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"As is" reference - not a United Nations document

Source: Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC)
18 May 2005

Draft: 18 March 2005: Working Document #1

OIC Ministerial Conference on the Problems of Refugees in the Muslim World
28 – 30 November 2005

A.  Accession to the refugee instruments,
development of protection frameworks and capacity building
B.  Statelessness
C.  International Cooperation and Burden and Responsibility sharing
D. OIC Member States need more support
E.  More active search for durable solutions
F.  The migration debate and heightened security concerns


Draft: 18 March 2005: Working Document #2
OIC Ministerial Conference on the Problems of Refugees in the Muslim World
28-30 November 2005
Multilateral Cooperation On refugee-related issues
I.          Introduction
1.         Refugee protection and assistance cannot be achieved without solid international cooperation.  Paragraph 2 of the General Assembly resolution establishing the Statute of the Office of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)[1] “calls upon Governments to co-operate with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in the performance of his functions concerning refugees falling under the competence of his Office”, including by:
2.         The Preamble to the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees (the 1951 Convention) recognizes that “the grant of asylum may place unduly heavy burdens on certain countries and that a satisfactory solution of a problem of which the United Nations has recognized the international scope and nature cannot therefore be achieved without international cooperation”.  Article 35 of the same Convention requests “Contracting States to undertake to co-operate with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees or any other agency of the United Nations which may succeed it, in the exercise of its functions…”
3.         Lastly, the 1969 OAU Convention governing the specific aspects of Refugee Problems in Africa stipulates that “where a Member State  finds difficulty in continuing to grant asylum to refugees, such Member State may appeal directly to other Member States and through the OAU, and such other Member States shall in the spirit of African solidarity and international cooperation take appropriate measures to lighten the burden of the Member State granting asylum” (Article II, paragraph 4).
II         UNHCR’s efforts to improve multilateral cooperation
4.         The United Nations system deals with every issue affecting the globe, from refugees to oceans, and the world body remains the primary source of international legitimacy in matters of peace and security.  The United Nations system will also continue to be assessed in terms of its actual and perceived effectiveness in achieving human security for all.  This multilateral approach to solving problems is of particular relevance in solving refugee problems as UNHCR cannot achieve its mandate in isolation.  It must rely on a series of measures and partnerships to ensure that the needs of displaced populations are met.  This approach is widely known as “burden sharing” and represents the common efforts not only by the United Nations system, but also by governments, other international and regional organizations, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and other key members of civil society toward this end.  In the paragraphs that follow, some of the most important aspects of burden sharing and the multilateral approach to solving refugee problems are outlined.  
5.         Amongst the various innovative steps taken these last years by UNHCR to improve and strengthen protection and assistance to refugees and persons of concern to it, particular mention should be made of the Convention Plus initiative launched by the former High Commissioner in October 2002.  Its aim is to improve refugee protection worldwide and to
facilitate the resolution of refugee problems through multilateral special agreements.  Three priority objectives are:
6.         Convention Plus means a stronger multilateral commitment to finding durable and sustainable solutions to refugee problems in a burden-sharing framework.  Two examples illustrate this approach:
III        Cooperation to protect and assist refugees: some examples
7.         UNHCR relies on many partners to help uprooted people.  In its effort to protect refugees and to promote durable solutions to their problems, UNHCR works in partnership with many other actors.  These include other United Nations agencies, governmental as well as intergovernmental organizations, non-governmental organizations, and various civil society partners, including universities, advocacy groups, foundations and corporations.
The United Nations System
III        Cooperation to protect and assist refugees
8.         During the last several years there has been an increasing trend of large-scale refugee movements due to the changing nature and complexity of conflicts in the post-Cold War period.  In addition, a rapid rise in the number of actors responding to humanitarian crises has been witnessed.  UNHCR has also enhanced its partnerships with a number of agencies, including those in the United Nations system, and other international and regional organizations, in an effort to ensure effective action and coordinated responses to refugee crises.  The use of Memoranda of Understanding in their various forms, including Letters of Understanding, Cooperation Agreements and Exchanges of Letters, has served to further UNHCR’s global efforts to strengthen partnership and cooperation to assist refugees.
