United Nations

A/50/566


General Assembly

Distr. GENERAL  

26 October 1995

ORIGINAL:
ENGLISH


Fiftieth session
Agenda item 112 (b)


            HUMAN RIGHTS QUESTIONS:  HUMAN RIGHTS QUESTIONS, INCLUDING
            ALTERNATIVE APPROACHES FOR IMPROVING THE EFFECTIVE
ENJOYMENT OF HUMAN RIGHTS AND FUNDAMENTAL FREEDOMS

Human rights and mass exoduses

Report of the Secretary-General


CONTENTS

  Paragraphs  Page

I.  INTRODUCTION .........................................1 - 72

II.  ACTION BY THE SECRETARY-GENERAL ......................8 - 174

III.  ACTION BY THE UNITED NATIONS HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR
  HUMAN RIGHTS .........................................18 - 246

IV.  ACTIVITIES OF HUMAN RIGHTS MECHANISMS ................25 -287















95-31203 (E)  081195/...
*9531203*
I.  INTRODUCTION

1.   At its  forty-eighth session,  the General  Assembly adopted resolution
48/139 of  20 December 1993, entitled  "Human rights and  mass exoduses", in
which, inter  alia, it recalled its  endorsement of  the recommendations and
conclusion  of   the  Group   of  Governmental   Experts  on   International
Cooperation to Avert New Flows of  Refugees (A/41/324, annex), including the
call upon all  States to promote  human rights and fundamental  freedoms and
to refrain from denying those  to individuals in their population because of
nationality,  ethnicity,  race, religion  or  language.    It requested  all
Governments  to  ensure   the  effective  implementation  of  the   relevant
international instruments,  in particular in the  field of  human rights and
humanitarian law,  as that would contribute to averting new massive flows of
refugees and displaced persons.

2.  In the same resolution,  the General Assembly took note  of the emphasis
placed by  the Secretary-General in  his report to  the General Assembly  at
its  forty-seventh session (A/47/595) on the need to develop the capacity of
the United Nations  for early warning and preventive diplomacy to help deter
humanitarian  crises.     In  that  regard,   it  reaffirmed  its   previous
resolutions  on  the  question  of  human  rights  and  mass  exoduses,  and
requested the SecretaryGeneral,  in the further  development of the capacity
of the  Secretariat  for early  warning  and  preventive diplomacy,  to  pay
particular  attention to  international cooperation  to avert  new  flows of
refugees.

3.    The  General  Assembly  urged  the  Secretary-General  to  attach high
priority and to allocate the necessary resources from the regular budget  of
the  United Nations to the consolidation and strengthening of the system for
undertaking  early-warning activities  in the  humanitarian area  by,  inter
alia,  the designation  of the  Department  of  Humanitarian Affairs  of the
Secretariat  as  the  focal  point  for  early  warning  in  that  area  and
strengthened  coordination  between  relevant  offices  of  the  Secretariat
concerned  with  early  warning and  organizations  of  the  United  Nations
system, for  the purpose of ensuring,  inter alia, that effective action was
taken to identify human  rights abuses that  contribute to mass outflows  of
persons.

4.  Finally, the General Assembly  requested the Secretary-General to report
to the  Assembly at its fiftieth  session on the  strengthened role that  he
was  playing in  undertaking  early-warning activities,  especially  in  the
areas of  human  rights and  humanitarian  assistance,  and invited  him  to
include   in  his   report  detailed   information  on   the   programmatic,
institutional, administrative,  financial and  managerial efforts instituted
to enhance  the  capacity  of  the United  Nations  to  avert new  flows  of
refugees and to  tackle the root causes of  such outflows.  In paragraph  20
it specifically  requested the Secretary-General  to report on  developments
relating to  the recommendations  contained in  the report  of the  Group of
Governmental  Experts on  International  Cooperation to  Avert New  Flows of
Refugees  and  the  recommendations  of  the  Joint  Inspection  Unit  (JIU)
(A/45/649 and Corr.1).

5.   It should  be  recalled that  the  Group  of Governmental  Experts  was
established by the General Assembly in its  resolution 36/148 of 16 December
1981.    In its  final  report (A/41/324,  annex),  the  Group  made several
recommendations  specific to averting  new flows  of refugees.   States were
reminded that,  in view of  their responsibilities under the  Charter of the
United  Nations  and  consistent  with  their  obligations  under   existing
international instruments in the field of  human rights, they should refrain
from  creating or contributing by their policies to  causes and factors that
generally lead  to massive  flows of  refugees, should  make provisions  and
take  appropriate measures to avert  new flows of refugees caused by natural
disasters,  should cooperate with  one another  and with  relevant organs of
the  United Nations  in order  to prevent  future massive  flows of refugees
and,  whenever new massive  flows of  refugees occurred,  should respect the
existing  generally recognized  norms and  principles of  international  law
governing  the  rights  and  obligations  of  States and  refugees  directly
concerned.

