Addendum to the Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

United Nations
Addendum to the Report of the United Nations
High Commissioner for Refugees
General Assembly
Official Records : Twenty-sixth Session
Supplement No.12 (A/8412/Add.1)
United Nations, New York, 1971



1. The Executive Committee of the High Commissioner's Programme held its twenty-second session from 4 to 12 October 1971 at the Palais des Nations, Geneva.

A. Election of officers

2. Under rule 10 of the rules of procedure, which provides that officers shall be elected for the whole year, the Committee elected the following officers by acclamation:

Chairman: Mr. M. Loveday, M.B.E. (Australia)
Vice-Chairman: Mr. N. Kandemir (Turkey)
Rapporteur: Miss G. Rheker (Federal Republic of Germany)

B. Representation on the Committee

3. All the members of the Committee were represented at the session as follows:

Algeria Lebanon
Australia Madagascar
Austria Netherlands
Belgium Nigeria
Brazil Norway
Canada Sweden
China Switzerland
Colombia Tunisia
Denmark Turkey
Federal Republic of Germany Uganda
France United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Greece United Republic of Tanzania
Holy See United States of America
Iran Venezuela
Israel Yugoslavia

4. The Governments of Argentina, Burundi, Cuba, Ethiopia, Finland, India, Iceland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Senegal, Spain, the Sudan, the Republic of Viet-Nam, Zaire and Zambia were represented by an observer, as was the Sovereign Order of Malta.

5. The United Nations system was represented as follows: United Nations, United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), World Food Programme (WFP), International labour Organisation (ILO), Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the World Health Organization (WHO) and International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

6. The following intergovernmental organizations were represented by an observer: Commission of the European Communities (CEC), Intergovernmental Committee for European Migration (ICEM), League of Arab States, Organization of African Unity (OAU), Council of Europe and International Secretariat for Volunteer Service (ISVS).

C. Introductory remarks by the Chairman

7. The Chairman, on behalf of the Committee, paid a warm tribute to the outgoing Chairman, Mr.A.Rosenstand-Hansen, to the Vice-Chairman, Mr. A.B. Adimola and to the Rapporteur, Mr. M. Piacitelli and welcomed representatives of member Governments of the Committee, observers of other Governments and representatives of United Nations agencies, other intergovernmental organizations and non-governmental organizations.

8. He stated that this session, which was taking place 20 years after the establishment of UNHCR, was a significant one and, as the Committee was aware, the international community was at present facing an extremely serious refugee problem.

D. Adoption of the agenda-Decision of the Committee

9. The Executive Committee decided to adopt the following agenda:

(1) Election of officers

(2) Adoption of the agenda (A/AC.96/448/Rev.1)

(3) Statement by the High Commissioner and general debate (including observance of the twentieth anniversary of UNHCR)(A/AC.96/452)

(4) International protection (A/AC.96/458)

(5) Financial reports for 1970:

(a) Financial statements and Report of the Board of Auditors (A/AC.96/451 and 460)

(b) Report on investments (A/AC.96/450)

(6) UNHCR current operations:

(a) Report on UNHCR current operations in 1970 [2] (A/AC.96/449 and A/AC.96/INF.114,115 and 116)

(b) Use of the Emergency Fund from 1 January-30 September 1971 (A/AC.96/461 and A/AC.96/INF. 117, 118, 119,120 and 121)

(7) UNHCR assistance programme for 1971-New and revised projects (A/AC.96/454)

(8) Resettlement of refugees (A/AC.96/453)

(9) Relations between UNHCR, the United Nations and other members of the United Nations system (A/AC.96/456)

(10) UNHCR assistance programme for 1972 (A/AC.96/455 and A/AC.96/455/Add.1)

(11) Status of contributions and over-all financial situation for 1971 and 1972 (A/AC.96/459 and 462)

(12) Regular budget of UNHCR for 1972 (A/AC.96/457)

(13) Any other questions

(14) Consideration of the draft report on the session


A. Statement by the High Commissioner and general debate (agenda item 3)

10. The High Commissioner made a statement in which he gave an account of developments in assistance to refugees.[3]

11. He recalled that while progress continued to be made in respect of the current activities of his Office, the problems of refugees had vastly increased through the sudden and continuing large-scale influx of East Pakistanis into India since the spring of this year.

12. In response to the Indian Government's request of 23 April 1971 for assistance from the whole United Nations system and in consultation with the members of the Administrative Committee for Co-ordination (ACC), the Secretary-General decided that the High Commissioner should act as a focal point for the co-ordination of assistance from the United Nations. The magnitude of the problem went beyond UNHCR's means and the "focal point" activities had therefore to be entirely separate from the usual work of the office.

13. It was clear from the start that action was to be concentrated upon urgent, massive relief measures and, whenever possible, on the promotion of voluntary repatriation which constituted also in the view of the two Governments directly concerned the only lasting solution.

14. The High Commissioner described the functioning of the "focal point", whose objective was to co-ordinate fund-raising and assistance activities at the international level while, at the express wishes of the Government of India, operational responsibilities were left with Indian authorities.

15. Some $115 million had been contributed so far by the international community in response to the appeals launched by the Secretary-General and the High Commissioner, but much more was still needed. A major share of the burden was carried by the Indian Government and people.

16. With regard to voluntary repatriation, UNHCR had achieved results in other areas once the necessary conditions had been met and agreement reached between the Governments of the host country and of the country of origin on the practical arrangements required. Until that stage was reached, substantial organized repatriation could not take place. With this idea in mind, the High Commissioner had taken up contact with the Government of Pakistan which has agreed to the stationing of a UNHCR representative and a small team of field assistants in East Pakistan and had set up reception centres to facilitate the return of the refugees.

17. Recent floods had further aggravated the tragedy and the situation demanded additional massive contributions on the part of the international community if a drama affecting thousands of human beings was to be averted in time.

18. With regard to the current activities of his Office, the High Commissioner stressed that progress had been favourable on the whole. However, the number of asylum seekers in Africa had continued to increase and UNHCR activities had to be constantly adjusted to changing circumstances. Meanwhile, existing rural settlements were being consolidated with the close co-operation of other United Nations agencies. His Office would be actively participating in the UNDP country programming system, established under General Assembly resolution 2688 (XXV), which it was hoped would ensure the optimum use of the United Nations system's services and resources. Several countries that had already adopted the country programming system had invited UNHCR to become associated with it. Governments from now on had a major role to play with regard to the inclusion of refugee settlements in the UNDP country programme once the consolidation stage had been reached.

19. The smooth implementation of the UNHCR programme in Africa was still affected by the uninterrupted influx of new refugees, by the political considerations which sometimes led to the need to transfer refugee groups from the border areas inland, and also by the fact that some earlier projects which had had to be put into effect too hastily lacked sufficient technical preparation. It was hoped, however, that the co-operation of experts of other United Nations agencies which had now been enlisted would in the future considerably reduce the risk of those setbacks of a technical nature.

20. In regard to the problem of individual cases, the High Commissioner commented, the Office had responded to views expressed by the Committee by undertaking to establish a modest network of counselling services in some African cities where they appeared to be essential. This was in particular a prerequisite to enable the OAU Bureau for the Placement and Education of African Refugees to carry out its task effectively. The High Commissioner was pleased to report that some countries in Africa had recently provided educational and training facilities for refugee students who would subsequently be able to work in these countries. He expressed the hope that this example would be followed.

21. The Office continued to make constant efforts to ensure that refugees were guaranteed a proper legal status. There had been further accessions to the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees of 1951 [4] and the 1967 Protocol thereto.[5] The High Commissioner was concerned, however, that as a result of considerations of a security nature genuine refugees should be prevented from becoming permanently settled and in some cases should even be obliged for purely economic reasons to leave the country where they had found employment and settled.

22. The 1972 assistance programme reflected the need to extend some of the settlement areas and create new ones. Also it had been necessary to take into account a general rise in prices. He had, therefore, reluctantly been obliged to propose a financial target exceeding by some $900,000 the target of the 1971 programme, the major part of the allocation being intended for assistance to refugees in Africa.

23. He was gratified to report that governmental contributions to the 1971 programme had increased by 12 per cent since 1970. The number of Governments contributing to the 1970 programme had reached 82. The prospects for 1971 were also favourable and the financing of the programme was practically assured. Trust funds contributed in 1971 for essential projects outside the UNHCR programme, including the Education Account, amounted to $900,000 so far.

24. In conclusion, the High Commissioner stressed that one of the conclusions drawn from his present activities as the focal point for the co-ordination of assistance was that the world was ill-equipped to deal with upheavals of dimensions as great as those which were now taking place. The international community had had to react in an ad hoc way. While UNHCR's role must remain exclusively humanitarian, the common objective of the international community must be to try to remove the causes of refugee problems and to eliminate the political, social and economic ills which triggered off population movements. This challenge must be accepted and it was only "in the minds of men that the battle could be lost or won".

25. Before proceeding to the general debate, the Committee greatly welcomed a special message from President Richard Nixon in support of the work of UNHCR.

