United Nations

A/52/274


General Assembly

Distr. GENERAL  

7 August 1997

ORIGINAL:
ENGLISH


                                                        A/52/274
                                                              

General Assembly
Fifty-second session
Item 109 of the provisional agenda*

     * A/52/150 and Corr.1.


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

          Follow-up to the Regional Conference to Address the Problems of
              Refugees, Displaced Persons, Other Forms of Involuntary
                Displacement and Returnees in the Countries of the
                                  Commonwealth
            of Independent States and Relevant Neighbouring States

                        Report of the Secretary-General


                                   CONTENTS

                                                              Paragraphs Page

 I.   INTRODUCTION .........................................     1 - 2    2

II.   IMPLEMENTATION OF THE PROGRAMME OF ACTION ............     3 - 10   2

III.  FOLLOW-UP:  REVIEW OF PROGRESS MADE BY THE STEERING
      GROUP ................................................    11 - 13   4


                               I.  INTRODUCTION


1.   The present report is submitted pursuant to General Assembly
resolution 51/70 of 12 December 1996, in which the Office of the
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), in close
cooperation with the International Organization for Migration (IOM)
and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE),
was requested to continue to steer the ongoing and future activities
in the implementation of the Programme of Action adopted by the
Regional Conference to Address the Problems of Refugees, Displaced
Persons, Other Forms of Involuntary Displacement and Returnees in the
Countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States and Relevant
Neighbouring States, held at Geneva on 30 and 31 May 1996.  The
Secretary-General was asked to report to the Assembly at its
fifty-second session on the measures taken and proposed and on
progress achieved.

2.   In the same resolution, the General Assembly urged all States and
intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations concerned to take
further action to implement the recommendations of the Conference,
calling upon the Governments of the countries of the Commonwealth of
Independent States (CIS) to continue to strengthen their commitment to
the principles underlying the Programme of Action and to ensure
progress in its implementation, and upon other States and interested
international organizations to provide appropriate levels of support
in a spirit of solidarity and burden-sharing.


                II.  IMPLEMENTATION OF THE PROGRAMME OF ACTION

3.   Follow-up mechanisms have been established within UNHCR and IOM to
ensure the implementation of the Programme of Action, in close
cooperation with concerned States and intergovernmental organizations. 
A number of strategies and initiatives to implement the Programme of
Action were undertaken and are outlined below.

4.   The close cooperation of the three organizations that constituted
the CIS Conference secretariat (UNHCR, IOM, the Office for Democratic
Institutions and Human Rights of the Organisation for Economic
Cooperation and Development (OECD)) has continued to be strong in the
first year of implementation of the Programme of Action.  The Joint
Operational Strategy for 1996-2000 between UNHCR and IOM, which was
welcomed as a practical step outlining the dimensions of
implementation, was put into operation with the drawing up of national
implementation plans in each country of the Commonwealth of
Independent States, with the active participation of the Governments
concerned.  This joint planning exercise provided the basis for a
comprehensive presentation of all UNHCR and IOM programmes in all CIS
countries, showing coordinated activities designed to mutually support
each other and avoid duplication.  The two organizations made a joint
appeal for funds in November 1996, thus providing a channel through
which States or interested organizations could support the
implementation of the Programme of Action.  The cooperation of OSCE,
and in particular the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human
Rights, is expected to grow closer next year according to decisions
taken by the Permanent Council to support the process more actively.

5.   Most Governments of the Commonwealth of Independent States have
demonstrated commitment to these principles and several have paid
increased attention to strengthening the institutional framework
appropriate for effective management of migration and displacement. 
They have elaborated or revised related legislation and ensured that
appropriate administrative structures are in place.  Many have
promoted human rights.  Some have paid particular attention to the
protection of minority rights and maintenance of peaceful inter-ethnic
relations, and have made efforts to reduce statelessness.  Some have
acceded to or are preparing to accede to various international
instruments, including the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of
Refugees and its 1967 Protocol, and some have become members of the
Council of Europe.  Others have paid particular attention to providing
assistance for the integration of newly arrived populations from other
CIS countries.  In some areas, bilateral and subregional mechanisms
are being strengthened to ensure a coordinated response to shared
problems.

6.   Other States and interested organizations have lent support to the
implementation process through funding the joint appeal of UNHCR and
IOM and through other bilateral and multilateral channels, including
the provision of technical assistance for migration management and
development of legislation, and emergency and integration assistance
for refugees and internally displaced persons.  The levels of
assistance for non-emergency programmes have not been high, however,
and it remains a challenge for all participants of the CIS Conference
to ensure that political and financial support consolidates their
commitment to the preventive strategy agreed upon at the CIS
Conference.