6.    The  Group  of  Governmental  Experts  recommended  that  the  General
Assembly,  meanwhile, encourage  the  Secretary-General to  give  continuing
attention to  the issue of  averting new massive  flows of  refugees, and to
take measures with the  following purposes:  to  ensure that full and timely
information relevant  to the  matter was  available to  the Secretariat;  to
improve coordination within  the Secretariat for analysing the  information,
so as to obtain an early  assessment on the situations that gave rise to new
massive flows of refugees, and to  make the necessary information  available
to  the competent  United Nations  organs  in  consultation with  the States
directly  concerned;  and  to  help improve  the  coordination,  within  the
Secretariat,  of  the  efforts  of  United  Nations organs  and  specialized
agencies and  of  Member States  concerned  for  timely and  more  effective
action.  General Assembly  resolution 41/70 of 3 December 1986, in which the
Assembly  endorsed the  recommendations  and conclusions  contained  in  the
report of the Group, should be recalled in this context.

7.  Acting on  a request  of the Office for  Research and the Collection  of
Information  of the Secretariat, JIU  undertook in 1989-1990  a study on the
coordination  of  activities related  to early  warning of  possible refugee
flows, the findings of  which were presented to the General Assembly at  its
forty-fifth  session (A/45/649).   Most  notable among  the  recommendations
were those  pertaining to introducing early  warning as  a regular component
of work and to  increasing the early warning capacity of the United  Nations
system in  refugee matters  by improving  its coordination.   Towards  those
ends, it  was suggested  that the  Administrative Committee  on Coordination
take the following measures:

  (a)   Include on its agenda  an item on early warning  of possible refugee
flows and review the issue as needed;

  (b)  Designate a central focal point in the United Nations system for  the
coordination and monitoring of factors related to possible refugee flows;

  (c)  Establish a working group on early warning of refugee flows;

  (d)    Establish  an  inter-agency  consultative  mechanism  to   consider
concrete  cases of  early warning  of  possible refugee  flows and  to  meet
urgently in case of emergencies;

  (e)  Make arrangements for United  Nations resident coordinators to  serve
as coordination points in the field for early warning of refugee flows.
 
II.  ACTION BY THE SECRETARY-GENERAL

8.  In  compliance with these recommendations, the Administrative  Committee
on  Coordination  has regularly  included  the  issue  of  early warning  of
possible refugee  flows on  its agenda  and has  undertaken several  notable
measures in  that regard.   In April 1991,  the Committee  established an ad
hoc  Working  Group on  Early Warning  Regarding New  Flows of  Refugees and
Displaced Persons.   Based on the recommendations  of this Working Group, in
October  1992  the  Committee  designated  the  Department  of  Humanitarian
Affairs as  the  focal point  in  launching  and coordinating  the  periodic
inter-agency consultations  on early warning of  new mass  flows of refugees
and displaced persons.

9.     Pursuant  to  the  decision   of  the   Administrative  Committee  on
Coordination,  the Department  of Humanitarian  Affairs convened  the  first
consultation on early warning  of new mass flows  of refugees and  displaced
persons on 4  February 1993 at Geneva.   The following offices and  agencies
were  represented:    Department of  Political Affairs  of  the Secretariat;
Centre for Human Rights of the  Secretariat; United Nations Children's  Fund
(UNICEF);  United  Nations  Development  Programme  (UNDP);  United  Nations
Development Fund for  Women (UNIFEM) (invited upon special request);  United
Nations  Environment  Programme (UNEP);  Office of  the United  Nations High
Commissioner for Refugees  (UNHCR); Food and Agriculture Organization of the
United Nations  (FAO); United Nations  Educational, Scientific and  Cultural

Organization (UNESCO); World  Health Organization (WHO); and the  Department
of Humanitarian  Affairs.   The consultative  group, as  established by  the
Administrative  Committee on  Coordination,  also includes  the  World  Food
Programme (WFP).   The International Committee of  the Red Cross (ICRC)  and
the International Organization  for Migration (IOM) attended in an  observer
capacity. At the  meeting it was agreed  that the Department of Humanitarian
Affairs  should serve  as  the  focal  point and  facilitator  of the  early
warning network.   The Department agreed to fulfil  those roles and to  take
the  lead in  identifying relevant  early warning  indicators regarding  new
mass flows.  All participating agencies and offices were asked to  designate
contact persons.

