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Humanitarian Protection for Refugees: Some Literature Review

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Abstract

This is a literature review of some important documents, declarations, conventions, charters, processes, principles etc. nationally, regionally or internationally signed and effective in their respective area of actions. I try to make an overview of protection issues in the documents for protection practitioners and researchers.
Humanitarian protection for refugees: some
literature review
Nurul Mostafa Kamal Zafari
“In Rakhine State, Muslims are like in a cage, they
cannot travel outside. There are no human rights for
the Muslims of Rakhine. I don’t know why God sent us
there.”
“The Tatmadaw soldiers don’t treat us like humans,
they treat us like animals. They look at us as though
we shouldn’t even exist.”
Report of the independent international fact-finding
mission on Myanmar, September 12, 2018
Abstract
This is a literature review of some important documents, declarations, conventions, charters,
processes, principles etc. nationally, regionally or internationally signed and effective in their
respective area of actions. I try to make an overview of protection issues in the documents
for protection practitioners and researchers.
Definition of Refugee
For the purpose here I quote Article 1 of Convention relating to the Status of Refugees 1951
A. For the purposes of the present Convention, the term "refugee" shall apply to any person
who:
(1) Has been considered a refugee under the Arrangements of 12 May 1926 and 30 June
1928 or under the Conventions of 28 October 1933 and 10 February 1938, the Protocol of 14
September 1939 or the Constitution of the International Refugee Organization;
Decisions of non-eligibility taken by the International Refugee Organization during the period
of its activities shall not prevent the status of refugee being accorded to persons who fulfill
the conditions of paragraph 2 of this section;
(2) As a result of events occurring before 1 January 1951 and owing to well-founded fear of
being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social
group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to
such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country; or who, not having a
nationality and being outside the country of his former habitual residence as a result of such
events, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it.
In the case of a person who has more than one nationality, the term "the country of his
nationality" shall mean each of the countries of which he is a national, and a person shall not
be deemed to be lacking the protection of the country of his nationality if, without any valid
reason based on well founded fear, he has not availed himself of the protection of one of
the countries of which he is a national.
B. (1) For the purposes of this Convention, the words "events occurring before 1 January
1951" in article 1, section A, shall be understood to mean either ( a ) "events occurring in
Europe before 1 January 1951"; or ( b ) "events occurring in Europe or elsewhere before 1
January 1951"; and each Contracting State shall make a declaration at the time of
signature, ratification or accession, specifying which of these meanings it applies for the
purpose of its obligations under this Convention.
(2) Any Contracting State which has adopted alternative ( a ) may at any time extend its
obligations by adopting alternative ( b ) by means of a notification addressed to the
Secretary-General of the United Nations.
C. This Convention shall cease to apply to any person falling under the terms of section A if:
(1) He has voluntarily re-availed himself of the protection of the country of his nationality; or
(2) Having lost his nationality, he has voluntarily reacquired it; or
(3) He has acquired a new nationality, and enjoys the protection of the country of his new
nationality; or
(4) He has voluntarily re-established himself in the country which he left or outside which he
remained owing to fear of persecution; or
(5) He can no longer, because the circumstances in connection with which he has been
recognized as a refugee have ceased to exist, continue to refuse to avail himself of the
protection of the country of his nationality;
Provided that this paragraph shall not apply to a refugee falling under section A (1) of this
article who is able to invoke compelling reasons arising out of previous persecution for
refusing to avail himself of the protection of the country of nationality;
(6) Being a person who has no nationality he is, because the circumstances in connection
with which he has been recognized as a refugee have ceased to exist, able to return to the
country of his former habitual residence;
Provided that this paragraph shall not apply to a refugee falling under section A (1) of this
article who is able to invoke compelling reasons arising out of previous persecution for
refusing to return to the country of his former habitual residence.
D. This Convention shall not apply to persons who are at present receiving from organs or
agencies of the United Nations other than the United Nations High Commissioner for
Refugees protection or assistance.
When such protection or assistance has ceased for any reason, without the position of such
persons being definitively settled in accordance with the relevant resolutions adopted by the
General Assembly of the United Nations, these persons shall ipso facto be entitled to the
benefits of this Convention.
E. This Convention shall not apply to a person who is recognized by the competent
authorities of the country in which he has taken residence as having the rights and
obligations which are attached to the possession of the nationality of that country.
F. The provisions of this Convention shall not apply to any person with respect to whom there
are serious reasons for considering that:
(a) He has committed a crime against peace, a war crime, or a crime against humanity, as
defined in the international instruments drawn up to make provision in respect of such
crimes;
(b) He has committed a serious non-political crime outside the country of refuge prior to his
admission to that country as a refugee;
(c) He has been guilty of acts contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.
Refugee Convention 1951
The Convention is a vital document on international protection for refugees. In Article 3, the
state parties are bound to exercise the provisions of the Convention without discrimination as
to race, religion or country of origin. The contracting parties to the Convention are bound to
respect the refugees’ freedom of religion and religious education for their children (Article 4).
The parties shall accord to the refugees’ right to acquisition of movable and immovable
properties (Article 13).
The Convention promises to protect artistic rights (literature, arts, creative works etc.) and
industrial rights (inventions, designs, models, scientific works etc.) (Article 14), right of
association for non-political and non-for-profit purposes, and trade unions (Article 15), access
to courts (Article 16), ‘right to engage in wage-earning employment’ (Article 17), right to self-
employment (Article 18), and right to liberal employment that suits with his diploma (Article
19).
In Part 4 of the Convention, it enshrines right to receive ration in times of short supply (Article
20), minimum housing (Article 21), elementary education and recognition of foreign school
certificates (Article 22), public relief (Article 23), labor facilities (remuneration, including family
allowances where these form part of remuneration, hours of work, overtime arrangements,
holidays with pay, restrictions on home work, minimum age of employment, apprenticeship
and training, women's work and the work of young persons, and the enjoyment of the
benefits of collective bargaining) and social security (legal provisions in respect of
employment injury, occupational diseases, maternity, sickness, disability, old age, death,
unemployment, family responsibilities and any other contingency which, according to
national laws or regulations, is covered by a social security scheme) (Article 24),
administrative assistance (Article 25), freedom of movements (Article 26), right to have
identity papers (Article 26) and travel documents (Article 27), right to enjoy indemnity from
fiscal charges (duties, charges, taxes, fees etc.) (Article 29), and right to transfer assets
(Article 30). Any state party to the Convention cannot expel or return if it is not voluntary
(Article 33).
New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants 2016
In this declaration the state parties ‘reaffirm the purposes and principles of the Charter of the
United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and recall the core international
human rights treaties’. And the parties are committed to ‘protect the human rights of all
refugees and migrants, regardless of status’ (Article 5). The state parties also ‘acknowledge a
shared responsibility to manage large movements of refugees and migrants in a humane,
sensitive, compassionate and people-centred manner’. They truly assure that ‘large
movements of refugees and migrants must have comprehensive policy support, assistance
and protection, consistent with States’ obligations under international law’ (Article 11). This
declaration also expresses full respect to universal human rights and fundamental freedoms,
and stresses on the safety and dignity of all present and future refugees. In article 14, it
‘condemns acts and manifestations of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related
intolerance against refugees and migrants, and the stereotypes often applied to them,
including on the basis of religion or belief’. It stands against ‘all manifestations of
xenophobia, racial discrimination, intolerance’ and commits to ‘take a range of steps to
counter such attitudes and behaviour, in particular with regard to hate crimes, hate speech
and racial violence’. Article 22 underlines ‘a people-centred, sensitive, humane, dignified,
gender-responsive and prompt reception for all persons arriving in’ a hosting countries. The
declaration specially recognizes the protection for ‘women at risk, children, especially those
who are unaccompanied or separated from their families, members of ethnic and religious
minorities, victims of violence, older persons, persons with disabilities, persons who are
discriminated against on any basis, indigenous peoples, victims of human trafficking, and
victims of exploitation and abuse in the context of the smuggling of migrants’ as they are
extremely vulnerable in the situations of large movements of refugees and migrants (Article
23). By promising for collecting information regarding the nationalities and causes of
movements of refugees and migrants, Article 25 of this declaration is committed to ‘take
measures to identify those who are seeking international protection as refugees’. In Article
26, the signing parties reassures their meaningful steps ‘to protect the human rights and
fundamental freedoms of all persons, in transit and after arrival along with extreme
emphasis on ‘the importance of addressing the immediate needs of persons who have been
exposed to physical or psychological abuse while in transit upon their arrival, without
discrimination and without regard to legal or migratory status or means of transportation’.
