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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


Commemorating the Tenth Anniversary of the Cartagena Declaration on Refugees, which has, for the past decade, proven its validity and usefulness in addressing the problems of human displacement in the region;

Recognizing that the said Declaration constitutes an efficient instrument of international protection by serving as a source of guidance for the humanitarian practices of States and by encouraging the adoption of legislative and administrative measures based on the principles contained therein;

Recognizing the importance of the Central American experience which has, amongst other achievements, enabled the mass return of thousands of refugees and the closing of the majority of camps in the region, thus providing opportunities for finding appropriate solutions to a regional crisis;

Stressing that, pursuant to the adoption of the Cartagena Declaration, a significant process in the search for durable solutions has been initiated, whereby such solutions have been integrated within the framework of convergence between respect for human rights, peace-building and linkage with economic and social development;

Appreciating the generous efforts made, with the valuable support of the international community, during the past decade of economic and political crises, by countries of the region to provide protection and humanitarian treatment to persons forced to abandon their homes, while remaining determined to continue the concerted search for solutions to alleviate the human suffering of these persons and help them to resume normal life;

Confirming that the consolidation of democracy in the continent has laid the basis for finding solutions to the challenges of the past decade and for firmly addressing those of the present;

Underscoring the contribution made to this process by the Procedure for the Establishment of a Firm and Lasting Peace in Central America (Esquipulas II), as well as the Tripartite Commissions for Voluntary Repatriation, and the achievements made possible by the Declaration and Concerted Plan of Action in favour of Central American Refugees, Returnees and Displaced Persons adopted by the International Conference on Central American Refugees (CIREFCA), held in Guatemala City in May 1989; this experience being viewed as a guiding framework for dealing with similar situations in other regions of the world;

Appreciating the valuable contribution of the documents on Principles and Criteria for the Protection and Assistance to Central American Refugees, Returnees and Displaced Persons in Latin America (1989) and the Evaluation of the Practical Application of those Principles. and Criteria (1994), which elaborated on the Cartagena Declaration;

Taking into consideration the influence which the Cartagena Declaration and its aforementioned related elaboration have had beyond the Central American region, through the incorporation of some of its provisions into legal measures and administrative practices of other Latin American countries, as well as in its widespread dissemination in academic circles of the Continent;

Recognizing the admirable efforts which the Inter-American Institute of Human Rights has made in identifying and promoting areas of convergence between International Refugee Law, International Human Rights Law, and International Humanitarian Law;

Welcoming the incorporation of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in the efforts to find solutions to the problems of refugees, returnees and displaced persons through their joint sponsorship of CIREFCA, other technical cooperation efforts and the initiation of human development programmes in favour of the affected populations;

Appreciating in particular the outstanding work of UNHCR in the region in fulfillment of its mandate, as well as the creative approach applied thereto, which has enabled the opening of a `humanitarian space' which has favoured peace-building and the attainment of new horizons in the field of Refugee Law;

Noting with satisfaction the references made to the Cartagena. Declaration and the accomplishments of CIREFCA by the General Assembly of the United Nations, the General Assembly of the Organization of American States, the Executive Committee of the High Commissioner's Programme, and other international fora;

Also beating in mind the conclusions of the First Regional Forum on Gender Focus in working with Refugee, Returnee and Displaced Women (FOREFEM), held in Guatemala City in February 1992, as well as those of the Partnership in Action Conference between UNHCR and the non-governmental organizations (PARINAC, Caracas, June 1993 and Oslo, June 1994) which, together with the CIREFCA follow-up mechanisms, in the spirit of the Cartagena Declaration, have strengthened cooperation with non-governmental organizations and the beneficiary populations;

Recognizing the challenges posed by the new situations of human displacement in Latin America and the Caribbean, including, in particular, the increase in internal displacement and forced migration due to causes other than those provided for in the Cartagena Declaration;

Considering that human rights violations constitute one of the causes of displacement and that, therefore, the safeguarding of those rights is an integral element for both the protection of the displaced and the search for durable solutions;

Also considering that the protection of human rights, and the strengthening of the democratic system are the best means of preventing conflict, refugee flows and serious humanitarian crises;

In compliance with the request to hold this Colloquium made in Conclusion No. 71 (XLIV) of the Executive Committee of the High Commissioner's Programme, as well as by the General Assembly of the Organization of American States at its 24th Session, and including the preparatory technical meetings of Caracas in March 1992, Montevideo in May 1993, and Cocoyoc in March 1994;II.

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