United Nations


General Assembly

Distr. GENERAL  

23 December 1994


                                              94th plenary meeting
                                              23 December 1994
            49/169. Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for
      The General Assembly,
      Having considered the report of the United Nations High Commissioner for
Refugees on the activities of her Office and the report of the Executive
Committee of the Programme of the High Commissioner on the work of its
forty-fifth session, and taking note of the statement made by the High
Commissioner on 9 November 1994,
      Recalling its resolution 48/116 of 20 December 1993,
      Expressing deep concern at the immense human suffering and loss of life
which have accompanied recent crises involving refugee flows and other forced
displacements, as well as the magnitude and complexity of current refugee
problems, which have made more difficult the accomplishment of the High
Commissioner's crucial functions of ensuring international protection for
refugees and achieving timely and durable solutions to their plight,
      Reaffirming the importance of the 1951 Convention and the 1967 Protocol
relating to the Status of Refugees as the cornerstone of the international
system for the protection of refugees, and noting with satisfaction that one
hundred and twenty-seven States are now parties to one or both instruments,
      Reaffirming also the purely humanitarian and non-political character of
the activities of the Office of the High Commissioner, as well as the crucial
importance of the High Commissioner's functions of providing international
protection to refugees and seeking solutions to refugee problems,
      Welcoming the continuing strong commitment of States to providing
protection and assistance to refugees and the valuable support extended by
Governments to the High Commissioner in carrying out her humanitarian tasks,
      Welcoming also the strong commitment made by States in the Programme of
Action of the International Conference on Population and Development, held at
Cairo from 5 to 13 September 1994, to the institution of asylum and to
refugees and displaced persons,
      Emphasizing the need for States to assist the High Commissioner in
seeking durable and timely solutions to the problems of refugees, to take part
in efforts to prevent conditions that might give rise to the flight of
refugees, and to address the root causes of refugee outflows, and underlining,
in this connection, State responsibility, particularly as it relates to
countries of origin,
      Commending the High Commissioner and her staff for the competent,
courageous and dedicated manner in which they discharge their
responsibilities, paying tribute to those staff members who have endangered
their lives in the course of their duties, and noting with profound regret the
deaths of staff members as a consequence of violent events in several
countries around the world,
      Commending also those States, particularly the least developed and those
hosting millions of refugees over long periods of time, which, despite severe
economic, development and environmental challenges of their own, continue to
admit large numbers of refugees into their territories, and emphasizing the
need to share the burden of those States to the maximum extent possible
through international assistance, including development-oriented assistance
and assistance related to the impact on the environment of the large numbers
of refugees and displaced persons of concern to the Office of the High
      Noting with concern that the number of refugees and other persons to
whom the Office of the High Commissioner is called upon to provide assistance
and protection has continued to increase and that their protection continues
to be seriously jeopardized in many situations as a result of denial of
admission,  unlawful expulsion, refoulement, unjustified detention, other
threats to their personal security, dignity and well-being and failure to
respect and ensure their fundamental freedoms and human rights,
      Recognizing that, in certain regions, the misuse by individuals of
asylum procedures jeopardizes the institution of asylum and adversely affects
the prompt and effective protection of refugees,
      Noting that the involuntary displacement of persons within their own
countries remains a problem of grave humanitarian concern, and that the many
and varied underlying causes of involuntary internal displacement and of
refugee movements are similar in numerous cases,
      Recognizing that actions by the international community, in consultation
and coordination with the State concerned, on behalf of the internally
displaced may contribute to the easing of tensions and the resolution of
problems resulting in displacement, and constitute important components of a
comprehensive approach to the prevention and solution of refugee problems,
      Noting that, in a number of instances, the internally displaced are
present alongside refugees, returnees or a vulnerable local population, in
situations where it is neither reasonable nor feasible to treat the categories
differently in responding to their needs for assistance and protection,
      Welcoming the continuing efforts of the High Commissioner to meet the
protection and assistance needs of refugee women and children, who constitute
the majority of the world's refugee population and who are often exposed to
serious threats to their safety and well-being,
      Noting with concern the persistent problems of stateless persons in
various regions and the emergence of new situations of statelessness,
      1.    Strongly reaffirms the fundamental importance of the function of
the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees of providing international
protection to refugees and the need for States to cooperate fully with her
Office in order to facilitate the effective exercise of that function;
      2.    Calls upon all States that have not yet done so to accede or
declare succession to and to implement fully the 1951 Convention and the 1967
Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees and relevant regional instruments
for the protection of refugees;
      3.    Deplores the fact that in certain situations refugees and
returnees and other 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 that
incidents of refoulement and denial of access to safety have occurred, 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 norms;
      4.    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;
      5.    Reiterates the importance of ensuring access, for all persons
seeking international protection, to fair and efficient procedures for the
determination of refugee status or, as appropriate, to other mechanisms to
ensure that persons in need of international protection are identified and
granted such protection, while not diminishing the protection afforded to
refugees under the terms of the 1951 Convention, the 1967 Protocol and
relevant regional instruments;
      6.    Calls upon all States to assist and support the High
Commissioner's efforts to continue to provide international protection and
assistance, in accordance with the relevant General Assembly resolutions, to
persons who have been forced to flee or to remain outside their countries of
