Last Updated: Monday, 28 July 2014, 16:37 GMT

Note on International Protection (Submitted by the High Commissioner)

Publisher UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
Author UN General Assembly
Publication Date 6 September 1967
Citation / Document Symbol A/AC.96/377
Reference EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE OF THE HIGH COMMISSIONER’S PROGRAMME Eighteenth Session
Cite as UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Note on International Protection (Submitted by the High Commissioner), 6 September 1967, A/AC.96/377, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae68c004.html [accessed 29 July 2014]

1.         The item on international protection has been placed on the Agenda of the Committee in accordance with the wish of the Executive Committee that this question be considered once a year. Detailed information on developments in the field of protection for the year ending 31 March 1967 has been included in the High Commissioner's report to the Twenty-Second Session of the General Assembly (Document A/6711). The report shows in particular the increasing recognition of the special status of refugees and of the importance for them of the right of asylum. The report also indicates the growing interest of African countries in the legal situation of refugees, particularly as regards the principles of non-refoulement and voluntary repatriation, and the importance of ensuring that the problem of refugees does not become a cause of friction between States.

2.         The following paragraphs give more detailed information on three important questions: the Protocol, the question of asylum and the International Year for Human Rights. The promotional nature of the function of international protection is explained in paragraph 14 below.

Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees

3.         The most significant development in the field of protection in the past year was the adoption, by the General Assembly at its Twenty-First Session, of Resolution 2198 (XXI) concerning the Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees which, by removing the dateline, will reinforce the universal character of the 1951 Convention and make it applicable in new refugee situations. Pursuant to the Assembly's Resolution, the Protocol was transmitted to States by the Secretary-General, with a view to enabling them to accede to it. The Holy See acceded to the Protocol on 8 June 1967. A number of other States have informed UNHCR that the question of accession is under active consideration or that the necessary action to this end has been initiated. The High Commissioner is seeking to promote further accessions to the Protocol.

Asylum

4.         The question of asylum continues to be of great concern to the High Commissioner's Office, which follows closely developments in this field. At its Twenty-First Session, the General Assembly considered a Draft Declaration an Territorial Asylum and a preliminary text was prepared by a Working Group established by the Sixth Committee on the basis of texts prepared by the Commission of Human Rights.

5.         The Draft Declaration inter alia states the basic principle of non-refoulement, i.e. that no person entitled to seek asylum in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:

"shall be subjected to measures such as rejection at the frontier or, if he has already entered the territory in which he seeks asylum, expulsion or compulsory return to any State where he may be subjected to persecution."

It also gives expression to two further significant principles; firstly, that asylum shall be respected by all other States and that "the grant of asylum is a peaceful and humanitarian act and that as such it cannot be regarded as unfriendly by any other State." Secondly, that the situation of persons to whom asylum is granted is "... of concern to the international community", and that "where a State finds difficulty in granting or continuing to grant asylum, States individually or jointly or through the United Nations shall consider, in a spirit of international solidarity, appropriate measures to lighten the burden on that State."

6.         In Resolution 2203 (XXI), the Assembly inter alia requested the Secretary-General to transmit to Member States, for their further consideration, the text of the Draft Declaration, together with the report of the Sixth Committee thereon. The Assembly further decided to place the question of the agenda of the twenty-second session with a view to the final adoption of a Declaration on Territorial Asylum. This would complete many years of work by the Assembly on this matter. The High Commissioner attaches great importance to the adoption of a liberal Declaration on this subject.

7.         The High Commissioner has also followed with interest the action taken with regard to asylum by various regional organizations. Thus an article on asylum modelled on the United Nations Draft Declaration was adopted in 1966 by the Asian-African Legal Consultative Committee and by an Ad Hoc Committee of Legal Experts of the Organization of African Unity. In 1965, the Consultative Assembly of the Council of Europe adopted a recommendation on the granting of the right of asylum to European refugees and on 29 June 1967, the Committee of Ministers adopted a Resolution on "Asylum to Persons in danger of Persecution". The Organization of American States has also given special attention to the question of asylum and seeks to promote further accessions to international instruments adopted in the Western Hemisphere.

International Year for Human Rights 1968

8.         A matter of special significance in the field of international-protection is the International Year for Human Rights. It will be recalled that the Committee, at its Seventeenth Session, endorsed the view that the cause of refugees be taken into account at an early stage in the arrangements made by Governments for its celebration (Document A/AC.96/370, paragraph 39) UNHCR continues to co-operate in drawing up plans for Human Rights Year with the United Nations Human Rights Division and, through the Administrative Committee on Co-ordination, with other members of the United Nations system. It is similarly co-operating with the Council of Europe and with non-governmental organizations.

9.         The High Commissioner hopes that Human Rights Year will contribute in a practical manner to the improvement of the legal status of refugees. Within the framework of Human Rights Year, he will seek to promote the widest possible acceptance of the humanitarian concepts underlying the United Nations Draft Declaration on Territorial Asylum and the fullest implementation of the principle of non-refoulement which protects the refugee against expulsion or return to a country where he fears persecution.

