United Nations

A/51/12/Add.1


General Assembly

Distr. GENERAL  

16 October 1996

ORIGINAL:
ENGLISH


                                                              

General Assembly
Fifty-first session


          REPORT OF THE UNITED NATIONS HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR REFUGEES

                                   Addendum

             REPORT OF THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE OF THE PROGRAMME OF THE
             UNITED NATIONS HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR REFUGEES ON THE WORK
                         OF ITS FORTY-SEVENTH SESSION*

(*  The present document is a mimeographed version of the
addendum to the report of the United Nations High Commissioner for
Refugees.  The final report will be issued as Official Records of the
General Assembly, Fifty-first Session, Supplement No. 12A
(A/51/12/Add.1).)

                                   CONTENTS

                                                              Paragraphs Page

 I.   INTRODUCTION .........................................    1 - 19     3

      A. Opening of the session ...........................     1 - 5      3

      B. Election of officers .............................       6        3

      C. Representation on the Committee ..................     7 - 12     3

      D. Adoption of the agenda and other organizational
         matters ..........................................      13        5

      E. Opening statement by the Chairman of the Executive
         Committee ........................................    14 - 19     5

II.   WORK OF THE FORTY-SEVENTH SESSION ....................     20        7

III.  DECISIONS AND CONCLUSIONS OF THE COMMITTEE ...........   21 - 29     8

      A. Conclusions on international protection ..........    21 - 22     8

         1.   General conclusion on international protection     21        8

         2.   Comprehensive and regional approaches within a
              protection framework .........................     22       10

      B. Conclusion on the Conference on the Commonwealth 
         of Independent States ............................      23       12

      C. Conclusion on the implementation of Economic and
         Social Council resolution 1995/56 ................      24       14

      D. General decision on programme, administrative and
         financial matters ................................      25       17

      E. Decision on working methods of the Executive 
         Committee ........................................      26       18

      F. Decision on the programme of work of the Standing
         Committee in 1997 ................................      27       19
                                                                             
      G. Decision on the provisional agenda of the forty-
         eighth session ...................................      28       21

      H. Government observer participation in 1996-1997 ...      29       21
                                                                             
                                    Annexes

 I.   Decisions adopted by the Standing Committee in 1996..............   23

II.   Opening statement by the United Nations High Commissioner for
      Refugees to the Executive Committee of the High Commissioner's
      Programme at its forty-seventh session...........................   24


                               I.  INTRODUCTION


                          A.  Opening of the session

1.   The Executive Committee of the High Commissioner's Programme held
its forty-seventh session at the Palais des Nations in Geneva from 7
to 11 October 1996.  It was opened by the outgoing Chairman,
Mr. Jakob Esper Larsen (Denmark), who began by remarking on the ever-
increasing burden of work that UNHCR faced.

2.   Mr. Larsen noted that, despite much concern over precarious
situations in many areas of the world confronted by refugee problems,
a number of positive developments, including major voluntary
repatriations in Mozambique, South-East Asia, Ethiopia, Eritrea and
Myanmar, brightened the picture somewhat.  He cautioned, however, that
such achievements could not overshadow the fact that, at the beginning
of 1996, over 26 million persons were identified as of concern to
UNHCR.

3.   Key elements in meeting this challenge, he suggested, were further
advances in preventive action, efficient emergency relief mechanisms
and inter-agency coordination.  He considered the Conference on the
Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and its Plan of Action
valuable preventive initiatives and urged that momentum not be lost in
the follow-up process.

4.   The outgoing Chairman encouraged continued efforts towards
improving cooperation and coordination in humanitarian relief
operations, linking relief and rehabilitation with development
assistance.

5.   In his closing comments Mr. Larsen commended UNHCR's change
management initiative for its efforts to enhance transparency and
efficiency both at Headquarters and in the field.  In conclusion, he
encouraged adoption of the new working methods of the Executive
Committee and urged the Standing Committee to take maximum advantage
of the opportunity for improved governance provided by the new
arrangements.


                           B.  Election of officers

6.   Under rule 10 of the rules of procedure, the Committee elected the
following officers by acclamation:

     Chairman:  Ambassador Ali Mchumo (United Republic of Tanzania) 

     Vice-Chairman:  Mr. Bjo"rn Skogmo (Norway)

     Rapporteur:  Mr. Peter Schoof (Germany)


                      C.  Representation on the Committee

7.   The following members of the Committee were represented at the
session:

     Algeria, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bangladesh, Belgium,
     Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, Denmark, Ethiopia, Finland,
     France, Germany, Greece, Holy See, Hungary, India, Iran (Islamic
     Republic of), Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Lebanon, Lesotho,
     Madagascar, Morocco, Namibia, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Nigeria,
     Norway, Pakistan, Philippines, Russian Federation, Spain, Sudan,
     Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, United
     Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, United Republic of
     Tanzania, United States of America, Venezuela and Zaire.

8.   The Governments of the following States were present as observers:

     Afghanistan, Angola, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Benin, Bhutan,
     Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria,
     Burkina Faso, Burundi, Central African Republic, Chile, Co^te
     d'Ivoire, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Djibouti,
     Dominica, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Eritrea, Gabon, Ghana,
     Guatemala, Haiti, Iceland, Indonesia, Iraq, Jordan, Kazakstan,
     Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Libyan Arab
     Jamahiriya, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malawi, Malaysia, Mali,
     Malta, Mauritania, Mexico, Monaco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nepal, New
     Zealand, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Romania,
     Rwanda, Senegal, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Sri Lanka,
     Swaziland, Syrian Arab Republic, Tajikistan, the former Yugoslav
     Republic of Macedonia, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uruguay, Uzbekistan,
     Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

9.   The European Commission, the International Committee of the Red
Cross, the Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, and the
Sovereign Order of Malta were also represented as observers.

10.  The United Nations system was represented as follows:

     United Nations Office at Geneva, Centre for Human Rights,
     Department of Humanitarian Affairs, United Nations Children's Fund
     (UNICEF), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United
     Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), United Nations
     Volunteers (UNV), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP),
     United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), World Food Programme
     (WFP), United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (Habitat),
     United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR),
     United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD),
     International Labour Organization (ILO), Food and Agriculture
     Organization of the United Nations (FAO), United Nations
     Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), World
     Health Organization (WHO), World Meteorological Organization (WMO)
     and United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO).

11.  The following intergovernmental organizations were represented by
observers:

     League of Arab States, Organization of African Unity (OAU),
     Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), Council of Europe
     and International Organization for Migration (IOM).

12.  A total of 90 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) were
represented by observers.


          D.  Adoption of the agenda and other organizational matters

13.  The Executive Committee adopted by consensus the following
agenda: 1/

      1. Opening of the session.

      2. Election of officers.

      3. Adoption of the agenda and other organizational matters.

      4. Annual theme:  the pursuit and implementation of solutions.

      5. Reports on the work of the Standing Committee on
         international protection and programme, administrative and
         financial matters.

      6. Consideration and adoption of programme budgets.

      7. Reports relating to programme oversight.

      8. Executive Committee working methods.

      9. Inter-sessional meetings of the Standing Committee in 1997.

     10. Consideration of the provisional agenda of the forty-eighth
         session of the Executive Committee.

     11. Any other business.

     12. Adoption of the draft report of the forty-seventh session of
         Executive Committee.

     13. Closing of the session.


       E.  Opening statement by the Chairman of the Executive Committee

14.  The incoming Chairman, Mr. Ali Said Mchumo (United Republic of
Tanzania), congratulated Ireland on its entry to the Executive
Committee and commended the outgoing bureau for the dedication, skill
and accomplishment with which it executed its work.

15.  Mr. Mchumo observed that he was assuming his position at a time
when the problems of forced displacement weighed heavily on the
international community, particularly on hard-pressed countries in the
developing world, and a time when the scale and complexity of existing
refugee problems continued to be a source of deep concern.

