19 November 1998


Press Release
SC/6598



SECURITY COUNCIL, ACTING ON SECRETARY-GENERAL'S AFRICA REPORT, ADOPTS TEXTS ON STATUS AND TREATMENT OF REFUGEES, ILLICIT ARMS FLOW

19981119
Resolutions 1208 (1998) and 1209 (1998) Adopted Unanimously

The Security Council this afternoon unanimously adopted two resolutions -- addressing the status and treatment of refugees, and the illicit arms flow, in particular of small arms, respectively -- in response to recommendations made by the Secretary-General in his 13 April report on the "Causes of conflict and the promotion of durable peace and sustainable development in Africa".

In adopting resolution 1208 (1998), the Council supported the inclusion in the United Nations Stand-by Arrangements of military and police units and personnel trained for humanitarian operations, and related equipment, which the United Nations could draw on to help maintain the security and civilian and humanitarian character of refugee camps and settlements. To help support that status, the Council asked the Secretary-General to consider a new category within the United Nations Trust Fund for Improving Preparedness for Conflict Prevention and Peacekeeping in Africa. The assistance would include advice, supervision, training and technical or other assistance.

The Council called upon African States to further develop institutions and procedures to implement international law on the status and treatment of refugees and the Organization of African Unity (OAU) Convention Governing the Specific Aspects of Refugee Problems in Africa. The Council referred particularly to provisions on the location of refugees at a reasonable distance from the frontier of their country of origin and the separation of refugees from persons who do not qualify for international protection. The Council urged African States to seek international assistance.

The Council asked the Secretary-General to respond to requests from African States, the OAU and subregional organizations to implement international refugee, human rights and humanitarian law relevant to the present resolution. It also urged the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), other relevant United Nations bodies, Member States, the


OAU and subregional organizations to assist African States which host refugees, and help them implement their obligations under international humanitarian and the OAU Convention.

The Council further requested the Secretary-General to continue his consultations and keep it informed about developments in Africa related to refugee camps and settlements which affect international peace and security. He was also asked to make concrete recommendations on training, logistical and technical advice and assistance, financial support, the enhancement of national law enforcement mechanisms, the provision and supervision of security guards, and the deployment of international police and military forces.

In adopting resolution 1209 (1998), the Council encouraged African States to enact legislation on the domestic possession and use of arms, to establish national legal and judicial mechanisms to implement such laws, as well as to implement effective import, export and re-export controls. The Council encouraged the international community to assist in those efforts.

The Council requested the Secretary-General to consider practical ways to work with African States to implement national, regional and subregional programmes for voluntary weapons collection, disposal and destruction, including the possibility of establishing a fund to support them. The Council said it intended to consider ways to facilitate such programmes in the mandates of future African peacekeeping operations on the basis of the Secretary-General's recommendations.

Reaffirming the right of African States to procure or produce weapons for legitimate national security and public order, the Council encouraged them to participate in the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms. It also encouraged the establishment of regional or subregional registers of conventional arms and further, encouraged Member States to explore other ways to enhance transparency of arms transfers to and in Africa.

Recognizing the close relationship between illicit arms flows and international peace and security, the Council urged Member States with relevant expertise to cooperate with African States to help them combat such traffic, including through the tracking and interdiction of illicit arms transfers.

The Council welcomed the Secretary-General's intention to give high priority to the United Nations role in promoting better understanding of the direct and indirect consequences of illicit arms flows. It stressed the importance of making the public aware of the negative impact of illicit arms flows to and in Africa.

The Secretary-General was encouraged to explore means of identifying international arms dealers acting in contravention of national or


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international law; to explore how to collect, share and disseminate information on illicit small arms flows and their destabilizing effects; and to promote cooperation among Member States, the United Nations, regional and subregional organizations in sharing information.

Recognizing the importance of commercial and political motives in the illicit transfer and accumulation of small arms in Africa, the Council encouraged the Secretary-General to explore means of identifying international arms dealers acting in contravention of national legislation or embargoes established by the United Nations on arms transfers to and in Africa. It called on African regional and subregional organizations to strengthen mechanisms and regional networks to combat the illicit circulation of and traffic in small arms.

The Council action this afternoon followed its continued consideration of the recommendations contained in the Secretary-General's report on the "Causes of conflict and the promotion of durable peace and sustainable development in Africa" (document A/52/871-S/1998/813), requested by its ministerial meeting held on 25 September 1997. Key recommendations of the report refer specifically to arms and arms trafficking, sanctions, refugees, structural adjustments, development assistance, debts and trade. As part of its consideration of the Secretary-General's report, the Council convened a second ministerial meeting on 24 September to discuss the situation in Africa.