10.       The High Commissioner hopes that the special legal problems of refugees, which are closely linked to human rights, will be given a prominent place in arrangements for Human Rights Year. The Office will provide governments with the necessary information material.

11.       The High Commissioner is also anxious that on the occasion of Human Rights Year, the largest possible number of States accede to the various legal instruments directly affecting the position of refugees. He would particularly welcome further accessions to the following instruments:

        1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and the Protocol of 1967 extending the personal scope of the Convention;

        Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons of 1954;

        1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness;

        Refugee Seamen's Agreement of 1957;

        European Agreement on the Abolition of Visas for Refugees of 1959.

12.       The 1951 Refugee Convention and the Protocol are well known. The Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons of 1954 is designed to give a legal status to stateless persons, including stateless refugees. The 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness is of benefit to stateless refugees in that it provides for the acquisition of a nationality at birth for children who would otherwise be stateless. The Refugee Seamen's Agreement of 1957 was drawn up to solve the problems of those refugee seamen who could not legally land or reside in any State. The European Agreement on the Abolition of Visas provides for visa-free travel between acceding States of refugees resident in those States. The States which are parties to these various instruments are listed in the Annex to this document.

13.       The High Commissioner hopes that the Executive Committee will support him in his efforts to promote further accessions during Human Rights Year.

The promotional aspect of international protection

14.       The promotion by the High Commissioner of accessions to international instruments and internal legislative provisions concerning the legal status of refugees constitutes an important part of his international protection function. It is perhaps desirable in this connexion to emphasize this "promotional" aspect. Protection in the narrower sense of the individual protection of a refugee in relation to the authorities of a particular State constitutes a relatively small part of the High Commissioner's activities in this sphere. His efforts are, in the main, directed towards the adoption of measures in the legal field which secure for refugees the most satisfactory status possible, taking into account the various interests of States called upon to deal with refugee problems. In view of the peculiar position of the refugee, and the often intricate and specialized legal problems arising from his status, it is necessary to encourage the adoption of special legal provisions for his benefit on the international level, and to ensure that such provisions are effectively applied through appropriate national legislative or administrative measures. It has further to be ensured that in general refugees receive the most favourable treatment possible in their country of asylum. Access to gainful employment, education, social security and public relief benefits, and the facilitation of naturalization are of particular significance, in this connexion. The granting of such treatment on the basis of appropriate legal provisions, is of importance both from a humanitarian point of view, and also in order to facilitate the full integration of the refugee in the community where he has found asylum.

Annex

1.         CONVENTION RELATING TO THE STATUS OF REFUGEES of 28 July 1951

(Entry into force - 22 April 1954)

The following 51 States are parties to the Convention:

Algeria Israel

[1]Argentina [2]Italy

[3]Australia [4] [5]Ivory Coast

Austria Jamaica

Belgium Kenya

[6]Brazil Liberia

Burundi Liechtenstein

Cameroon [7]Luxembourg

Central African Republic [8]Monaco

Colombia Morocco

[9]Congo, Republic of the (Brazzaville)   Netherlands,

Congo, Democratic Republic of the (Leopoldville)         New Zealand

Cyprus Niger

[10]Dahomey Norway

Denmark [11] [12]Peru

[13]Ecuador [14]Portugal

Federal Republic of Germany [15] Senegal

[16] France [17] Sweden

Gabon Switzerland

Gambia, The Tanzania, United Republic of

Ghana Togo

Greece             Tunisia

Guinea [18]Turkey

Holy See United Kingdom [19]

Iceland Yugoslavia

Ireland

The following 9 African States, to whose territories application of the Convention was extended prior to independence, have not so far made any specific declaration that they consider themselves bound by the Convention:

Botswana Mali

Chad Mauritania

Lesotho Upper Volta

Madagascar Zambia

Malawi

Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi and Zambia have, however, made general declarations accepting for an interim period multilateral agreements (including the Convention) extended to their territory.

2.         CONVENTION RELATING TO THE STATUS OF STATELESS PERSONS of 28 September 1954

Date of entry into force: 6 June 1960

Ratifications or Accessions

States Parties to the Convention

Algeria Liberia

Belgium Luxembourg

Denmark Netherlands

France Norway

Guinea Sweden

Ireland Trinidad and Tobago

Israel Uganda

Italy United Kingdom [20]

Korea, Republic of Yugoslavia

3.         CONVENTION ON THE REDUCTION OF STATELESSNESS of 30 August 1961

Signatures subject to ratification

Dominican Republic

France

Israel

Netherlands

United Kingdom

Ratification

United Kingdom

This Convention requires 6 accessions or ratifications for entry into force.

