United Nations

A/50/414


General Assembly

Distr. GENERAL  

7 September 1995

ORIGINAL:
ENGLISH


Fiftieth session
Item 111 of the
  provisional agenda*


           REPORT OF THE UNITED NATIONS HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR REFUGEES,
           QUESTIONS RELATING TO REFUGEES, RETURNEES AND DISPLACED
PERSONS AND HUMANITARIAN QUESTIONS

            Comprehensive consideration and review of the problems of
            refugees, returnees, displaced persons and related
migratory movements

Report of the Secretary-General


I.  INTRODUCTION

1.  On 23  December 1994, at  its forty-ninth session, the General  Assembly
adopted resolution  49/173 entitled "Comprehensive  consideration and review
of  the  problems  of refugees,  returnees,  displaced  persons and  related
migratory movements".

2.  In  the resolution, the  General Assembly  reaffirmed the  need for  the
international   community  to  consider  comprehensive  approaches  for  the
coordination  of  action  with  regard  to  refugees,  returnees,  displaced
persons  and related  migratory movements.    The  Assembly called  upon the
United  Nations  High  Commissioner  for  Refugees,  in  consultation   with
concerned  States  and  in  coordination  with  relevant  intergovernmental,
regional  and  non-governmental  organizations,  to  continue  to   consider
comprehensive regional approaches to  the problems of refugees and displaced
persons.  It also called upon the High Commissioner to continue her  efforts
to promote and develop a preparatory process, leading to the convening,  not
later  than  1996,  of a  regional  conference to  address  the problems  of
refugees, displaced  persons, other  forms of  involuntary displacement  and
returnees  in the countries  of the  Commonwealth of  Independent States and
relevant neighbouring States, and urged States and the
________________________

  *  A/50/150.


95-27233 (E)   050995/...
*9527233*
intergovernmental, regional  and non-governmental organizations concerned to

support  that process, including  follow-up measures.  Finally, the Assembly
requested the Secretary-General to report to  it at its fiftieth  session on
the implementation of resolution 49/173.


              II.  REGIONAL INITIATIVES OF THE UNITED NATIONS HIGH
                   COMMISSIONER FOR REFUGEES

3.   As  the range  of persons  recognized  to be  in need  of international
protection   has  grown  since  UNHCR's  inception,  the  scope  of  UNHCR's
activities  has also  changed  from a  primarily reactive  approach, largely
focused on protection and  assistance in countries of asylum, to an approach
in  which  protection provides  the  basis  for  a  strategy of  prevention,
preparedness  and  solutions, with  increasing  emphasis  on  activities  in
countries of origin.

4.    In   recent  years,  UNHCR   has  stressed  the  importance   of  such
comprehensive  approaches and  has  developed a  number  of  action-oriented
initiatives in  response to  regional problems.   Notable  among these  have
been the International Conference on Assistance  to Refugees in Africa,  the
International Conference on Central American Refugees and the  Comprehensive
Plan  of  Action  for  Indo-Chinese  Refugees.    In  February  1995,  UNHCR
organized  a regional  conference on  assistance to  refugees and  displaced
persons in  the Great  Lakes  region, which  was  held  at Bujumbura.    The
Conference  adopted   a  plan   of  action   on  an   integrated  political,
humanitarian  and development approach  to resolve  the problem  of refugees
and displaced persons in the region.

5.   In 1995, the High  Commissioner launched an  initiative to promote  and
develop a concerted and comprehensive  strategy to address issues concerning
refugees,  displaced persons and migratory movements in  the Commonwealth of
Independent States (CIS) region.  UNHCR has proposed and initiated a  series
of consultations  and technical meetings focusing  on the region, as part of
a process intended to  lead to an agreement  on a comprehensive programme of
action and the establishment of an implementing framework.


           III.  PROMOTION AND DEVELOPMENT OF THE PREPARATORY PROCESS
                 LEADING TO A REGIONAL CONFERENCE ON THE PROBLEMS OF
                 REFUGEES, DISPLACED PERSONS, OTHER FORMS OF
                 INVOLUNTARY DISPLACEMENT AND RETURNEES IN THE CIS
                 COUNTRIES AND RELEVANT NEIGHBOURING STATES

6.  Following  the adoption by the General  Assembly on 20 December 1993  of
resolution 48/113, on the  convening of a United  Nations conference for the
comprehensive  consideration  and  review  of  the  problems  of   refugees,
returnees,  displaced persons  and  migrants, UNHCR  has, since  early 1994,
consulted  with Governments  of the  CIS  countries, neighbouring  and other
interested  countries  and  international  organizations,  particularly  the
International  Organization for  Migration (IOM)  and the  Organization  for
Security and  Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), to determine the appropriateness
of that endeavour.