16.  With the institution of asylum coming under increasing strain and
disquiet mounting over the costs of refugee assistance and the
security threat posed by refugee movements, Mr. Mchumo identified a
clear need to promote solution-oriented and preventive approaches to
refugee protection.  He hoped that the annual theme of the forty-
seventh session, the pursuit and implementation of durable solutions,
would further clarify the policy options and practical approaches
available to UNHCR.

17.  The Chairman also drew attention to a number of positive
developments in various parts of the world.  The refugee quandary in
the Great Lakes region of Africa, however, continued to elude
effective solutions and compromised prospects for peace and stability
in the whole area.  The Chairman voiced his hope that UNHCR and the
Executive Committee would be able to draw on positive experiences in
order to promote the durable solutions urgently required.

18.  The Chairman stressed that, in order to ensure the sustainability
of solutions, it was also crucial to link short-term rehabilitation
assistance with broader recovery and reconstruction strategies.  In
this context, he recalled the Standing Committee's wide-ranging
discussions on Economic and Social Council resolution 1995/56 of 28
July 1995, which provided an opportunity to review aspects of the
relationship between relief and development.

19.  Mr. Mchumo concluded by expressing his commitment to working with
the Executive Committee, in a spirit of solidarity and
humanitarianism, over the next year and by paying tribute to the High
Commissioner and her staff for the dedication with which they carried
out their work.


                    II.  WORK OF THE FORTY-SEVENTH SESSION


20.  The High Commissioner delivered an opening statement to the
Executive Committee, which is reproduced in annex II to the present
report.  The full account of the deliberations of the Committee,
including the statements or other interventions made by delegations on
all the agenda items of the meeting, as well as the closing statements
by the Chairman and the High Commissioner, are contained in the
summary records of the session.


               III.  DECISIONS AND CONCLUSIONS OF THE COMMITTEE
                                       
                                       
                 A.  Conclusions on international protection   
                                       
              1.  General conclusion on international protection

21.  The Executive Committee

     (a) Recognizes that the complexity of current refugee problems
underlines both the fundamental importance of the High Commissioner's
primary function of international protection and the difficulties
inherent in the exercise of this function;

     (b) Reiterates that the High Commissioner's international
protection function can only be carried out effectively with the full
support of Governments, in particular through the provision of durable
solutions; and welcomes the continued readiness of States to receive
and protect refugees as well as to make available resources to meet
refugee needs;

     (c) Recalls in this regard the fundamental importance of the 1951
Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol,
in particular their implementation in a manner fully compatible with
the object and purpose of those instruments; and welcomes the
accession of South Africa and Kyrgyzstan to the 1951 Convention and
the 1967 Protocol, bringing to 132 the number of States parties to one
or both instruments;

     (d) Urges all States that have not yet done so to accede to and
implement fully the 1951 Convention and its 1967 Protocol and relevant
regional instruments for the protection of refugees, as applicable,
thereby strengthening the framework of international protection;

     (e) Invites States parties to the 1951 Convention and/or the 1967
Protocol which, at the time of accession, made reservations with
respect to any provisions of those instruments to review such
reservations with a view to their withdrawal;

     (f) Recalls its reaffirmation of the competence of the High
Commissioner in supervising the application of international
instruments for the protection of refugees, and reminds States parties
to the 1951 Convention and/or the 1967 Protocol of their undertaking
to provide the High Commissioner with detailed information on the
implementation of those instruments;

     (g) Recalls also the importance of addressing the problem of
statelessness, including through accession to the 1954 Convention
relating to the Status of Stateless Persons and the 1961 Convention on
the Reduction of Statelessness, welcomes the accession of Brazil and
Guatemala to the 1954 Convention and of Azerbaijan to both
statelessness conventions, and calls upon other States to consider
accession to those instruments;

     (h) Recognizes that countries of asylum carry a heavy burden,
including in particular developing countries with limited resources
and those which, owing to their location, host large numbers of
refugees and asylum-seekers; reiterates in this regard its commitment
to uphold the principles of international solidarity and burden-
sharing; and calls on Governments and UNHCR to continue to respond to
the assistance needs of refugees until durable solutions are found;

     (i) Distressed at the widespread violations of the principle of
non-refoulement and of the rights of refugees, in some cases resulting
in loss of refugee lives, and seriously disturbed at reports
indicating that large numbers of refugees and asylum-seekers have been
returned and expelled in highly dangerous situations; recalls that the
principle of non-refoulement is not subject to derogation;

     (j) Reaffirms the fundamental importance of the principle of
non-refoulement, which prohibits expulsion and return of refugees, in
any manner whatsoever, to the frontiers of territories where their
life or freedom would be threatened on account of their race,
religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or
political opinion, whether or not they have formally been granted
refugee status, or of persons in respect of whom there are grounds for
believing that they would be in danger of being subjected to torture,
as set forth in the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel,
Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment;

     (k) Deplores violations of the right to personal security of
refugees and asylum-seekers, including sexual and other attacks,
especially on women and children, and appeals to all States to abide
by their international obligations to protect the physical security of
refugees and asylum-seekers and to take measures to ensure that such
practices cease immediately;

     (l) Expressing concern at the misuse of asylum procedures, calls
upon States that have adopted measures aimed at discouraging abusive
use of asylum procedures to ensure that those measures have no
detrimental effect on the fundamental principles of international
protection, including on the institution of asylum;

     (m) Recalls its conclusion 77 (XLVI), which encouraged the High
Commissioner to engage in consultations and discussions concerning
measures to ensure international protection to all who need it and
called on UNHCR to organize informal consultations on this subject;
supports UNHCR's activities to date in respect of such consultations
and discussions; and encourages UNHCR to continue this process,
keeping the Executive Committee informed;

     (n) Notes with satisfaction UNHCR's activities with regard to the
promotion and dissemination of refugee law and protection principles
and calls upon the High Commissioner to continue to expand and
strengthen the promotion and training activities of the Office,
including in the area of prevention and reduction of statelessness and
related nationality issues, with the active support of States and
through increased cooperation with other international organizations,
non-governmental organizations, academic institutions and other
relevant organizations;

     (o) Recalls its request that UNHCR support and promote efforts by
States towards the development and implementation of criteria and
guidelines on responses to persecution specifically aimed at women,
welcomes in this context the convening by UNHCR in February 1996 of
the Symposium on Gender-Based Persecution, the purpose of which was to
share information on States' initiatives in this respect, and
encourages UNHCR to continue and strengthen its efforts for the
protection of women having a well-founded fear of persecution; and
calls on States to adopt an approach that is sensitive to gender-
related concerns and which ensures that women whose claims to refugee
status are based upon a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons
enumerated in the 1951 Convention and its 1967 Protocol, including
persecution through sexual violence or other gender-related
persecution, are recognized as refugees;

     (p) Stresses the importance of UNHCR's being granted access to
asylum applicants and refugees in order to enable the Office to carry
out its protection functions in an effective manner; 

     (q) Notes that voluntary repatriation, local integration and
resettlement are the traditional durable solutions for refugees, while
reaffirming that voluntary repatriation of refugees is the most
preferred solution, where feasible; 

     (r) Reaffirms its conclusion 67 (XLII) on resettlement as an
instrument of protection and as a durable solution, and welcomes the
action taken recently by UNHCR, including the issuance of the
Resettlement Handbook on criteria and procedures, and encourages
training activities to support resettlement operations in the field;

     (s) Acknowledges the resettlement efforts undertaken by
Governments and the efforts being made by UNHCR to take full advantage
of resettlement opportunities and to find solutions for individual
refugees considered in need of resettlement, and in this connection
urges Governments to respond actively to the resettlement needs of
refugees in a spirit of burden-sharing;

     (t) Encourages the regular exchange of information as part of the
ongoing consultations of UNHCR with Governments and NGOs on
resettlement;

     (u) Reiterates the right of all persons to return to their
countries and the responsibility of all States to accept and
facilitate the return and reintegration of their nationals, and
recommends to States that strategies for facilitating the return, in
safety and with dignity, of persons not in need of international
protection be examined within a framework of international
cooperation;

     (v) Encourages UNHCR in this context, in cooperation with other
appropriate international organizations, to continue the consultative
process initiated in 1995 on the question of how the return process
can be facilitated;

     (w) Recalling the interrelationship between protection and
solutions, as well as the desirability of prevention, including
through the respect for human rights and the implementation of
relevant instruments and standards, with particular attention to the
responsibilities of States to resolve refugee situations and,
especially with respect to countries of origin, to eliminate causes of
refugee flows, calls on UNHCR to continue its activities in support of
national legal and judicial capacity-building where appropriate, and
to cooperate with the United Nations High Commissioner for Human
Rights and other relevant organizations in this regard.