4.         AGREEMENT RELATING TO REFUGEE SEAMEN of 23 November 1957

Date of entry into force : 27 December 1961

States Parties to the Agreement

Country

Belgium

Denmark

Federal Republic of Germany

France

Ireland

Italy

Monaco

Morocco

Netherlands

Norway

Portugal

Sweden

Switzerland

United Kingdom

            extended to the following territories:

            Antigua

            British Guinea

            British Honduras

            Brunei

            Dominican Republic

            Falkland Islands

            Fiji

            Gilbert and Ellice Islands

            Granada

            Jamaica

            Mauritius

            Montserrat

            St. Christopher

            St. Helena

            St. Lucia

            St. Vincent

            Seychelles

            Solomon Islands Protectorate

            The Gambia

            Virgin Islands

Yugoslavia

5.         EUROPEAN AGREEMENT ON THE ABOLITION OF VISAS TO REFUGEES of 20 April 1959

Date of entry into force: 4 September 1960

States Parties to the Agreement

Country

Belgium

Denmark

Federal Republic of Germany

France

Iceland

Italy

Luxembourg

Netherlands

Norway

Sweden

Switzerland



[1] These Governments have made a declaration in accordance with Article 1 B. (1) to the effect that the words "events occurring before 1 January 1951" in Article 1, Section A, should be understood to mean "events occurring in Europe before 1 January 1951".

[2] These Governments have made a declaration in accordance with Article 1 B. (1) to the effect that the words "events occurring before 1 January 1951" in Article 1, Section A, should be understood to mean "events occurring in Europe before 1 January 1951".

[3] These Governments have made a declaration in accordance with Article 1 B. (1) to the effect that the words "events occurring before 1 January 1951" in Article 1, Section A, should be understood to mean "events occurring in Europe before 1 January 1951".

[4]Australia extended application of the Convention to Norfolk Islands, Papua New Guinea and Nauru.

[5] These Governments, to whose territories the Convention applied prior to independence, as a result of the ratification by France, have not yet made a declaration extending the scope of Article 1, Section A, which was limited by France to mean "events occurring in Europe before 1 January 1951".

[6] These Governments have made a declaration in accordance with Article 1 B. (1) to the effect that the words "events occurring before 1 January 1951" in Article 1, Section A, should be understood to mean "events occurring in Europe before 1 January 1951".

[7] These Governments have made a declaration in accordance with Article 1 B. (1) to the effect that the words "events occurring before 1 January 1951" in Article 1, Section A, should be understood to mean "events occurring in Europe before 1 January 1951".

[8] These Governments have made a declaration in accordance with Article 1 B. (1) to the effect that the words "events occurring before 1 January 1951" in Article 1, Section A, should be understood to mean "events occurring in Europe before 1 January 1951".

[9] These Governments, to whose territories the Convention applied prior to independence, as a result of the ratification by France, have not yet made a declaration extending the scope of Article 1, Section A, which was limited by France to mean "events occurring in Europe before 1 January 1951".

[10] These Governments, to whose territories the Convention applied prior to independence, as a result of the ratification by France, have not yet made a declaration extending the scope of Article 1, Section A, which was limited by France to mean "events occurring in Europe before 1 January 1951".

[11] Denmark declared that the Convention was also applicable to Greenland.

[12] These Governments have made a declaration in accordance with Article 1 B. (1) to the effect that the words "events occurring before 1 January 1951" in Article 1, Section A, should be understood to mean "events occurring in Europe before 1 January 1951".

[13] These Governments have made a declaration in accordance with Article 1 B. (1) to the effect that the words "events occurring before 1 January 1951" in Article 1, Section A, should be understood to mean "events occurring in Europe before 1 January 1951".

[14] These Governments have made a declaration in accordance with Article 1 B. (1) to the effect that the words "events occurring before 1 January 1951" in Article 1, Section A, should be understood to mean "events occurring in Europe before 1 January 1951".

[15] The Federal Republic of Germany declared that the Convention was also applicable to Land Berlin.

[16] These Governments have made a declaration in accordance with Article 1 B. (1) to the effect that the words "events occurring before 1 January 1951" in Article 1, Section A, should be understood to mean "events occurring in Europe before 1 January 1951".

[17] France declared that the Convention applied to all territories for the international relations of which France was responsible.

[18] These Governments have made a declaration in accordance with Article 1 B. (1) to the effect that the words "events occurring before 1 January 1951" in Article 1, Section A, should be understood to mean "events occurring in Europe before 1 January 1951".

[19] The United Kingdom extended application of the Convention to the following territories for the conduct of whose international relations the Government of the United Kingdom was then responsible:

Basutoland, Bechuanaland Protectorate, British Honduras, British Solomon Island Protectorate, Channel Islands, Cyprus, Dominica, Falkland Islands, Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, Fiji, Gambia, Gilbert and Ellice Islands, Granada, Jamaica, Isle of Man, Kenya, Mauritius, St. Helena, St. Vincent, Seychelles, Somaliland Protectorate, Swaziland, Zanzibar.

[20] On 19 March 1962 the United Kingdom notified the Secretary-General of the extension of the Convention to the following territories:

Aden Colony, Bermuda, British Guinea*, British Honduras*, British Solomon Islands Protectorate*, Falkland Islands*, Fiji*, The Gambia*, Gilbert and Ellice Islands*, Hong Kong*, Kenya*, Malta, Mauritius*, North Borneo*, Sarawak, Seychelles, St. Helena, State of Singapore*, The West Indies*, Uganda, Virgin Islands, Zanzibar.

The extension of the territories marked by an asterisk was subject to certain reservations.

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