On 10 November, the Council invited the UNHCR to brief it in a formal meeting on protection for humanitarian assistance to refugees and others in conflict situations, one of the issues highlighted in the Secretary-General's report.

The Council's ad hoc working group on Africa, established by resolution 1170 (1998), was charged with reviewing all recommendations in the report on the maintenance of international peace and security, and submitting specific proposals for Council consideration. In September, the Council took action on the first set of proposals submitted by the ad hoc working group.

Expressing concern over the number, intensity and interrelationship of conflicts in Africa, the Council encouraged the ad hoc working group to make further concrete recommendations on stemming the illicit arms flow; helping African host-governments maintain the security and neutrality of refugee camps; and enhancing the Council's ability to monitor activities authorized by it, but carried out by Member States.

The meeting, which began at 12:52 p.m., was adjourned at 12.57 p.m.


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Text of Resolution on Treatment of Refugees

The full text of resolution 1208 (1998) (document S/1998/1090) reads as follows:

"The Security Council,

"Reaffirming its resolution 1170 (1998) of 28 May 1998,

"Reaffirming also the statements of its President of 19 June 1997 (S/PRST/1997/34), 16 September 1998 (S/PRST/1998/28) and 29 September 1998 (S/PRST/1998/30),

"Emphasizing that the provision of security to refugees and the maintenance of the civilian and humanitarian character of refugee camps and settlements is an integral part of the national, regional and international response to refugee situations and can contribute to the maintenance of international peace and security,

"Having considered the report of the Secretary-General of 13 April 1998 on the "Causes of Conflict and the Promotion of Durable Peace and Sustainable Development in Africa", which was submitted to the General Assembly (A/52/871) and to the Security Council (S/1998/318) in accordance with the statement of its President of 25 September 1997 (S/PRST/1997/46),

"Taking note of the report of the Secretary-General of 22 September 1998 on the "Protection for Humanitarian Assistance to Refugees and Others in Conflict Situations" (S/1998/883),

"Recognizing the extensive experience of African States in hosting refugees and in dealing with the effects of refugee camps and settlements,

"Affirming the civilian and humanitarian character of refugee camps and settlements, and in this regard underlining the unacceptability of using refugees and other persons in refugee camps and settlements to achieve military purposes in the country of asylum or in the country of origin,

"Noting the diverse causes of insecurity of refugee camps and settlements in Africa, including, inter alia, the presence of armed or military elements and other persons who do not qualify for international protection afforded refugees or otherwise do not require international protection, differences within the refugee population, conflicts between refugees and the local population, common crime and banditry and the flow of arms,

"Recognizing the need to take steps to assist African States to improve the security of refugees and to maintain the civilian and humanitarian


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character of refugee camps and settlements in accordance with international refugee, human rights and humanitarian law,

"Stressing the particular security needs of women, children and the elderly, who are the most vulnerable groups in refugee camps and settlements,

"Recalling resolutions 52/103 and 52/132 of the General Assembly regarding, respectively, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and human rights and mass exoduses,

"1. Reaffirms the importance of the principles relating to the status of refugees and the common standards for their treatment contained in the United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Refugees of 28 July 1951, as modified by the Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees of 31 January 1967;

"2. Underlines the particular relevance of the provisions contained in the Organization of African Unity (OAU) Convention Governing the Specific Aspects of Refugee Problems in Africa of 10 September 1969;

"3. Affirms the primary responsibility of States hosting refugees to ensure the security and civilian and humanitarian character of refugee camps and settlements in accordance with international refugee, human rights and humanitarian law;

"4. Calls upon African States to further develop institutions and procedures to implement the provisions of international law relating to the status and treatment of refugees and the provisions of the OAU Convention, especially those relating to the location of refugees at a reasonable distance from the frontier of their country of origin and the separation of refugees from other persons who do not qualify for international protection afforded refugees or otherwise do not require international protection, and in this regard urges African States to seek international assistance, as appropriate;

"5. Recognizes the primary responsibility of UNHCR, with the assistance of other relevant international bodies and organizations, to support African States in their actions directed towards the full respect and implementation of the provisions of international law relating to the status and treatment of refugees, and requests UNHCR, as needed, to keep in close touch with the Secretary-General, OAU, subregional organizations and the States concerned in this regard;

"6. Notes that a range of measures by the international community are needed to share the burden borne by African States hosting refugees and to support their efforts to ensure the security and civilian and humanitarian character of refugee camps and settlements, including in the areas of law enforcement, disarmament of armed elements, curtailment of the flow of arms in


