United Nations


General Assembly

Distr. GENERAL  

12 February 1997


Fifty-first session
Agenda item 105


               [on the report of the Third Committee (A/51/614)]

            51/75.      Office of the United Nations High
                        Commissioner for Refugees

      The General Assembly,

      Having considered the report of the United Nations High
Commissioner for Refugees on the activities of her Office 1/ and the
report of the Executive Committee of the Programme of the United
Nations High Commissioner for Refugees on the work of its forty-
seventh session, 2/

      Recalling its resolution 50/152 of 21 December 1995,

      Reaffirming the fundamental importance of the 1951 Convention 3/ 
and the 1967 Protocol 4/ relating to the Status of Refugees, in
particular their implementation in a manner fully compatible with the
object and purpose of those instruments, and noting with satisfaction
that one hundred and thirty-two States are now parties to one or both

      Commending the High Commissioner and her staff for the competent,
courageous and dedicated manner in which they discharge their

      Paying tribute to those staff members who have endangered or lost
their lives in the course of their duties, and emphasizing the urgent
need for effective measures to ensure the security of staff engaged in
humanitarian operations,

      Distressed at the widespread violations of the principle of non-
refoulement and of the rights of refugees, in some cases resulting in
the loss of their lives, and seriously disturbed at reports indicating
that large numbers of refugees and asylum-seekers have been subjected
to refoulement and expulsion in highly dangerous situations,

      1.    Strongly reaffirms the fundamental importance and the purely
humanitarian and non-political character of the function of the Office
of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees of providing
international protection to refugees and seeking permanent solutions
to the problem of refugees and the need for States to cooperate fully
with the Office in order to facilitate the effective exercise of that

      2.   Calls upon all States that have not yet done so to accede or
succeed to and to implement fully the 1951 Convention and the 1967
Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees and relevant regional
refugee instruments, as applicable, for the protection of refugees;

      3.   Reiterates that everyone, without distinction of any kind,
has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from
persecution, and calls upon all States to uphold asylum as an
indispensable instrument for the international protection of refugees
and to respect scrupulously the fundamental principle of non-
refoulement, which is not subject to derogation;

      4.    Urges States to ensure access, consistent with relevant
international and regional instruments, for all asylum-seekers to fair
and efficient procedures for the determination of refugee status and
the granting of asylum to eligible persons;

      5.    Deplores the fact that in certain situations refugees,
returnees and displaced persons of concern to the Office of the High
Commissioner have been subjected to armed attack, murder, rape and
other violations of or threats to their personal security and other
fundamental rights, and calls upon States to take all measures
necessary to ensure respect for the principles of refugee protection
and the humane treatment of asylum-seekers in  accordance with
internationally recognized human rights and humanitarian norms;

      6.    Emphasizes the importance of ensuring access by the Office
of the High Commissioner to asylum-seekers, refugees and other persons
of concern in order to enable it to carry out its protection functions
in an effective manner, expresses deep concern at conditions in a
number of countries or regions that seriously impede the delivery of
humanitarian assistance and protection, and calls upon States to take
all necessary measures to ensure such access and to ensure the
security of staff engaged in humanitarian operations;

      7.    Reiterates its support for the role of the Office of the
High Commissioner in exploring further measures to ensure
international protection to all who need it, consistent with
fundamental protection principles reflected in international
instruments, and supports the United Nations High Commissioner for
Refugees in continuing further consultations and discussions in this

      8.    Encourages the Office of the High Commissioner to continue
and strengthen its efforts for the protection of women having a well-
founded fear of persecution, and calls upon States to adopt an
approach that is sensitive to gender-related concerns and ensures that
women whose claims to refugee status are based upon a well-founded
fear of persecution, including persecution through sexual violence or
other gender-related persecution, are recognized as refugees for
reasons enumerated in the 1951 Convention and its 1967 Protocol;

      9.    Urges all States and relevant United Nations,
intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations to support the
High Commissioner's search for durable solutions to refugee problems,
including voluntary repatriation, integration in the country of asylum
and resettlement in a third country, as appropriate, and welcomes in
particular the ongoing efforts of the Office of the High Commissioner
to pursue, whenever possible, opportunities to promote conditions
conducive to the preferred solution of voluntary repatriation;