              2.  Comprehensive and regional approaches within a
                  protection framework                          

22.  The Executive Committee,

     Recognizing that the underlying causes of large-scale involuntary
population displacements are complex and interrelated and encompass
gross violations of human rights, including in armed conflict, poverty
and economic disruption, political conflicts, ethnic and inter-
communal tensions and environmental degradation, and that there is a
need for the international community to address these causes in a
concerted and holistic manner,

     Reaffirming in this regard conclusion No. 40 (XXXVI) on voluntary
repatriation, which states that the aspect of causes is critical to
the issue of solutions and that international efforts should also be
directed to the removal of the causes of refugee movements; stressing
further that the essential condition for the prevention of refugee
flows is sufficient political will by the States directly concerned to
address causes which are at the origin of refugee movements,

     Recalling its encouragement to the High Commissioner to engage in
consultations on possibilities and initiatives in specific areas with
complex problems of coerced population movements as well as on
achieving the objective of providing international protection to all
who need it,

     Noting that the prevention of and response to such situations may
be beyond UNHCR's mandate and capacity,

     Further noting that internally displaced persons remain within the
territorial jurisdiction of their own countries and that the primary
responsibility for their welfare and protection lies with the State
concerned,

     Aware that involuntary displacement, in addition to the human
suffering involved, can impose significant intra-regional burdens, and
may also affect security and stability at the regional level,

     Acknowledging the desirability of comprehensive approaches by the
international community to the problems of refugees and displaced
persons, including addressing root causes, strengthening emergency
preparedness and response, providing effective protection and
achieving durable solutions,

     (a) Emphasizes the responsibility of States to ensure conditions
that do not compel people to flee in fear, to uphold the institution
of asylum, to create conditions conducive to voluntary repatriation,
to take steps to meet essential humanitarian needs and to cooperate
with countries on which the large-scale presence of refugees weighs
most heavily;

     (b) Reaffirms the value of comprehensive approaches in which
UNHCR has played a significant part, through its presence and
activities in countries of origin as well as countries of asylum,
notably the CIREFCA process, the Comprehensive Plan of Action and the
repatriation to Mozambique; and recalls that the High Commissioner is
mandated to promote voluntary repatriation by taking initiatives
including promoting dialogue between all the main parties,
facilitating communication between them, and by acting as an
intermediary or channel of communication;

     (c) Underlines the value of regional cooperation, as illustrated
by these approaches, in addressing involuntary displacement in a
manner which encompasses the political dimension of causes;

     (d) Recalls that, while there is no blueprint for such
approaches, protection considerations should govern the entire process
towards solutions, and standards should be applied consistently;

     (e) Encourages States, in coordination and cooperation with each
other, and with international organizations, if applicable, to
consider the adoption of protection-based comprehensive approaches to
particular problems of displacement, and identifies, as the principal
elements of such approaches:

     (i) The protection of all human rights, including the right to
         life, liberty and the security of person, as well as to
         freedom from torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading
         treatment or punishment; the right to leave one's own country
         and to return; the principle of non-discrimination, including
         the protection of minorities; and the right to a nationality;

    (ii) Promotion of the rule of law through national legal and
         judicial capacity-building;

   (iii) Respect for the institution of asylum, including the
         fundamental principle of non-refoulement, and ensuring
         international protection to all those who need it;

    (iv) Measures to reinforce international solidarity and burden-
         sharing;

     (v) Support for long-term sustainable development;

    (vi) Integration of developmental approaches into the relief stage
         by strengthening national capacities;

   (vii) Support for rehabilitation, reintegration and reconstruction
         measures which will underpin the sustainability of
         repatriation;

  (viii) Public information to raise awareness about refugee and
         migration issues in both host countries and countries of
         origin, particularly with a view to countering xenophobia and
         racism;

    (ix) The establishment and fostering of mechanisms designed to
         avoid or reduce the incidence of conflict, as conflict may
         result in population displacement, and of reconciliation
         measures where necessary and possible, notably in post-
         conflict situations, to ensure the durability of solutions;

     (x) Education for peace and human rights, including at the
         community level, in both countries of origin and countries of
         asylum;

     (f) Invites UNHCR to provide its support and expertise in
formulating comprehensive approaches and assisting States in exploring
more systematically where and how such approaches might be appropriate
and feasible.


            B.  Conclusion on the Conference on the Commonwealth of
                Independent States                                 

23.  The Executive Committee,

     Recalling General Assembly resolutions 49/173 of 23 December 1994
and 50/151 of 21 December 1995, in which the High Commissioner, in
close consultation with concerned States and in coordination with
relevant intergovernmental, regional and non-governmental
organizations, was requested to convene, in 1996, 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 (CIS), and relevant
neighbouring States,

     (a) Expresses its appreciation to the Government of Switzerland
and other host Governments and donors for making the process possible;

     (b) Welcomes the report of the Conference held at Geneva on 30
and 31 May 1996 and the Programme of Action adopted thereat;

     (c) Applauds the spirit of international solidarity and
cooperation that made the Conference a success;

     (d) Expresses appreciation to the High Commissioner for
initiating and supporting a constructive dialogue among a wide range
of Governments, resulting in agreement on a comprehensive approach for
practical action, taking into account internationally recognized norms
and standards and the protection of human rights and fundamental
freedoms, and providing a solid foundation for further action by the
CIS countries, other interested States and international and non-
governmental organizations;

     (e) Welcomes the close and innovative cooperation of the High
Commissioner with the International Organization for Migration (IOM)
and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in
carrying out the work of the Conference;

     (f) Approves the initial steps undertaken by the High
Commissioner in cooperation with IOM to promote implementation of the
Programme of Action;

     (g) Welcomes the Joint Operational Strategy of the High
Commissioner and IOM in the CIS countries for 1996-2000, which
outlines the practical dimensions of implementing the results of the
Conference;

     (h) Underlines the urgent need to address the problems of those
displaced, to implement measures to prevent situations leading to
further involuntary population displacement and to manage other types
of migratory flows in the region;

     (i) Urges the CIS countries that have not yet done so to accede
to and implement fully the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of
Refugees and its 1967 Protocol;

     (j) Reaffirms the view of the Conference that, while primary
responsibility for tackling population displacement problems lies with
the affected countries themselves, the serious challenges cannot be
met by the limited resources and experience of the CIS countries
alone;

     (k) Urges Governments of the CIS countries to continue to
strengthen their commitment to the principles underpinning the
Programme of Action and to ensuring progress in its implementation;

     (l) Calls upon other interested States to reaffirm their
commitment to those principles and to provide appropriate forms and
levels of support for the implementation of the Programme of Action;

     (m) Recognizes the key role to be played by non-governmental
organizations (NGOs) in the implementation of the Programme of Action,
and encourages Governments of the CIS countries as well as
international organizations to strengthen their cooperation with NGOs
and to involve them actively in the follow-up to the Conference, in
accordance with the spirit of UNHCR-NGO Partnership in Action
(PARinAC);

     (n) Calls on the High Commissioner to continue to cooperate with
IOM and OSCE in coordinating ongoing and future activities in the CIS
countries and in steering and monitoring progress through appropriate
follow-up mechanisms;

     (o) Requests the High Commissioner to keep the Executive
Committee informed of measures taken and proposed, and of progress
achieved in the implementation of the Programme of Action.


