another State.

9. Refugees in camps and settlements have duties deriving from the refuge and protection granted or afforded to them by the country of refuge of the country of asylum. In particular, they shall conform to the laws and regulations of the State of refuge or of asylum, including lawful measures taken for the maintenance of public order. Moreover, they shall refrain from any activity likely to endanger the exclusively civilians and humanitarian character of the camp or settlement.

10. In accordance with the principles of international solidarity and in order to alleviate the burden of the country of refuge, States and competent international organisations shall provide, according to their means, all necessary assistance to relieve the plight of the victims of such military and armed attacks on refugee camps and settlements if ever they occur.