The United Nations System
9.         UNHCR maintains close cooperation with a wide range of United Nations entities whose areas of expertise extend to assisting displaced populations including refugees, internally displaced persons (IDPs) and returnees.  Among these key partners are the World Food Programme (WFP), the United Nation’s Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the World Health Organization (WHO), the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO), as well as the Bretton Woods Institutions.  UNHCR has entered into some form of cooperation agreement with many of those partners.  Some important examples of this cooperation are listed here below:
10.       WFP has been one of UNHCR’s closest partners over the years, with a first Memorandum of Understanding being signed in 1985 between the two agencies and the fourth revision finalized in July 2002.  This most recent revision reflects the dynamic changes in refugee programmes globally, such as increased attention to the needs of refugee women and children to guarantee their protection against abuse, addressing protracted refugee situations by establishing more income-generating activities to increase self-sufficiency, and negotiating with host countries to include refugees’ specific needs into national development plans.  The MoU also includes the initiative to pilot final food distribution for refugees by WFP with a view to determine whether this division of labour would be an optimum arrangement for worldwide implementation in refugee situations.
11.       A global Memorandum of Understanding was signed in 1996 between UNHCR and UNICEF outlining the respective mandates and responsibilities of each organization, with a special emphasis on the needs of refugee children as well as affected local populations. A number of country-level MoUs have also been signed between the two agencies targeting specific country operations.
12.       In 1997 UNHCR and UNDP signed a global Cooperation Agreement addressing the issues of prevention of forced population displacements; refugee impact on hosting areas; reintegration and rehabilitation; and joint planning, programming and resource mobilization, etc.  In addition, several country-specific agreements have also been signed with UNDP over the years to complement the global Cooperation Agreement.
13.       UNHCR and DPKO signed a Joint Letter and Information Note in 2004 setting out cooperation in the areas of refugee, IDP and returnee security; Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR); mine action; rule of law; staff exchange, etc.  This formalized cooperation with DPKO reflects the need to address the link between forced population displacement and endeavours to ensure international peace and security.
Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC)
14.       UNHCR and the OIC signed a cooperation agreement on 15 July 1988, centring on humanitarian issues of global concern and, subsequently, expanded their collaboration in priority areas relating to refugees through regular contacts, exchange of information and mutual attendance at major events organized by each other.  As some 38 per cent of the refugees in the world originate in the Muslim countries, and taking into account the impact of the tragic events of 11 September 2002 on the treatment of refugees and asylum-seekers originating from OIC member States, the two institutions have strengthened their cooperation in order to find durable solutions to refugee problems in the Islamic world.
15.       During the UN/OIC General Meeting held in Vienna from 9 to 11 July 2002, representatives from UNHCR and OIC agreed to focus on the following priority areas of cooperation:
16.       UNHCR and the Islamic Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO) are linked by a cooperation protocol since 1991 and signed a programme of action in 1996.  Furthermore, they agreed to reinforce their cooperation through the following activities for the period 2003/2004:
17.       UNHCR and the Islamic University of Technology (IUT) agreed to continue their cooperation in the area of education for Muslim refugee students, studying at or graduated from IUT.  UNHCR has also undertaken to share information about its annual programme with ITU to enable the latter to review the possibility of further cooperation in the area of education for refugee students in various OIC countries.
18.       Furthermore, the OIC Summit, held in Putrejaya in October 2003, adopted a resolution on the “Problem of refugees in the Muslim world”, which reaffirmed the concerns of member States over the effects of the existence of millions of refugees in Islamic States.  The resolution called on OIC members to coordinate with UNHCR to determine the root causes behind refugee movements and to enable refugees to repatriate as soon as possible.  The same resolution also calls on member States that have not acceded to the 1951Convention to do so and to consider, inter alia, the convening, in coordination with UNHCR, of a ministerial conference in 2005 to address the problem of refugees in the Muslim world.
The League of Arab States