          C.  Conclusion on the implementation of Economic and Social
              Council resolution 1995/56                             

24.  The Executive Committee,

     Recalling that the Economic and Social Council, in its resolution
1995/56 of 28 July 1995 on the strengthening of the coordination of
emergency humanitarian assistance of the United Nations, requested the
governing bodies of relevant organizations of the United Nations
system to review the role and operational responsibilities as well as
the operative and financial capacities of their respective
organizations to respond, within their mandates, in the context of
broad and comprehensive humanitarian programmes, and welcoming the
work undertaken by the Standing Committee in response to that
resolution, notably in respect of emergency response, solutions,
prevention and coordination,

     Recalling also the unique mandate of UNHCR for the provision of
international protection to refugees and the search for solutions to
their problems, and recalling that the Executive Committee and the
General Assembly have requested UNHCR to extend assistance and
protection to returnees in the context of its mandate for the
promotion of solutions,

     Recalling further that prevention of forced displacement is one of
the major challenges facing the international community,

     Recalling that UNHCR may be called upon by the appropriate organs
of the United Nations and with the consent of the State concerned, to
extend its assistance to other groups, such as internally displaced
persons, and recognizing that such involvement may contribute to the
prevention or mitigation of refugee situations, 

     Recognizing the range of mechanisms developed by UNHCR to respond
to crises of displacement as an important contribution to the overall
response capacity of the United Nations, including through the
provision of community-based assistance to returnees in the form of
quick-impact projects which are in accordance with national
development plans,

     (a) Emphasizes the importance to UNHCR of greater predictability
and timeliness on the part of the United Nations system as a whole in
emergency response and the pursuit of solutions, and strongly asserts
the importance of effective inter-agency coordination in this respect;

     (b) Calls on UNHCR to continue its efforts to ensure the full
effectiveness of its emergency preparedness and response mechanisms,
and urges the Office, in its relations with other intergovernmental
and non-governmental agencies, to continue to pursue the development
of common standards and practices for responding to emergencies;

     (c) Underlines the leadership role of the Emergency Relief
Coordinator in ensuring a coordinated response to complex emergencies
through early implementation of a clear division of labour and an
appropriate coordination mechanism decided by the Inter-Agency
Standing Committee (IASC), bearing in mind the mandates and capacities
of the agencies concerned;

     (d) Calls on UNHCR to continue to participate actively in the
IASC as the primary mechanism for inter-agency decisions on system-
wide policy issues relating to humanitarian assistance, for
formulating a coherent and timely response to major disasters and
complex emergencies, as well as for inter-agency decisions of an
operational nature, and urges the Office to play its part in ensuring
that the IASC fully develops its foreseen institutional role;

     (e) Urges UNHCR to work within the IASC to examine as a matter of
priority options and proposals (a) to improve the functioning of the
IASC and its Working Group, (b) to strengthen the role of the IASC in
reaching decisions and providing inter-agency guidance to the United
Nations system, and (c) to increase the effectiveness of the IASC
secretariat, including, inter alia, through increasing IASC members'
support for and involvement in preparations for IASC meetings; and
stresses the importance of recommendations to these ends being
included in the Secretary-General's report to the 1997 substantive
session of the Economic and Social Council;

     (f) Calls also on UNHCR to participate actively in the efforts of
the IASC to undertake a systematic analysis of various models of
coordination, with a view to ascertaining their comparative
effectiveness in responding to different situations;

     (g) Underscores the importance of establishing Memoranda of
Understanding with intergovernmental agencies, including at the level
of field operations, as a mechanism to ensure that operations are
effective, complementary and predictable; welcomes the recent
conclusion of Memoranda of Understanding between UNHCR, UNICEF and
UNFPA; urges UNHCR to continue its efforts to establish predictable
operational relationships through the conclusion or enhancement of
Memoranda of Understanding and other agreements with relevant
partners, notably UNDP and WHO; and calls upon the High Commissioner
to report to the Standing Committee on lessons learned from such
inter-agency agreements;

     (h) Calls on UNHCR to continue its active participation in the
consolidated appeals process, urges the Office to support efforts to
ensure that consolidated appeals reflect priorities established
through joint needs assessments and strategic planning and are
effectively coordinated with other resources mobilization efforts,
including round tables and consultative group mechanisms, and stresses
the importance to UNHCR of the timely issue of appeals, their
alignment with the calendar year and their responsiveness to the
regional dimensions of complex emergencies;

     (i) Underlines the importance of effective inter-agency training
in preparing personnel for a coordinated approach to emergencies and
welcomes the Complex Emergency Training Initiative coordinated by the
Department of Humanitarian Affairs;

     (j) Underlines also the importance of contingency planning as a
prerequisite for effective emergency response, and strongly encourages
ongoing efforts to establish common guidelines, as well as to
undertake joint contingency planning activities, including through the
focal point established in the Department of Humanitarian Affairs for
preparedness and response measures related to the use of government
assets in support of humanitarian operations;

     (k) Emphasizes the importance of joint needs assessments as a
basis for an integrated response, under the guidance of the Department
of Humanitarian Affairs, to complex emergencies and also of joint
monitoring and evaluation of the collective response of the United
Nations system, and looks forward to their becoming a regular feature
of emergency operations;

     (l) Urges UNHCR to continue to work with the IASC to develop ways
of implementing effective and predictable linkages between
humanitarian assistance, rehabilitation and development in countries
of origin and to analyse lessons learned in this regard;

     (m) Calls on UNHCR to continue to participate in efforts,
coordinated by the Department of Humanitarian Affairs, to ensure that
humanitarian agencies have access to early information regarding
potential flows of refugees and displaced persons;

     (n) Calls also on UNHCR to continue to collaborate actively with
the IASC in its efforts to establish an effective and predictable
division of labour in respect of internally displaced persons;

     (o) Reaffirms that, while the need for UNHCR involvement with
returnees in their countries of origin may vary depending on
particular circumstances of each case, such involvement must be
limited in scope and duration and should, from the outset, include a
clearly defined strategy, in cooperation with the Government concerned
and in consultation with the donor community and relevant United
Nations agencies, to ensure the sustainability of reintegration after
UNHCR's withdrawal;

     (p) Recognizes that the institutions responsible for sustaining
the rule of law play an important role in removing the causes of
refugee movement and, in this context, calls on UNHCR to continue its
efforts, at the request of the Government concerned and in close
collaboration with other relevant actors, in particular the United
Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, as well as regional
organizations, where appropriate, to reinforce national legal,
judicial and administrative capacity, including training
opportunities;

     (q) Given the limited mandate, expertise and resources of UNHCR,
stresses that its involvement in such activities should be limited in
scope and duration and, wherever possible, be undertaken from the
outset in close collaboration with concerned Governments as well as
with agencies with specific competence in the fields of development
and human rights;

     (r) Recognizes that initiatives to address and resolve the
problem of statelessness have an important role to play in the
prevention of refugee movements, and calls on UNHCR to continue its
efforts in this respect;

     (s) Emphasizes the important role of the Department of
Humanitarian Affairs in bridging and integrating the discussions
taking place in various intergovernmental forums as well as in the
IASC process, and underscores the need for intensified efforts to
ensure that these discussions converge into a commonly held and
comprehensive set of objectives and proposals;

     (t) Calls on UNHCR, in coordination with the Department of
Humanitarian Affairs, to report to the January meeting of the Standing
Committee on progress made in the inter-agency consultations on the
formulation of a comprehensive set of proposals, recommendations and
options for submission to the substantive session of the Economic and
Social Council in 1997.