 7.    Under General  Assembly  resolution  49/173,  UNHCR  was mandated  to
initiate a  process involving a great  number of actors in the international
community,  in  particular   Governments  and  international  and   regional
governmental and  non-governmental  organizations,  as well  as  development
agencies  and  financial  institutions, in  the  preparation  of  a regional
conference.   UNHCR is currently  acting in close  partnership with IOM  and
the  OSCE's Office for Democratic  Institutions and Human Rights.  The three
organizations share  the same concern over  the magnitude  and complexity of
actual  and  potential  migration  and  refugee   issues  in  the  CIS   and
neighbouring  countries.    They  also  recognize  the  complementarity   of
mandates, approaches and procedures.

8.  To prepare the preliminary meetings and  the conference itself, a  joint

secretariat was established at UNHCR by  the three organizations in  January
1995 for a period of 15 months.  It focuses on the following objectives:

  (a)   Steering  the preparatory  process  for  the CIS  conference through
consultations  and  negotiations   with  the  parties  concerned  in   close
cooperation with interested Governments and international organizations;

  (b)    Providing  support  to  the  process  in  the  form  of  logistics,
secretarial    assistance,   translation,   interpretation,   supplies   and
documentation, as well as participation in the conference and meetings;

  (c)  Coordinating the  provision of expert inputs  and studies on relevant
subjects;

  (d)  Providing all related public information functions.

9.   A joint  UNHCR/IOM appeal  for the  secretariat of  the conference  was
launched  on 20  January 1995.    The overall  meeting and  conference costs
budgeted for UNHCR total $748,000  for the period 1 January 1995 to 31 March
1996.  A contribution of $384,476 is required to cover IOM costs.

10.   Between December  1994 and  August 1995,  six informal  meetings of  a
steering  group,  comprising representatives  of  concerned  and  interested
Governments and  international organizations,  were held  at Geneva to  give
direction  to  the  preparatory process.    Among  the  first  tasks  of the
Steering Group were clarifying the objectives  of the process and  preparing
for the first meeting of experts.

11.   A series of  national consultations  were held during  February, March
and April  1995 in Ukraine,  Belarus and the  Republic of  Moldova, with the
first regional  consultation taking  place in  March in  Kyrgyzstan for  the
five Central  Asian  Republics.   Consultations  have  also taken  place  in
Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia and in the Baltic States.

12.  A first meeting of experts, held  on 18 and 19 May 1995  at Geneva, was
attended by the following countries and international organizations:

  CIS:    Armenia,  Azerbaijan,  Belarus,  Georgia,  Kazakstan,  Kyrgyzstan,
Republic of Moldova, Russian Federation, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine;

   Other  interested States:   Austria,  Belgium, Bulgaria,  Canada,  China,
Czech  Republic,  Denmark,   Finland,  France,  Germany,  Greece,   Hungary,
Ireland,  Italy,  Japan,  Latvia,  Netherlands,  Norway,  Pakistan,  Poland,
Portugal,  Romania, Slovakia,  Spain,  Sweden, Switzerland,  Turkey,  United
Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, United States of America;

  United Nations organs  and agencies and other international  organizations
and institutions:    United Nations  Centre  for  Human Rights,  Council  of
Europe,  Department   of  Humanitarian   Affairs  of   the  United   Nations
Secretariat,  International   Bank  for   Reconstruction  and   Development,
International  Centre   for  Migration   Policy  Development,  International
Committee  of the  Red  Cross, International  Labour  Office,  International
Organization for  Migration, Organization  for Security  and Cooperation  in
Europe/Office for Democratic  Institutions and Human Rights, United  Nations
Children's  Fund, United  Nations  High Commissioner  for  Refugees,  United
Nations Office at Geneva;

Other institutions:  European Commission.

13.   The  main task of  the first  meeting of  experts was  to identify the
issues of concern and to prepare the work plan for the conference.