Encoding Article 31 in the declaration the state parties ensures to ‘mainstream a gender
perspective, promote gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls and
fully respect and protect the human rights of women and girls’, to ‘combat sexual and
gender-based violence to the greatest extent possible’, to ‘provide access to sexual and
reproductive health-care services’ and ‘tackle the multiple and intersecting forms of
discrimination against refugee and migrant women and girls’; and is committed to ensure
‘significant contribution and leadership of women in refugee and migrant communities’ by
allowing ‘their full, equal and meaningful participation in the development of local solutions
and opportunities’. Article 32 provides protection of human rights, fundamentals freedoms,
child rights, basic health-education-psychosocial development opportunities, birth
registration and a nurturing-environment for the children of the refugees. The state parties
also reaffirm their position to provide protection to refugees from being trafficked and
smuggled, and of being subject to forced labor (Article 35). The declaration clarifies that the
parties ‘are committed to provide essential support in key life-saving sectors, such as health
care, shelter, food, water and sanitation’ for the refugees (Article 80). Through Article 81, the
signing parties reassure their clear position ‘to provide quality primary and secondary
education in safe learning environments for all refugee children’, also determines to ‘support
early childhood education for refugee children’, ‘promote tertiary education, skills training
and vocational education’ as they believe that ‘in conflict and crisis situations, higher
education serves as a powerful driver for change, shelters and protects a critical group of
young men and women by maintaining their hopes for the future, fosters inclusion and non-
discrimination and acts as a catalyst for the recovery and rebuilding of post-conflict
countries (Article 82)’. Lastly the signatories are recognizes that they ‘will work to ensure that
the basic health needs of refugee communities are met and that women and girls have
access to essential health-care services (Article 83).
Kolkata Declaration 2018
The signatories gathered in Kolkata understands ‘The New York Declaration for Refugees and
Migrants 2016 recognised that the existing international regime of refugee and migrant
protection needed a new push towards strengthening measures for protection (Preamble)’.
To broaden their understanding they note that global refugee crisis is deepening and
international efforts at various levels towards human rights and humanitarian protection
remain paltry and inconsistent (Note 1)’. To reverse the marginalized conditions of refugees
the declaration denotes ‘local, regional, customary, bilateral, and other multilateral effort to
provide humanitarian protection and the protection of the rights of the refugees and
migrants have continued as ignored but valuable instances of human dignity (Note 10)’
where it is a global shared responsibility to protect the refugees. In Note 6, this declaration
confirms that ‘Discrimination and exclusion based on race, religion, caste, ability, sexuality,
gender and resources cannot be tolerated. This situation refuses to privilege majoritarian,
male, and monolithic cultural values, which may dispossess refugee, migrant or stateless
women undermining their individuality, subjectivity, citizenship and the ability to make
political and social choices’. The representatives from all strata of life gathered in Kolkata
describes refugee situations in Asia and it is true that ‘the Asian situation unambiguously calls
for further efforts towards upholding the safety, dignity, and protection of refugees, asylum
seekers, the stateless persons, labour migrants, and the internally displaced persons, greater
dialogues at various levels state, regional, civil society, bilateral, and city (Note 12)’. After
noting their all legitimate and timely concerns, the parties declare some very important
points on protection of refugees worldwide. The Declaration 3 affirms that ‘The idea of a
global compact must acknowledge the practices of protection at various regional, country,
local, customary, city, and other scales. Any global compact aiming at sustainable
resolutions must be based on wide-ranging dialogues involving refugees, migrants, stateless
persons and groups defending them’. The declaration resounds the global decision of
combating discrimination based on race, religion, caste, ability, sexuality, gender and class
that affect rights and dignity of all human beings and put extra emphasis in ensuring the
fundamental demand s in any refugee protection framework (Declaration 4).
1966 Bangkok Principles on Status and Treatment of Refugees
This declaration consists of some very important articles i.e. article 2 (asylum for refugees),
article 3 (non-refoulement), article 4 (minimum standard of treatment), article 5 (expulsion
and deportation), article 6 (right to return), article 7 (voluntary repatriation), article 9 (right to
compensation) and article 10 (burden sharing). Article 2 gives assurance of seeking asylum
from persecution, on the basis of humanitarian grounds. Article 3 assures to non-refoulement
of a refugee who takes refuge in a hosting country. In Article 4, the state parties are
committed to maintain a minimum standard while treating refugees: all the principles of the
declaration must be applied to all refugees without discrimination as to race, religion,
nationality, ethnic origin, gender, membership of a particular social group or political
opinion, in accordance with the principle of non-discrimination. State parties are requested
to adopt all necessary and effective measures for improving the protection of refugee
women and to undertake programmes as per their understood concerns. This article also
includes the commitment of state parties to protect refugee children and unaccompanied
children to maximize appropriate protection and humanitarian assistance for them. It
includes also rights and protection of elderly refugees. Any state signatory to the declaration
shall not expel any refugees and shall not deport or returned to any state where his life or
liberty would be threatened for reasons of race, colour, nationality, ethnic origin, religion,
political opinion, or membership of a particular social group (Article 5). According to the
Principle, a refugee has right to return to his country of origin or other country (Article 6), right
to be repatriated voluntarily (Article 7) and right to get compensation from the country he
left (Article 9).
The Addis Ababa Charter 1974
OAU Convention Governing the Specific Aspects of Refugee Problems in Africa
The articles related to refugee protection of this charter are discussed at a glance below-
Article 4 (Non-discrimination)- Member States undertake to apply the provisions of this
Convention to all refugees without discrimination as to race, religion, nationality,
membership of a particular social group or political opinions’.
Article 5 (Voluntary Repatriation)- This article emphasizes on voluntary repatriation in all
circumstances with ‘adequate arrangements for the safe return of refugees who request
repatriation’.
Article 6 (Travel Documents) State parties are committed to issue travel documents to the
refugees in their territories as per the regulations of the United Nations Convention relating to
the Status of Refugees.