             D.  General decision on programme, administrative and
                 financial matters                                

25.  The Executive Committee

     (a) Confirms that the activities proposed under General and
Special Programmes as set out in document A/AC.96/865 have been found,
on review, to be consistent with the statute of the Office of the High
Commissioner (General Assembly resolution 428 (V)), the High
Commissioner's "good offices" functions as recognized, promoted or
requested by the General Assembly, the Security Council or the
Secretary-General, and the relevant provisions of the Financial Rules
for Voluntary Funds Administered by the High Commissioner for Refugees
(A/AC.96/503/Rev.6); 2/

     (b) Requests the High Commissioner, within the resources
available, to respond flexibly and efficiently to the needs currently
indicated under 1997 General and Special Programmes which are
tentatively estimated at $1.1 billion, and to any other new needs that
might arise, bearing in mind the statute of the Office and the
priority to be accorded to statutory activities, and the relevant
provisions of the Financial Rules for Voluntary Funds;

     (c) Approves the revised 1996 General Programmes budget amounting
to $445,327,000 as detailed in document A/AC.96/865 (table II.4,
column 3);

     (d) Approves likewise the country/area programmes, other
programmes and the headquarters budgets under the 1997 General
Programmes amounting to $370,556,900, as well as $25,000,000 for the
Emergency Fund, $20,000,000 for the Voluntary Repatriation Fund and a
Programme Reserve of $37,055,100 (representing 10 per cent of
programmed activities), all of which are detailed in document
A/AC.96/865 (table II.4, column 4), and which constitute a 1997 total
General Programmes budget of $452,612,000, and authorizes the High
Commissioner, within this approved level, to effect adjustments in
project, country/area programme, other programmes and the headquarters
budgets, as may be required by changes affecting the refugee/returnee
programmes for which they were planned;

     (e) Notes the report of the Board of Auditors to the General
Assembly on the accounts of the Voluntary Funds administered by the
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees for the year ended 31
December 1995, 3/ the report of the Advisory Committee on
Administrative and Budgetary Questions on UNHCR activities financed
from voluntary funds:  report for 1995-1996 and proposed budget for
1997, 4/ and on UNHCR inspection and evaluation activities, 5/ and
requests to be kept regularly informed on the measures taken to
address the recommendations and the observations raised in these
various oversight documents;

     (f) Notes the observation of the Advisory Committee that the
combined total of programme delivery costs and administrative support
costs measures have increased considerably, and requests UNHCR to
prepare a report on the issue, to be presented to the Standing
Committee in the course of the first half of 1997, including on the
possibilities of defining more precisely and in a standardized manner
the various categories of costs, and illustrating how the categories
are reflected in the UNHCR budgets for 1996 and 1997;

     (g) Notes with satisfaction the outcome of the informal
consultations on the headquarters support costs for non-governmental
implementing partners and the decisions taken by the Standing
Committee on this question at its second and third meetings in 1996;

     (h) Urges Member States, in the light of the extensive needs to
be addressed by the Office of the High Commissioner, to respond
generously and in a spirit of solidarity, and in a timely manner, to
her appeals for resources;

     (i) Approves the transfer of an amount up to $500,000 from the
1997 Programme Reserve to the Fund for International Staff Housing and
Basic Amenities;

     (j) Requests UNHCR to explore further with the Board of External
Auditors its proposals for the audit of implementing partners as set
out in document EC/46/CRP.45, in particular the scope of the proposed
audit certification, bearing in mind the comments of the Advisory
Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions and the specific
proposals of the Under-Secretary-General for Internal Oversight
Services on the issue; 6/

     (k) Notes the comments of the Advisory Committee on the range of
issues related to internal audit, and requests UNHCR to prepare a
comprehensive paper on these issues, taking into account the report of
the Secretary-General prepared pursuant to General Assembly resolution
48/218 B of 29 July 1994, for consideration by the Standing Committee
in the course of 1997;

     (l) Requests UNHCR to prepare a consolidated paper on the issue
of the proposed rental of the new UNHCR headquarters for presentation
to the Standing Committee with a view to taking a decision on the
matter at the earliest possible opportunity before 31 December 1996.


          E.  Decision on working methods of the Executive Committee

26.  The Executive Committee,

     Recalling the decision of its forty-sixth session that new
Executive Committee working methods would be introduced on an
experimental basis for one annual cycle of meetings and that their
application would be reviewed at the end of the forty-seventh plenary
session in October 1996, 7/

     (a) Decides, on the basis of experience gained since the forty-
sixth session, that the revised working methods provide a sound basis
for the organization of the annual cycle of Executive Committee and
Standing Committee meetings and that these methods should be
definitively adopted;

     (b) Also decides that the rules of procedure of the Executive
Committee should be revised to reflect these changes in accordance
with the proposals put forward in document A/AC.96/868, annex II;

     (c) Further decides to initiate consultations among Executive
Committee members on the participation of NGO observers in the work of
the Executive Committee and its Standing Committee, bearing in mind
revised arrangements for NGO consultation with the Economic and Social
Council and further discussions to take place at the fifty-first
session of the General Assembly;

     (d) Authorizes the Standing Committee to review the results of
these consultations at one of its meetings in 1997.


             F.  Decision on the programme of work of the Standing
                 Committee in 1997                                

27.  The Executive Committee,

     Having reviewed the issues before it at its forty-seventh session,
including the annual theme on the pursuit and implementation of
durable solutions and the report on the work of the Standing
Committee, 8/ and bearing in mind the decisions and conclusions of its
forty-sixth session,

     (a) Decides to include the following issues in the programme of
work of its Standing Committee in 1997, and requests that UNHCR
include in its documentation on each item the relevant recommendations
of the auditors and the Advisory Committee on Administrative and
Budgetary Questions as well as steps taken to implement those
recommendations and related Executive Committee decisions and
conclusions:

     (i) International protection:

         a.    Note on international protection;

         b.    Follow-up to the conclusions on international protection;

         c.    Statelessness;

         d.    Update on the informal consultations on international
               protection for all who need it;

         e.    UNHCR's activities for refugee law promotion,
               dissemination and training;

         f.    Return of persons not in need of international
               protection;

         g.    Exclusion and cessation clauses under the 1951 Convention
               and its Protocol;

    (ii) Protection/programme policy issues:

         a.    Refugee women:  framework for implementation of the
               Beijing Plan of Action;

         b.    Refugee children, including UNHCR's strategy for follow-
               up to the report on the impact of armed conflict on
               children;

         c.    Refugee health and nutrition;

         d.    Economic and social impact of large refugee populations
               on host developing countries;

         e.    Refugees and the environment;

   (iii) Programme and funding matters:

         a.    Region-by-region reviews of General and Special
               Programmes;

         b.    Updates on programmes and funding, including reviews of
               the use of the emergency fund, programme reserve and
               voluntary repatriation fund;

         c.    Programme delivery and administrative support costs;

    (iv) Management, financial and human resources matters:

         Project Delphi;

     (v) Oversight issues:

         a.    Implementing partners (audit certification, training and
               performance evaluation);

         b.    Internal audit;

         c.    Procurement;

         d.    Programming (budgets, management and control) and
               financial (statements) issues;

         e.    Information system strategy and IMIS;

         f.    Follow-up of the evaluation of UNHCR's response to the
               Rwanda emergency;

    (vi) Coordination issues:

         a.    Follow-up to Economic and Social Council resolution
               1995/56;

         b.    PARinAC;

         c.    The evaluation of Memoranda of Understanding as a
               mechanism of coordination;

   (vii) Governance issues:

         a.    Selection of the annual theme for the forty-eighth
               session of the Executive Committee;

         b.    Review of Executive Committee working methods, including
               observer participation;

     (b) Authorizes the Standing Committee to add items, as
appropriate, to its inter-sessional programme of work;

     (c) Calls on the Standing Committee to report on its work to the
forty-eighth session of the Executive Committee.