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refugee camps and settlements, separation of refugees from other persons who do not qualify for international protection afforded refugees or otherwise do not require international protection, and demobilization and reintegration of former combatants;

"7. Notes also that the range of measures referred to in paragraph 6 above could include training, logistical and technical advice and assistance, financial support, the enhancement of national law enforcement mechanisms, the provision or supervision of security guards and the deployment in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations of international police and military forces;

"8. Requests the Secretary-General to respond, as appropriate, to requests from African States, OAU and subregional organizations for advice and technical assistance in the implementation of international refugee, human rights and humanitarian law relevant to the present resolution, including through appropriate training programmes and seminars;

"9. Urges UNHCR, other relevant United Nations bodies and organizations, Member States, OAU and subregional organizations to initiate coordinated programmes to provide advice, training and technical or other assistance, as appropriate, to African States which host refugee populations, with a view strengthening their capacity to implement the obligations referred to in paragraph 4 above, and encourages relevant non-governmental organizations to participate in such coordinated programmes when appropriate;

"10. Encourages the Secretary-General and Member States involved in efforts to enhance Africa's peacekeeping capacity to continue to ensure that training gives due emphasis to international refugee, human rights and humanitarian law and in particular to the security of refugees and the maintenance of the civilian and humanitarian character of refugee camps and settlements;

"11. Expresses its support for the inclusion in the United Nations Stand-by Arrangements of military and police units and personnel trained for humanitarian operations, as well as related equipment, which relevant United nations bodies and organizations could draw on in providing advice, supervision, training and technical or other assistance related to the maintenance of the security and civilian and humanitarian character of refugee camps and settlements, in coordination as appropriate with the African States hosting refugees;

"12. Requests the Secretary-General to consider the establishment of a new category within the United Nations Trust Fund for Improving Preparedness for Conflict Prevention and Peacekeeping in Africa to support, as needed, and in addition to existing sources of funding, the provision of advice, supervision, training and technical or other assistance related to the


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maintenance of the security and civilian and humanitarian character of refugee camps and settlements, including those activities referred to in paragraph 11 above, and urges Member States to contribute to this Fund;

"13. Requests the Secretary-General to continue his consultations with Member States, regional and subregional organizations and other relevant international bodies and organizations and to keep it informed about developments in Africa related to the security and civilian and humanitarian character of refugee camps and settlements which affect the maintenance of international peace and security in the region, and to recommend concrete measures, such as those mentioned in paragraph 7 above, as needed; in this regard;

"14. Expresses its readiness to consider the recommendations referred to in paragraph 13 above in accordance with its responsibilities under the Charter of the United Nations;

"15. Requests all Member States, relevant international bodies and organizations and all regional and subregional organizations to consider, as appropriate, the application of the measures contained in this resolution to regions other than Africa;

"16. Decides to remain seized of the matter."

Text of Resolution on Illicit Arms Flow

The full text of resolution 1209 (1998) (document S/1998/1091) reads as follows:

"The Security Council,

"Reaffirming its resolutions 1170 (1998) of 28 May 1998, 1196 (1998) of 16 September 1998 and 1197 (1998) of 17 September 1998,

"Recalling the statements of its President of 25 September 1997 (S/PRST/1997/46), 16 September 1998 (S/PRST/1998/28) and 24 September 1998 (S/PRST/1998/29),

"Having considered the recommendations contained in the report of the Secretary-General of 13 April 1998 on "The causes of conflict and the promotion of durable peace and sustainable development in Africa" regarding the importance of stemming the illicit arms flows to and in Africa,

"Recognizing with concern that commercial and political motives play an unduly important role in the illicit transfer and accumulation of small arms in Africa,


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"Stressing the close linkage between international peace and security and sustainable development and the need for the international community to respond to the challenge of illicit arms flows to and in Africa in a comprehensive manner, encompassing not only the field of security but that of social and economic development,

"Reaffirming the right of African States to procure or produce necessary weapons to meet their legitimate national security and public order needs in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations and other rules and principles of international law,

"Welcoming an offer of the Government of Switzerland to host in Geneva, not later than 2001, an international conference on the illicit arms trade in all its aspects,

"Welcoming the negotiation process in Vienna on the elaboration of an international convention against transnational organized crime, including a protocol to combat illicit manufacturing of and trafficking in firearms,