26. During the ensuing discussions, the representatives who spoke commended the Office for the results it had achieved since its inception 20 years ago. They expressed concern, however, that refugee problems had not diminished but considerably increased. Several speakers stressed that the strict observance of the humanitarian, social and non-political character of its task, as laid down in article 2 of the Statute, had provided a sound basis for action by the High Commissioner in the complex and delicate situations he had to face in many parts of the world. This had enabled him to safeguard the interests of refugees and alleviate their plight while at the same time assisting Governments in solving divergences which might arise over problems of refugees. Attention was drawn in this connexion to the growing recognition of the fact that the granting of asylum to refugees was no longer considered as an unfriendly act by the Government of their country of origin. Members of the Committee also commended the policy evolved by the Office over the past years which had enabled it, through the concept of the good offices function, to adjust its activities to new refugee situations, without affecting the fundamental principles on which UNHCR's work was based. The catalytic role of the UNHCR programme and its multiplying effect on the provision of aid to refugees from other sources was also highlighted.

27. All speakers agreed that the vast, continuing influx of refugees from East Pakistan into India had created a need for humanitarian relief which challenged the conscience and solidarity of the international community. The scope and urgency of this problem was such that the United Nations system as a whole had rightly been brought in to assist. The Committee paid tribute to the High Commissioner for the manner in which he was performing the additional task he had undertaken at the request of the Secretary-General in serving as the focal point for the co-ordination of the assistance furnished by the organizations of the United Nations system. The Committee paid a special tribute to the Government and people of India which were carrying the major part of the burden. It also expressed appreciation to the United Nations agencies and non-governmental organizations which were participating in the common effort.

28. The view was generally expressed that it was desirable to maintain the separation between the "focal point" activities and the regular work of the Office. Most speakers expressed agreement that the role entrusted to the High Commissioner's Office by the Secretary-General was that of a co-ordinator. It was appropriate in the circumstances that operational responsibility should remain with the Indian authorities. Several speakers expressed the hope that this would help avert the risk that relief should become institutionalized, and thus develop into a permanent burden on the international community.

29. A number of speakers stated that, taking especially into account the numbers involved, a permanent solution could only be provided by voluntary repatriation. They agreed that substantial organized voluntary repatriation would be possible only once the necessary conditions had been met.

30. With regard to the provision of relief, many speakers stressed that generous contributions were being provided from all sources which in other circumstances would have been regarded as very sizable. In this case, however, there was a widening gap between the resources and the enormous needs to be met. Greatly increased efforts would therefore be required the more so since the number of refugees was growing. Members of the Committee agreed that the Committee should encourage Governments and the public at large to make further generous contributions which would be indispensable if a major tragedy affecting especially children and the aged was to be averted.

31. The representative of the Holy See informed the Committee that His Holiness who was deeply concerned over this human drama, had decided to appeal to members of Catholic faith and people of all creeds to consider Sunday, 10 October, as a day of fasting and prayer and to offer contributions for the benefit of all the victims of the present upheaval.

32. The Committee received further information on the problem under consideration through statements by the observers for India and Pakistan, who expressed their gratitude to all donors. [6]

33. The observer for Pakistan, in referring to the facilities provided by the Government of Pakistan to facilitate repatriation, recalled that the President of his country had made successive appeals to the refugees to return home and had announced a general amnesty. Furthermore, 29 transit camps had been opened along the border to receive the refugees and the authorities were co-operating fully with the UNHCR representative at Dacca. A special representative for relief and rehabilitation in East Pakistan had been appointed and a special committee established to co-ordinate relief operations with the representative of the United Nations system in the area. Furthermore, the process to restore a representative form of government in the country had been initiated.

34. The observer for India stressed that, as had been stated by the High Commissioner, the common objective should be to seek ways and means to eradicate the causes of refugee problems. He pointed out that the influx of refugees into India had been so sudden and so rapid that the country had had to strain its economic and administrative possibilities to the utmost from the start. He described the machinery established by his Government to provide relief and gave information on the location of the refugees in India and on the type of assistance provided, including in particular accommodation, food and health facilities. He expressed the hope that the necessary conditions would be met which would encourage the return of the refugees to their homes.

35. In the course of the session, the representative of FAO, UNICEF, WEP and WHO indicated that they were participating in the work of assistance to refugees in India. The representative of the Commission of European Communities, the Director of the Intergovernmental Committee for European Migration and the representative of the Council of Europe also indicated what action had been taken by their respective organizations to mark their concern over this problem.

36. Most speakers emphasized that close attention should continue to be paid to UNHCR's usual activities, the more so since refugee problems were growing in certain areas, as reflected by the increased financial requirements for the 1972 programme.

37. Many representatives stressed the importance of international protection, the primary function of UNHCR. They expressed satisfaction at the progress achieved in ensuring that refugees enjoyed adequate legal status and freedom to exercise basic human rights, and in helping them to acquire the nationality of their country of residence. While noting with appreciation the increased number of accessions to international legal instruments for the benefit of refugees, some speakers emphasized the importance of a corresponding development of measures at the national level designed to give effect to the provisions laid down in those instruments.

38. With respect to the increase in the number of refugees in certain countries in Africa, some representatives considered that the problem could not be solved until the resolutions of the General Assembly concerning the implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples and related resolutions were fully implemented. The Committee noted from statements made by the representatives of some of the countries of residence in Africa that the integration of refugees in these countries was making good progress in spite of many difficulties.

39. Various members observed with satisfaction the growing co-operation between the United Nations, other United Nations agencies and UNHCR, in particular with regard to the rural settlement and education of refugees. They endorsed UNHCR's participation in the UNDP country programming system, which should facilitate the inclusion of refugee settlements in UNDP country programmes once the consolidation stage had been reached. Several representatives welcomed the less pragmatic approach adopted in respect of rural settlement projects. They were confident that with the technical advice of other United Nations agencies the preparation of prospects would be further improved.

40. Several participants expressed concern over the problems of individual refugees in the larger cities in Africa. They considered that the development of social counselling services as proposed by UNHCR offered the best way to resolve their problems.

41. During the discussion and in the course of other meetings, attention was drawn to the problems of refugees in other parts of the world. The Chairman of the last session of the Executive Committee referred to the large number of projects being carried out with close co-operation between UNHCR and other organizations in Macao and Nepal which he had noticed while on a special visit to those areas. Mention was also made of the problems of refugees in Europe and of the importance of maintaining UNHCR's presence in the countries concerned.

42. With regard to the financing of UNHCR programmes, several representatives expressed satisfaction at the steady increase in the number of contributing Governments. Some representatives drew attention to the constructive role that might be played by youth, as witnessed by the award of the Nansen medal to a young volunteer in recognition of the outstanding fund-raising efforts of thousands of volunteers in the Nordic countries.

43. In the course of the debate and at other meetings during the session, financial contributions towards UNHCR current activities and towards relief for the refugees from East Pakistan in India were announced by the representatives of the following countries: Australia, Belgium, Denmark, Federal Republic of Germany, France, Holy See, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom and United States of America (see chapter VII below).

44. The Committee noted from a statement made by the representative of OAU at the 218th meeting the special interest taken by this organization in the work of assistance for refugees in Africa. The Committee also heard a statement by the representative of the International Council of Voluntary Agencies who reviewed the various aspects of the work for refugees in which the agencies were actively participating.

45. In summing up, the Chairman stated that the discussion had been marked by a spirit of conciliation and understanding. This was a matter for satisfaction, bearing in mind that the crucial need was to stem the misery of fellow human beings.

Decision of the Committee

46. The Executive Committee:

(1) Paid tribute to the Office of the High Commissioner for the results it had achieved during the first two decades of its existence and emphasized the humanitarian and non-political character of its task, the observance of which had enabled the Office to assist refugees, often in difficult circumstances, in many parts of the world;

(2) Expressed general agreement with the policies enunciated by the High Commissioner in his introductory statement;

(3) Expressed deep concern at the magnitude of the tragic problem of refugees in India;

(4) Acknowledged with great appreciation the way in which the High Commissioner was discharging his duties as the focal point of the United Nations for co-ordination of assistance to these refugees, which were entirely separate from UNHCR's usual activities;

(5) Urged all Governments to respond generously to the appeals for increased assistance launched by the Secretary-General and the High Commissioner to meet the continuing emergency;

(6) Noted with satisfaction that good progress was being achieved by UNHCR in respect of its usual activities, although it was facing continuing problems of a considerable size in certain areas, and especially in Africa;

(7) Stressed the importance of vigorously pursuing the usual activities of UNHCR, as in the past.

B. Relations between UNHCR, the United Nations and other members of the United Nations system (agenda item 9)

47. In introducing the item, the representative of the High Commissioner emphasized the excellent co-operation which had developed between UNHCR, the United Nations and other United Nations agencies and gave an account of the new developments that had recently taken place in this field. From the $50,000 made available under the terms of General Assembly resolution 2679(XXV) to enable United Nations programmes to provide more assistance for Namibians, $15,000 had been allocated to UNHCR for assistance to refugees from Namibia during 1971. Allocations to UNHCR from the United Nations Trust Fund for South Africa had grown from $15,000 in 1966 to $70,000 in 1971. Under the UNESCO budget provision had been made for the secondment to UNHCR of a specialist in education programmes who was to be assisted by two associate experts. The representative gave details on technical education and vocational training provided by the United Nations specialized agencies. In giving the Committee more detailed information in respect of interagency co-operation in the field of rural settlement, he described the advantages to be derived from UNHCR participation in the new UNDP country programming exercise.