                 G.  Decision on the provisional agenda of the
                     forty-eighth session                     

28.  The Executive Committee

     Decides to adopt the following provisional agenda for the forty-
eighth session of the Executive Committee:

      1. Opening of the session.

      2. Election of officers.

      3. Adoption of the agenda and other organizational matters.

      4. Annual theme.

      5. Reports on the work of the Standing Committee as they relate
         to:

          (i)  International protection;

         (ii)  Programme, administrative and financial matters.

      6. Consideration and adoption of programme budgets.

      7. Reports relating to programme oversight.

      8. Inter-sessional meetings of the Standing Committee in 1998.

      9. Consideration of the provisional agenda of the forty-ninth
         session of the Executive Committee.

     10. Any other business.

     11. Adoption of the draft report of the forty-eighth session.

     12. Closing of the session.


              H.  Government observer participation in 1996-1997

29.  The following observer Governments have applied to participate in
the work of the inter-sessional meetings of the Standing Committee
from October 1996 to October 1997:

     Angola, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Chile, Croatia, Cuba,
     Cyprus, Czech Republic, Egypt, Guatemala, Iraq, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan,
     Lao People's Democratic Republic, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya,
     Luxembourg, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal,
     Republic of Korea, Senegal, Slovakia, Syrian Arab Republic,
     Swaziland, Ukraine, Uruguay, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia and Zimbabwe.


                                     Notes

     1/  A/AC.96/864.

     2/  A/AC.96/503/Rev.6.

     3/  A/AC.96/869.

     4/  A/AC.96/865/Add.4.

     5/  A/AC.96/870.

     6/  EC/46/SC/CRP.45/Add.1.

     7/  A/AC.96/860, para. 32.

     8/  A/AC.96/875.


                                    ANNEX I

              Decisions adopted by the Standing Committee in 1996


     In accordance with the authority vested in it by the Executive
Committee, the Standing Committee in 1996 adopted a number of
decisions on matters included in its programme of work.  The texts of
those decisions are annexed to the reports of the different Standing
Committee meetings as follows:

A/AC.96/861.  Report of the first meeting of the Standing Committee
              (30-31 January 1996):

  I.  Decision on programme and funding;
 
 II.  Decision on the medium-term plan;

III.  Decision on property;

 IV.  Decision on international procurement;

  V.  Decision on UNHCR financial rules.

A/AC.96/862.  Report of the second meeting of the Standing Committee
              (10-11 April 1996):

  I.  Decision on programme and funding;

 II.  Decision on the support costs of international NGO partners;

III.  Decision on audit follow-up:  programme and financial management;

 IV.  Decision on Executive Committee documentation;

  V.  Decision on amendments to the work programme of the Standing
Committee.

A/AC.96/873.  Report of the third meeting of the Standing Committee
              (25-27 June 1996):

  I.  Decision on the annual theme for the forty-seventh session of the
      Executive Committee;

 II.  Decision on programme and funding projections;

III.  Decision on lessons learned from the Rwanda emergency;

 IV.  Decision on internal oversight mechanisms;

  V.  Decision on headquarters support costs of international NGO
      partners.

A/AC.96/874.  Report of the fourth meeting of the Standing Committee
              (16-17 September and 2 October 1996):

      Project Delphi.


                                   ANNEX II

           Opening statement by the United Nations High Commissioner
           for Refugees to the Executive Committee of the High
           Commissioner's Programme at its forty-seventh session

                           (Monday, 7 October 1996)


     I am pleased to welcome you to the forty-seventh session of the
Executive Committee.  May I extend a special welcome to the delegation
of Ireland.  In view of your country's support for humanitarian
action, your election as a member of this Committee is a further
reinforcement of the team we try to form in the interest of uprooted
populations.

     I should like to commend the outgoing Chairman,
Mr. Jakob Esper Larsen of Denmark, for his excellent cooperation
during the past year and for the professional manner in which he has
steered all of us through the new and intensive process of Standing
Committee meetings.  I am confident that we can now count on the
leadership of the new Chairman, Mr. Ali Mchumo of the United Republic
of Tanzania, whose country remains at the forefront of one of the most
serious refugee crises in recent times.  Let me congratulate you and
the new Bureau upon your election.

     Since the previous session of this Committee there have been no
new humanitarian emergencies of the scale witnessed during the first
half of this decade.  The international environment remains, however,
volatile, and armed conflict in Burundi, Chechnya in the Russian
Federation, Liberia, the Sudan, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan and, most
recently, Iraq have again forced people to flee for their lives.  The
world's refugee population decreased from 14.5 million in early 1995
to 13.2 million earlier this year and is clearly outnumbered by
internally displaced persons.  At the beginning of 1996, the overall
population of concern to the Office stood at some 26.1 million. 
Africa remains the region with the highest number of refugees,
followed by Asia, Europe, Latin America and North America.  While
there has been important progress towards durable solutions in many
parts of the globe, there remain enormous new challenges in several
post-cold-war conflicts.  I shall revert to them later in my
statement.

     I welcome the accession of South Africa to the 1951 Convention and
the Organization of African Unity Refugee Convention, and I understand
that the accession of Kyrgyzstan is virtually completed.  I also
appreciate the incorporation of many protection and human rights
standards in the Programme of Action agreed at the Conference on the
Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), the adoption in the European
Union of a common interpretation of the Conventional refugee
definition and the establishment of guidelines by some States
regarding claims of gender-specific persecution.  I welcome these
developments, which should further strengthen the international
protection regime. 

     The continuing attachment to refugee protection standards in
theory has in many places not been matched by observance in practice. 
Many States have continued to open their borders to large numbers of
refugees, the Islamic Republic of Iran being the most recent example. 
In many other States, however, access to territory has been either
denied outright as a result of push-offs of boat arrivals and
rejections at borders or complicated by new legislative restrictions. 
Deadly attacks on refugee camps, sexual abuse of refugee women and
children, forcible conscription of refugee men and children and
abusive detention have seriously undermined safety during asylum. 
And, thirdly, the voluntary nature of repatriation is increasingly
being undermined by a mounting number of forcible returns.

     The core values of safe and adequate protection are the central
concern of my Office.  In order to preserve them, I believe that it is
first of all crucial that the international community not only
reaffirms, but respects the principle of non-refoulement.  Providing
safety against danger is at the heart of protection and reflects
fundamental values common to all cultures.  People seeking safety
should not be rejected at borders, nor returned from further inland,
before it has been properly determined that they will not be in
danger. 

     Secondly, I should like to appeal to those bearing political
responsibility to combat the negative perceptions surrounding
asylum-seekers and refugees in the larger context of migration.  In
many countries of the industrialized world, the processing of asylum
requests has become much swifter, and numbers have continued to
decrease in 1996.  Although manifestly unfounded and abusive asylum
requests have not disappeared, it is time for asylum problems to be
de-dramatized in political rhetoric and the public mind, and it is
essential for States to continue to differentiate between those
seeking protection and those seeking better opportunities.

     Thirdly, we must pay more attention to international
burden-sharing:  it is increasingly evident that where burden-sharing
fails, protection problems rise.  The burdens are very unevenly
divided, between and within continents.  Germany hosts more Bosnian
refugees than all other countries in Western Europe together.  During
my mission to Co^te d'Ivoire and Guinea this spring, I visited regions
where Liberian refugees outnumbered the local population.  The same is
true in many other countries, from the Ngara region in the United
Republic of Tanzania, to Goma in Zaire to areas in Pakistan.  I am
very worried that appeals such as those by the United Nations
Development Programme (UNDP) and UNHCR to alleviate the huge
environmental and other damages in eastern Zaire and western parts of
the United Republic of Tanzania have gone largely unheeded.

     Fourthly, in the interest of protection we must collectively try
to diminish the growing international security dimension of refugee
situations.  It is essential that the humanitarian character of asylum
be preserved, by receiving refugees away from borders, by halting
military activities in refugee camps and by obliging refugees to
respect the law.  Refugees are entitled to freedom of opinion and
expression, and as they have often fled from political problems, the
political engagement of some of them is understandable.  However, the
humanitarian and non-political character of asylum could be endangered
if the freedom of expression of asylum-seekers were boundless. 
Countries of asylum may therefore restrict the political activities of
refugees, if necessary and in line with human rights standards.