The Addis Ababa Document on Refugees and Forced Population
Displacements in Africa 1994
The Document briefs some specific recommendations for strengthening and broadening the
requirements for refugee protection and I think that the recommendations can help the
hosting countries to handle the situations in a smart manner. As the Document notes that
‘refugee flow are a symbol of the crises which afflict many societies’ and it lists some root
causes of mass human migration i.e. armed conflicts and civil strife, ethnic intolerance, the
abuse of human rights on a massive scale, the monopolization of political and economic
power, refusal to respect democracy or the results of free and fair elections, resistance to
popular participation in governance, and poor management of public affairs all play a part
in forcing people to flee their normal places of residence (Recommendation 1). So the
signing parties to the Document believes that this paper has been ‘a strong pillar for refugee
protection and solutions in Africa’, reminds the spirit of the ‘provision of asylum to refugees
and the implementation of voluntary repatriation’ and inspires the state parties to enact
favourable refugee laws, policies and practices (Recommendation 4). In Recommendation
8, it has been described elaboratively to provide food, water, shelter, sanitation and medical
services on a timely basis so that refugees and local populations alike are not put in a life
endangering situation and to create or strengthen national institutions to manage and deal
with refugee matters at central, provincial and distinct levels; build adequate and well-
trained human resources capacity; and to have such technical and logistic resources as will
enable Governments to respond to and administer all aspects of refugee problems.
Ashgabat Declaration of the International Ministerial Conference of
the Organization of Islamic Cooperation on Refugees in the Muslim
World 2012
This declaration announces the tradition of granting refuge to the refugees in Islamic
practices (Article 2) and it reaffirms voluntary repatriation is ‘the most preferable solution’ to
any refugee crisis (Article 11).
Djibouti Declaration on Refugee Education 2017
This is the only document of refugee education. Article 15 of the Declaration expresses
profoundly that state parties shall ‘take collective responsibility to ensure that every refugee,
returnee and members of host communities have access to quality education in a safe
learning environment within respective countries without discrimination’. The state parties
determines to ‘establish regional minimum education standards and targets on access and
delivery of quality education for pre-primary, primary, secondary, higher education including
TVET and education for people with special needs to benefit refugees, returnees and host
communities in order to maximize learning outcomes’ (Article 19). The Declaration put
importance on protection of refugees in national education systems and their psychosocial
well being (Article 26). Article 27 denotes recognition of distinct learning needs and inclusive
access to education of refugee boys and girls.
Annex to the Djibouti Declaration on Regional Refugee Education
2017
The Annex emphasizes on protection of refugees in national education systems; supporting
school with safe environment to protect children from sexual and gender based violence,
forced recruitment, child labor and other harmful practices and risks; and protection of
mental health and psychosocial wellbeing (Point 3).
European Agreement on the Abolition of Visas for Refugees 1959
Article 1 of this agreement exempts refugees lawfully residing in the territory of any
contracting party from the obligation to obtain visas for entering or leaving into or the
territory.
Interfaith Declaration on the Human Rights and Dignity of Migrants
and Refugees 2018
The parties to the declaration urge to take measures and solutions for protecting and
securing separated and unaccompanied children, women at risk, victims of human
trafficking, or those otherwise unsafe on the move, in host countries or unable to return safely
to their countries of origin’ and ask States to consider expanding legal pathways so that
migrants and refugees do not fall prey to smuggler and traffickers, to exploitation and
abuse’.
San Jose Declaration on Refugees and Displaced Persons 1994
The Declaration has two valuable recommendations regarding the protection of refugees in
the territory of the state parties. It recommends to ensure ‘full participation of affected
populations, especially women's groups and indigenous communities, by encouraging the
development of mechanisms which facilitate concerted action in the design and
implementation of programmes aimed at resolving situations affecting refugees, returnees
and displaced persons (Recommendation 13) and to encourage an integrated approach
to the solution of problems of forced displacement, particularly as regards voluntary return
and repatriation, within the framework of coordinated efforts in order to ensure, in addition
to the security and dignity of the beneficiaries, the durability of solutions. In this sense,
reintegration and rehabilitation efforts should be linked to medium and long-term sustainable
development efforts intended to alleviate and eradicate extreme poverty, satisfy human
needs, and strengthen respect for human rights, with due regard for civil, political,
economic, social and cultural rights’ (Recommendation 14).
Joint Response Plan 2019
The JRP 2019 is a prophetic document in responding to the Rohngya refugee crisis. The Plan
has a separate chapter regarding the protection issues of the refugees in Cox’sbazar,
Bangladesh. It lays a ‘Protection Framework for Humanitarian Response’ which consists of 15
points. The overview of the Framework:
Point 1 Nature of the Crisis - The Rohingya humanitarian crisis is a protection crisis at its core.
The Rohingya are refugees experienced human rights violation and systematic persecution
which is called a ‘textbook example of ethnic cleansing’ and as they are stateless so the
solution is in Myanmar.
Point 2 Dignified, voluntary and Safe Return The Rohingya refugees consistently express their
desire to return home when this becomes possible in safety and dignity. As condition for
conducive and voluntary return doesn’t prevail, so they require protection and assistance
from the Govt. of Bangladesh and other humanitarian actors.
Point 3 Holistic Approach towards Protection The 2019 Joint Response Plan aims to undertake
programmes and interventions with a holistic and inclusive approach ‘to save lives, ensure
safety and security, provide basic services, alleviate suffering and restore their dignity derive
from the common analysis of risks, vulnerabilities and specific needs’ by engaging and
enabling the participation of refugees and host communities in decision making.
Point 4 Emphasis on Quality Where the Government of Bangladesh and humanitarian
partners jointly coordinated the assistance to provide urgent and essential services in 2017-
2018, now the Plan focuses on quality for sustainable protection in order to restore and
enhance dignity, empower communities, provide specialized protection and humanitarian
assistance to increase refugees’ resilience, mitigate the onset of potentially harmful coping
mechanisms and enhance community-based protection mechanisms’.
Point 5 Enhancement of Resilience and Confidence Aiming for short and mod terms solutions
the Plan outlines to develop portable skill programmes to combat harmful coping
mechanism and to make future returns sustainable by building resilience and enhancing
confidence.
Point 6 Multi-sector Coordination Key protection, child protection (CP) and gender-based
violence (GBV) risks can be best prevented, mitigated and/or responded to through food
security, access to livelihoods, health, WASH, education and camp management and
development interventions by the humanitarian actors.
Point 7 Importance on Inclusive and Participatory Approach By enabling refugees to
exercise their basic rights and enjoy equal humanitarian assistance, the Plan articulates an
inclusive and more participatory approach to address identified needs through close
coordination with all service providers and actors aiming to achieve community
participation and inclusion. To achieve this goal the specific needs of children and youth,
persons with disabilities, older persons, chronically or severely ill persons, persons living with
HIV/AIDS, as well as female-headed households will be given special attention’.
Point 8 Working with Refugee Establishments Committees formed with refugee youth,
women, men and community outreach volunteers will lead the sensitization of the
communities to enhance participation, safety and security, healthcare services, food, wash
and other services.
Point 9 Evidence-based protection monitoring programmes will be scaled up in order to
deepen understanding and improve the analysis of risks, threats, vulnerabilities and incidents,
as well as patterns and trends. A more thorough and in-depth analysis, that seeks to unravel
the multi-layered social complexities and dynamics, including through sociological and
anthropological angles, will guide protection mainstreaming interventions across the entire
response.
Point 10 Sustainable Advocacy With close coordination with the Government sustained
advocacy efforts should be continued in consultation with male and female representatives
of different ages and background to ensure their access in decision making that affect their
lives. In order to empower and strengthen the resilience of the refugee community and
mitigate risks of social tensions community mobilization efforts need to be scaled up. The Plan
aims to establish representation of refugees ‘through a transparent and consultative process’
enable their right to participate an influence the design and delivery of programmes.
Point 11 Child Protection in the Center To ensure efficient and effective programmatic
response for child protection and to follow up and respond to any alarming situation
regarding child protection issues, a situation and alert system will be established. Social
workers will be given case management training to strengthen care for vulnerable girls and
boys, unaccompanied children, child survivors of sexual and gender based violence.