origin as a result of danger to their life or freedom owing to situations of
conflict, and to seek solutions to the problems arising from their forced
      7.    Recognizes the desirability of exploring further measures to
ensure international protection to all who need it, including temporary
protection and other forms of asylum oriented towards repatriation, in
situations of conflict or persecution involving large-scale outflows and in
which return home is considered the most appropriate durable solution, and
encourages the High Commissioner to continue to promote international
cooperation and to engage in further consultations and discussions concerning
measures to achieve this objective, acknowledging the value of regional
arrangements in this regard;
      8.    Stresses the importance of international solidarity and
burden-sharing in reinforcing the international protection of refugees, and
urges all States and relevant non-governmental organizations, in conjunction
with the Office of the High Commissioner, to cooperate in efforts to lighten
the burden borne by States that have received large numbers of asylum-seekers
and refugees;
      9.    Reiterates that voluntary repatriation, when it is feasible, is
the ideal solution to refugee problems, 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
freely their right to return home in safety and dignity, ensuring that
international protection continues to be extended until that time, and
assisting, where needed, the return and reintegration of repatriating
refugees, and further calls upon the High Commissioner, in cooperation with
States concerned, to promote, facilitate and coordinate the voluntary
repatriation of refugees, including the monitoring of their safety and
well-being on return;
      10.   Calls for a more concerted response by the international community
to the needs of internally displaced persons and, in accordance with its
resolution 48/116, reaffirms its support for the High Commissioner's efforts,
on the basis of specific requests from the Secretary-General or the competent
principal organs of the United Nations and with the consent of the State
concerned, and taking into account the complementarities of the mandates and
expertise of other relevant organizations, to provide humanitarian assistance
and protection to such persons, emphasizing that activities on behalf of
internally displaced persons must not undermine the institution of asylum,
including the right to seek and enjoy in other countries asylum from
      11.   Calls upon the international community to provide timely and
speedy humanitarian assistance and support to countries affected by internal
displacement to help them fulfil their responsibility towards the displaced;
      12.   Calls, likewise, upon States and all parties to conflicts to take
all possible necessary measures to ensure impartial, safe and timely
humanitarian access to persons in need of protection and assistance;
      13.   Acknowledges the continuing close cooperation between the High
Commissioner and the representative of the Secretary-General on internally
displaced persons in the exercise of his mandate, and recognizes the
importance of their close cooperation, and of cooperation with the
International Committee of the Red Cross, with respect to prevention,
protection, humanitarian assistance and solutions;
      14.   Encourages the High Commissioner to continue to support the
coordination role of the Emergency Relief Coordinator, especially in major and
complex emergencies;
      15.   Underlines the need for further progress by the United Nations
system in addressing in a coherent and mutually supportive manner humanitarian
assistance, rehabilitation and development activities, especially in countries
to which refugees are returning voluntarily, and calls upon the Economic and
Social Council to review the complementarities of relevant United Nations
organizations in this regard;
      16.   Emphasizes the need, particularly in complex emergencies that
include humanitarian and peace-keeping operations, to ensure respect for the
High Commissioner's protection mandate and to preserve the impartial and
purely humanitarian nature of the activities of the Office;
      17.   Expresses profound concern at conditions in a number of countries
and regions that seriously endanger the security of the staff of the Office of
the High Commissioner and other relief workers, deplores the loss of lives
among such personnel, urges support for initiatives taken by the High
Commissioner and within the General Assembly and the Security Council
concerning the safety of United Nations and associated personnel, in
particular the consideration of new measures to enhance the safety of such
personnel, and calls upon States and all parties to conflicts to take all
necessary measures to ensure the security of international and local staff
undertaking humanitarian work in the countries concerned;
      18.   Urges the High Commissioner, Governments and other relevant
organizations to intensify efforts to respond to the protection and assistance
needs of refugee children, particularly those of unaccompanied minors, and
calls upon States to safeguard the security of refugee children and to ensure
that they are not recruited into the military or other armed groups;
      19.   Encourages the High Commissioner to continue to undertake
initiatives for refugee women in the areas of leadership and skills training,
legal awareness and education and, in particular, in the area of reproductive
health, with full respect for the various religious and ethical values and
cultural backgrounds of the refugees, in conformity with universally
recognized human rights;
      20.   Calls upon States to assist the High Commissioner to fulfil her
responsibilities, under General Assembly resolution 3274 (XXIX) of 10 December
1974, with respect to the reduction of statelessness, including the promotion
of accessions to and full implementation of international instruments relating
to statelessness;
      21.   Notes the relationship between safeguarding human rights and
preventing refugee situations, and welcomes the High Commissioner's growing
cooperation with the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and her
continued cooperation with the Centre for Human Rights of the Secretariat and
the Commission on Human Rights;
      22.   Reaffirms the importance of incorporating environmental
considerations into the programmes of the Office of the High Commissioner,
especially in the least developed and developing countries which have hosted
refugees over long periods of time, in view of the impact on the environment
of the large numbers of refugees and displaced persons of concern to the
Office of the High Commissioner;
      23.   Welcomes efforts to strengthen collaboration among Governments,
the Office of the High Commissioner and non-governmental organizations,
including through the Partnership in Action process, and encourages
non-governmental organizations, Governments and the Office of the High
Commissioner to identify areas for further cooperation;
      24.   Calls upon all Governments and other donors to contribute to the
programmes of the Office of the High Commissioner and, taking into account the
effect on host countries 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 displaced persons of concern to the Office of the High
Commissioner are met.