     The risk of inter-State tension is compounded when international
protection is abused by people not deserving it, because they are
guilty of genocide or other heinous crimes.  As we are experiencing so
painfully in the camps in Zaire and Tanzania, there can be huge
practical, legal and especially security problems in identifying and
isolating such persons, action that is moreover the primary
responsibility of asylum States.  On our part, we have now officially
excluded from our mandate all those Rwandans who have been indicted by
the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.  We are currently also
designing guidelines which should help States and our own staff to
handle the difficult question of exclusion as consistently as
possible.

     Constantly reaffirming the principle of non-refoulement, combating
prejudices about asylum-seekers, increased burden-sharing and measures
against the misuse of asylum must be combined with redoubled efforts
to avert and resolve conflict and to provide more effective protection
to internally displaced and other civilian populations during
conflict.

     This brings me to the pursuit and implementation of durable
solutions to refugee problems, which is the annual theme of this
Executive Committee.  In its long history, and again this year, UNHCR
has helped millions of refugees to integrate, to resettle and
especially to repatriate.  Although this work has never been easy, the
challenges are now becoming even bigger.  Today, we are called upon to
solve displacement following cruel inter-group rather than ideological
conflict.  In essence we have to deal with the huge challenge of
reconciliation in the transition from conflict to real, lasting peace.

     Bosnia and Rwanda demonstrate that the establishment of military
peace is insufficient in societies that emerge deeply divided from
fierce communal conflict.  There the establishment of civilian peace,
of reconciliation in the broad sense, becomes a still greater
challenge than separating armies or physical reconstruction.  It
requires at least a minimum consensus on the future make-up of
society, which cannot be imposed from the outside, and a fair balance
between the often competing demands of peace and justice, of
forgiveness and ending impunity.  It requires just and humane
solutions for those who were deliberately chased away in order to
establish ethnic hegemony or territorial control.  Whereas in almost
all situations of conflict solutions for refugee problems require some
form of peace, the reverse is often equally true:  humane solutions
are essential for peace. 

     The link between refugee problems and peace and security is
perhaps nowhere more evident than in the Great Lakes region in Africa. 
After 15,200 Rwandan refugees were returned from Burundi in late July,
the ongoing turmoil in that country prompted virtually all 65,000
remaining Rwandans to repatriate, with the material and monitoring
assistance of my Office.  However, during all of 1996, less than
15,000 of those Rwandans who had fled in 1994 returned home from Zaire
and the United Republic of Tanzania, leaving 1.6 million people
behind.  The dangerous security implications of this refugee situation
have now escalated.  Cross-border raids, the targeting of survivors of
the genocide and attacks on Tutsi residents in the Kivu region of
Zaire, resulting in armed resistance, are causing more deaths and are
undermining prospects for reconciliation.

     Probably never before has my Office found its humanitarian
concerns in the midst of such a lethal quagmire of political and
security interests.  While our humanitarian assistance and protection
serve an innocent, silent majority of needy and anxious refugees, they
also serve the militants who have an interest in maintaining the
status quo.  This cannot go on.  In order to bring about large-scale
repatriation, we have formulated a set of proposals on which we hope
to reach agreement with affected and interested Governments in the
coming days.  Only through a comprehensive approach encompassing
security, justice, political interests and humanitarian considerations
can this problem be solved.  I wish to commend the Rwandan Government
for its courage in enacting the Genocide Law, and the Zairian and
Tanzanian Governments for coping with a tremendous refugee burden.  I
appeal again to the international community to do more to relieve this
burden.

     Turning now to Bosnia and Herzegovina, we estimate that since the
conclusion of the Dayton Agreement already 250,000 people, mostly
internally displaced persons, have settled or resettled in areas where
their group is in the majority.  Inter-entity returns, especially to
the Bosnian Serb entity, continue to face many political,
psychological and practical obstacles.  Yet there are hopeful signs of
progress.  Following the recent elections, work is in progress on the
building of common institutions.  Reconstruction works are finally
gathering some pace, especially in the 22 target areas launched by my
Office.  Some 20,000 homes have been repaired through UNHCR's shelter
project.  There have been some breakthroughs in the pilot projects for
return within the Federation, and a small number of Muslims are being
allowed to work on their houses on the Serb side of the inter-entity
line.  Our buses are running across the lines of division.  I firmly
believe that we must continue to build bridges between the people of
Bosnia.  

     We must not give up on the right of people to return to their
homes, while we should at the same time create conditions making it
possible to rebuild their lives elsewhere, within Bosnia and in the
region.  Our initial consultations with the authorities of the
countries concerned on a regional plan of action have been promising. 
A regional approach would also allow for more progress on solutions
for refugees and displaced persons from Croatia, including Eastern
Slavonia.  Many of the problems and their solutions are interlinked. 
Let me in this context express my appreciation of Croatia's recent new
and much broader Amnesty law.

     As conditions in Bosnia improve further - and the forthcoming
municipal elections should be an important indicator - the time will
come for the lifting of temporary protection.  Those unable to return
to their home areas should, however, not be pushed back, as long as
they will not have a decent roof over their head and a decent
alternative solution in sight.   

     The difficulties in Bosnia and Rwanda should not obscure the
historic progress made in resolving forced displacement elsewhere.  We
should all be inspired by the process of reconciliation in Guatemala,
South Africa and Mozambique.  In the latter country, in spite of 17
years of atrocious conflict, the peaceful reintegration of 1.7 million
refugees worked, and in July this year we were able to end our
involvement there.  I should make specific mention also of Mali, where
the ethnic dimensions of conflict did not preclude reconciliation, and
where this year we helped some 50,000 Tuareg refugees to repatriate.

     This year we have been able to conclude the Comprehensive Plan of
Action for Indo-Chinese refugees.  Thanks to an impressive show of
international cooperation 1,075,000 Vietnamese and Laotian refugees
have, since 1975, benefited from protection in the region followed by
resettlement.  I should also like to commend Viet Nam for its efforts
in receiving back almost 100,000 returnees, and I hope it will make an
additional effort to clear the return of the remaining 12,000 persons
in Hong Kong. 

     In many other places there is progress towards solutions.  Since
October last year, we have assisted some 50,000 refugees to return to
Togo.  We are trying to help more refugees to go home to Somalia, in
addition to the estimated 500,000 Somalis who have repatriated in the
last few years.  I wish to express my appreciation to the Governments
of Ethiopia and the Sudan for the successful voluntary repatriation of
some 27,000 Ethiopian refugees since December 1995.  In Angola, in
spite of the slow progress in the implementation of the Lusaka
Protocol, some 30,000 refugees have returned spontaneously and we are
gearing up our capacity for larger movements in future.

     I sincerely hope that, following the recent events in Afghanistan,
as many refugees as possible will start the journey home, in peace and
in full respect of their human rights, particularly those of women. 
We also hope to receive the clearance of the Government of Myanmar for
the voluntary return of the remaining 40,000 refugees in Bangladesh,
which would enable UNHCR to strengthen its monitoring and
reintegration activities in Rakhine State, thus helping to improve
conditions there.  At the same time I count on the Government of
Bangladesh to provide UNHCR with access to any new asylum-seekers.  I
am grateful to the Royal Bhutanese Government for having engaged in a
dialogue with my Office regarding the refugees who have received
generous asylum in Nepal.  I repeat my readiness to cooperate in the
implementation of any satisfactory arrangements Bhutan and Nepal might
reach towards solving this complex problem.