Point 12 Empowerment of Women and Girls Thanks to conservative social and cultural norms
and persecution in Myanmar and during and after plight, women are at risk of sexual and
gender based violence, domestic and intimate partner violence, forced marriage,
exploitation and harassment, trafficking, sexual slavery, insecurity within the camps, limited
opportunity for self-development, inadequate access to education etc. The Plan prioritizes to
promote gender mainstreaming and prevent GBV.
Point 13 Priority for the Most Disadvantaged Group The Plan plans to prioritize older men and
women, widows, separated children and persons with disabilities in information, services and
protection support programming.
Point 14 Mental Health and Psychosocial Support More structured and targeted psychosocial
support is stressed to be delivered as almost all the refugees experienced violence before
and during their plight, so they can be more resilient in their community life.
Point 15 Advocacy for Restoration of Citizenship and Implementation of Protection
Framework As citizenship right is the core of Rohngya crisis, so international community
should support the Govt. of Myanmar regarding the citizenship and documentation of
Rohingyas as well as special attention in implementing the Protection Framework.
African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child 1979
All the articles of the Charter is also applicable to the refugee children. Here is a short
account of the relevant articles of the Charter.
Article 2 All the human being below the age of 18 years is a child.
Article 3 Every child shall be entitled to the enjoyment of the rights and freedoms
recognized and guaranteed in this Charter irrespective of the child’s or his/her parents’ or
legal guardians’ race, ethnic group, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion,
national and social origin, fortune, birth or other status’.
Article 4 In this article best interest of the children is understood and expressed while taking
any decision relating the children and their right to be heard in court proceedings is
preserved.
Article 5 Every child has right to life, protection of law and indemnity from death sentence.
Article 6 Every child has right to a name, birth registration, and nationality.
Article 7 Every child has right to freedom of expression.
Article 8 Every child has right to freedom of association and peaceful assembly.
Article 9 Every child has right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.
Article 10 Every child has right to protection of privacy, honor, reputation and right ‘to the
protection of the law against such interference or attacks’.
Article 11 Every child has right to education that aims ‘the promotion and development of
the child’s personality, talents and mental and physical abilities to their fullest potential’.
Article 12 Every child has right to rest, leisure, play, recreational activities, cultural life and
the arts activities.
Article 13 Every child with mental or physical disability has right to enjoy protection of their
physical and moral demands; to have assurance of dignity, self-resilience and active
participation in the community; to get access to training, preparation for employment and
recreation opportunities, and to get access to public buildings and highways.
Article 14 Every child has ‘right to enjoy the best attainable state of physical, mental and
spiritual health’ including safe drinking water, primary health care, nutrition, nurture, family
life education, breastfeeding, hygiene, sanitation, vaccinations etc.
Article 15 Every child shall be protected from economic exploitation, i.e. child labor,
hazardous work that detrimental to the child’s physical, mental, spiritual, moral, or social
development.
Article 16 Every child has right to protection against abuse, harassment, exploitation,
torture, inhuman or degrading treatment, physical or mental injury or abuse, neglect or
maltreatment and sexual abuse.
Article 17 Every child has right to enjoy special right to be tried in separate juvenile court in
a manner where his dignity and worth is protected; to be kept in separate prison from adults;
he has to be presented the legal explanations in a very easiest way that understandable by
him; press and public will be prohibited in the court room; treatment will target his or her
reformation, reintegration into his or her family and social rehabilitation.
Article 18 Every family should be treated as a ‘natural unit and basis of society’ and any
child shall not be deprived anything of his or her family matters. Article 19 Every child has
right to enjoy parental care, reside with his parents or in other cases has right to maintain
contact with both parents. Article 21- Every child has right to protection against harmful
social and cultural practices that affects the welfare, dignity, normal growth and
development.
Article 22 Every child must be protected from being a victim or taking part in any armed
conflict, hostilities, tension or strife.
Article 23 Every child seeking refuge in a country has right to get refuge along with
appropriate protection and humanitarian assistance.
Article 27 Every child has right to protection against all forms of sexual exploitation and
abuse.
Article 28 Every child has right to protection against drug abuse.
Article 29 Every child has right to protection against abduction, sale or trafficking.
Bali Process on People Smuggling, Trafficking in Persons and Related
Transnational Crimes 2002
The Process underlines the real situation of migrant smuggling that it targets innocent
migrants for their vulnerability and little chance to ‘assert their rights’. The smugglers lead
them to death in a container or in the midst of sea, or their lives end in unhealthy working
conditions which is a threat to humanity and state sovereignty (Preamble).
African (BANJUL) Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights 1981
This charter enshrines all basic human rights and specifies some rights in a way that reaffirms
a collective duty of protection of the rights included here. Article 2 confirms right to equal
treatment ‘without distinction of any kind such as race, ethnic group, color, sex, language,
religion, political or any other opinion, national and social origin, fortune, birth or other
status’. Article 3 of the Charter includes equal treatment before law and protection of law.
Article 4 reaffirms human entitlement to respect for his life and protection of being a person.
State parties are bound to ensure every human’s right to the respect of dignity for being a
human being and to protect all human being from ‘all forms of exploitation and
degradation of man particularly slavery, slave trade, torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading
punishment and treatment’ (Article 4). The Charter expresses its commitments to peoples’
right to liberty and security of his person (protection against arbitrary detention) (Article 6);
rights to be heard in the court, to defense and appeal and also to be presumed innocent
until proved guilty (Article 7); and every person is assured that he shall not be tried for the
offense before the law enter into force (Article 7). The Charter is committed to protect every
human’s right to freedom of conscience, profession and free practice of religion (Article 8);
right to information and express his opinions (Article 9); right to association (Article 10); right
to freedom of assembly (Article 11); right to freedom of movement and residence (Article
12(1)), right to leave any country and return (Article 12(2)), right to seek refuge, if
persecuted, in other countries (Article 12(3)), mass expulsion is also prohibited (Article 12(5));
right to participate in the government, access to public service and public property (Article
13); right to property (Article 14); right to work under equitable and satisfactory conditions
with equal pay (Article 15); right to physical and mental health (Article 16); right to
education and cultural life of his community, right to protection of moral and traditional
values practiced by his own community (Article 17); right to family (Article 18); right to
equality and enjoy same rights (Article 19); right to existence and self-determination (Article
20); right to dispose their wealth and natural resources (Article 21); right to economic, social
and cultural development (Article 22); right to enjoy national and international peace and
security (Article 23); and right to a general satisfactory environment favorable to their
development (Article 24).
Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against
Women 1979
The Convention defines ‘discrimination against women’ in Article 1 ‘any distinction, exclusion
or restriction made on the basis of sex which has the effect or purpose of impairing or
nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by women, irrespective of their marital
status, on a basis of equality of men and women, of human rights and fundamental
freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field’. State parties are
liable to take all necessary steps to ensure fullest possible development of women in ‘the
political, social, economic and cultural fields’ to enhance their right to exercise and enjoy all
human rights and fundamental freedoms equally with men (Article 3). State parties promises
to take authentic measures to eradicate prejudices and customary practices by modifying
social and cultural patterns (Article 5). The Convention determines to take appropriate
measures to prohibit women trafficking and exploitation (Article 6), to eliminate all political
discrimination by ensuring their equal participation in electoral representation (Article 7), to
ensure women’s representation in international arena (Article 8), and to affirm women’s right
to acquire, change or retain their nationality (Article 9). This convention outlines all
possibilities of opportunity for women in every single level and field of education (Article 10),
employment (Article 11), health (Article 12), economic and social life (Article 13), and
wellbeing of rural women (Article 14). Part 4 of the Convention deals with legal aspects of
women’s life where it declares the duty of state parties to take measures to ensure equal
right before the law (Article 15) and same right to enter into marriage (Article 16).
Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading
Treatment or Punishment 1984
The Convention clearly announces significant rights for the human being to save them from
all sort of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatments and it enacts a very vital right of
refugees, assurance of non-refoulement, here is Article 3 read with ‘No State Party shall
expel, return ("refouler") or extradite a person to another State where there are substantial
grounds for believing that he would be in danger of being subjected to torture’.
Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities 2008
The Convention outlines the basic principles for treating the persons with disabilities.
According to Article 3 of CRPD, the general principles are: respect for dignity, non-
discrimination, participation and inclusion in society, acceptance and respect for difference,
equality of opportunity, accessibility, equality of opportunity and respect for children with
disabilities. The Conventions ensures to provide equal protection and benefit of law for the
persons with disability (Article 5), to take special measures to secure women and girls’ equal
enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms (Article 6), and it secures all
human rights, child rights and fundamental freedoms for all children with disability (Article 7).
Article 10 of the Convention reassures right to life for persons with disability. Article 11 makes it
obligatory for the state parties to take all measures to ensure the protection and safety of
persons with disability in all kinds of emergencies. The disable persons have right to access to
justice (Article 13), liberty and security of person (Article 14), freedom from torture or cruel,
inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment (Article 15), freedom from exploitation,
violence and abuse for the persons with disability (Article 16), integrity of the person (Article
17), liberty of movement and nationality (Article 18), living independently and being
included in the community (Article 19), personal mobility (Article 20), freedom of expression
and opinion, and access to information (Article 21), respect for privacy (Article 22), respect
for home and family (Article 23), education (Article 24), health (Article 25), habilitation and
rehabilitation (Article 26), work and employment (Article 27), adequate standard of living
and social protection (Article 28), participation in political and public life (Article 29), and
participation in cultural life, recreation, leisure and sport (Article 30).
Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of
Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief 1981
Article 1 of the Declaration begins with ensuring freedom of thought, conscience and
religion. The Convention demeans any kind of discrimination by state, institution, group of
persons or person on the ground of religion or belief (Article 2). The state parties signatory to
the Convention observe in Article 3 that ‘Discrimination between human beings on the
grounds of religion or belief constitutes an affront to human dignity and a disavowal of the
principles of the Charter of the United Nations, and shall be condemned as a violation of the
human rights and fundamental freedoms proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human
Rights and enunciated in detail in the International Covenants on Human Rights, and as an
obstacle to friendly and peaceful relations between nations’. Families are entitled legally to
practice religion and bring their child in accordance with their religious belief, and any child
shall not be discriminated for their religion or belief (Article 5).
European Convention for Protection of Human Rights and
Fundamental Freedoms 1950
The Convention relates every sphere of human life in this masterpiece document. Some
significant articles relevant to refugee protection are mentioned here. The fundamental
rights enshrined in this convention are: right to life (Article 2), prohibition of torture or inhuman
or degrading treatment or punishment (Article 3), prohibition of slavery or servitude (Article
4), right to liberty and security of person (Article 5), right to access to fair and public trial
(Article 6), right to respect for private and family life, home and correspondence (Article 8),
right to freedom of thought, conscience, belief and religion (Article 9), right to freedom of
expression (Article 10), right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association (Article 11),
right to marriage and found family (Article 12), and security of human rights without
discrimination ‘on any ground such as sex, race, colour, language, religion, political or other
opinion, national or social origin, association with a national minority, property, birth or other
status’ (Article 14).
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights 1967
Article 1and 3 of the Covenant determines peoples right of self-determination and right to
choose their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural
development. Other articles are: Article 6 (right to work and commitment for arranging
vocational education and training), Article 10 (protection for family), Article 11 (adequate
standard of living), Article 12 (right to highest attainable mental and physical health), Article
13 (right to education), and Article 15 (right to cultural life, scientific progress and right over
scientific, artistic or literary production).
International Convention on Maritime Search and Rescue 1979
Article 2.1.1of the Convention imposes burden on Parties to the Convention to ensure
‘necessary arrangements are made for the provision of adequate search and rescue
services for persons in distress at sea round their coasts’ and the parties are accountable to
do so regardless of the nationality or status of such a person or the circumstances in which
that person is found (Article 2.1.10).
Declaration of the Ministerial Conference of the Khartoum Process
2014
The Declaration puts smuggling of refugees in its core and asks the state parties to establish
‘national strategies to strengthen horizontal coordination among all services involved to
effectively and consistently address trafficking in human beings and smuggling of migrants,
including ensuring protection to refugees and asylum seekers and assistance to migrants in
vulnerable situations’.
2015-2030 Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015
This declaration is a prime and biblical document in DRR sector worldwide. The Framework
calls the state parties ‘to anticipate, plan for and reduce disaster risk in order to more
effectively protect persons, communities and countries, their livelihoods, health, cultural
heritage, socioeconomic assets and ecosystems, and thus strengthen their resilience’ (Point
5). Point 6 of the Framework emphasizes on enhanced actions to reduce exposure, prevent
new risks and ensure accountability. It also emphasizes on tackling disaster risk drivers. To
improve preparedness for disaster response, rehabilitation and reconstruction, the
Framework is committed to continue strengthening good governance in disaster risk
reduction strategies at the national, regional and global levels. It recommends to establish a
people centered approach for risk reduction which will be effective multi-hazard and
multisectoral, inclusive and accessible as well as collaborative (Point 7). Point 14 presses on
monitoring, assessing and understanding disaster risk and sharing the information for
meaningful early warning systems, preparedness, response, recovery, rehabilitation and
reconstruction through technology and research. It aims small and large scale, frequent and
infrequent, sudden and slow-onset disasters, natural and man-made hazards, environmental,
technological and biological hazards (Point 15). It makes assurance to pursue preventive,
integrated and inclusive economic, structural, legal, social, health related, cultural,
educational, environmental, technological, political and institutional measures for Build Back
Better.
United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948
This is a fundamental document in human history and civilization. It lays the foundation stone
for securing human being and it’s best interest in best elaborative way. The Declaration in a
nutshell: Equal right to freedom and dignity (Article 1), equal right to all rights without any
distinction (Article 2), right to life, liberty and security of person (Article 3), prohibition of
slavery and servitude (Article 4), prohibition of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or
punishment (Article 5), right to recognition as a person before law (Article 6), equal right
before law (Article 7), right to remedy in the court (Article 8), protection from arbitrary arrest,
detention or exile (Article 9), right to fair and public hearing (Article 10), right to be presumed
innocent until court verdict (Article 11), protection from arbitrary interference in privacy,
family, home an correspondence (Article 12), right to freedom of movement and residence
(Article 13), right to seek and enjoy asylum (Article 14), right to nationality (Article 15), right to
marry and found family (Article 16), right to own property (Article 17), right to freedom
thought, conscience and religion (Article 18), right to freedom of opinion and expression
(Article 19), right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association (Article 20), right to take
part in government (Article 21), right to social security (Article 22), right to free choice of work
and employment (Article 23), right to rest and leisure (Article 24), right to adequate living
standard for health and wellbeing of himself and his family (Article 25), right to education
(Article 26), and right to practice and participate own culture, arts and scientific benefits
(Article 27).