"Welcoming the ongoing work of the Secretary-General on small arms and light weapons pursuant to General Assembly resolutions 50/70 B and 52/38 J, including the work of the group of governmental experts nominated by him, and noting the findings pertaining to illicit arms flows to and in Africa in the Report on Small Arms of the Secretary-General of 27 August 1997 (A/52/298),

"Welcoming also the decision of the Secretary-General to coordinate all action on small arms within the United Nations system through the Coordinating Action on Small Arms, for which the Department of Disarmament Affairs is designated as the focal point,

"Commending the national, bilateral and subregional initiatives being taken in Africa in combating illicit arms flows, such as those that have been taken in Mali and Mozambique, by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Southern African Development Community,

"Welcoming also the decision by the Organization of African Unity to prepare a situation report on Africa containing detailed information on the magnitude of the problem of small arms proliferation as well as appropriate policy recommendations,

"1. Expresses its grave concern at the destabilizing effect of illicit arms flows, in particular of small arms, to and in Africa and at their excessive accumulation and circulation, which threaten national, regional and international security and have serious consequences for development and for the humanitarian situation in the continent;


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"2. Encourages African States to enact legislation on the domestic possession and use of arms, including the establishment of national legal and judicial mechanisms for the effective implementation of such laws, and to implement effective import, export and re-export controls, and encourages also the international community, in consultation with African States, to assist in these efforts;

"3. Stresses the importance of all Member States, and in particular States involved in manufacturing or marketing of weapons, restricting arms transfers which could provoke or prolong armed conflicts or aggravate existing tensions or conflicts in Africa, such as through voluntary moratoria;

"4. Encourages African States to participate in the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms, encourages also the establishment of appropriate regional or subregional registers of conventional arms on the basis of agreement reached by African States concerned, and encourages further Member States to explore other appropriate ways to enhance transparency of arms transfers to and in Africa;

"5. Urges Member States with relevant expertise to cooperate with African States to strengthen their capacity to combat illicit arms flows, including through the tracking and interdiction of illicit arms transfers;

"6. Welcomes the declaration on the moratorium adopted by the Conference of Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS, adopted in Abuja on 30 October 1998, and urges other subregional organizations in Africa to consider taking similar measures;

"7. Encourages African States to examine the efforts undertaken in other regions such as by the Organization of American States and the European Union in preventing and combating illicit arms flows, and to consider adopting similar measures as appropriate;

"8. Welcomes the intention of the Secretary-General to accord high priority to the United Nations role in promoting better understanding of the direct and indirect consequences of illicit arms flows, and stresses the importance of bringing the negative impact of illicit arms flows to and in Africa to the widest possible public attention;

"9. Encourages the Secretary-General to explore means of identifying international arms dealers acting in contravention of national legislation or embargoes established by the United Nations on arms transfers to and in Africa;

"10. Encourages the Secretary-General to promote cooperation among Member States, the United Nations, regional and subregional organizations and other relevant organizations to collect, review and share information on


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combating illicit arms flows, especially regarding small arms, and to make available, as appropriate, information about the nature and general scope of the international illicit arms trade with and in Africa;

"11. Reiterates the obligation of all Member States to carry out decisions of the Council on arms embargoes, and, in this context, notes the broader implications of the findings and experience of the International Commission of Inquiry established by its resolution 1013 (1995) of 7 September 1995 and reactivated in accordance with its resolution 1161 (1998) of 9 April 1998, and requests the Secretary-General to consider the possible application of such a measure to other conflict zones in Africa with specific emphasis on the sources of such arms and, if appropriate, make recommendations to the Council;

"12. Encourages the Secretary-General, in consultation with Member States, to explore means for collection, sharing and dissemination of information, including technical information, on illicit small arms flows and their destabilizing effects, in order to improve the international community's ability to prevent the exacerbation of armed conflicts and humanitarian crisis, as well as means for the rapid exchange of data on possible violations of arms embargoes;

"13. Requests the Secretary-General to consider practical ways to work with African States in implementing national, regional or subregional programmes for voluntary weapons collection, disposal and destruction, including the possibility of the establishment of a fund to support such programmes;

"14. Recognizes the important contribution of programmes for voluntary weapons collection, disposal and destruction in specific post-conflict situations in Africa, and expresses its intention to consider including, as appropriate, means to facilitate the successful conduct of such programmes in the mandates of future peacekeeping operations it authorizes in Africa on the basis of recommendations by the Secretary-General;

"15. Calls upon regional and subregional organizations in Africa to strengthen efforts to establish mechanisms and regional networks among relevant authorities of their Members States for information sharing to combat the illicit circulation of and trafficking in small arms;

"16. Decides to remain seized of the matter."

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