48. In replying to a question by the representative for Canada concerning the implementation of the Committee's decision contained in paragraph 57(5) of the report on its twenty-first session, [7] the representative of the High Commissioner explained that the decision applied essentially to projects which might be submitted to the UNDP Governing Council and to the Executive Directors of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development and that such projects had not been submitted to those two bodies during the period under review. However, the UNDP Governing Council would probably be requested, in its January or June 1972 session, to approve the continuation of rural development projects in Burundi and Central African Republic in the areas where refugees had been settled with UNHCR assistance. Members of the Committee would be informed as soon as these requests were submitted to the Governing Council for approval.

49. The Committee heard statements by the representatives of UNDP, UNICEF, the World Food Programme, ILO, FAO, UNESCO, and WHO, supplementing the information provided in the High Commissioner's report and describing the manifold activities of their respective organizations in support of the work of assistance to refugees in developing countries, mainly in Africa.

50. The Committee noted with satisfaction the progress which had been achieved since its last session. The representatives who spoke stressed the importance they attached to the participation of UNHCR in the UNDP country programming exercise. This was particularly important since it would facilitate the inclusion or refugees in developing projects once the consolidation stage of their rural settlement had been reached.

51. The question was raised as to whether the UNDP Indicative Planning Figures which were being established for five-year periods under the proposed system could be amended within the five-year period if, for instance, increased assistance from UNDP was required in connexion with a sudden influx o refugees. The Committee noted from statements made by the representative of the High Commissioner and of UNDP that the proposed system allowed for the necessary flexibility through a review of the Indicative Planning Figure which is to take place annually and through the availability of a reserve fund on which the UNDP Administrator could draw in special situations. One representative suggested that an account of the implementation of UNDP-assisted development projects benefiting refugees be submitted to the Committee at its twenty-third session. He stressed that every effort should be made to draw the attention of the Governments concerned to the importance of appropriate priority being given to the development of areas where refugees were being settled on the land. One representative emphasized the usefulness of the evaluation missions referred to in the High Commissioner's report.

52. With respect to possible co-operation between UNHCR and the World Bank Group, the suggestion was made that since the position was not entirely negative further opportunities should be explored.

Decision of the Committee

53. The Executive Committee:

(1) Took note with satisfaction of the favourable growth of co-operation between UNHCR and the other members of the United Nations system, but noticed at the same time that a number of problems continued to arise;

(2) Encouraged the High Commissioner to continue his participation in the new country programming exercise adopted by UNDP and to contribute where necessary, to the planning and execution of development projects to be undertaken by Governments with UNDP assistance in areas where refugee settlements are located;

(3) Requested the High Commissioner to maintain contact with the World Bank Group with a view to enabling refugee communities to benefit from development projects carried out with the assistance of the Group;

(4) Invited the High Commissioner to report again to the Committee at its twenty-third session.


54. The Committee considered the note on international protection (A/AC.96/458), which gave information on recent developments in that field as well as an indication of the broad developments that had taken place in the creation and development of a legal framework of international protection during the 20 years of existence of UNHCR. A total of 61 States were now parties to the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, and 47 States had so far adhered to the 1967 Protocol. The wider application of the 1951 Convention had been accompanied by a corresponding development in measures taken at the national level through the adoption of legislative and administrative measures to give effect to its provisions.

55. The representative of the High Commissioner, introducing the item, said that while much had been achieved in the past 20 years, a great deal still remained to be done. It was to be hoped that States with sizable refugee problems which had not yet acceded to the 1951 Convention and 1967 Protocol would do so, that reservations made to these instruments would be withdrawn and that in States where appropriate legal and administrative measures for the implementation of the provisions of these instruments had not yet been adopted, the situation would be remedied. It was also hoped that in the not too distant future appropriate procedures for the determination of refuge status would be instituted in all States parties to the Convention and Protocol and that these would provide the necessary guarantee for a fair hearing of the applicants. The lack of clarity with regard to the question of asylum was still a cause for serious concern, and many asylum seekers suffered because they had no legal right to admission to a country. While such persons were not returned to their country of origin, in some cases they were unable to regularize their status and were sometimes subjected to punitive measures. Furthermore, there had not yet been sufficient response on the part of Governments to the High Commissioner's efforts to promote the reuniting of members of refugee families. He voiced the hope that further efforts to improve the status of refugees might inspire the stricter observance of human rights in general and thus contribute to preventing the emergence of refugee situations.

56. The members of the Committee expressed their appreciation of the achievements of the Office of the High Commissioner in the field of international protection, the basic task of his Office. They congratulated the High Commissioner on the results of his efforts to promote wider acceptance of a universal and more dynamic approach to the protection of refugees, as shown inter alia in the steadily increasing number of States which had become parties to the 1951 Convention and the 1967 Protocol on the Status of Refugees. They agreed that the effectiveness of international protection depended on an appropriate legal framework of international instruments combined with efficient methods for their implementation at the national level. The instruments in force provided only the minimum basic standards for the protection of refugees and the adoption of appropriate national legislation, in keeping with the principles of those instruments, was essential. The members of the Committee noted with interest that 22 Governments had replied to the questionnaire addressed to Governments concerning the measures taken by parties to the 1951 Convention and the 1967 Protocol and that further replies to he questionnaire would shortly be submitted. One representative thought that it would be useful for members of the Committee to receive an analytical study of these replies.

57. Several representatives shared the concern expressed by the High Commissioner that in some States parties to the Convention and Protocol refugees were no always granted the minimum rights to which they were entitled. They emphasized in this connexion the vital importance they attached to the recognized principle of non-refoulement which was a moral obligation on every State, to which there should be no exception. One representative pointed out that refugees should neither be returned to their country of origin nor to a country from which they might be sent back to their homeland against their will.

58. The Committee paid great attention to the initiatives taken, in particular the Bellagio Colloquium held in April 1971 under the auspices of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, with a view to the strengthening of the principles relating to asylum (c.f. paragraph 14 of the note on international protection). Several representatives recognized that the 1951 Convention and 1967 Protocol contained no provision governing the circumstances in which a refugee should be granted asylum and that a number of important instruments had been adopted on this subject such as the Declaration on Territorial Asylum, contained in resolution 2312 (XXII) adopted by the General Assembly in 1966, resolution 5 of the International Conference on Human Rights and resolution 67 (14) of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe. Some representatives questioned the feasibility of reaching agreement on the text of a binding legal instrument on asylum, and of ensuring is subsequent implementation, since the legal obligation involved might deter Governments from ratifying such an instrument which might then remain ineffective. Several representatives considered that the granting of asylum was a matter which should continue to be decided at the discretion of the country concerned. Some speakers considered that the principal objective of the draft text which was to be drawn up in due course would be to establish international guidelines on the granting of asylum to serve as a moral incentive to Governments in this field.

59. Two representatives drew attention to the difficulties caused by persons who, having been granted refugee status in a country of first asylum until such time as they could be resettled in a country of their choice, has used their refugee travel document to enter another country on a tourist visa where they again applied for asylum. In the interest of the cause of refugees, they felt that complaints against the legitimate refusal of such applications should be carefully investigated before they were supported publicly.

60. The Committee was pleased to note from a statement by the representative of the Netherlands-the depositary power of the 1957 Agreement relating to Refugee Seamen-that 13 of the 15 Governments parties to this Agreement had replied positively to the proposal for a Protocol to bring the Agreement into line with the 1967 Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees. It was hoped that this new Protocol could be opened for signature by the Governments parties to the Agreement at the beginning of 1972.

61. Several representatives expressed their disappointment that only limited results had been achieved in the reunion of refugee families notwithstanding the relentless efforts of the High Commissioner's Office. The hope was expressed that mutual understanding in this important matter would be shown by all Governments concerned and that efforts would be pursued. One representative explained that in view of the extended family system which prevailed in Africa the Government of his country had found it necessary to restrict reunion to those family members who had lived with the refugee family in the past for some considerable time.

62. The question of the acquisition by refugees of the nationality of their country of residence was also discussed. The Committee noted that the number of refugees naturalized in a number of countries had increased and that several Governments had adopted, or were in the process of adopting, legislation whereby the naturalization of refugees might be facilitated. It was pointed out in this connexion that the adoption of such legislation was more complex and difficult for federal States. In referring to the problem of statelessness of refugee children at birth, some speakers voiced their concern that only a few countries had so far acceded to the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness and expressed the hope that further Governments would find it possible to adhere to this instrument in the near future and so enable it to come into force. The Committee noted that additional accessions were being considered and that one further Government was also about to ratify the 1954 Convention on the Status of Stateless Persons, while others were studying the possibility of doing so.

63. Referring to the importance of legal assistance for individual refugees, the representative of the United States stressed that their legal problems should be more widely known among the members of the legal profession and he proposed to bring the matter before the World Peace through Law Association, of which he was the President and which was in a position to take useful initiatives in this respect.