The 2015-2030 Sustainable Development Goal 2015
With 5Ps in center of its core transcription, the Goals envisioned for an inclusive, participatory
and harmonious world without poverty, illiteracy, discrimination and rightlessness. The 5Ps are
- people, planet, prosperity, peace and partnership.
The Sustainable Development Goals are:
Goal 1. End poverty in all its forms everywhere.
Goal 2. End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable
agriculture.
Goal 3. Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.
Goal 4. Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning
opportunities for all.
Goal 5. Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.
Goal 6. Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.
Goal 7. Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.
Goal 8. Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive
employment and decent work for all.
Goal 9. Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and
foster innovation.
Goal 10. Reduce inequality within and among countries.
Goal 11. Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.
Goal 12. Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns.
Goal 13. Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.
Goal 14. Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for
sustainable development.
Goal 15. Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably
manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt
biodiversity loss.
Goal 16. Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide
access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.
Goal 17. Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the Global Partnership for
Sustainable Development.
Annex 1
UNHCR Note on Non-Refoulement 1977
Introduction
1. The most essential component of refugee status and of asylum is protection against return
to a country where a person has reason to fear persecution. This protection has found
expression in the principle of non-refoulement which, as will be seen below, is widely
accepted by States.
Legal basis of non-refoulement
2. The principle of non-refoulement has been defined in a number of international
instruments relating to refugees, both at the universal and regional levels.
3. On the universal level mention should first be made of the 1951 United Nations Convention
relating to the Status of refugees, which, in Article 33(1), provides that:
“No Contracting State shall expel or return (“refouler”) a refugee in any manner whatsoever
to the frontiers of territories where his life or freedom would be threatened on account of his
race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion.”
4. This provision constitutes one of the basic Articles of the 1951 Convention, to which no
reservations are permitted. It is also an obligation under the 1967 Protocol by virtue of Article
I(1) of that instrument. Unlike various other provisions in the Convention, its application is not
dependent on the lawful residence of a refugee in the territory of a Contracting State. The
words “where his life or freedom would be threatened have been the subject of some
discussion. It appears from the travaux préparatoires that they were not intended to lay
down a stricter criterion than the words “well-founded fear of persecution” figuring in the
definition of the term “refugee” in Article 1 A (2). The, different wording was introduced for
another reason namely to make it clear that the principle of non-refoulement applies not
only in respect of the country of origin but to any country where a person has reason to fear
persecution.
5. The fact that 70 States have already become parties to the 1951 Refugee Convention
and/or to the 1967 Protocol is an indication of the wide acceptance of the principle of non-
refoulement expressed in Article 33(1).
6. Also at the universal level, mention should be made of the United Nations Declaration on
Territorial Asylum unanimously adopted by the General Assembly in 1967. In article 3(1) of this
Declaration it is stated that:
“No person referred to in Article 1, paragraph 1, shall be subjected to measures such as
rejection at the frontier or, if he has already entered the territory in which he seeks asylum,
expulsion or compulsory return to any State where he may be subjected to persecution.”
7. On the regional level the OAU Convention Governing the Specific Aspects of Refugee
Problems in Africa of 1969 gives expression in binding form to a number of important
principles relating to asylum, including the principle of non-refoulement. According to Article
III(3):
“No person may be subjected by a member State to measures such as rejection at the
frontier, return or expulsion, which should compel him to return to or remain in a territory
where his life, physical integrity or liberty would be threatened for the reasons set out in
Article 1, paragraphs 1 and 2.”
8. Again, Article 22(8) of the American Human Rights Convention adopted in November
1969 provides that:
“In no case may an alien be deported or returned to a country regardless of whether or not
it is his country of origin, if in that country his right to life or personal freedom is in danger of
being violated because of his race, nationality, religion, social status or political opinions.”
9. In the Resolution on Asylum to Persons in Danger of Persecution, adopted by the
Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe on 29 September 1967, it is recommended
that member governments should be guided by the following principles:
“1. They should act in a particularly liberal and humanitarian spirit in relation to persons who
seek asylum on their territory.
2. They should in the same spirit ensure that no one shall be subjected to refusal of admission
at the frontier, rejection, expulsion or any other measure which would have the result of
compelling him to return to or remain in a territory where he would be in danger of
persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group
or political opinion.”
10. Finally, in the Principles concerning the Treatment of Refugees adopted by the Asian-
African Legal Consultative Committee at its Eighth Session in Bangkok in 1966, it is stated that:
“No-one seeking asylum in accordance with these Principles should, except for over-riding
reasons of national security or safeguarding the population, be subjected to measures such
as rejection at the frontier, return or expulsion which would result in compelling him to return
to or remain in a territory if there is a well-founded fear of persecution endangering his life,
physical integrity or liberty in that territory.” (Article III(3).)
11. In addition to statements in the above international instruments adopted at the universal
and regional levels, the principle of non-refoulement has also found expression in the
constitutions and/or ordinary legislation of a number of States. Because of its wide
acceptance at universal level, it is being increasingly considered in jurisprudence and in the
work of jurists as a generally recognized principle of international law.
Exceptions to the principle of non-refoulement
12. While the principle of non-refoulement is basic in character, it is recognized that there
may be certain cases in which an exception to the principle can legitimately be made. Thus
Article 33(2) of the 1951 Refugee Convention provides that:
“The benefit of the present provision [i.e. Article 33(1) referred to above] may not however
be claimed by a refugee whom there are reasonable grounds for regarding as a danger to
the security of the country in which he is, or who, having been convicted by a final
judgement of a particularly serious crime, constitutes a danger to the community of that
country.”
13. Such exception based on factors relating to the person concerned does not figure in the
other instruments - either universal or regional - mentioned above. Provision is, however,
made for certain other general exceptions, viz: "over-riding considerations of national
security or in order to safeguard the national security or protect population,"1 "in order to
safeguard national security or protect the community from serious danger".2
14. In view of the serious consequences to a refugee of being returned to a country where
he is in danger of persecution, the exception provided for in Article 33(2) should be applied
with the greatest caution. It is necessary to take fully into account all the circumstances of
the case and, where the refugee has been convicted of a serious criminal offence, to any
mitigating factors and the possibilities of rehabilitation and reintegration within society.
Practice of States in regard to non-refoulement
15. In evaluating the practice of States in regard to the principle of non-refoulement, it,
should be emphasized that the principle applies irrespective of whether or not the person
concerned has been formally recognized as a refugee. In the case of persons who have
been formally recognized as refugees under the 1951 Convention and/or the 1967 Protocol,
the observance of the principle of non-refoulement as expressed, in Article 33 should not
normally give rise to any difficulty. Moreover, where a special procedure for the
determination of refugee status under the 1951 Convention and the 1967 Protocol exists, the
applicant is almost invariably protected against return to his country of origin pending a
determination of his refugee status.
16. There are, however, a number of situations in which the observance of the principle of
non-refoulement is called for, but where its application may give rise to difficulties of a
technical nature. Thus the person concerned may find himself in a State which is not a party
to the 1951 Convention or the 1967 Protocol, or which, although a party to these instruments,
has not established a formal procedure for determining refugee status. The authorities of the
country of asylum may have allowed the refugee to reside there with a normal residence
permit or may simply have tolerated his presence and not have found it necessary formally
to document his recognition as a refugee. In other cases, the person concerned may have
omitted to make a formal request to be considered a refugee.