7.   UNHCR has paid particular attention to strengthening its own
regional policies and approaches, developing strategies and practical
tools for more effective capacity-building, enhancing or launching
programmes to address the needs of various categories of concern to
the CIS Conference (including, more recently, involuntarily displaced
persons and formerly deported peoples).  UNHCR has sought to develop
partnerships with other organizations to meet the challenge of
implementing the Programme of Action, acting sometimes as a catalyst
for action, drawing attention to issues that can best be addressed by
other actors, or drawing the expertise of others into joint
activities.  Thus, initiatives have been taken to forge closer
contacts with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the
United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations
Educational, Scientific and Cultural organization (UNESCO), the
Council of Europe and the European Union (Technical Assistance for the
Commonwealth of Independent States (TACIS)).  Cooperation with
financial institutions is still at an early stage, with efforts being
made to understand one another's policy-making and planning processes
in general and to cooperate specifically in some CIS countries.

8.   IOM has concentrated on the four main areas of its core expertise: 
migration management, integration assistance, migration assistance,
and research and information activities, including the facilitation of
workshops and seminars on migration-related issues.  In the year since
the CIS Conference, IOM has expanded its programmes in the
Commonwealth of Independent States where it was already active and has
launched new but similar programmes in others.  Cooperation with UNDP
has expanded (including the signing of an executing agency agreement)
and joint activities are now being carried out with the International
Labour Organization in the field of labour migration.  IOM is
developing an inventory of the technical and financial assistance
programmes being carried out in the Commonwealth of Independent States
to provide all interested parties with a full picture of the
initiatives under way in the migration field.

9.   Other international organizations have also been active in the
region:  UNDP has assisted internally displaced persons in Georgia
(South Ossetia) and the reintegration of returnees in Crimea, Ukraine. 
Efforts focus on improving the infrastructure and access to social
services, aiming, in the long run, at increased stability and peace in
these regions.  UNDP will assist the Government of Azerbaijan in
reconstruction and rehabilitation of war-damaged provinces in the
country.  UNICEF has been promoting the implementation of the
Convention on the Rights of the Child among Central Asian countries
and has included peace education, tolerance education and
conflict-resolution elements in its programmes in Tajikistan and the
three countries of the Trans-Caucasus.  In Crimea, Ukraine, UNICEF
plays a role in the United Nations Crimea Integration and Development
Programme, providing basic educational and medical supplies for
community centres and polyclinics.

10.  The role of non-governmental organizations in implementing the
Programme of Action was recognized to be crucial and Governments of
the Commonwealth of Independent States were urged to strengthen their
cooperation with local and national non-governmental organizations. 
In many countries, significant steps have been made in this regard,
and a constructive dialogue is developing.  Non-governmental
organizations themselves have become more aware of the issues, have
improved their links and cooperation with one another, with the
Government and with international organizations, and most CIS
countries have become increasingly active in implementing various
aspects of the Programme of Action.  Several initiatives designed to
facilitate their coordination and their participation in the CIS
Conference implementation and follow-up have been carried out by
UNHCR, which has the main responsibility for ensuring that
non-governmental organizations are involved at all levels.  Both UNHCR
and IOM have been steadily increasing cooperation with
non-governmental organizations in the region through the
implementation of programmes.


        III.  FOLLOW-UP:  REVIEW OF PROGRESS MADE BY THE STEERING GROUP

11.  On 31 October 1996, a preliminary meeting of the Steering Group,
foreseen in the Programme of Action to monitor progress in
implementation, took place to set up modalities and procedures.  On 2
July 1997, the Steering Group met to review progress after the first
year of implementation.  Participants included 45 States, 21
international organizations, 73 non-governmental organizations and 4
other entities.  A report compiled by UNHCR and IOM and outlining
progress made in each of the CIS countries provided the basis for this
review.

12.  At the Steering Group meeting, the CIS countries reaffirmed their
commitment to implementing the Programme of Action and outlined
several measures and initiatives they had taken in the past year. 
Many have focused on strengthening the institutional framework for
managing migration and displacement problems.  The Governments of
Georgia and Tajikistan highlighted the importance of commitment to
conflict-resolution processes and the need for concerted efforts at
reconciliation.  Several Governments in the region noted that much
more could be done to implement the Programme of Action, if given the
necessary resources.  Other Governments confirmed their interest in
and support for the efforts of the CIS countries, pointing to the
bilateral and multilateral assistance they were providing.  Four
countries announced contributions to the UNHCR/IOM joint appeal for
1997.  Non-governmental organizations made interventions, which served
to highlight the acute nature of the problems of the displaced in the
Commonwealth of Independent States.  The progress made in enhancing
the awareness and capacity of non-governmental organizations in the
migration sector in those countries was noted, and Governments of the
Commonwealth of Independent States were urged to pay attention to
creating an enabling environment for non-governmental organizations to
function more effectively, particularly in the realm of
non-governmental organization and tax legislation.

13.  Participants expressed their appreciation for the efforts of UNHCR
and IOM to implement the Programme of Action, and encouraged increased
coordination of activities.  They also welcomed an increased role for
OSCE.  In concluding the  meeting, the Chairman urged all participants
in the CIS Conference to cooperate in the long-term endeavour of
implementing the Programme of Action and to maintain the balance of
commitments and interests that was essential in the process leading up
to the CIS Conference.  In order not to lose the current momentum,
demonstrable progress must be made in the Commonwealth of Independent
States to prioritize Conference-related issues in the second year of
implementation, and support from the other members of the
international community must be forthcoming.


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