Decision of the Committee

64. The Executive Committee

(1) Recognized that, while a good legal framework of international protection had been developed over the years and progress made in this field, serious problems still remained to be solved;

(2) Expressed in particular the hope

(a) That States which had not yet done so would accede to the 1951 Convention and 1967 Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees;

(b) That the States parties to those instruments would ensure their implementation in the terms and spirit of their provisions by the adoption of appropriate measures, including the establishment of suitable procedures for the determination of refugee status;

(3) Stressed the vital importance it attached to asylum and to the observance of the recognized principle of non-refoulement, to which no exception should be made;

(4) Expressed the hope that the efforts undertaken by the High Commissioner to secure the reunion of separated refugee families would receive the full support of the Governments concerned, in keeping with the recommendations of the Conference of Plenipotentiaries which had adopted the 1951 Convention;

(5) Reaffirmed the importance of the acquisition of a new nationality by refugees through naturalization or the automatic acquisition of nationality by refugee children and expressed the hope that further States would accede to the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness so that it might enter into force in the near future.


65. The representative of the High Commissioner in introducing the report on the resettlement of refugees (A/AC.96/453) described the results achieved during 1970 in close co-operation with the Governments concerned, the Inter-governmental Committee for European Migration (ICEM), the OAU Bureau for the Placement and Education of African Refugees and the voluntary agencies. Resettlement continued to constitute an important solution to the problems of certain groups of refugees and of individual cases. Special attention had been paid to the resettlement of handicapped refugees who had again been paid to the resettlement of handicapped refugees who had again been generously welcomed in several countries.

66. The Director of ICEM, Mr. John F. Thomas, in a statement to the Committee recalled that resettlement had been a vital factor in preventing an accumulation of non-settled refugees in the countries of asylum in Europe in 1970. His organization had encouraged refugees in Spain to accept resettlement opportunities in Australia, Canada and Latin America. ICEM had co-operated with UNHCR in the resettlement of a small number of African refugees outside Europe, and was ready to work in the same way with the OAU Bureau for the Placement and Education of African Refugees. In addition, ICEM was in a position to provide resettlement assistance for refugees in other parts of the world. He pointed out that his organization had been able to maintain its machinery for the resettlement of refugees because it was engaged in the whole field of migration activities. It had, for instance, already developed a programme for resettlement in Latin America, of skilled and specialized manpower from Europe. During its 20 years of existence ICEM had assisted over 1,800,000 persons to find new lives through emigration.

67. The Committee also heard a statement by Mr. M. L. Bâ, observer for OAU and Director of the OAU Bureau. Welcoming the close co-operation which existed between OAU and UNHCR, Mr. Bâ pointed out that the number of refugees in Africa had continued to increase for the reasons already stated in the debate. Countries members of OAU were ready to welcome refugees. However, concrete solutions to their problems were often thwarted owing to economic difficulties. The financial support given to the OAU Bureau was therefore greatly appreciated.

68. Mr. Bâ went on to give a description of the activities of the Bureau in respect of the education and placement of refugees. [8] He also gave an account of the results of the joint missions undertaken by OAU, UNHCR and the International University Exchange Fund to several countries in West and East Africa, where a number or national correspondents had been designated, local committees established and additional scholarships granted. He indicated in particular the countries in Africa where refugees might be resettled and the professions in which employment possibilities existed. The Bureau's Co-ordination Committee had adopted a recommendation earlier this year to the effect that voluntary agencies might temporarily assist refugees resettled for employment in certain countries in Africa until such time as the necessary budgetary provision for their employment had been made by the Government concerned. He also ref erred to the missions which FAO and UNESCO had sent to OAU with a view to co-ordinating the necessary action to implement the resolutions of the General Assembly and of the political organs of OAU. He welcomed the UNHCR proposal to promote the establishment of counseling services. This would, no doubt, facilitate the activities of the Bureau in respect of the placement of refugees.

69. The representatives who participated in the debate reaffirmed their support for the work of resettlement, which remained an appropriate solution for many refugees who were thus given an immediate opportunity to start a new life. Several speakers emphasized that refugees were a productive element in the population of a country. They welcomed the concerted action of the Governments of the countries of resettlement, UNHCR, ICEM, the United States Refugee Programme and the voluntary agencies in this field. The hope was expressed that resettlement opportunities would be made available to refugees who had been awaiting them for a long period of time.

70. Members of the Committee welcomed the information given to them by the observer for OAU in respect of the activities undertaken by the OAU Bureau for the Placement and Education of Refugees to assist individual refugees in Africa. They were satisfied that due attention was being paid to the needs of individual cases and approved the measures taken by the High Commissioner to promote the establishment of counselling services in some of the larger cities in Africa (see chapter VI below).

71. The representative of Nigeria said that his Government welcomed the setting-up of local committees to assist in the settlement of refugees and would co-operate in their work. The authorities of his country would continue to make educational facilities available to refugees to the extent possible.

72. Attention was drawn to the problem of African refugees who, upon completing their studies, sometimes did not return to their country of residence in Africa. Since there was a great need for trained personnel in Africa, it was suggested that efforts should be made to find resettlement opportunities for such refugees on the African continent.

73. The Committee heard a statement by Dr. Cleve Schou, Chief Medical Officer of ICEM, who gave an account of progress made in the resettlement of handicapped refugees and gave an insight into the psychological difficulties these refugees had to face. He pointed out that many of the handicapped were capable of earning their living but were unfortunately frequently obliged to spend two to three years in reception centres before being accepted for permanent settlement. Increased resettlement opportunities were needed in order to reduce the waiting period. He hoped that further offers for the admission of handicapped cases would be received on the occasion of the twentieth anniversary of the Office.

74. The Committee noted with appreciation, from statements made during the session, that the Belgian Government would accept 25 handicapped cases annually, that the Norwegian Government would offer immigration opportunities to an additional 50 handicapped refugees during 1972, and that the Swiss authorities, which were establishing special centres to assist handicapped refugees in their integration, would continue to admit 80 handicapped refugees annually, as they had done during the past ten years.

75. A number of representatives gave the Committee information on the resettlement of refugees in their countries. [9]

Decision of the Committee

76. The Executive Committee:

(1) Took note with appreciation of the report on the resettlement of refugees (A/AC.96/453) and of the activities carried out by UNHCR in this field;

(2) Urged Governments to open wider their doors to refugees, including the handicapped, as well as those refugees who had been awaiting resettlement opportunities for a long period of time;

(3) Requested the High Commissioner, in co-operation with the Governments and other organizations concerned, to continue to give the closest attention to the resettlement, through migration, of individual cases, including in particular those in Africa.


A. Report on UNHCR current operations in 1970 and note on the use of the Emergency Fund from 1 January to 30 September 1971 (agenda item 6)

77. The Committee considered the report on UNHCR's current operations in 1970 (A/AC.96/449 and A/AC.96/INF. 114, 115 and 116) and then took up the note on the Use of the Emergency Fund from 1 January to 30 September 1971 (A/AC.96/461 and A/AC.96/INF. 117, 118, 119, 120 and 121).

78. The Director of Operations introduced the report on current operations in 1970. With a view to supplementing the information contained in the report, he gave an account of the repatriation, through the good offices of the High Commissioner, of 4,591 Nigerian children from the Ivory Coast and Gabon in the latter part of 1970 and the first months of 1971. This undertaking provided an example of the humanitarian role which could be played by the Office. He reported that in this action UNHCR has enjoyed the utmost co-operation from the Governments concerned and had benefited from the expert advice of ICEM. It had proved possible to keep the cost within the $275,000 which had generously been made available by the Government of Denmark. He was very pleased to inform the Committee that all but 100 of the children had been reunited with their families.

79. In referring to the number of refugees assisted with a view to their voluntary repatriation, local settlement or resettlement through migration in 1970, the Director of Operations stressed that while the infrastructure established with a view to the rural settlement of refugees in Africa was also beneficial to the countries of reception, the Governments of these countries were making supporting contributions to these projects by providing arable land free of cost and also certain services. In highlighting the main features of the report, he said that the objective of UNHCR was to achieve permanent solutions and that assistance projects were being phased out as soon as they were no longer required. This was already the case in Burundi.

80. During the ensuing discussion, satisfaction was expressed at the successful completion of the repatriation of Nigerian children, which had been made possible by the generous financial participation of the Government of Denmark. The Committee noted that the children had returned to their families upon their arrival in Nigeria. It was suggested that the operation should now be made more widely known.

81. Referring to the caseload of refugees within the competence of UNHCR in his country, the representative of France informed the Committee that the number of refugees applying for French citizenship was now superior to the number of those applying for refugee status.

82. In response to an observation by one representative that the average per capita annual cost of assisting refugees had apparently risen steeply during the past 20 years, the Director of Operations pointed out that the average cost per refugee was very difficult, if not impossible, to determine on a valid statistical basis. The reason for this was that projects varied in nature and duration and that many refugees often benefited from several types of UNHCR projects at the same time and also from projects financed from other sources, such as the local authorities of the host country, UNICEF, the World Food Programme and voluntary agencies. The Office, however, would seek to establish tentative data in respect of a selected number of sample projects to previous programmes which might lend themselves to this type of calculation.

