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Statement by Mr. LA Yifan, Chinese Delegate at 3rd Committee of the 59th Session of the UNGA under Item 100 on Refugees

2004-11-09 00:00

Mr. Chairman,

First of all, the Chinese Delegation would like to thank the High Commissioner for Refugees for his report in which he has summed up the work of his Office in the past year.

Mr. Chairman,

The High Commissioner's report shows that 2004 is a fruitful year of return. Thanks to the concerted efforts of the international community, large numbers of refugees and internal displaced persons in Africa, Southeast Europe, the Middle East, and South Asia have successfully repatriated. The High Commissioner and his staff in close cooperation with relevant governments and humanitarian relief organizations have made a direct, important contribution to this achievement that the Chinese Delegation highly appreciates.

However, it should also be noted that the number of people "of concern" to UNHCR remains high at 17.1 million. While a great number of protracted refugee problems still plague many parts of the world, new conflicts and wars are producing new waves of refugees. It is necessary for the international community to further strengthen the spirit of "international solidarity, burden- and responsibility- sharing", in an effort to seek durable solutions to refugee problems. In this regard, we note with appreciation the High Commissioner's ideas and initiatives, such as "convention plus" and several development-based approaches, including the "4Rs" (repatriation, reintegration, rehabilitation and reconstruction), "Development Assistance for Refugees" and "Development through Local Integration". It is our hope that in the implementation of the above-mentioned ideas and approaches, full account will be taken of a salient characteristic of the current refugee situation, i.e. the countries most affected by refugee problems are preponderantly developing countries. The fact that they have received large influxes of refugees for a long time and bear a heavy economic and social burden as a consequence entitles them to priority in receiving international assistance. We look forward to UNHCR playing an enhanced catalytic role by mobilizing greater international assistance for host countries and focusing greater attention on the resolution of protracted refugee problems. In the context of the Millennium Development Goals, efforts to help developing countries to eradicate poverty and prevent conflicts will also contribute to the elimination of the root causes of mass flows of refugees.

Since the adoption of resolution 58/153 on strengthening the capacity of the Office of the Commissioner for Refugees to carry out its mandate at the 58 session of the GA last year, the "UNHCR2004 process" has entered the "follow-up" phase. In order to respond effectively to refugee problems in the new era, it is necessary for UNHCR to further strengthen its internal management, improve the efficiency of resources use and enhance transparency. In this regard, we encourage the High Commissioner to study carefully the recommendations and comments made by JIU and ACABQ and adopt measures for their implementation.

Mr. Chairman,

Today, the rampant spread of terrorism has brought new implications and challenges to the international refugee protection regime. As terrorists increasingly target humanitarian operations directly, the personal safety of humanitarian workers is in serious jeopardy. China resolutely condemns all terrorist acts targeting humanitarian relief workers and supports the UNHCR's efforts to further strengthen preventive security measures and the protection of the personal safety of humanitarian workers.

It is necessary to point out that terrorists and other serious criminal offenders are also trying to take advantage of asylum seeking to escape justice, to the serious detriment of the reputation of neutrality enjoyed by the international refugee protection regime and the interests of genuine asylum-seekers. The Convention on refugees, and relevant Security Council and GA resolutions have all explicitly excluded perpetrators of serious crimes from the international refugee protection regime. However, the passing of a law does not automatically ensure its application. The exclusion of these criminals must be translated into actual practice. Parties concerned should overcome political interference and guard against double standards so as to ensure that the international refugee protection regime will not be exploited by criminals and that the neutral and non-political nature of the regime is kept intact.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

(for possible addition)

Mr. Chairman, the High Commissioner referred to Koreans who had entered China illegally. The Chinese delegation would like to state the following position on this question:

The DPRK is China's neighbor and our two peoples have traditionally enjoyed very close ties. In recent years, there have been Koreans who illegally entered China to seek a livelihood. They do not meet the criteria of refugees stipulated in the Refugee Convention and its Protocol. The Government and people of China have always treated them well and provided them with necessary assistance and have found satisfactory solutions to some of the cases in accordance with domestic law, international law and humanitarian principles. As a signatory to the 1951Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol, China has always scrupulously fulfilled its international obligations under those instruments and has received over 280 thousand refugees. China has been making financial contributions to UNHCR to the best of its abilities. The Chinese Government however is firmly against the confusion of refugees and illegal migrants and the artificial creation of so-called refugee problems, particularly since this would encourage illegal entry and could trigger mass transboundary flows of illegal migrants, a recipe for a real humanitarian disaster.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

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