      10.   Underlines the interrelationship between protection and
solutions, as well as the desirability of prevention, including
through respect for human rights and the implementation of relevant
instruments and standards, and emphasizes the responsibility of States
to resolve refugee situations and 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 whom the large-scale presence of refugees weighs most heavily;

      11.   Acknowledges 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;

      12.   Emphasizes the value of comprehensive, regional approaches
in which the High Commissioner has played a significant part in both
countries of origin and countries of asylum, encourages States, in
coordination and cooperation with each other and with international
organizations, if applicable, to consider adopting protection-based
comprehensive approaches to particular problems of displacement, and
endorses, in this connection, the conclusion on comprehensive and
regional approaches within a protection framework adopted by the
Executive Committee of the Programme of the United Nations High
Commissioner for Refugees at its forty-seventh session;

      13.   Recalls that the Office of the High Commissioner 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, recognizing that such
involvement may contribute to the prevention or mitigation of refugee
situations, yet emphasizing that activities on behalf of internally
displaced persons must not undermine the institution of asylum,
including the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum
from persecution;

      14.   Reiterates the relationship between safeguarding human
rights and preventing refugee situations, recognizes that the
effective promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental
freedoms, including through institutions that sustain the rule of law,
justice and accountability, are essential for States to fulfil their
humanitarian responsibilities in reintegrating returning refugees,
and, in this connection, calls upon the Office of the High
Commissioner, within its mandate and at the request of the Government
concerned, to strengthen its support of national efforts at legal and
judicial capacity-building, where necessary, in cooperation with the
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights;

      15.   Also reiterates that development and rehabilitation
assistance is essential in addressing some of the causes of refugee
situations and in the context of the development of prevention

      16.   Reaffirms that voluntary repatriation is the ideal solution
to refugee problems, and calls upon countries of origin, countries of
asylum, the Office of the High Commissioner and the international
community as a whole to do everything possible to enable refugees to
exercise their right to return home in safety and dignity;

      17.   Reiterates the right of all persons to return to their
country, and emphasizes in this regard the prime responsibility of
countries of origin for establishing conditions that allow voluntary
repatriation of refugees in safety and with dignity, and, in
recognition of the obligation of all States to accept the return of
their nationals, calls upon all States to facilitate the return of
their nationals who have sought asylum but have been determined not to
be refugees;

      18.   Encourages the High Commissioner to continue her activities
on behalf of stateless persons, as part of her statutory function of
providing international protection and of seeking preventive action,
as well as her responsibilities under General Assembly resolutions
3274 (XXIV) of 10 December 1974 and 31/36 of 30 November 1976, and
calls upon States to assist the High Commissioner in fulfilling her
responsibilities and to consider acceding to the 1954 Convention
relating to the Status of Stateless Persons 5/ and the 1961
Convention on the reduction of statelessness; 6/

      19.   Reaffirms that the Inter-Agency Standing Committee is 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 and for
inter-agency decisions of an operational nature, and calls upon
members of the Standing Committee to continue to examine, as a matter
of priority, options and proposals to improve its functioning;

      20.   Calls upon all Governments and other donors to demonstrate
their international solidarity and burden-sharing with countries of
asylum through efforts aimed at continuing to alleviate the burden
borne by States that have received large numbers of refugees, in
particular developing countries and those with limited resources, to
contribute to the programmes of the Office of the High Commissioner
and, taking into account the effects on countries of asylum of the
increasing requirements of large refugee populations and the need to
widen the donor base and to achieve greater burden-sharing among
donors, to assist the High Commissioner in securing additional and
timely income from traditional governmental sources, other Governments
and the private sector in order to ensure that the needs of refugees,
returnees and other displaced persons of concern to the Office of the
High Commissioner are met.

                                                          82nd plenary meeting
                                                              12 December 1996


1/    Official Records of the General Assembly, Fifty-first Session,
Supplement No. 12 (A/51/12).

2/    A/51/12/Add.1 and Corr.1; see Official Records of the General
Assembly, Fifty-first Session, Supplement No. 12A.

3/    United Nations, Treaty Series, vol. 189, No. 2545.

4/    Ibid., vol. 606, No. 8791.

5/    United Nations, Treaty Series, vol. 360, No. 5158.

6/    Ibid., vol. 989, No. 14458.


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