83. The Committee noted from a statement by the observer for Zambia that the new system of cultivation which had been changed from communal farming to one of family plots-rather than individual holdings as stated in the report-had yielded improved results.

84. Speaking in regard to an allocation from the Emergency Fund for assistance to refugees from the Khmer Republic, the Observer for Viet-Nam expressed his gratitude for the assistance provided by the High Commissioner in settling these refugees in rural areas. The funds had been allocated for the purchase of agricultural machines and implements, livestock and seed. The speaker pointed out that this important project was proving successful.

Decision of the Committee

85. The Executive Committee;

(1) Took note of the report on current operations (A/AC.96/449);

(2) Expressed particular satisfaction at the role played by the Office of the High Commissioner in respect of the successful repatriation of Nigerian Children and paid tribute to the Government of Denmark whose contribution had made possible the movement of the children;

(3) Approved the expenses incurred under the Emergency Fund from 1 January to 30 September 1971, as shown in documents A/AC.96/INF. 117, 118, 119, 120 and 121.

B. UNHCR assistance programme for 1971-new and revised projects (agenda item 7)

86. In introducing this item (A/AC.96/454) the representative of the High Commissioner pointed out that the proposed allocation of $80,000 for assistance to refugees from the Khmer Republic complemented the $80,000 allocation which had been granted from the Emergency Fund.

87. The representative of Uganda, in commenting on an allocation of $400,000 for the transfer of refugees from Nakapiripirit, recalled the history of this settlement for Sudanese refugees. It had now been recognized in the light of the advice given by a mission of experts organized by UNDP that the settlement could not be made a viable one without considerable effort on the part of the Ugandan authorities and UNHCR. It has therefore been decided to move the refugees to a new site. Although this site awaited final approval, it was hoped to begin the transfer in November and to help the refugees to achieve self-sufficiency within two years. He indicated that these funds would also be used to settle in the new site a group of some 3,000 new refugees from the Sudan who had been temporarily accommodated at Onigo and Agago/Acolpii.

Decision of the Committee

88. The Executive Committee:

(1) Approved the two projects submitted to it in document A/AC.96/454.

(2) Approved the revised target of the 1971 programme in an amount of $7,052,000.


89. The Committee considered the proposals of the High Commissioner for the programme of material assistance to refugees in 1972 (A/AC.96/455). It noted that the High Commissioner had requested approval for allocations totalling $7,968,900, a sum which exceeded the amount allocated for the 1971 programme by $916,900.

90. In introducing the Programme the Director of Operations emphasized the impact made on the Programme by the increasing number of refugees in Africa and by the higher cost or goods and services. The role of UNHCR was necessarily catalytic and the Programme had to be partly financed from sources outside the Office. In drawing attention to some of its main features, the Director of Operations explained that the settlement of the Lumpas in the Democratic Republic of the Congo was the subject of further discussion at present.

A. Assistance to refugees in Africa

91. The Committee noted from statements made in the course of the discussion that the phasing out of UNHCR projects had already started or was scheduled to start shortly in a number of settlements in Africa and that the administration would keep the Committee informed of developments in this respect. It was, of course, seriously affected by such imponderables as the arrival of new refugees.

92. The Committee was aware that the admission of large numbers of refugees and the provision of assistance to them was a considerable strain on the economy and public services of the developing countries and that assistance from UNHCR, other United Nations agencies and non-governmental organizations continued to essential to supplement the assistance provided by the host Government. The Committee also noted the positive measures taken in a number of countries with a view to the successful integration of the refugees.

93. The question arose as to whether the spontaneous integration of refugees in existing villages, to which reference was made in the report of the United Nations Research Institute on Social Development on the settlement project in the Central African Republic, was not preferable to systematic rural settlement. The Director of Operations explained that often refugees first settled spontaneously but that in some cases the settlement had to be disbanded by the Government because it was located too close to the border. Both types of settlement, however, had proved their value.

94. The Committee noted from a statement by a representative of the High Commissioner that the settlement on the land of certain groups of refugees was sometimes slowed down by the fact that they had initially settled near the border upon arrival and were reluctant to go further inland to the sites where their durable settlement was being organized.

95. One representative stated that voluntary repatriation would be facilitated if the refugees had the prospect of conditions similar to those which they enjoyed in their country of asylum.

96. In the course of the discussion the observer for Senegal stated that his Government would probably have to address a further request to UNHCR for assistance to refugees in his country since, according to a message just received, a number of villages where refugees were settled, had been destroyed and needed to be rebuilt.

97. In his statement the observer for the Sudan gave an account of the measures taken in his country to facilitate the voluntary repatriation of Sudanese refugees and their successful settlement in their homeland.

98. The Committee paid great attention to the growing problem of individual refugees, mainly in Africa. The representative of the High Commissioner explained that the capacity of the administrative, economic and social structures in Africa, particularly in the large cities, to absorb individual refugees of urban or semi-urban background was limited and measures of general application were not sufficient. The experience already gained in Nairobi, Addis Ababa and Dakar showed that the problem must be tackled case by case, with the assistance of trained social workers. It was accordingly proposed to promote the creation of counselling services staffed by qualified social workers, in a further number of African capitals. These counselling services would function under the auspices of a national refugee committee consisting of representatives of the Government, UNHCR and other United Nations bodies, the OAU Bureau for the Placement and Education of Refugees and non-governmental organizations. During the subsequent discussion, several representatives endorsed the proposal for the counselling services as offering the best possibility of reducing the proportions of the complex and difficult problem of individual cases in Africa.

99. The observer for Zambia explained the considerable difficulties, both financial and technical, which his Government was facing in respect of the transportation of refugees from the border area further inland.

B. Assistance to refugees in other areas

100. The Committee noted from the statement by the representative of the Federal Republic of Germany that an increasing number of individual refugees had arrived in Germany from some 95 countries in Africa and Asia in recent years. For a number of reasons, including language difficulties, many of these refugees were difficult to settle and the representative of the Federal Republic suggested that the OAU Bureau for the Placement and Education of Refugees might assist in dealing with the problem.

101. The Committee heard a statement by the observer from India, who gave an account of the assistance provided for Tibetan refugees in his country. He referred to the part played by the Indian authorities through the Central Relief Committee, by UNHCR and by the common project or the European Refugee Campaign, 1966. Taking into account the difficulty recently experienced in obtaining the necessary funds for assistance to these refugees from local sources, he suggested that the High Commissioner should consider the provision of medical facilities and education assistance for Tibetan refugees on a long-term basis and should also lend its assistance towards a new land settlement project.

102. With regard to the question of European refugees, the representatives of several countries of asylum drew attention to the number of such refugees on their territory and to the fact that the influx continued. One of these representatives expressed the hope that immigration countries would generously deal with applications for admission from aged or otherwise handicapped refugees. Another representative indicated that it had been necessary to increase the allocation of assistance to European refugees from local sources in his country in the course of the current year. In reply to a question, the Director of Operation stated that there were still an estimated 1,000 European refugees in the Far East. Their rate of resettlement via Hong Kong would continue to depend on the issue of exit permits and also to some extent on the availability of resettlement opportunities.

103. The Committee noted from a statement by the observer for Spain that a certain accumulation of refugees had resulted from the increase in the number of arrivals and the reduction in departures for resettlement. His Government, however, would continue to do its utmost to assist the refugees.

Decision of the Committee

104. The Executive Committee:

(1) Approved the financial target for the UNHCR programme for 1972 in an amount of $7,968,900;

(2) Approved the specific allocations in an amount of $7,968,900, as set out in annex II to the present report;

(3) Authorized the High Commissioner, in the event that additional funds should be required for certain projects, to use the reserve or to adjust the allocations approved by transfers between projects or parts of projects, subject to their being reported to the Committee in the report on current operations.


A. Financial reports for 1970 (agenda item 5)

105. The Committee considered the financial statements (A/AC.96/451) and the report of the Board of Auditors (A/AC.96/460) and the report on investments for the year ended 31 December 1970 (A/AC.96/450).

106. The representative of the High Commissioner, introducing the financial reports for 1970, explained a few minor modifications which had been introduced in the presentation or the financial statements and schedules for 1970. He drew attention to charts 3 and 4, which indicated expenditures by area for the last five years. The charts demonstrated the general tendency towards increased expenditures in Africa and Asia, and to a lesser extent in Latin America, with a corresponding decrease for Europe, in particular from 1969 to 1970. Of the total amount of $7.9 million more than 68 per cent had been spent in Africa in 1970.

107. The report on investments showed that an amount of nearly $710,000 had been earned on investments in 1970 in spite of a steady decrease in rates of interest. This somewhat paradoxical result had been achieved by keeping only the minimum funds necessary in current accounts and by investing in the latter part of 1969 and the beginning of 1970 for the maximum period of 12 months, which had enabled UNHCR to draw the higher rates of interests prevailing in 1969 during most of 1970. The interest of $710,000 covered the grant-in-aid of $536,000 to the United Nations budget in 1970, leaving $173,000 towards assistance projects in the UNHCR material assistance programme.

108. The Committee noted with interest the results achieved and agreed that the comments made in paragraph 7 of the report of the Board of Auditors, in respect of the Emergency Fund and funds set aside, should be taken up under agenda item 11.