17. In situations of this kind it is essential that the principle of non-refoulement be scrupulously
observed even though the person concerned has not - or has not yet - been formally
documented as a refugee. It should be borne in mind that the recognition of a person as a
refugee, whether under the Statute of UNHCR or under the 1951 Convention or the 1967
Protocol, is declaratory in nature. Since the Committee’s twenty-seventh session, there have
been a number of cases of persons not formally recognized a’s refugees being returned to
their country of origin despite the fact that they had a justified fear of persecution, or where
their claim to such fear of persecution was not even examined.
Conclusion
18. While the principle of non-refoulement is universally recognized, the danger of
refoulement could be more readily avoided if the State concerned has accepted a formal
legal obligation defined in an international instrument. This underlines the importance of
further accessions to the 1951 Convention and the 1967 Protocol. States that have not yet
acceded to these instruments should nevertheless apply the principle of non-refoulement in
view of its universal acceptance and fundamental humanitarian importance.
19. In the field of non-refoulement, particular regard should be had to the fact that a
determination of refugee status is only of a declaratory nature. It should not, therefore, be
assumed that merely because a person has not been, formally recognized as a refugee he
does not possess refugee status and is therefore not protected by the principle of non-
refoulement.
1 Declaration on Territorial Asylum, Article 3(2). Principles relating to the Treatment of
Refugees adopted by the -Asian-African Legal Consultative Committee at its Eighth Session
in Bangkok in 1966 (Article III(2)).
2 Resolution of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe of 29 September 1967 on
Asylum to Persons in Danger of Persecution.
Annex 2
Code of Conduct for the International Red Cross and Red Crescent
Movement and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in Disaster
Relief 1994
Purpose
This Code of Conduct seeks to guard our standards of behaviour. It is not about operational
details, such as how one should calculate food rations or set up a refugee camp. Rather, it
seeks to maintain the high standards of independence, effectiveness and impact to which
disaster response NGOs and the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement
aspires. It is a voluntary code, enforced by the will of the organisation accepting it to
maintain the standards laid down in the Code. In the event of armed conflict, the present
Code of Conduct will be interpreted and applied in conformity with international
humanitarian law. The Code of Conduct is presented first. Attached to it are three annexes,
describing the working environment that we would like to see created by Host Governments,
Donor Governments and Inter- Governmental Organisations in order to facilitate the
effective delivery of humanitarian assistance.
Note
1. Sponsored by: Caritas Internationalis*, Catholic Relief Services*, The International
Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies*, International Save the Children
Alliance*, Lutheran World Federation*, Oxfam*, The World Council of Churches*, The
International Committee of the Red Cross (* members of the Steering Committee for
Humanitarian Response)
Definitions
NGOs: NGOs (Non-Governmental Organisations) refers here to organisations, both national
and international, which are constituted separately from the government of the country in
which they are founded.
NGHAs: For the purposes of this text, the term Non-Governmental Humanitarian Agencies
(NGHAs) has been coined to encompass the components of the International Red Cross
and Red Crescent Movement The International Committee of the Red Cross, The
International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and its member National
Societies and the NGOs as defined above. This code refers specifically to those NGHAs
who are involved in disaster response.
IGOs: IGOs (Inter-Governmental Organisations) refers to organisations constituted by two or
more governments. It thus includes all United Nations Agencies and regional organisations.
Disasters: A disaster is a calamitous event resulting in loss of life, great human suffering and
distress, and large-scale material damage.
The Code of Conduct
Principles of Conduct for the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and NGOs
in Disaster
Response Programmes
1 The humanitarian imperative comes first
The right to receive humanitarian assistance, and to offer it, is a fundamental humanitarian
principle which should be enjoyed by all citizens of all countries. As members of the
international community, we recognise our obligation to provide humanitarian assistance
wherever it is needed. Hence the need for unimpeded access to affected populations is of
fundamental importance in exercising that responsibility. The prime motivation of our
response to disaster is to alleviate human suffering amongst those least able to withstand the
stress caused by disaster. When we give humanitarian aid it is not a partisan or political act
and should not be viewed as such.
2 Aid is given regardless of the race, creed or nationality of the recipients and without
adverse distinction of any kind. Aid priorities are calculated on the basis of need alone
Wherever possible, we will base the provision of relief aid upon a thorough assessment of the
needs of the disaster victims and the local capacities already in place to meet those needs.
Within the entirety of our programmes, we will reflect considerations of proportionality.
Human suffering must be alleviated whenever it is found; life is as precious in one part of a
country as another. Thus, our provision of aid will reflect the degree of suffering it seeks to
alleviate. In implementing this approach, we recognise the crucial role played by women in
disaster-prone communities and will ensure that this role is supported, not diminished, by our
aid programmes. The implementation of such a universal, impartial and independent policy,
can only be effective if we and our partners have access to the necessary resources to
provide for such equitable relief, and have equal access to all disaster victims.
3 Aid will not be used to further a particular political or religious standpoint
Humanitarian aid will be given according to the need of individuals, families and
communities. Notwithstanding the right of NGHAs to espouse particular political or religious
opinions, we affirm that assistance will not be dependent on the adherence of the recipients
to those opinions. We will not tie the promise, delivery or distribution of assistance to the
embracing or acceptance of a particular political or religious creed.
4 We shall endeavour not to act as instruments of government foreign policy
NGHAs are agencies which act independently from governments. We therefore formulate
our own policies and implementation strategies and do not seek to implement the policy of
any government, except in so far as it coincides with our own independent policy. We will
never knowingly or through negligence allow ourselves, or our employees, to be used to
gather information of a political, military or economically sensitive nature for governments or
other bodies that may serve purposes other than those which are strictly humanitarian, nor
will we act as instruments of foreign policy of donor governments. We will use the assistance
we receive to respond to needs and this assistance should not be driven by the need to
dispose of donor commodity surpluses, nor by the political interest of any particular donor.
We value and promote the voluntary giving of labour and finances by concerned individuals
to support our work and recognise the independence of action promoted by such voluntary
motivation. In order to protect our independence we will seek to avoid dependence upon a
single funding source.
5 We shall respect culture and custom
We will endeavour to respect the culture, structures and customs of the communities and
countries we are working in.
6 We shall attempt to build disaster response on local capacities
All people and communities even in disaster possess capacities as well as vulnerabilities.
Where possible, we will strengthen these capacities by employing local staff, purchasing
local materials and trading with local companies. Where possible, we will work through local
NGHAs as partners in planning and implementation, and cooperate with local government
structures where appropriate. We will place a high priority on the proper co-ordination of our
emergency responses. This is best done within the countries concerned by those most
directly involved in the relief operations, and should include representatives of the relevant
UN bodies.
7 Ways shall be found to involve programme beneficiaries in the management of relief aid
Disaster response assistance should never be imposed upon the beneficiaries. Effective relief
and lasting rehabilitation can best be achieved where the intended beneficiaries are
involved in the design, management and implementation of the assistance programme. We
will strive to achieve full community participation in our relief and rehabilitation programmes.
8 Relief aid must strive to reduce future vulnerabilities to disaster as well as meeting basic
needs
All relief actions affect the prospects for long-term development, either in a positive or a
negative fashion. Recognising this, we will strive to implement relief programmes which
actively reduce the beneficiaries’ vulnerability to future disasters and help create sustainable
lifestyles. We will pay particular attention to environmental concerns in the design and
management of relief programmes. We will also endeavour to minimise the negative impact
of humanitarian assistance, seeking to avoid long-term beneficiary dependence upon
external aid.
9 We hold ourselves accountable to both those we seek to assist and those from whom we
accept resources
We often act as an institutional link in the partnership between those who wish to assist and
those who need assistance during disasters. We therefore hold ourselves accountable to
both constituencies. All our dealings with donors and beneficiaries shall reflect an attitude of
openness and transparency. We recognise the need to report on our activities, both from a
financial perspective and the perspective of effectiveness. We recognise the obligation to
ensure appropriate monitoring of aid distributions and to carry out regular assessments of the
impact of disaster assistance.