19.       UNHCR and the League of Arab States have a long-standing cooperation with respect to refugees.  To formalize and further strengthen their cooperation, the two institutions signed a cooperation agreement on 27 June 2000, by which they notably recognize that the refugee problem is international in scope and nature, and that its resolution is dependent on the will and capacity of States to respond in concert, in a spirit of burden sharing and solidarity.  The two institutions agree that strengthening the implementation of the 1951 Convention and its 1967 Protocol is the first step in improving the protection of refugees and asylum seekers.  To this end, UNHCR and the League of Arab States have identified three priority areas for joint action, namely:
20.       To achieve these objectives, the two institutions are jointly to implement during the period 2005-2006 a number of asylum capacity-building activities, including workshops and seminars on international refugee law, public information and education activities, and the establishment of a centre for documentation on refugees at the Secretariat of the League of Arab States.  To coordinate the planning, implementation and evaluation of these activities, UNHCR and the Secretariat of the Arab League of States will establish a steering committee that will meet regularly.
21.       Recent examples of cooperation include the fact-finding mission dispatched during last summer by the League of Arab States to the Darfur region of the Sudan and to the Republic of Chad, and the drafting of an Arab refugee convention which is under consideration.
22.       Article 20 of the Statute of the Office of the UNHCR stipulates that “no expenditure other than administrative expenditures relating to the functioning of the Office of the High Commissioner shall be borne on the budget of the United Nations and all other expenditures relating to the activities of the High Commissioner shall be financed by voluntary contributions.”
23.       When UNHCR was established in 1951, its budget during the first years was around US $300 000 per year.  The funds were made available from the United Nations regular budget and were to cover the Office’s administrative expenditures.  Only from 1956 onward did UNHCR raise voluntary contributions, initially only for specific situations, but later also for the quasi-totality of UNHCR’s budget.  Nowadays, the organization’s budget is over US $1 billion per year, of which almost 98 per cent comes from voluntary contributions.  The majority of these contributions come from a limited number of donors: three of UNHCR’s donors fund over 48 per cent of its income; eight fund over 78 per cent; and twelve fund close to 90 per cent.
24.       Considering the organization’s dependency on a limited pool of donors, UNHCR urgently needs to expand its donor base.  In this regard, while acknowledging the contributions of host countries that provide asylum to large population of refugees, UNHCR needs to expand its cash donor base.  UNHCR has noted that donor members of the OIC rank amongst the most generous in the world for funding the cause of refugees.  Unfortunately, their contributions to this cause are not visible enough, as they are mostly channelled through bilateral means.
25.       In 2004, UNHCR received US $727,205 from Members and Observers of the OIC. This figure represents close to 0.1 per cent of the total voluntary contributions the Office received in that year.  Considering that the size of cash contribution made by these OIC Members and Observers towards the resolution of refugee-related issues is much higher, it is important that this generosity be known by stakeholders outside the OIC.  OIC Members and Observers may therefore wish to consider funding the programmes aimed at assisting, protecting and finding durable solutions for refugees in a multilateral context, through agencies such as UNHCR.
New Approaches to Funding
26.       Voluntary contributions received each year do not cover the organization’s financial requirement for that year.  For instance, UNHCR’s total requirement for the year 2004 was US $1.2 billion.  Total voluntary contributions received in the same year amounted to US $962.3 million.  Even including other income, such as money carried over from the previous year and the contribution from the United Nations Regular Budget (US $27.7 million in 2004), the organization faced a gap between its financial needs and its actual income.  In an effort to meet the financial requirements, UNHCR has also turned to complementary sources of funding.
27.       UNHCR has identified some activities that could be sponsored through non-traditional funding lines.  Many governments have responded positively to this initiative and provided funding to UNHCR from sources other than humanitarian (i.e. funds under cooperation/development, health, immigration and justice budgets).  In 2004, UNHCR entered into joint ventures with the Council for Europe Development Bank and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE0.  The Office also received earmarked contributions through the UNDG Iraq Trust Fund and the United Nations Trust Fund for Human Security.
28.       The private sector also has a role to play and can benefit from helping to address the plight of refugees and support returnee families, thus contributing to the development of more stable societies.  The efforts to work with the private sector started in the early 1990s and since 1999 UNHCR has increased its push to work with this sector by creating a special professional service to this end.  This initiative is paying off.  A number of companies and thousands of individuals worldwide have supported UNHCR programmes.  Income from the private sector has doubled in the last five years.  Since 2000 the income from the private sector has increased from US$13 million to more than US$26 million in 2004, bringing significant additional funding to refugees world wide.