Decision of the Committee

109. The Executive Committee:

(1) Took note of the accounts for the year 1970 and the financial statistics for the period 1966-1970 (A/AC.96/451), as well as of the report of the Board of Auditors submitted in respect of the financial year 1970 (A/AC.96/460);

(2) Also took note with satisfaction of the report on investments for the year ended 31 December 1970 (A/AC.96/450).

B. Status of contributions and over-all financial situation for 1971 and 1972 (agenda item 11)

110. The Committee considered the report on the status of contribution and the over- all financial situation for 1971 and 1972 as at 31 August 1972 (A/AC.96/459) and a note on the UNHCR long-playing records (A/AC.96/462).

111. The representative of the High Commissioner, introducing document A/AC.96/459,s aid that it was expected that the 1971 programme target, which had been increased from $6,572,000 $7,052,000, would be fully financed. Seventy Governments had announced contributions while others had indicated their intention of doing so. There had been a steady growth in the number of contributing Governments as well as substantial increases in the amounts contributed by some governments. Since it was anticipated that UNHCR's fund-raising in the private sector might be more difficult in 1972 in view of the great demands at present being made in this field, a substantial increase in government support would be required in order to meet fully the financial target of $7,968,900 for the UNHCR programme for 1972, which was considerably higher than the revised target of the 1971 programme.

112. Referring to the recommendations made in paragraph 11 of document A/AC.96/459,the representative of the High Commissioner said that the purpose of this proposal was to permit the establishment of new financial rules governing the use of the Emergency Fund and the funds set aside, taking into account developments since their establishment. When the General Assembly set up the Emergency Fund under resolution 1166 (XII) it fixed the ceiling of the Fund at $500,000 to be maintained mainly from the reimbursement of loans made to assist refugees. Those reimbursements not required to maintain the Emergency Fund were paid into the funds set aside. This system had functioned well in the early years of the Emergency Fund's existence when annual reimbursements exceeded expenditures. Since 1969, however, payments into the Fund had diminished while the needs to be met from it had increased. The difference had been met from the loan repayments which had accumulated during earlier years in the funds set aside. When these were exhausted, however, it would no longer be possible to maintain the Emergency Fund at its ceiling of $500,000. The general Assembly had imposed no specific limit on expenditures from the Emergency Fund. However, the Board of Auditors was of the opinion that there should be a ceiling. The representative of the High Commissioner furthermore explained that the funds set aside, which dated from 1964, were not covered by the Financial Rules. In their detailed report to the High Commissioner the Board of Auditors had recommended that he undertake a revision of the rules to cover this and other points. The revision would be carried out in 1972 and the revised text submitted to the Committee for consultation at its twenty-third session. Under the revised rules all reimbursements of loans would be paid into the funds set aside which would in turn replenish the Emergency Fund.

113. In reply to a question from a member of the Committee concerning the need for the existence of the above two funds as well as the programme reserve, the representative of the High Commissioner explained that the Emergency Fund had been established to meet new refugee emergencies for which no provision was included in the material assistance programme. The programme reserve, on the other hand, was required to enable the High Commissioner to make adjustments to projects included in the annual material assistance programme in respect of known refugee situations. A merger of the two funds would mean that the programme would have to contain provision for unknown situations, the extent of which could not be assessed in advance. This might present difficulties from the point of view of financial control. The funds set aside had been established for purely financial purposes. As the payment of contributions was usually slower than the expenditures incurred under the programme, the funds set aside served as a guarantee to enable the High Commissioner to commit funds for the implementation of projects pending the receipt of contributions.

114. A number of questions were put by representatives concerning the establishment and functioning of the three funds.[10]

115. One representative suggested that it might be useful for fund-raising purposes to know the approximate per capita cost of assistance to refugees, if such an assessment was feasible.

116. In the course of the session announcements in respect of new or increased contributions were made as follows:


The Australian Government would make a new contribution, in cash and in kind, of $A1.5 million partly for assistance to East Pakistani refugees in India through the "focal point" and partly for humanitarian assistance in East Pakistan.


The Belgian Government would contribute an additional 10 million Belgian francs for assistance to East Pakistani refugees in India through the "focal point" and an identical amount for humanitarian aid in East Pakistan.


The Danish Government, subject to the approval of the financial authorities, would contribute 2.8 million Danish kroner to the UNHCR assistance programme for 1972, an increase of 500,000 Danish kroner over the contribution for 1971. The Danish International Development Agency had furthermore approved a grant of 2,175,000 Danish kroner, an increase of 100,000 Danish kroner over the previous year, as an earmarked contribution in 1972 to be used under the Education Account or for other technical assistance activities for refugees.

Federal Republic of Germany

The Government of Germany, subject to parliamentary approval, would increase its contribution to the UNHCR assistance programme for 1972 by 300,00 DM., i.e. nearly 18 per cent, from 1.7 million DM. to 2 million DM.


The French Government would make a new contribution of 7,500,000 French francs for assistance to refugees from East Pakistan in India, through the "focal point", and a contribution of 2,500,000 francs to the humanitarian aid provided by the United Nations to the population of East Pakistan.

Holy See

The Holy See would make a symbolic contribution of $5,000 for assistance to refugees from East Pakistan in India through the "focal point".


Subject to parliamentary approval, the Italian Government envisaged increasing its contribution to the UNHCR programme from $20,000 to $50,000.


The Netherlands Government, subject to parliamentary approval, would increase its contribution to the UNHCR assistance programme for 1972 by 50,000 guilders from 700,000 guilders to 750,000 guilders.


Subject to parliamentary approval, the Norwegian Government would increase its contribution to UNHCR in 1972 by 10 per cent to a total of 3.3 million Norwegian kroner to the Education Account.


In accordance with the practice of the Government of Sweden to announce their contributions for a three-year period in order to facilitate the long-term planning of UNHCR, the Swedish Government indicated its intentions as follows:

1972 $1.1 million (compared with $1 million in 1971)

1973 - not less than $1.2 million (subject to parliamentary approval)

1974 - not less than $1.3 million (subject to parliamentary approval).


The Government of Switzerland would increase by 100,000 Swiss francs its contribution to the UNHCR assistance programme for 1972, which would thus reach an amount of 1 million Swiss francs.

United Kingdom

The United Kingdom Government would increase its contribution to the UNHCR assistance programme for 1972 by £30,000, from £150,000 to £180,000, an increase of 20 per cent.

United States

The President of the United States had requested authorization for another 250 million to be made available for assistance to East Pakistani refugees in India through the "focal point" and for humanitarian assistance in East Pakistan.

Decision of the committee

117. The Executive Committee:

Took note of the report submitted by the High Commissioner on the status of contributions and the over-all financial situation for 1971 and 1972 (A/AC.96/459) and on the UNHCR Long-Playing Records (A/AC.96/462), and:


(1) Noted with satisfaction the increase in governmental financial support for the UNHCR programme, both in the number of contributing Governments and in the level of regular contributions;

(2) Expressed the hope that governmental support would be further substantially increased in 1972 in view of the higher financial target of the UNHCR programme for that year, and that the widest possible number of Governments would become regular contributors.


(1) Reaffirmed that the funds set aside should be maintained from:

(a) Income from the repayment of loans which was not needed to replenish the Emergency Fund;

(b) Savings from prior years' programmes;

(c) Interest on invested funds.

(2) Took note of the High Commissioner's intention to revise the Financial Rules for Voluntary Funds with a view inter alia to clarifying the purposes and utilization of the funds set aside and their relationship with the Emergency Fund, and to consult the Committee on the new rules at its next session;

(3) Recommended to the General Assembly that it authorize the High Commissioner to:

(a) Allocate from the Emergency Fund, under the general directives of the Executive Committee, up to $1 million annually for emergency situations, it being understood that the maximum amount made available for one single emergency should not exceed $500,000 in any one year;

(b) Maintain the Emergency fund at its ceiling of $500,000 by replenishments from the funds set aside and by voluntary contributions made for that purpose.


(1) Took note of the allocations made from the records account (A/AC.96/462, annex II) during the period 1 July 1970-30 June 1971;

(2) Took note of the progress made in the preparation of the fourth long-playing record "Top Star Festival";

(3) Urged Governments which had not yet done so to consider favourably the remission or refund of duties and taxes collected on the sale of "Top Star Festival", as had been done in the case of earlier records;

(4) Requested the High Commissioner to convey to the artists, the record companies and the copyright holders, as well as to his commercial partners, the Committee's appreciation for their ready co-operation in the preparation of "Top Star Festival".

C. Regular budget of UNHCR for 1972 (Agenda item 12)

118. The Committee had before it the regular budget of UNHCR for 1972 (A/AC.96/457).

119. The representative of the High Commissioner drew attention to paragraph 297 of annex II of the budget in which the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions reaffirmed its view that further streamlining of branch offices in Europe could be carried out without prejudice to the High Commissioner's responsibilities. He said that the High Commissioner was now studying all the possibilities of staff reductions with his representatives in Europe. The total staff in most European branch offices was now about one tenth of what it had been 10 years ago and it appeared very difficult to make any further substantial reductions without affecting some aspects of the Office's task in Europe. Before taking a decision, however, the High Commissioner would obtain the views of the Administrative Management Service who were shortly to undertake a survey of his Office.

