Refugee Convention Talking Points

 

The United Nations has on various occasions manifested its profound concern for refugees, and endeavored to assure refugees the widest possible exercise of their fundamental rights and freedoms (1) The NGO Committee on Migration shares this concern for the protection of refugees, especially of the most vulnerable populations—women, children, the elderly, and the disabled.

Continuing human rights violations by State and non-state actors, exacerbated by economic and environmental crises, have complicated protection responses and solutions to displacement. According to the latest Report of the UNHCR High Commissioner, they have resulted in shrinking humanitarian space in developing regions, increased pressure for asylum space in the world’s more prosperous States, and a surge in refoulement.(2)

In this context, there is a strong obligation on the part of States and the international community to close the protection gaps and ensure the protection and well being of refugees worldwide. Urgent actions are required regarding:
the protection of refugees through existing human rights instruments;

  • The integration of refugees
  • Protection of the rights of refugee women and children
  • Protection of the rights of detainees
  • The inclusion of refugees in decision making
  • Encouragment of partnerships among States, UN agencies, and NGOs to protect and empower refugees

PROTECTION OF REFUGEES THROUGH EXISTING HUMAN RIGHTS INSTRUMENTS

We urge the international community to ratify/accede to/support the 1951 Refugee Convention and the 1961 Refugee Protocol, the 1961 Convention to Reduce Statelessness, and the Guidelines for the Protection of Internally Displaced persons (IDPs) (Shiu))

THE INTEGRATION OF REFUGEES

We urge cooperation with UNHCR in one of its Global Strategic Priorities, namely , to assure refugees essential services, such as food security and nutrition, water and sanitation, primary health care, prevention/treatment of HIV/AIDS, education, employment and services for groups with special needs;(Mgt ). Refugees make valuable contributions to their host State’s development if they are quickly integrated and assisted in overcoming barriers to labor market entry (GFMD)

PROTECTION OF THE RIGHTS OF REFUGEE WOMEN AND CHILDREN
Since women constitute almost half of all refugees today, States are urged to comply with international human rights instruments which protect the rights of women and girls, including refugees, especially CEDAW and the Palermo Protocol.(Mgt)

States have an obligation to prevent sexual and gender based violence directed against women and girls(Ruth)

States must address the increase in the movement of unaccompanied and separated children across borders. They are urged to act on the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and on general comment 6 of the Committee on the Rights of the Child, which states that “the enjoyment of rights stipulated in the Convention is not limited to children who are nationals of a State Party’ but must be available to all children irrespective of nationality, immigration status, or statelessness (Mgt ).

PROTECTION OF DETAINEES (Ian)

The Committee calls on the international community to:

  • Recognize the right of detainees to be treated humanely in accordance with the Principles of the ICCPR and of the body of Detention Principles (#20 ); and that human rights apply to detainees regardless of their immigration status; (#14)
  • protect the legal and human rights of detainees, and ensure they are treated in accordance with the law, have access to the law, and to legal remedies if their rights are violated (#5 );
  • Develop alternatives to detention, such as community monitoring, bail and bond systems, and monitored open hostels; (#1)
  • Ensure the provision to detainees of health services, counseling, education and vocational training;(#25)
  • Undertake screenings to identify people with trauma and torture histories,(#26) and avoid the detention of the traumatized;(#13)
  • Avoid the detention of children, and the separation of families in detention;(#4,5)
  • Prevent the abuse of detainees through judicial oversight, and accord them the right to access charges against them and to challenge the legality of their detention;(#19,15,12,6)
  • End the practices of unlimited detention, and of broadly based detention policies; desist from detaining non-criminal detainees in criminal institutions, and from using prisons as detention facilities; and end staff abuses, such as using drugs to sedate detainees.(#9,2,10,28)

THE INCLUSION OF REFUGEES IN DECISION MAKING

We support the recommendation of the 2010 UNHCR NGO Consultation to include refugees in assessing their needs and in decision making processes (GFMD )

PARTNERSHIPS TO PROTECT AND EMPOWER REFUGEES

We strongly support the emphasis of the UNHCR Agency on partnerships among stakeholders in the protection of refugees, and the recommendation of the UNHCR NGO Consultation to strengthen partnerships at the local-national level; to promote the rights and protection of IDPs and stateless persons; and to create partnerships to overcome vulnerabilities and empower women(GFMD Intervention).(Shiu)

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1. Preamble to the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees.
2
3
etc

RefugeeTaskforce
1/3/11