29.  In order to boost their partnership, UNHCR and its five major corporate partners have created the UNHCR's Council of Business Leaders, which was officially launched at the 2005 World Economic Forum in Davos.  UNHCR’s Council of Business Leaders is designed to strengthen the funding efforts of UNHCR, capitalize on synergies between UNHCR's key corporate partners, leverage business contacts with like-minded corporations, mobilize support from diverse constituencies and galvanize interest in order to scale up projects that have demonstrated impact from successful pilots supported by the corporate partners.
Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs)
30.       In its effort to protect refugees and to promote durable solutions, UNHCR works in partnership with some 600 NGOs whose support and cooperation are indispensable.  Be it local, national or international, implementing or operational partners, NGOs cooperate with UNHCR in a wide variety of activities, including protection, emergency response, capacity building and joint training, advocacy and fund raising, resettlement.  Over the years, UNHCR and NGOs have created various mechanisms and networks to work better and do more together.
31.       [H1] The PARinAC (Partnership in Action) process, conceptualized in 1994 in Oslo, established a framework for cooperation between UNHCR and its NGO partners.  The Oslo Conference developed a broad plan of action including recommendations on refugee protection, IDPs and emergency preparedness.  The Framework Agreement for Operational Partnership (FAOP), which evolved from PARinAC, seeks a common and coordinated approach by UNHCR and its operational partners in addressing refugee protection and assistance.  It needs to be reviewed and strengthened.  The process has moved ahead and has now come to refer to all activities related to and resulting in strengthening of ties between UNHCR and its partners, especially national NGOs.
32.       NGOs play an important role in UNHCR’s governance in so far as they bring special expertise and field experience to deliberations in the Office’s Executive Committee.  The International Council of Voluntary Agencies (ICVA), established in Geneva since 1962, and various other NGO networks provide valuable input in the form of ideas and recommendations, especially as regards joint needs assessment, planning and implementation of projects.  UNHCR regularly participates in ICVA and other NGO network’s forums, conferences that influence UNHCR policy.
African Union (Ex-OAU)
33.       Since its creation in May 1963, the OAU and its successor organization, the African Union, have cooperated closely with UNHCR, in view of the large number of refugees on the African continent.  Previous High Commissioners have regularly participated in the annual “Summit” of African Head of States while the Regional Liaison Office in Addis Ababa has maintained a close relationship with the OAU Secretariat.
34.       This relationship started with a resolution (AHG/ Res. 26) of 24 October 1965 in Accra by which the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the OAU “re-affirmed the desire to give all assistance possible to African refugees on a humanitarian and fraternal basis, and expressed its appreciation of the assistance to refugees provided by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees”.  On 13 June 1969, the General Secretariat of the OAU and UNHCR concluded a cooperation agreement, which was amended on 9 April 2001.
35.       The 1969 OAU Convention governing the special aspects of Refugee Problems in Africa was adopted in September 1969 and in March 2000 a “Special Meeting of Government and Non-Governmental Technical Experts and Non-governmental Organisations” was held in Conakry (Guinea) to commemorate the Thirtieth Anniversary of the entry into force of the said Convention.  This meeting adopted several action-oriented recommendations called the Comprehensive Implementation Plan (CIP), focusing in particular on addressing the root causes of refugee flows in Africa, enhancing refugee protection and national protection capacities, and finding durable solutions.  The OAU Council of Ministers endorsed the CIP at its seventy-second session in July 2000 in Lome, TOGO, and appealed the OAU member States to ensure the CIP’s follow up and full implementation.
36.       In summary, the areas of cooperation between the two institutions cover areas as diverse as:
Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU)/ African Parliamentary Union
37.       The Inter-Parliamentary Union has, since its creation, been concerned by refugees and has adopted many resolutions urging States to accede to and implement the instruments relating to refugees.  It has also encouraged parliaments to contribute to the consolidation of the international refugee protection regime through a strengthened and more effective implementation of the 1951 Convention and its 1967 Protocol.  In so doing, the IPU has always cooperated closely with UNHCR.
IV        Recommendations
38.       Member States of the OIC could:

