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  The Refugees

Refugees in the Arab World

Declaration on the Protection of Refugees and Displaced Persons
in the Arab World

The Group of Arab Experts, meeting in Cairo, Arab Republic of Egypt, from 16 to 19
November 1992 at the Fourth Arab Seminar on "Asylum and Refugee Law in the Arab
World", organized by the International Institute of Humanitarian Law in collaboration
with the Faculty of Law of Cairo University, under the sponsorship of the United
Nations High Commissioner for Refugees,

1.Noting with deep regret the suffering which the Arab World has endured from
large-scale flows of refugees and displaced persons, and also noting with deep
concern the continuing outflow of refugees and displaced persons in the Arab World
and the human tragedy encountered by them,

2.Recalling the humanitarian principles deeply rooted in Islamic Arab traditions and
values and the principles and rules of Moslem law (Islamic Sharia), particularly the
principles of social solidarity and asylum, which are reflected in the universally
recognized principles of international humanitarian law,

3.Recognizing the imperative need for a humanitarian approach in solving the problems
or refugees and displaced persons, without prejudice to the political rights of the
Palestinian people,

4.Emphasizing the need for the effective implementation of paragraph 11 of General
Assembly Resolution 194 (111) of 11 December 1948, calling for the right of return or
compensation for Palestinian refugees,

5.Considering that the required solution is the full implementation of the Resolutions of
the Security Council and of the United Nations, including Resolutions 181 of 1947 and
Resolution 3236 of 1973, which guarantee the right of the Palestinian people to
establish its independent State on its national territory,

6.Deeply concerned that Palestinians are not receiving effective protection either from
the competent international organizations or from the competent authorities of some
Arab countries,

7.Recognizing that the refugees and displaced persons problems must be addressed
in all their aspects, in particular those relating to their causes, means of prevention
and appropriate solutions,

B. Recalling that the United Nations Charter and the international human rights
instruments affirm the principle that human beings shall enjoy fundamental rights and
freedoms without discrimination of whatever nature,

9.Considering that Asylum and Refugee Law constitute an integral part of Human
Rights Law, respect for which should be fully ensured in the Arab World,

10.Recognizing that the United Nations Convention of 28 July 1951 and the Protocol of
31 January 1967 constitute the basic universal instruments governing the status of

11.Recalling the importance or regional legal instruments such as the 1969 OAU
Convention governing the Specific Aspects of Refugee Problems in Africa and the 1984
Cartagena Declaration on Refugees,

12.Recognizing that the fundamental principles of human rights, international
humanitarian law and international refugee law represent a common standard to be
attained by all peoples and nations; that they should provide constant guidance to all
individuals and organs of society; and that competent national authorities should
ensure respect for these principles and should endeavour to promote them by means
of education and dissemination,

13.Recalling the historic role of Islam and its contribution to humanity, and the fact
that universal respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms for all constitute an
integral part of Arab values and of the principles and rules of Moslem law (Islamic

14.Noting with appreciation the humanitarian role of the Office of the United Nations
High Commissioner for Refugees in providing protection and assistance to refugees
and displaced persons,

15.Recalling with particular gratitude the efforts of the International Institute of
Humanitarian Law for the developing of refugee law in the Arab World and for
organizing the four Arab Seminars held for this purpose in San Remo (1984), Tunis
(1989), Amman (1991) and Cairo (1992), and,

16.Recalling with appreciation the efforts or the International Committee or the Red
Cross in protecting refugees and displaced persons in armed conflict situations,

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Adopts the following Declaration:

Article 1

Reaffirms the fundamental right of every person to the free movement within his own
country, or to leave it for another country and to return to his country of origin;

Article 2

Reaffirms the importance of the principle prohibiting the return or the expulsion of a
refugee to a country where his life or his freedom will be in danger and considers this
principle as an imperative rule of the international public law;

Article 3

Considers that the granting or asylum should not as such be regarded as an unfriendly
act vis-a-vis any other State;