14.  The types  of movements to be addressed  in the process were identified
as  follows:   refugees, displaced  persons, resettlers,  formerly  deported
peoples,  irregular migration,  trafficking in  migrants, stranded  migrants
and ecological  migration.  In addition,  the following  general issues were

among those raised:

  (a)    Inadequacies  of  current  terminology  relating  to  refugees  and
displaced  persons:  Agreement  was reached  on the need for  a more uniform
and harmonized  use  of terminology  both  in  national legislation  and  in
regional  agreements.    It  was  recognized  that  the  refugee  definition
contained  in the 1951 Convention  relating to the  Status of Refugees might
not  fully  cover current  regional needs.  It  was  also felt  that various
involuntary  movements taking  place in  the  region  would not  fall within
existing norms and standards;

  (b)    National  implementation  of  international  instruments:    It was
recognized  that  a   gap  exists  between  international  instruments   and
implementation at the national level:   the lack of effective implementation
of  international  obligations  is due  to  economic,  social and  political
difficulties inherent  in  the  transition  process.   Proper  guidance  and
technical advisory services should be provided,  in particular to assist  in
the establishment of appropriate administrative structures;

  (c)   Emergency preparedness:  A need was perceived  for contingency plans
and  the  establishment  of  a  structure  conducive  to  the  reception and
provision of relief to refugees and displaced persons;

  (d)  Harmonized regional approach:  There was  recognition of the need for
a  harmonized regional approach  to be  adopted and subsequently implemented
in  the areas of  preventive action,  management of  displacement crises and
burden-sharing  mechanisms.  It was also felt that a unified approach should
be  used for  promotion and training activities,  including the organization
of conferences and seminars at the regional and subregional level;
    (e)  Root  causes:  It was proposed that  an in-depth study of the  root
causes  underlying displacement in  the region  be undertaken.   This should
also assess the psychological impact of displacement on the population;

  (f)   Administrative systems:   It  was recognized that  many countries in
the region require assistance in the  strengthening of their  administrative
systems in order to be able to deal with the migration challenges;

  (g)    Cooperation:   There was  recognition of  the need  for cooperation
among  the  countries  themselves,  among  international  organizations  and
within the broader international community.

15.   A draft work plan  was submitted  to the Meeting of  Experts and later
refined in the light of comments received by  the secretariat.  The plan was
structured as  follows:  a series  of subregional meetings  were to be  held
between  July and  September 1995,  at which  country representatives  would
analyse the issues of  concern identified in the first meeting of experts; a
second  meeting  of  experts  was  envisaged  for  November  1995,  at which
possible solutions  would be discussed  on the basis  of the conclusions  of
the subregional meetings and of the  input provided by the  non-governmental
sector; in  conjunction, a  drafting committee  would be  convened to  start
drafting  a declaration  of principles  and a  programme of  action; a third
meeting  of  experts  was   scheduled  tentatively  for   December  1995;  a
preparatory conference and the conference itself  were planned for the first
quarter of  1996.   The Steering  Group referred  to in  paragraph 10  above
would  continue  to meet  at  Geneva  at  regular  intervals throughout  the
process.

16.  The first  two subregional meetings  were held at Tbilisi, Georgia,  on
10 and 11 July for the Transcaucasus region and Ashkhabad, Turkmenistan,  on
27  July for  the Central  Asian Republics.   At both  meetings participants
reviewed and discussed  existing terminology and  agreed on a common  set of
terms to be used  to define the various categories of persons moving  within
the  region.    The  effects  of  population  displacement  were  thoroughly
analysed  and  governmental responses  assessed.    Finally, the  issues  of
emergency  preparedness, early  warning,  migration management,  return  and
reintegration were discussed.

17.  The overall objective of the process initiated in  1994 is to provide a
wide and  open forum for the  international community,  and particularly the
concerned  countries, to  acknowledge,  review and  discuss  all  population
movements taking place in the CIS and neighbouring region in a  humanitarian
and  non-political  framework.   In  addition,  the  main  objective of  the
process would be  to devise an  integrated strategy for the  region, through
the drafting  of a declaration of principles and a programme  of action.  In
the long run, a shared commitment on the roles and responsibilities of  each
of the concerned parties should be reached.   This would be reflected  in an
accountability  framework  which would  pave the  way for  achieving durable
solutions  to existing  problems and  for  preventing  potential ones.   The
plan, endorsed  and supported by  the international  community, would enable
countries to cope with the migration challenges faced by the CIS region.

 18.   The primary,  and ultimate beneficiaries  of this  endeavour are  all
persons in need of  UNHCR's protection and assistance  in the CIS region, as
well as those of concern to IOM.