Draft: 18 March 2005: Working Document #3
OIC Ministerial Conference on the Problems of Refugees in the Muslim World
28-30 November 2005
Durable Solutions for the Problem of Refugees
I.          Introduction    
II.        The Issues at Stake
Protracted Refugee Situations
As of June 2004 (see Figure 1.3):

TABLE 1.1 Examples of Protracted Refugee Populations
(as of December 31, 2003)
Country of Origin
Country of Asylum
    Zambia, DRC
    Iran, Pakistan

Sources: “Protracted Refugee Situations,” EC/54/SC/CRP.14 Executive Committee of the High Commissioner’s Programme, UNHCR, June 10, 2004.
(YEAR-END 2003)


Source: 2003 Global Refugee Trends, UNHCR, Geneva.
Post-Conflict Situations
(Figures to be provided on return situations)
III.       Durable solutions
Voluntary Repatriation
Local Integration
IV.       The Framework for Durable Solutions    
V.        Convention Plus  
VI.       Best Practices
DLI in Zambia
7. Recommendations
March 2005


[1] General Assembly Resolution 428 (V) of 14 December 1950
[2] Returning refugees (returnees), stateless persons and, in some situations, internally displaced persons (IDPs).
[3] The Agenda for Protection is the main product of the Global Consultations on International Protection launched in December 2000.  The Agenda was endorsed by UNHCR’s Executive Committee and welcomed by the United Nations General Assembly in 2002.
[4] Framework for Durable Solutions for Refugees and People of Concern, UNHCR, May 2003.
[5] See
[6] “Protracted Refugee Situations,” EC/54/SC/CRP.14 Executive Committee of the High Commissioner’s Programme, UNHCR, June 10, 2004.
[7] This figure does not include the approximately 2 million Palestinian refugees, which fall under the mandate of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).
[8] Handbook for Planning and Implementing Development Assistance for Refugees (DAR) Programmes (Draft), UNHCR, January 2005.
[9] Framework for Durable Solutions for Refugees and People of Concern, UNHCR, May 2003, p. 4
[10] ibid, p. 4
[11] Convention Plus Issues Paper on Targeting Development Assistance, UNHCR, June 2004, p. 3.
[12] Statute of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, G.A. res. 428 (V), annex, 5, U.N. Doc. A/1775 (1950).
[13] Handbook for Repatriation and Reintegration Activities, UNHCR, May 2004, p. 3-5.
[14] Resettlement Handbook, UNHCR, November 2004, chapter II/ 6
[15] ibid, chapter I/ 1
[17] A Guide to Planning and Implementing DAR Programmes, UNHCR 2005.
[18] Issues Paper on Targeting of Development Assistance (UNHCR, June 2004) identifies the issues involved in the granting of development assistance by the donor community and in the spending of development assistance on the development of refugee-hosting countries and countries of return; outlines and explores challenges to targeting development assistance to find solutions for refugees in refugee situations as well as returnees in post-conflict situations; and, identifies donor policies conducive to targeting development assistance to find solutions for refugees.
[19] Frushone, Joel, ‘Unevenly Applied, More Often Denied: Refugee Rights in Africa’, World Refugee Survey, 2004, p. 74-77.

 [H1]Is PARin AC being resurrrected?!  I would suggest this para. can and should be left out.

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