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Rescue of Asylum-Seekers in Distress at Sea

Executive Committee Meetings

Rescue of Asylum-Seekers in Distress at Sea
No. 38 (XXXVI) - 1985

18 October 1985
Executive Committee 36th session. Contained in United Nations General Assembly Document No. 12A (A/40/12/Add.1). Conclusion endorsed by the Executive Committee of the High Commissioner's Programme upon the recommendation of the Sub-Committee of the Whole on International Protection of Refugees.

The Executive Committee,

(a) Reaffirmed the fundamental obligation under international law for shipmasters to rescue all persons, including asylum-seekers, in distress at sea;

(b) Recalled the conclusions adopted by the Executive Committee at previous sessions recognizing the need to promote measures to facilitate the rescue of asylum-seekers in distress at sea [No. 20, No. 23, No. 26, No. 31, No. 34];

(c) Expressed satisfaction that the rescue of asylum-seekers in distress at sea has increased significantly in 1985 but at the same time expressed concern that many ships continued to ignore asylum-seekers in distress at sea;

(d) Welcomed the fact that the provision of an appropriate number of resettlement places had made it possible for the Rescue at Sea Resettlement Offers (RASRO) scheme to commence on a trial basis as from May 1985;

(e) Welcomed the wide-ranging initiatives undertaken by UNHCR to promote the rescue of asylum-seekers in distress at sea and the support given to these initiatives by States;

(f) Strongly recommended that States maintain their support of UNHCR action in this area and, in particular, that they:

(i) join or renew contributions to the DISERO (Disembarkation Resettlement Offers) and to the RASRO (Rescue at Sea Resettlement Offers) schemes, or to either of them, as soon as possible;

(ii) request shipowners to inform all shipmasters in the South China Sea of their responsibility to rescue all asylum-seekers in distress at sea.