10.    The Department  of  Humanitarian  Affairs  continued  during 1994  to
convene  and chair  the  consultations on  early  warning  of  new flows  of
refugees and displaced persons.  Seven such sessions  were held at Geneva in
1994, the last  one on 12 December 1994.  The outcome of these consultations
was submitted to the executive heads of members  of the group to brief  them
on incipient  situations possibly  giving  rise  to new  mass flows.    Each
report contained a  succinct description of the  pertinent cases as  well as
recommendations for appropriate  preventive or mitigating action to  respond
to each particular challenge.

11.  As in the initial phase of these consultations, various members of  the
inter-agency process  continued to make  information and analysis  available
prior to  or at the meetings.   The written  and oral  contributions of FAO,
UNHCR, the Department of  Political Affairs and the Centre for Human  Rights
were  especially  important in  shedding light  on the  root causes  of mass
flight.    The  group  felt,  however, that  the  information  flow for  the
meetings could and should be much improved.

 12.   While each  consultation gave  the highest priority to  the review of
new  cases and selection  of urgent  early warning  situations, the meetings
also addressed methodological issues in order  to advance the development of
the early  warning model suitable for the  detection of new mass flows.  The
group paid  special attention to the  crucial question of  indicators and to
data-gathering and information management issues.

13.   Regarding early  warning indicators relating to  mass flows, the group
agreed that  it would select  a small number  of core  indicators that would
eventually  be adopted for  use in  the compilation of relevant  data and in
the deliberation  of critical situations in  the consultation  meetings.  In
order to  allow  for  a more  intensive  exchange  of  views  about  various
approaches to conceptions  and lists of indicators,  a subgroup was set  up,
with UNHCR  serving as convener  and chairperson.  The  subgroup met several
times and recommended a  short list of indicators to facilitate the dialogue
of the group as a whole.

14.    After  a  review of  its  work  in the  first  two  years, the  group
unanimously   recommended  in   January   1995  that   the   early   warning
consultations as  presently defined should be  maintained.   It is envisaged
that  additional   parties,  including  non-governmental  organizations  and
Governments,  could  be  invited  to  attend  the  consultation meetings  as
observers, that  a wider and more systematic information flow  could be made
available to the members of the consultation and  that the reports could  be
distributed to  a wider  audience than  previously in order  to ensure  that
entities  that were able  to do  so would  take action  on the basis  of the
conclusions of the group.

15.   During  1994 and  1995, the  work in  the Department  of  Humanitarian
Affairs  on the humanitarian early warning system has been accelerated.  The
project is now fully operational and is  able to generate data on  more than
100 countries. Comprehensive country profiles have  been prepared offering a
rich database which serves as the  principal provider of timely  information
for   the   Department's  overall   early  warning   mandate  and   for  the
consultations on  early  warning of  new  flows  of refugees  and  displaced
persons.

16.  New developments in computerization  in the United Nations Secretariat,
including  the Department of  Humanitarian Affairs,  in New  York and Geneva
and  the elaboration  of  an interdepartmental  framework  for  coordination
bringing together, as appropriate,  the perspectives and  activities of  the
Department of Peace-Keeping Operations, the Department of Political  Affairs
and  the Department  of Humanitarian  Affairs should  also be noted  in this
connection.   An early  warning element  involving monitoring and evaluation
for  preventive action is  incorporated in  the framework  for coordination.
This  consultative mechanism  should further  strengthen the  early  warning
capacity of the Department of Humanitarian  Affairs with regard to  emerging
crises in general and mass exoduses in particular.

17.   The Representative of  the Secretary-General  on internally  displaced
persons has also  been directly involved in the  ongoing work of the  Inter-
Agency Working  Group Task  Force on  Internally Displaced  Persons and  has
expressed  his  availability  and  interest  in  participating  also in  the
Administrative  Committee on  Coordination Working  Group on  Early  Warning
Regarding New Flows of Refugees and Displaced Persons.   He is currently  in
the process of  completing his compilation of  legal norms and  human rights
provisions for the protection of the  internally displaced.  This  important
work constitutes a significant step in  the continuing endeavour to  prevent
mass   displacement  within   State  borders   and  protect   the   affected
individuals.