Article 4

Hopes that Arab States which have not yet acceded to the 1951 Convention and the
1967 Protocol relating to the status of refugees will do so;

Article 5

In situations which may not be covered by the 1951 Convention, the 1967 Protocol, or
any other relevant instrument in force or United Nations General Assembly resolutions,
refugees, asylum seekers and displaced persons shall nevertheless be protected by:

(a) the humanitarian principles of asylum in Islamic law and Arab values,

(b) the basic human rights rules, established by international and regional

(c) other relevant principles or international law;

Article 6

Recommends that, pending the elaboration of an Arab Convention relating to refugees,
Arab States adopt a broad concept of "refugee" and "displaced person" as well as a
minimum standard for their treatment, guided by the provisions of the United Nations
instruments relating to human rights and refugees as well as relevant regional

Article 7

Calls the League of Arab States to reinforce its efforts with a view to adopting an Arab
Convention relating to refugees. These efforts will hopefully be brought to fruition within
a reasonable period of time;

Article 8

Calls upon Arab States to provide the Secretariat of the League with relevant
information and statistical data, in particular concerning:

(a)the condition of refugees and displaced persons in their territories,

(b)the extent of their implementation of international instruments relating to the
protection of refugees,

(c)national laws, regulations and decrees in force, relating to refugees and displaced

This will help the League of Arab States in taking an active role in the protection or
refugees and displaced persons in cooperation with the competent international

Article 9

(a) Strongly emphasizes the need to ensure inter-national protection for Palestinian
refugees by competent international organizations and, in particular, by the United
Nations, without in any way prejudicing the inalienable national rights of the
Palestinian people, especially their right to repatriation and self-determination,

(b) Requests the competent organs of the United Nations to extend with due speed the
necessary protection to the Palestinian people, In application or Security Council
Resolution 681 of 20 December 1990,

(c) Requests the Arab States to apply in its entirety the Protocol relating to the
Treatment of Palestinians in Arab States, adopted at Casablanca on 11 September

Article 10

Emphasizes the need to provide special protection to women and children, as the
largest category of refugees and displaced persons, and the most to suffer, as well as
the importance of efforts to reunite the families of refugees and displaced persons;

Article 11

Calls for the necessary attention which should be given to the dissemination of refugee
law and to the development of the public awareness thereof in the Arab World; and for
the establishment of an Arab Institute of International Humanitarian Law, in cooperation
with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the International Committee
of the Red Cross and the League of Arab States.

Done at Cairo, on Thursday, the 24th of Joumada al-oula A.H. 1413, the 19th of
November A.D. 1992.

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The Arab Experts, meeting in Cairo at their Fourth Seminar on Asylum and Refugee
Law in the Arab World, wish to express their deep appreciation to the International
Institute of Humanitarian Law and to the Faculty of Law of Cairo University for their
valuable efforts, as well as to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for
Refugees for its generous sponsorship, all of which led to the success of the Seminar
and point to the need for periodically holding similar seminars in other parts or the
Arab World in view or the benefits accruing therefrom.

The Arab Experts address their special thanks to the International Institute of
Humanitarian Law for publishing the proceedings and synopsis of previous seminars.
They note with deep appreciation the intended publication and large-scale
dissemination by the Institute of the proceedings and results of their Fourth Seminar,
including the Cairo Declaration.


The Arab Experts, meeting in Cairo at their Fourth Seminar on Asylum and Refugee
Law in the Arab World, express their appreciation to the General Secretariat of the
League of Arab States for its effective participation in the work or the Seminar and urge
it to continue its constructive efforts with a view to reaching satisfactory solutions to
the problems of refugees, including moral and material sponsorship of future meetings
on the subject.

They also invite the League to study the feasibility of creating an Arab organism for
refugees in the Arab World, within the framework of the specialized agencies of the
League, with a view to providing legal and humanitarian protection for the refugees.

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