120. During the ensuing discussion, a number of speakers questioned the wisdom of further reducing the already limited staff at UNHCR branch offices in European countries with a sizable refugee population. They recalled that, as had been stated at earlier sessions and again at this session, there still remained a considerable number of refugees within the competence of UNHCR in countries in Europe and the influx of newcomers continued. The problem was, moreover, becoming increasingly complex as a result of arrivals of new refugees from other continents. It was suggested that this matter should be kept under review. It was generally agreed that adequate staff should be maintained in these countries to ensue the necessary protection of refugees.

Decision of the Committee

121. The Executive Committee:

(1) Took note of the regular budget of UNHCR for 1972 (A/AC.96/457) submitted by the High Commissioner and the report thereon submitted to the General Assembly by the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions;

(2) Noted the view expressed by a number of members of the Committee concerning the need to maintain adequate staff in European countries where the Office still had an important role to play, the matter being kept under review.


Half a century after the inception of international refugee work by Fridtjof Nansen and 20 years after my Office embarked upon the challenging task of solving refugee problems, it is painful for me to have to report that the world refugee situation has, if anything, become grimmer and increasingly explosive. Year after year, we have lived with the idealistic hope that the humanitarian work of UNHCR, would cure the disease of refugee problems. It is symptomatic that this year when observing our twentieth anniversary, present events remind us of the harsh and sad realities of a world in turmoil which is far from meeting our hopes. The plight of vast masses of refugees is not past history; it remains very much a current phenomenon.

While the basic structure of UNHCR has remained the same, the problem of uprooted people throughout the world has greatly developed in dimensions and in variety. As a result of the ever-changing nature of the situation of displaced persons, my Office has been called upon increasingly to perform functions not foreseen when its original mandate was evolved. The use of UNHCR's "good offices" role is a natural by-product of this evolution. By striving to promote rapid solutions to refugee problems, UNHCR surely contributes to the lessening of tensions between States. The more complex a situation is and loaded with political overtones, the more we are required to be flexible in our work and diplomatic in our approach. While determination of refugee status remains a matter for the host country to decide upon, we must spare no effort to alleviate human suffering.

Although it is heartening to recall such highly successful operations as the repatriation of Nigerian children or the useful work carried out in delicate political, social and economic conditions in African countries and many others in various parts of the world, it is nonetheless both alarming and tragic to note that these successes are dwarfed by a challenge of unprecedented magnitude that this year has brought with it for the international community and which preoccupies you all as much, I am sure, as it preoccupies me. I am now thinking of the gigantic and cruel problem of displaced persons from East Pakistan in India and other neighbouring States.

After the events of last March in East Pakistan, the Government of India, faced with a sudden and most serious influx of East Pakistanis into its territory, requested the Secretary-General on 23 April 1971 to make available necessary assistance from the United Nations in order to alleviate the suffering of this mass of refugees and to ease the burden on the Indian economy which their presence inevitably carried in its wake. This request was brought to the attention of all heads of United Nations agencies and programmes at a meeting of the Administrative Committee on Co-ordination at Berne on 26 and 27 April and presided over by U Thant. It was clear during this meeting that a problem of such magnitude required a concerted and co-ordinated effort of all members of the United Nations system. The varied and colossal nature of immediate relief measures-be it food, shelter or medical care-was such that it was far beyond the financial of technical means of UNHCR alone. The Secretary-General was therefore convinced of the need to set up a mechanism of co-ordination without delay. His decision was also in line with the thinking of the Government of India which, in its request, addressed itself to the whole United Nations system. After consultations with all executive heads the Secretary-General decided on 29 April that the High Commissioner for Refugees should act as the focal point for the co-ordination of assistance from the United Nations. By then, the increasingly large numbers of refugees were already imposing great sacrifices on India and its administration and many more were yet to come.

Immediately after assuming these additional functions, I sent to India a team of three senior staff members headed by the Deputy High Commissioner to investigate and assess the situation. A succinct report of the findings of this mission was made available to Governments. An analysis of the situation and or the views of the two Governments principally concerned, that is to say India and Pakistan, made it clear from the beginning that the United Nations action was to concentrate upon two things: first, urgent relief measures for refugees in India and whenever possible promotion of their voluntary repatriation, which was generally agreed to be the only lasting solution to the problem. Consequently, on 19 May 1971, the Secretary-General launched an appeal for assistance to East Pakistani refugees. While emphasizing his deep concern for their plight, U Thant expressed the hope that these refuges would be "voluntarily repatriated at the earliest possible time", indicated that, "pending such repatriation, massive external assistance will be required on an emergency basis" and appealed "to Governments, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, as well as private sources, to help meet the urgent needs".

I have actively followed up this appeal and I am gratified to say that the response of the international community has been generous though it may yet seem inadequate in relation to India's needs. I should like to avail myself of this opportunity to express my gratitude and appreciation to all donor Governments, non-governmental organizations and voluntary organizations which, so speedily, made available contributions in cash and in kind. While it is heartening to note that the response of the international community to this refugee problem has been of unprecedented magnitude-with contributions in cash and in kind amounting to date to some $115 million-I must emphasize that much more is still required. I intend to make available shortly to all Governments a detailed account of priority needs for their immediate attention.

As for the actual mechanism of the "focal point", immediately after assuming these responsibilities I set up in Geneva a standing interagency consultation unit. Its task is, first, to mobilize and secure international support and contributions; second, to arrange for the procurement of supplies in a co-ordinated manner and to deliver the supplies to India; third, to maintain close liaison with the Government of India. Parallel to this consultation unit, the Government of India has set up in Delhi a co-ordinating committee, where all operational ministries of the central government as well as the United Nations agencies directly interested are represented. This double mechanism, in Geneva and in Delhi, for consultation on and co-ordination of all activities is yielding positive results to the satisfaction of all concerned. I wish here to extend my warmest appreciation to the specialized agencies of the United Nations system for their immediate response and effective co-operation.

I should like to stress, for better understanding of the combined efforts in this situation, that this new United Nations role is not an operational one. We have subscribed to the express wishes of the Government of India and left the operational responsibility to the authorities. The "focal point", consequently, does not have any operational staff in the field. My representatives in India, Mr. Jamieson, who is well known to you, and his "focal point" team, act essentially as a liaison and co-ordination link and their duty station is Delhi, though they frequently visit the States where the refugees are concentrated. The responsibility of the United Nations system is restricted to taking action at the international level for raising funds for assistance and contributions in kind; to channel these to the Government of India and to co-ordinate activities as regards their use in order that the "focal point" may be able, with the help of the Government of India, to give a satisfactory account of the use of their contributions to the donors. The most significant characteristic of this non-operational role is that it goes against the danger of the institutionalization of refugee camps and limits the threat of this United Nations operation becoming yet another permanent political and economic burden on the international community. The principal incentive must remain the promoting of conditions leading rapidly to a permanent solution. Being non-operational on the other hand, it is relatively less easy to report on and have readily available all details relevant to the assistance measures taken. It is difficult to neglect this aspect of the work in view of the natural desire of donors to receive full satisfaction that their contributions have been used to the maximum benefit of recipients. This being said, I cannot express sufficient admiration for the countless men and women of India who are joining together against frightening odds to being succour to the refugees.

As for the over-all assessment of the situation, I need hardly point out, particularly to this Committee that relief measures now being provided in India will never be a solution in itself. What is eventually going to happen to these suffering masses of displaced persons? As is already recognized, it is the expressed wish of both the Government of India and the Government of Pakistan that these refugees be repatriated. You are aware that in refugee situations voluntary repatriation has traditionally served as the best solution. UNHCR has had recourse to this in many countries all over the world. I should point out, however, that UNHCR achieved results because there was a consensus of opinion between the host country and the country of origin and both sides agreed not only on the solution but also on modalities leading to this solution. In our past experience, if and when a settlement had occurred in the country of origin, a system of mutual co-operation and help was established with the active participation of UNHCR which facilitated repatriation. Until this stage is reached, substantial and well organized repatriation cannot be a success and the trend is difficult to reverse. It is with this in mind that I established contact with the Government of Pakistan at a very early stage. The Government extended full co-operation and agreed to the stationing of a UNHCR representative in East Pakistan who is now working and has a small team of field assistants. His activities are closely co-ordinated with the United Nations East Pakistan relief operation. The Government of Pakistan has set up reception centres in order to receive refugees and facilitate their return to their homesteads, and these are visited regularly by UNHCR.

I have myself had occasion to visit both India and Pakistan in order to make a personal assessment on the spot and to consult with the two Governments regarding the situation which is causing so much concern not only to both of them but also to the whole international community. I proceeded not only to the two capitals and had discussions at the highest level but also saw the border areas on both sides. In India I visited some refugee camps and in Pakistan some reception centres.

The situation remains very grim indeed and demands much greater efforts and more generosity on the part of the international community. Interest must not slacken and apathy should not set in. The recent floods have had a devasting effect on the camps and distribution problems as a result of the floods have added a new dimension to this tragedy. The fragile health of the young and old will be further affected.

