Protection of the Refugee's Family No. 88 (L) - 1999

The Executive Committee,

(a)        Reaffirms Conclusion No. 9 (XXVIII), Conclusion No. 24 (XXXII), Conclusion No. 84 (XLVIII),and Conclusion No. 85 (XLIX) paragraphs (u) to (x) on family reunion and family unity and on refugee children and adolescents; and re-emphasizes that the family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by the society and the State;

(b)        Underlines the need for the unity of the refugee's family to be protected, inter alia by:

(i)         measures which ensure respect for the principle of family unity, including, those to reunify family members separated as a result of refugee flight;

(ii)         the consideration of liberal criteria in identifying those family members who can be admitted, with a view to promoting a comprehensive reunification of the family;

(iii)        provisions and/or practice allowing that when the principal applicant is recognized as a refugee, other members of the family unit should normally also be recognized as refugees, and by providing each family member with the possibility of separately submitting any refugee claims that he or she may have;

(iv)        the prioritization of family unity issues at an early stage in all refugee operations; and

(v)         programmes to promote the self-sufficiency of adult family members so as to enhance their capacity to support dependent family members;

(c)        Calls upon States, UNHCR and other relevant actors to give particular attention to the needs of unaccompanied refugee children pending their reunification with their families; and affirms, in this regard, that adoption of refugee children should only be considered when all feasible steps for family tracing and reunification have been exhausted, and then only in the best interests of the child and in conformity with international standards. 


Executive Committee 50th session. Contained in United Nations General Assembly Document No. 12A (A/54/12/Add.1).

This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.