     This overview should provide us hope:  refugee problems are less
insoluble than they often appear to be.  In most cases, however,
solving them requires time.  In situations where refugees have fled
from war, although they increasingly return or are pushed to return to
unstable conditions, real progress towards peace is almost always a
prerequisite for ending their predicament in a lasting manner.  This
also applies to the Caucasus.  During a recent joint mission with the
Department of Humanitarian Affairs to Armenia and Azerbaijan, we
discussed proposals to prepare for the return and reintegration of
some 1.1 million refugees and displaced persons, who fled as a result
of the conflict over Nagorny Karabakh.  Although our proposals were
well received, it became clear that progress on the humanitarian front
will be intimately linked to a favourable evolution of the
Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group
negotiations.  Similarly, we will pursue our efforts to include the
humanitarian dimension in the peaceful settlement of the Abkhaz and
South Ossetian disputes in Georgia.

     Although peace cannot be imposed from the outside, international
cooperation and involvement are in many ways indispensable to solve
problems of forced displacement.  Let me in this context appeal once
again for increased international support to the peace efforts of the
Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in Liberia, so that
the predicament of 750,000 Liberian refugees will finally end. 
International cooperation implies of course in the first place the
responsibility of countries of origin to readmit their citizens,
whether refugees or rejected asylum-seekers.  Both the Comprehensive
Plan of Action and Mexico's recent praiseworthy decision to offer many
remaining Guatemalan refugees possibilities for integration, remind us
of another aspect of international cooperation:  it may be necessary
to complement voluntary repatriation with other pragmatic solutions.
   
     It has become very clear that the international community must
help countries emerging from conflict to cope with the complicated
transition from war to peace, and with resuming development.  Early
planning, early coordination and early action by all international
actors involved are necessary.  The absence of visible peace dividends
can clearly compromise the process of peace-building and healing. 
Through community-based approaches and a focus on human as well as
material needs and by involving women, these dividends can contribute
to reconciliation.  At the same time we have learned, for example from
our operation in Mozambique, that UNHCR's quick implementation
projects must be accompanied by timely efforts to ensure their
sustainability, once we leave.  Not being a developmental
organization, my Office must leave as soon as our refugee work is
completed.  Finally, for the challenges of refugee return and
reconciliation the building of fair systems of justice and efficient
mechanisms for property restitution have proven to be increasingly
important. 

     The women and children who survived Srebrenica and Rwanda have
reminded us starkly that more must be done to help them and many
others to overcome their traumas and to restart their lives. 
Following the Bosnian Women's Initiative Fund, for which I would like
to thank the Government of the United States of America, I am
considering a new initiative to help the women and child survivors of
the genocide in Rwanda.  In the context of refugee protection and
assistance as well, the needs of women and children deserve more
attention, by the international community and also within UNHCR. 
Having elaborated specific guidelines on women and children issues,
having appointed focal points and regional advisers and having stepped
up gender awareness training, we must allow our full attention to
these needs to permeate all our activities.  I also intend to examine
carefully the recommendations of the study on the impact of armed
conflict on children, undertaken by Mrs. Grac'a Machel, with whom
UNHCR has closely cooperated.

     While I hope that we shall continue to move towards solutions,
UNHCR's next challenge will be to better frame and concretize its
contributions, however modest, to avert unnecessary displacement.  By
injecting some humanity into conflict situations, humanitarian action
can help to contain them, to prevent their spilling over and to avert
refugee flows.  By re-anchoring returning refugees in their
communities and by promoting reconciliation, we can help to prevent
the recurrence of conflict.  However, within the limits of our mandate
and against relatively low costs, we need to do more in the following
areas:  reduction of statelessness, strengthening the capacity of
local NGOs and administrative structures, humanitarian advocacy, and
encouraging regional dialogue.

     Following last year's Conclusion on Statelessness, we have already
advised some Governments, for example the Czech Republic, on sometimes
sensitive citizenship issues.  Local institutions and NGOs are not
only critical to ensuring protection and sustaining rehabilitation;
but they can also reinforce good governance.  Promoting awareness of
refugee and humanitarian standards is especially relevant in regions
where we have been able to reduce our presence, such as Latin America
and South-East Asia.  Most importantly, we need further efforts to
encourage dialogue on how to prevent, manage and solve displacement
through comprehensive regional initiatives, such as the CIS Conference
we organized this spring together with OSCE and IOM.

     Dialogue, standard setting and material help were the outcome of
the CIS process, and I call upon the donor community to enable us to
start implementing our projects, for example for the Crimean Tatars in
Ukraine and in support of the migration service of the Russian
Federation.  Building on our positive experience with the CIS
Conference, I have decided, in close consultation with the
Secretary-General, to explore the possibility of a similar process for
the countries of Central and South-West Asia, which, while being faced
with some of the largest and longest refugee crises in modern times,
have continued to extend their hospitality to refugees in the best
tradition of Islam.  The initial reaction of these countries has been
promising and I am very grateful to them.  

     Let me devote the last part of my statement to perhaps my most
crucial objective for the coming period:  to deliver the changes
necessary for UNHCR to perform better with less.  Last year, I
announced initiatives in this direction, and I was pleased that, last
week, the Standing Committee was able to assess the progress achieved
under UNHCR's change process, better known as Project Delphi.

     The objective of Delphi is nothing more or less than to give UNHCR
better tools to perform its central mission of ensuring international
protection and achieving durable solutions, in an ever more complex
and critical environment.

     Our programmes and operational structures will be based on better
defined objectives tailored to the needs of each situation, but at the
same time consistent with the overall strategic directions of the
Office.  We have already begun to introduce a new operational
orientation, which we have taken to calling the "situational"
approach.  While ensuring protection and assistance, this approach
will gear us more towards finding and exploiting openings for
solutions.  In addition, greater delegation and support should enable
our managers to take greater responsibility, while more finely tuned
and expanded oversight from the centre should allow us to better hold
them accountable for reaching their objectives.

     I am pleased that we have been able to start implementing Project
Delphi.  As delegations are aware, I have reorganized our senior
management structure.  We are reducing unnecessary bureaucratic
layers, which, I hope, will bring me closer to what is happening on
the ground, at the point of delivery of our services.  We are making
progress in developing clear policy directives.  Following
consultations with all my representatives earlier this year, we have
issued a global strategy paper, which, together with the research
undertaken in the new Centre for Documentation and Research, should
better inform the content of our policy and decision-making process. 
Planning and evaluation capacities have been strengthened.  I am also
insisting that all representatives and other senior managers acquire
advanced management training.

     On the human resources side, I am pleased to report that we have
now launched our new Career Management System.  We expect the new
performance appraisal to assist our staff in planning and advancing
their careers, to introduce greater accountability for accomplishing
specific work objectives and to enable the organization to assign the
right people to the right place. 

     With working processes streamlined and greater authority delegated
to the field, I expect that UNHCR will need fewer human resources,
particularly in Geneva.  Anticipating a reduction of 250 staff at
headquarters, I have instituted a freeze on external recruitment, and
further measures are planned to contain the impact of the reductions
on staff.  My Director of Human Resources Management is working, in
close consultation with the Staff Council, to prepare a transition
strategy.

     Your broad support will encourage the process of change at UNHCR. 
From the beginning our staff has been involved in UNHCR's change
process, and I remain committed to continuing this broad-based
approach.

     I have come to the end of my statement.  While we try to perform
the best we can, we need your continued moral as well as financial
support.  Against a total budget of some $1.3 billion, our funding
situation now shows $776 million contributed since 1 January, of which
$320.5 million is for our General Programmes.  I appeal especially to
the donors here present to make an extra effort for the serious
shortfall in our operations in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, the
Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, West Africa and most urgently, in the
United Republic of Tanzania and Zaire.

     Amidst growing pressures and dilemmas, the challenges in
sustaining international protection and achieving durable solutions
are enormous.  More than ever, we depend on the cooperation of all
Governments, our United Nations sister agencies, the International
Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the NGOs, our crucial partners
in action.  With the help of all of you, I pledge my determination to
continue to serve the victims of war and persecution with my dedicated
and able staff. 


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Date last posted: 28 December 1999 17:35:10
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