19.     The  CIS  conference  process  should  contribute  to  strengthening
institutional  cooperation   not  only  among   international  and  regional
governmental  organizations  but  also  with non-governmental  organizations
which  are  concerned  with   population  displacements  in   the  CIS   and
neighbouring countries.  The collaborative effort between the  International
Council of Voluntary Agencies, the European  Council on Refugees and Exiles,
the Open Society  Institute and other non-governmental organizations  active
in  the  region  have been  welcomed,  and  the  CIS  secretariat  has  been
requested to ensure the linkage between  the intergovernmental and the  non-
governmental processes.

20.    The  CIS  conference  secretariat  has  kept  the  community  of non-
governmental organizations  fully informed  by organizing  briefing sessions
at each stage  of the process.  In  addition, a meeting  was to be organized
in  October  1995  to  discuss  possible  solutions  with   non-governmental
organizations, academics and other  independent actors.   The conclusions of
the  meeting  were  to  be  submitted  to  the  second  meeting of  experts.
Following  a  suggestion  from  the  Open  Society  Institute  to   organize
consultations   at  the  field  level  with  local  and  international  non-
governmental organizations active  in the  region, meetings with local  non-
governmental organizations  took place at Tbilisi  and Moscow  in July 1995.
Similar meetings  were planned  for the  last quarter  of 1995  at Alma  Ata
(Almaty), Kiev and Novosibirsk.


             IV.  SPECIFIC MEASURES TAKEN BY OTHER ORGANIZATIONS IN
                  IMPLEMENTING GENERAL ASSEMBLY RESOLUTION 49/173

21.  In  preparing the present report, UNHCR wrote on 19 June  1995 to those
international organizations  which have been  closely involved  with the CIS
conference  process to  provide information  on specific  measures  taken in
implementing General Assembly resolution 49/173.

22.    By  15  July  1995,  the  following  international  organizations and
institutions had  provided  information on  specific  measures  taken:   the
United Nations  Centre for  Human Rights,  the Department  for Economic  and
Social  Information and  Policy Analysis and the  Department of Humanitarian
Affairs of  the  United  Nations Secretariat,  the Economic  Commission  for
Europe and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

23.   In its response,  the Department for  Economic and Social  Information
and Policy  Analysis noted that it had been designated to act as focal point
for the preparation  of the report called for by General Assembly resolution
49/127, which  requested the Secretary-General  to prepare "in  consultation
with  all States  and relevant  international and  regional organizations  a
report  on  international   migration  and  development,  including  aspects
related to objectives and  modalities for the convening of a United  Nations
conference  on international  migration and  development".   The  report, 1/

which  was  considered  by  the  Economic  and Social  Council  at  its 1995
session,  indicates  that  those  Governments favouring  the  holding  of an
international  conference   on  international   migration  and   development
generally  agree on  the  need  for it  to consider  all types  of migrants,
including  refugees.   The ongoing  activities  to  promote and  develop the
preparatory process  for convening  a regional  conference, as requested  in
resolution 49/173, would provide,  according to the  Department for Economic
and Social Information and Policy Analysis, a  crucial input towards a  more
general conference, were one to be convened.

24.   The United Nations  Centre for Human Rights  is actively participating
in  and  supporting  the   CIS  conference  process.    Its  efforts  for  a
comprehensive  approach to  the problem  of refugees,  internally  displaced
persons  and  other  migratory  movements  include  strengthening   conflict
prevention and  early warning capacities.  Regional approaches are currently
under consideration for the Caucasus region.

25.   The Department  of Humanitarian  Affairs has  actively participated in
the preparatory meetings of the CIS  conference process, including those  of
the Steering  Group and the subregional  meetings at  Tbilisi and Ashkhabad.
In operational terms,  the Department  of Humanitarian  Affairs launched  in
April 1994  a consolidated inter-agency appeal  for Tajikistan  for the year
1995.   The appeal reflected awareness  of UNHCR plans to  bring to a  close
its relief activities by December 1995.  A  similar appeal was launched  for
the  Caucasus in  May  1994.   As a  result  of  the emergency  situation in
Chechnya, the Russian  Federation, a United  Nations consolidated  appeal in
support of  displaced persons was issued  by the  Department of Humanitarian
Affairs in March 1995.

26.   The  secretariat of  the  Economic  Commission  for Europe  is  mainly
involved  in the  monitoring of  international population  movements  and in
conducting research on the  causes and consequences of those movements.   It
is  currently conducting  in-depth  surveys of  international  migration  in
Lithuania, Poland and Ukraine,  the results of which were to be published in
1996.

27.   The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development participated
in the first  meeting of experts and is  fully supportive of the  activities
being  undertaken  by  UNHCR  and  other  agencies  in  implementing General
Assembly resolution 49/173.


Notes

  1/  E/1995/69.


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