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General Conclusion on International Protection

Executive Committee Meetings

General Conclusion on International Protection
No. 68 (XLIII) - 1992

9 October 1992
Executive Committee 43rd session. Contained in United Nations General Assembly Document No. 12A (A/47/12/Add.1).

The Executive Committee,

(a) Reaffirms the primary nature of the High Commissioner's protection responsibilities which are performed as a non-political, humanitarian and social function within the framework of international refugee law and applicable regional instruments, with due regard for human rights and humanitarian law, and which necessitate cooperation with UNHCR, as well as among and between States in accordance with the United Nations Charter, on a basis of international responsibilities, solidarity and burden-sharing;

(b) Notes the recent accessions by Albania, the Czech and Slovak Federal Republic and Honduras, and the notification of succession by Slovenia to the 1951 Convention and the 1967 Protocol without geographic limitation, and encourages other States to accede to these instruments in order to promote further international cooperation in responding to and resolving refugee problems;

(c) Notes the value of reporting by States parties on implementation of their responsibilities under the 1951 Convention and 1967 Protocol, again urges States which have not yet done so to respond to the questionnaire on implementation circulated by the High Commissioner, and calls upon the High Commissioner and all States to work together to strengthen implementation, including through heightened promotional efforts, better monitoring arrangements and more harmonized application of the refugee definition criteria;

(d) Welcomes the strong commitment of States to continue receiving refugees and extending to them protection and assistance;

(e) Renews its expressions of deep concern regarding persistent problems in some countries or regions seriously jeopardizing the security or well-being of refugees, including numerous incidents of refoulement, expulsion, physical attacks on refugees and detention under unacceptable conditions, and calls upon States to take all measures necessary to ensure respect for the fundamental principles of refugee protection;

(f) Reaffirms the primary importance of the principles of non-refoulement and asylum as basic to refugee protection;

(g) Notes that effective and expeditious status determination procedures and access to them should be maintained by States with the advice and assistance of UNHCR, just as clear and intentional misuse of these procedures should be actively discouraged and recalls in this regard its Conclusion No. 65 (XLII), in particular paragraphs (n) and (o);

(h) 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 systems to address their protection needs;

(i) Expresses appreciation for the progress report on the implementation of the Guidelines on the Protection of Refugee Women (EC/SCP/74), notes with great concern the precarious situation of many refugee women, whose physical safety is often endangered and who often do not have equal access to basic necessities including adequate health and educational facilities, and calls upon all States, UNHCR and other concerned parties to ensure implementation of the Guidelines, particularly through measures aimed at eliminating all forms of sexual exploitation of and violence against refugee women, protecting women heads of household, and promoting their active participation and involvement in decisions affecting their lives and communities;

(j) Reaffirms its Conclusion No. 64 (XLI) on Refugee Women and International Protection, and calls upon the High Commissioner to pursue her efforts to increase public awareness of the rights and protection needs of refugee women and girls, inter alia, through further sensitization of bodies concerned with the status of women, and by promoting and supporting the inclusion of the issue of the rights of refugee women on the international human rights agenda;

(k) Encourages the High Commissioner to ensure that specific attention to refugee women's issues becomes an integral part of refugee protection and requests her also to ensure that the protection situation of both refugee women and of refugee children is included in the plan of work for forthcoming meetings of the Sub-Committee of the Whole on International Protection;

(l) Reiterates the importance accorded by the Committee to the protection and well-being of refugee children, in particular unaccompanied minors, and welcomes the appointment of a Senior Coordinator for Refugee Children as an important element in strengthening the implementation of the Guidelines on Refugee Children and in coordinating efforts on behalf of refugee children by States and other international and non-governmental organizations;

(m) Notes, however, with concern, the dimension and complexity of the present refugee problem, the potential risk of new refugee situations developing in some countries or regions and the challenges confronting refugee protection due to the constantly changing global political, social and economic climate;

(n) Commends, therefore, the initiative of the High Commissioner in convening the internal Working Group on International Protection, whose recommendations were reflected in the Note on International Protection which provides a useful basis for practical approaches to meet new and multifaceted protection challenges, so that persons of concern to the High Commissioner receive the protection required by their situation;

(o) Takes note of the fact that UNHCR's broad humanitarian expertise and experience have proved to be an appropriate basis for the Office to explore new options or undertake new protection activities, in specific situations, in the areas of asylum, prevention and solutions, consistent with requests to it, where required, with the fundamental protection principles, and with its mandate, and in coordination with other United Nations organs;

(p) Supports, in this connection, strengthened efforts by the High Commissioner to explore further approaches encompassing early warning, training, advisory services and promotion of human rights and of development, in conformity with her mandate and responsibilities, within an inter-agency, intergovernmental and non-governmental framework as appropriate, to prevent conditions giving rise to refugee exoduses;

(q) Supports also efforts of the High Commissioner, on the basis of specific requests from the Secretary-General or the competent principal organs of the United Nations and with the consent of the concerned State, to undertake activities in favour of internally displaced persons, taking into account the complementarities of mandates and expertise of other relevant organizations;

(r) Recognizes, in this regard, that new approaches should not undermine the institution of asylum, as well as other basic protection principles, notably the principle of non-refoulement;

(s) Reaffirms that voluntary repatriation of refugees is the preferred solution, where feasible, and endorses UNHCR's efforts to work actively to create, from the outset of a refugee problem, conditions conducive to voluntary return in safety and dignity. The success of this solution will depend on a number of factors, including assurances of safety on return, access arrangements and monitoring possibilities for UNHCR, the adequacy of reception arrangements and reintegration possibilities;

(t) Reaffirms the important role of resettlement as an instrument of protection and as a durable solution in specific circumstances and, in this connection, calls on Governments for special flexibility and accelerated departures for compelling protection cases and vulnerable groups identified by the Office;

(u) Acknowledges that the realization of solutions in a growing number of mass outflow situations is much facilitated where these are made an integral part of a comprehensive plan of action, which balances the interests of affected States and the rights and needs of individuals and, accordingly, encourages UNHCR to work together with States and other interested organizations to explore new solutions-oriented approaches, which might include temporary protection and necessary arrangements for burden-sharing, when a situation so requires;

(v) Notes the importance of promotion of refugee law as an element of emergency preparedness, as well as to facilitate prevention of and solutions to refugee problems, and calls upon the High Commissioner to continue to strengthen the Office's promotion and training activities;

(w) Deplores ethnic and other forms of intolerance as one of the major causes of forced migratory movements, at the same time expresses its concern regarding xenophobia in segments of the population in a number of countries receiving refugees and asylum-seekers which has exposed them to considerable danger and, therefore, calls upon States and UNHCR to continue to work actively to promote broader understanding throughout national communities of the plight of refugees and asylum-seekers;

(x) Takes note of the important contribution being made by the High Commissioner to concerned international bodies and requests her to continue to seek expanded cooperation with these bodies, such as UNDP, UNICEF, WFP, FAO, UNEP, the Centre for Human Rights, the Commission on Human Rights, IOM and ICRC, and thereby, inter alia, to promote broadened awareness of the link between refugees and human rights, as well as development and environmental issues;

(y) Reiterates its call to States and relevant international agencies actively to explore and promote measures favourable to stateless persons and, recognizing the absence of an international body with a general mandate for these persons, calls upon the High Commissioner to continue her efforts generally on behalf of stateless individuals and to work actively to promote adherence to and implementation of the international instruments relating to statelessness.