III.  ACTION BY THE UNITED NATIONS HIGH COMMISSIONER
FOR HUMAN RIGHTS                       

18.   The United  Nations  High  Commissioner for  Human Rights  has  placed
particular  emphasis  on  early  warning   and  other  activities  aimed  at
preventing human  rights violations throughout  the world, including  timely
and  intensive  dialogue  with individual  Governments.    Early  notice  of
situations in  which the United Nations  human rights programme could play a
role in  preventing  the outbreak  of  serious  violations of  human  rights
requires  close cooperation between  the High  Commissioner and  the special
procedures,  treaty  bodies,  relevant  agencies  and  programmes  and  non-
governmental organizations.   Such  cooperation can  be a  most useful  tool
both in providing early warning of  potential emergencies and in  mitigating
or avoiding such  disasters.  In this  connection, the High Commissioner has
invited   human  rights   treaty  bodies,   the  special   rapporteurs   and
representatives, experts  and working groups  established by the  Commission
on Human Rights, as well as the United  Nations agencies and programmes  and
non-governmental organizations, to  pay attention to situations which  might
need preventive  action.   The capacity of  the Centre for  Human Rights  to
analyse and review information  of this kind has  already been enhanced, but
requires further strengthening.

19.  An example of preventive action  taken by the High Commissioner  is the
establishment  of the  United Nations human  rights office in  Burundi on 15
June  1994,  with the  agreement  of  the  Government of  Burundi.    In  an
emergency message of 17 February 1995 to the  Commission on Human Rights  at
its fifty-first  session, the  High  Commissioner called  for all  necessary
measures  to  be  taken  to  prevent  the  situation  in  the  country  from
deteriorating.  In response, the Commission, in its resolution 1995/90 of  8
March  1995, emphasized the  need to  increase the  preventive activities of
the  international community  in  Burundi, notably  through the  presence of
human rights  observers, and called upon  the Chairman of  the Commission to
appoint a special rapporteur  on the situation of  human rights in  Burundi.
The  Security Council, in  its statement  of 9  March 1995 (S/PRST/1995/10),
encouraged  the  High  Commissioner  to  strengthen his  field  office,  and
requested  all  parties  in  Burundi  to  cooperate  with the  international
observers by guaranteeing them access to the entire country.

20.   By attempting to ensure  that basic human  rights are  not violated at
any stage of return, resettlement and  reintegration of the Rwandan refugees
and internally  displaced persons through  the Human  Rights Field Operation

in  Rwanda, the High  Commissioner, in  close cooperation  with UNHCR, tries
both to  alleviate the consequences of  the massive exodus  that occurred in
Rwanda  in 1994 and to mitigate further displacement  caused by human rights
violations.

21.  Preventive and responsive human  rights field operations have undergone
considerable enlargement  during  the  past  12 months,  giving  the  United
Nations human  rights  programme a  new  dimension.   Such  operations  were
developed  in Cambodia and Malawi,  and continued in the  territories of the
former Yugoslavia.

22.   Preventive and  responsive measures  require adaptation  of the United
Nations  human rights infrastructure and adequate resources,  so that prompt
and comprehensive steps can be taken.  Preventive action will not only  save
lives and enormous human suffering, but may well  prove to be less expensive
and more cost-efficient than curative action.

23.   Close  cooperation  between  the High  Commissioner  and  Governments,
United  Nations  agencies and  programmes,  international  organizations and
non-governmental organizations  can  be  a useful  tool in  providing  early
warning  of  potential  emergencies  and  in  mitigating  or  avoiding  such
disasters.    It  is  particularly  required   in  the  following  areas  of
operational  activity: (a)  logistical  assistance capacity  on  a  stand-by
basis  to provide support  for emergency  or preventive  field missions; (b)
the establishment and maintenance  of an international roster of specialized
staff to be available  at short notice for human rights field missions;  and
(c)  increased contributions  to the voluntary  funds in order  to cover the
costs of field  missions and advisory services  assistance.  The reaction to
the request by the High Commissioner  for assistance in the  above-mentioned
areas has been very encouraging.