I have given a very limited account of UNHCR's role as this "Focal Point" and of the magnitude of the task which confronts us. The information paper which is being made available will give you the updated details. While no solution is yet in sight for this refugee problem, we must clearly not allow it to distract or monopolize our attention from other refugees in other parts of the world and particularly in Africa where progress has been achieved.

I should now like to turn to these situations which are the direct concern of my Executive Committee in its more traditional and very essential role.

The evolution on other continents is favourable on the whole and refugees are now for the most part definitely integrated. In Africa, however, the number of asylum-seekers is increasing and we must adapt our activities constantly to changing circumstances. Despite new arrivals, the rural settlement of large groups of people who were previously uprooted is constantly being consolidated by the further development of interagency co-operation, a matter which has been discussed in great detail in this Committee in the past.

Our links with UNDP and the specialized agencies have been substantially strengthened involving in particular our active participation in country-programming established in accordance with General Assembly resolution 2688 (XXV). This ensures optimum utilization of the United Nations system's services and resources in a given region. Countries which have adopted this method for their development planning have invited UNHCR to become associated with it. They include the Central African Republic, Zaire, the Republic of Tanzania and Uganda. Under this new procedure, the Government concerned itself decides, within the limits of the funds allocated, the UNDP projects to be carried out on its territory. Governments therefore have a major role to play from now on with regard to the inclusion of refugee settlements, at the consolidation phase, within the UNDP country programme. Moreover, if as it appears in document A/AC.96/456, UNHCR cannot as a general rule count on the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development to finance important infrastructure costs included in our projects, methods of possible co-operation with other members of the system can now be discerned more clearly. We will continue to prime the successful inclusion of refugee settlement centres in this country-programming approach by timely investments from our own limited resources in close consultation with the Governments concerned. It is interesting to note that a chain reaction is frequently initiated by UNHCR rural integration schemes which often stimulate Governments to make a parallel and sometimes more far-reaching effort in the interests of the surrounding local population. The result is that the Office is often led, particularly in the educational field, to undertake more than was originally planned.

The smooth implementation of the programme is still affected by some of the handicaps which I stressed at our last meeting. These are linked to three principal causes: first, the uninterrupted flow of arrivals quite frequently in areas where refugees have already been settled, particularly from colonial territories, which, in certain regions, interferes with projects in the course of execution; second, the weakness of certain projects which had to be hastily conceived and which did not always have the benefit of appropriate technical advice; third, political considerations which induce Governments to demand the transfer of settled or partly-settled refugees from one region to another, usually farther away from the borders, in line with the OAU resolution on the subject, transfers which are not always accepted willingly by the refugees themselves and which add to the uncertainty and the difficulty of producing accurate estimates.

These experiences are teaching us to be less pragmatic in our desire to settle problems as quickly as possible and at the least cost. Study and evaluation missions with skilled technical advice from outside partners should hopefully minimize the risk of recurring set-backs of this kind in the future. The prerequisite of a solid infrastructure cannot be improvised and lasting integration depends, in Africa, as elsewhere, on health, education, roads, water supplies and the possibility for the refugee to work productively. Many regions lack this basic framework and it cannot be established overnight.

Against hazards of a political nature, our possibilities of action are evidently limited, when they exist at all, particularly since they often reflect preoccupations of good neighbourliness between the countries of asylum and the countries of origin.

With regard to individual cases we have translated the Committee's views into concrete action. UNHCR has undertaken to establish, with the help of interested Governments and voluntary agencies a modest network of social services in the African cities where they appear to be essential, notably Addis Ababa, Dakar, Nairobi. This is a prerequisite to any settlement or resettlement effort through the Bureau for the Placement and Education of African Refugees. It is gratifying to note that various countries have recently admitted refugee students as residents who will be able to work there. In Kenya, for instance, these students have been allowed to benefit from the UNDP/FAO project to set up an Animal Health and Industry Training Institute which provides vocational training in veterinary science, animal husbandry and tanning. This most welcome tendency must develop.

Since no permanent solution is conceivable without a legal status, UNHCR constantly seeks to ensure that refugees are given not only asylum but also rights guaranteeing the exercise of fundamental freedoms. There have been two new accessions to the 1951 Convention-Malta and Uruguay-bringing the total too 61. Burundi, France, Luxembourg, Morocco and Uruguay have also acceded to the 1967 Protocol, bringing the total to 48. I am concerned that some Governments give such priority to preoccupations of a political or security nature that innocent refugees are unjustly victimized by a strict and inflexible application of protective measures, particularly in the field of manpower. We sometimes note with regret an incomplete and incorrect application of the letter and spirit of the Convention. Thus, certain Governments persist in opposing the definite and lasting settlement of refugees for whom there is no other solution, at least in the immediate future. Recently again our representatives called our attention to the case of refugees from South Africa who, although residents for many years in a country where they were allowed to follow an occupation corresponding to their abilities, have been suddenly deprived of their employment and requested to leave the country. Sometimes also the return clause is refused a refugee who is asked, for no other than an economic reason, to seek another country of asylum, thus in fact depriving him of the possibility of obtaining a visa for the country where he would settle.

The 1972 programme reflects the developments which I have outlined above. In addition to the need to extend settlement areas or create new ones for new asylum seekers or refugee groups transferred from other parts of the host country, we are also faced with the general rise in prices. It is for this reason that I had to increase, most reluctantly, the financial target over that of the previous year by some $900,000. The greater part of these funds is intended for Africa whereas the global totals are lower for Europe and Asia and identical to 1971 for Latin America. When Mr. Jamieson introduces the programme, he will, I am sure, give the distinguished delegates additional details and breakdowns according to the country needs.

Since we speak of the programme, I wish to stress that governmental contributions have increased by 12 per cent sine 1970, from $4.6 million to $5,2 million. Last year I expressed the hope that 80 Governments would contribute to the programme. It is with great satisfaction that I can report that this number was surpassed and that the number of contributing Governments last year eventually reached 82. The number must be even higher this year. So far, 70 Governments have announced their contributions including 6 which did not contribute last year and 27 which have made substantial increases in their regular contributions over the level of 1970. Owing to this encouraging support, we are able to foresee the full financing of the 1971 programme. At the same time, good financial support continues to be received for the Education Account and for other projects outside the programme. This amounts to some $900,000 so far in 1971.

The sudden tragic size of the man-made disasters of 1971 has shown once more, as in great natural disasters, I believe, that this small planet is ill-equipped to meet an upheaval of such magnitude. Our international mechanism had to react in an ad hoc way, cutting across established practice and providing United Nations analysts of the future with additional material for debate. Though UNHCR must remain exclusively humanitarian, the common objective-inside and outside the United Nations-should be to seek ways and means to eradicate the cause of refugee problems and to solve the political, social and economic ills which trigger off large movements of population. As we scan the 20 years of UNHCR, the results speak for themselves. Equally, and through sustained efforts, the new problems must be met. Their size or complexity should not bring despair. In 1971, one should not "choose" one's refugees: they must all be helped within or outside your programme. The problem may be unprecedented this year but it is useless to wring our hands, words that are not translated into effective action are so many insults to the human beings who look to the United Nations with fresh hope and faith which so many seem to lack. I refuse to accept that such a sustained effort will not continue to yield results. With the resources at our fingertips and the technological imagination of our age, it would only be in the minds of men that this battle could be lost - or won.


Section Country area or activity Allocations proposed at the twenty-second session (in US $)
I Austria 36,500
II Botswana 21,000
III Central African Republic 32,0000
IV Zaire (formerly Democratic Republic of the Congo) 1,828,500
V Ethiopia 345,000
VI Far East 45,000
VII Federal Republic of Germany 40,000
VIII France 25,000
IX Greece 32,400
X India 100,000
XI Italy 32,500
XII Latin America 320,000
XIII Macao 79,000
XIV Middle East 135,500
XV Nepal 46,000
XVI Senegal 71,500
XUII Spain 155,000
XUIII Sudan 827,000
XIX Trucial States 10,000
XX Turkey 6,000
XXI Uganda 460,000
XXII Egypt (formerly United Arab Republic) 52,000
XXIII United Republic of Tanzania 457,000
XXIV West Africa 80,000
XXV Zambia 375,000
XXVI Over-all allocations  
  Local settlement 90,000
  Resettlement 330,000
  Repatriation 50,000
  Legal assistance 24,000
  Refugee counselling services 150,000
  Treatment and rehabilitation of the handicapped 20,000
  Supplementary aid 80,000
  Reserve 700,000
  Grant-in-aid 625,000
  TOTAL 7,968,900


[1]* Previously issued under the symbol A/AC.96/463.   [2]1 Including information on education for refugees.   [3]2 For the full text of the statement, see annex I.   [4]3 United Nations, Treaty Series, vol. 189 (1954), No, 2545.   [5]4 Official Records of the General Assembly, Twenty-first Session, Supplement No. 11 A (A/6311/Rev.1/Add.1), part one, para. 2.   [6]5 See A/AC.96/SR.216.   [7]6 Official Records of the General Assembly, Twenty-fifth Session, Supplement No. 12 A (A/8012/Add.1).   [8]7 See A/AC.96/SR.218.   [9]8 Ibid.   [10]9 See A/AC.96/463.  
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