We will also seek to report, in an open fashion, upon the impact of our work, and the factors
limiting or enhancing that impact. Our programmes will be based upon high standards of
professionalism and expertise in order to minimise the wasting of valuable resources.
10 In our information, publicity and advertising activities, we shall recognise disaster victims
as dignified humans, not hopeless objects
Respect for the disaster victim as an equal partner in action should never be lost. In our
public information we shall portray an objective image of the disaster situation where the
capacities and aspirations of disaster victims are highlighted, and not just their vulnerabilities
and fears. While we will cooperate with the media in order to enhance public response, we
will not allow external or internal demands for publicity to take precedence over the
principle of maximising overall relief assistance. We will avoid competing with other disaster
response agencies for media coverage in situations where such coverage may be to the
detriment of the service provided to the beneficiaries or to the security of our staff or the
beneficiaries.
The Working Environment
Having agreed unilaterally to strive to abide by the Code laid out above, we present below
some indicative guidelines which describe the working environment we would like to see
created by donor governments, host governments and the intergovernmental organisations
principally the agencies of the United Nations in order to facilitate the effective
participation of NGHAs in disaster response. These guidelines are presented for guidance.
They are not legally binding, nor do we expect governments and IGOs to indicate their
acceptance of the guidelines through the signature of any document, although this may be
a goal to work to in the future. They are presented in a spirit of openness and cooperation so
that our partners will become aware of the ideal relationship we would seek with them.
Annex I: Recommendations to the governments of disaster affected countries
1 Governments should recognise and respect the independent, humanitarian and impartial
actions of NGHAs
NGHAs are independent bodies. This independence and impartiality should be respected by
host governments.
2 Host governments should facilitate rapid access to disaster victims for NGHAs
If NGHAs are to act in full compliance with their humanitarian principles, they should be
granted rapid and impartial access to disaster victims, for the purpose of delivering
humanitarian assistance. It is the duty of the host government, as part of the exercising of
sovereign responsibility, not to block such assistance, and to accept the impartial and
apolitical action of NGHAs. Host governments should facilitate the rapid entry of relief staff,
particularly by waiving requirements for transit, entry and exit visas, or arranging that these
are rapidly granted. Governments should grant over-flight permission and landing rights for
aircraft transporting international relief supplies and personnel, for the duration of the
emergency relief phase.
3 Governments should facilitate the timely flow of relief goods and information during
disasters
Relief supplies and equipment are brought into a country solely for the purpose of alleviating
human suffering, not for commercial benefit or gain. Such supplies should normally be
allowed free and unrestricted passage and should not be subject to requirements for
consular certificates of origin or invoices, import and/or export licences or other restrictions,
or to importation taxation, landing fees or port charges.
The temporary importation of necessary relief equipment, including vehicles, light aircraft
and telecommunications equipment, should be facilitated by the receiving host
government through the temporary waiving of licence or registration restrictions. Equally,
governments should not restrict the re-exportation of relief equipment at the end of a relief
operation. To facilitate disaster communications, host governments are encouraged to
designate certain radio frequencies, which relief organisations may use in-country and for
international communications for the purpose of disaster communications, and to make
such frequencies known to the disaster response community prior to the disaster. They should
authorise relief personnel to utilise all means of communication required for their relief
operations.
4 Governments should seek to provide a coordinated disaster information and planning
service
The overall planning and coordination of relief efforts is ultimately the responsibility of the
host government. Planning and coordination can be greatly enhanced if NGHAs are
provided with information on relief needs and government systems for planning and
implementing relief efforts as well as information on potential security risks they may
encounter. Governments are urged to provide such information to NGHAs.
To facilitate effective coordination and the efficient utilisation of relief efforts, host
governments are urged to designate, prior to disaster, a single point-of-contact for incoming
NGHAs to liaise with the national authorities.
5 Disaster relief in the event of armed conflict
In the event of armed conflict, relief actions are governed by the relevant provisions of
international humanitarian law.
Annex II: Recommendations to donor governments
1 Donor governments should recognise and respect the independent, humanitarian and
impartial actions of NGHAs
NGHAs are independent bodies whose independence and impartiality should be respected
by donor governments. Donor governments should not use NGHAs to further any political or
ideological aim.
2 Donor governments should provide funding with a guarantee of operational independence
NGHAs accept funding and material assistance from donor governments in the same spirit
as they render it to disaster victims; one of humanity and independence of action. The
implementation of relief actions is ultimately the responsibility of the NGHA and will be
carried out according to the policies of that NGHA.
3 Donor governments should use their good offices to assist NGHAs in obtaining access to
disaster victims
Donor governments should recognise the importance of accepting a level of responsibility
for the security and freedom of access of NGHA staff to disaster sites. They should be
prepared to exercise diplomacy with host governments on such issues if necessary.
Annex III: Recommendations to intergovernmental organisations
1 IGOs should recognise NGHAs, local and foreign, as valuable partners
NGHAs are willing to work with UN and other inter-governmental agencies to effect better
disaster response. They do so in a spirit of partnership which respects the integrity and
independence of all partners. Inter-governmental agencies must respect the independence
and impartiality of the NGHAs. NGHAs should be consulted by UN agencies in the
preparation of relief plans.
2 IGOs should assist host governments in providing an overall coordinating framework for
international and local disaster relief
NGHAs do not usually have the mandate to provide the overall coordinating framework for
disasters which require an international response. This responsibility falls to the host
government and the relevant United Nations authorities. They are urged to provide this
service in a timely and effective manner to serve the affected state and the national and
international disaster response community. In any case, NGHAs should make all efforts to
ensure the effective coordination of their own services. In the event of armed conflict, relief
actions are governed by the relevant provisions of international humanitarian law.
3 IGOs should extend security protection provided for UN organizations to NGHAs
Where security services are provided for inter-governmental organisations, this service should
be extended to their operational NGHA partners where it is so requested.
4 IGOs should provide NGHAs with the same access to relevant information as is granted to
UN organisations
IGOs are urged to share all information, pertinent to the implementation of effective disaster
response, with their operational NGHA partners.
Annex 3
IASC Rules on Sexual Conduct for Humanitarian Workers 2018
Humanitarian workers can be disciplined even fired for unacceptable behaviour in
relation to sex. These are the rules they must comply with:
Humanitarian workers are not allowed to have sexual relationships with anyone under the
age of 18, even if it is legal in their country. Saying they did not know the person’s true age is
not a valid excuse.
Humanitarian workers are not allowed to pay for sex with money, employment, goods or
services including goods and services intended as aid to people in need. They must not
use promises of these things to make other people accept any kind of behaviour that
humiliates or exploits them. This includes paying or offering money for sex with a prostitute.
Humanitarian workers have influence over who receives goods and services. This places
them in a position of power in relation to people who need assistance. For that reason,
humanitarian organizations strongly encourage staff not to have sexual relationships with
anyone affected by a humanitarian emergency. Such relationships make humanitarian
action seem less honest and credible.
If a humanitarian worker is worried or suspects that anyone in their organization or another
aid organization may be breaking humanitarian rules on sexual conduct, they must report it,
following procedures set up by their agency.
Humanitarian workers must create and maintain a work environment which prevents
unacceptable sexual behaviour and encourages staff to behave as set out in their codes of
conduct. All managers are responsible for supporting and developing systems which
maintain this environment.
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