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  The Refugees

San Jose Declaration

San Jose Declaration on Refugees and Displaced Persons under the Auspices of the Costa Rican Government

International Colloquium in Commemoration of the Tenth Anniversary of The Cartagena Declaration on Refugees


San José, 5-7 December 1994


The 1984 "Cartagena Declaration on Refugees" was a key instrument in the search for durable solutions to the problems faced by thousands of Central Americans forced to leave their homes as a consequence of generalized violence that resulted from the serious conflicts in the region during the 1980s. At tile same time, it has. inspired the legal treatment of similar cases in several South American countries, and its expanded definition of "refugee" has been incorporated into the national legislation or administrative practices concerning refugees in various countries in the region.

Taking into account die positive impact of the Cartagena Declaration, tile Executive Committee of tile United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, in its Conclusion No. 71 (o) (XLIV) of 1993, encouraged UNHCR to participate actively in the commemoration of its tenth anniversary. Similarly, the General Assembly of the Organization of American States adopted, in its 24th Session, a Resolution on Refugees, Returnees and Displaced in the American Hemisphere, expressing its support for such an initiative.

A Colloquium to commemorate the tenth anniversary of tile Cartagena Declaration on Refugees was held in Sail José, Costa Rica, from 5 to 7 December 1994. The Colloquium was co-organized by UNHCR and the Inter-American Institute of Human Rights, under die auspices of die Government of Costa Rica. Government Officials and experts from more than 20 American and Caribbean countries attended the Colloquium. As a result, participants in the Colloquium adopted the "San José Declaration on Refugees and Displaced Persons", which in addition to reiteraiting the validity of the principles embodied in the Cartagena Declaration, deals with the current situation of refugees and other populations affected by violence, and proposes guidelines for the search of solutions to their plight. The San José Declaration provides an important input for the legal analysis and treatment of those persons who are forced to leave their homes because of persecution or generalized violence, foreign aggression, internal conflicts, massive violations of human rights or other circumstances which have seriously disturbed public order.

As the Cartagena Declaration of 1984, the San José Declaration is predestined to become an important precedent in the subject of refugees and displaced persons, and its influence will probably reach the whole American continent and the Caribbean. This publication is aimed at its widest dissemination and its application by the authorities of the countries affected. At the same time, we hope that the dissemination of instruments such as the Cartagena Declaration and the San José Declaration, as well as the application of the principles contained therein, will he accompanied by the necessary support of the International Community as a whole. This would he the only way to attain durable solutions to the acute problems faced by refugees and displaced persons in the American Hemisphere.

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