24.  The Centre  for Human Rights is also undertaking various early  warning
activities including projects relating to  country-specific data collection,
inter alia for early  warning purposes.  The  Centre has participated in the
meetings of the  Administrative Committee on  Coordination working  group on
early  warning of new flows of refugees and  displaced persons by submitting
relevant information on countries threatened with  new exoduses.  The Centre
has  contributed to the development both of a set  of close to 45 indicators
of  new  flows  of  refugees  and  displaced  persons  by  the  Subgroup  on
Indicators  (chaired  by  UNHCR)  and  of  the  close  to 280  human  rights
indicators employed  by the Humanitarian Early  Warning System.   The Centre
also contributes to the framework for  coordination project organized by the
Department of Humanitarian Affairs,  the Department of Political Affairs and
the  Department  of Peace-keeping  Operations,  to  which  it has  submitted
country-specific information  for use in simulation  exercises.  The  Centre
attended the  Meeting on  Early Warning  Work Covering  the Commonwealth  of
Independent  States Region, organized  by UNHCR  and the  Russian Academy of
Sciences and held in Moscow in May 1995.


IV.  ACTIVITIES OF HUMAN RIGHTS MECHANISMS

25.    Human  rights  implementation  mechanisms  have  undertaken  numerous
preventive measures in the context of their respective mandates.  A  notable
example of such activities  which has the prevention  of human rights as its
main  objective is the  issuance of  urgent appeals to  Governments based on
information  from  a   variety  of  intergovernmental  and  non-governmental
sources.   This procedure is employed  routinely by  the Special Rapporteurs
on  torture and  extrajudicial, summary  and  arbitrary executions  and  the
Working  Group on arbitrary  detention and,  on occasion,  by other thematic
and  country rapporteurs.    In order  to enhance  this process,  the United
Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights  has established a "human  rights
hot line" to facilitate the timely flow  of relevant information upon  which
the special  rapporteurs and  the Working  Group may  act.  A  meeting, held
from 30  May to 1  June 1994, of  the special rapporteurs,  representatives,
experts  and chairpersons  of working  groups  emphasized the  importance of

speedy reaction to emergency situations and  the need for follow-up  action.
A second such meeting, held in  May 1995, further recommended  enhancing the
flow  of information  among  the participants  of  the  meeting  as well  as
between  them  and  the  High  Commissioner,  the  treaty  bodies  and field
offices.   In this connection,  the effort to develop an electronic database
to channel  information to  the appropriate thematic and  country mechanisms
was welcomed.

26.   The  chairpersons of  the six  human  rights  treaty bodies,  at their
fourth meeting, held in October 1992, recognized that the treaty bodies  had
an important  role in  seeking to  prevent as  well as  to respond to  human
rights  violations and,  towards those  ends,  recommended that  each treaty
body undertake an urgent examination of  all possible measures that it might
take, within  its competence, both to  prevent human  rights violations from
occurring and  to monitor  more closely emergency situations  arising within
the jurisdiction of States  parties (A/47/628, para. 44).  The report of the
Secretary-General, entitled  "Improving the  operation of  the human  rights
treaty bodies", detailed the measures  taken in this regard by the Committee
on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination,  the Human Rights Committee and
the Rights of the Child (HRI/MC/1995/2, paras. 44-47).

27.  At their  fifth meeting, in September  1994, the chairpersons urged the
treaty bodies to take  all appropriate measures in response to situations of
massive violations  of human  rights, including the possibility  of bringing
those violations  to the attention of  the United  Nations High Commissioner
for Human Rights as  well as the Secretary-General and the competent  organs
and  bodies   of  the  United  Nations,   including  the  Security   Council
(A/49/537).  It  was recommended  that the Security  Council, in turn,  give
increased  attention to  violations of  human rights  and that  it take into
consideration,  in  deciding  on  a  course  of  action,  the  early warning
measures  adopted by the treaty  bodies and information provided  by them on
human  rights violations.   Pursuant  to  a  further recommendation  at this
meeting,  the   chairpersons  of  the   treaty  bodies  discussed  with  the
Secretary-General,  at  a  meeting  held  on  19 June  1995,  their  role in
bringing  urgent  matters  relating  to  human   rights  violations  to  his
attention and, through him, to the Security Council.

28.   Early warning remained an  important item on  the agenda  at the sixth
meeting of  the chairpersons,  held in  September 1995,  which, inter  alia,
recommended the institutionalization of meetings  with the Secretary-General
on  an annual basis and the  utilization of the expertise of  members of the
treaty-monitoring bodies for fact-finding missions of the  Secretary-General
and emphasized  the importance  of human  rights education  as a  preventive
strategy.  The chairpersons reiterated that  human rights concerns should be
integrated into all aspects  of the United Nations system and emphasized the
need for all parts of  the United Nations system to  act in accordance  with
human rights standards and,  towards that end, to  provide for human  rights
training of their staff.


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