|| Catagena Declaration on
Cartagena Declaration on Refugees
at a colloquium entitled "Coloquio Sobre la Protecc?on Internacional de los
Refugiados en Américan Central, México y Panam?: Problemas
Jur?dicos y Humanitarios" held at Cartagena, Colombia from 19 - 22 November
Having acknowledged with appreciation the
commitments with regard to refugees included in the Contadora Act on Peace and
Co-operation in Central America, the bases of which the Colloquium fully shares
and which are reproduced below:
(a) "To carry out, if they have not yet done so,
the constitutional procedures for accession to the 1951 Convention and the 1967
Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees."
(b) "To adopt the terminology established in the
Convention and Protocol referred to in the foregoing paragraph with a view to
distinguishing refugees from other categories of migrants."
(c) "To establish the internal machinery
necessary for the implementation, upon accession, of the provisions of the
Convention and Protocol referred to above."
(d) "To ensure the establishment of machinery
for consultation between the Central American countries and representatives of
the Government offices responsible for dealing with the problem of refugees in
(e) "To support the work performed by the United
Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Central America and to
establish direct co-ordination machinery to facilitate the fulfilment of his
(f) "To ensure that any repatriation of refugees
is voluntary, and is declared to be so on an individual basis, and is carried
out with the co-operation of UNHCR."
(g) "To ensure the establishment of tripartite
commissions, composed of representatives of the State of origin, of the
receiving State and of UNHCR with a view to facilitating the repatriation of
(h) "To reinforce programmes for protection of
and assistance to refugees, particularly in the areas of health, education,
labour and safety."
(i) "To ensure that programmes and projects are
set up with a view to ensuring the self-sufficiency of refugees."
(j) "To train the officials responsible in each
State for protection of and assistance to refugees, with the co-operation of
UNHCR and other international agencies."
(k) "To request immediate assistance from the
international community for Central American refugees, to be provided either
directly, through bilateral or multilateral agreements, or through UNHCR and
other organizations and agencies."
(l) "To identify, with the co-operation of
UNHCR, other countries which might receive Central American refugees. In no
case shall a refugee be transferred to a third country against his will."
(m) "To ensure that the Governments of the area
make the necessary efforts to eradicate the causes of the refugee problem."
(n) "To ensure that, once agreement has been
reached on the bases for voluntary and individual repatriation, with full
guarantees for the refugees, the receiving countries permit official
delegations of the country of origin, accompanied by representatives of UNHCR
and the receiving country, to visit the refugee camps."
(o) "To ensure that the receiving countries
facilitate, in co-ordination with UNHCR, the departure procedure for refugees
in instances of voluntary and individual repatriation."
(p) "To institute appropriate measures in the
receiving countries to prevent the participation of refugees in activities
directed against the country of origin, while at all times respecting the human
rights of the refugees."
back to top
The Colloquium adopted the following
1. To promote within the countries of the region
the adoption of national laws and regulations facilitating the application of
the Convention and the Protocol and, if necessary, establishing internal
procedures and mechanisms for the protection of refugees. In addition, to
ensure that the national laws and regulations adopted reflect the principles
and criteria of the Convention and the Protocol, thus fostering the necessary
process of systematic harmonization of national legislation on refugees.
2. To ensure that ratification of or accession
to the 1951 Convention and the 1967 Protocol by States which have not yet taken
these steps is unaccompanied by reservations limiting the scope of those
instruments, and to invite countries having formulated such reservations to
consider withdrawing them as soon as possible.
3. To reiterate that, in view of the experience
gained from the massive flows of refugees in the Central American area, it is
necessary to consider enlarging the concept of a refugee, bearing in mind, as
far as appropriate and in the light of the situation prevailing in the region,
the precedent of the OAU Convention (article 1, paragraph 2) and the doctrine
employed in the reports of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. Hence
the definition or concept of a refugee to be recommended for use in the region
is one which, in addition to containing the elements of the 1951 Convention and
the 1967 Protocol, includes among refugees persons who have fled their country
because their lives, safety or freedom have been threatened by generalized
violence, foreign aggression, internal conflicts, massive violation of human
rights or other circumstances which have seriously disturbed public order.
4. To confirm the peaceful, non-political and
exclusively humanitarian nature of grant of asylum or recognition of the status
of refugee and to underline the importance of the internationally accepted
principle that nothing in either shall be interpreted as an unfriendly act
towards the country of origin of refugees.
5. To reiterate the importance and meaning of
the principle of non-refoulement (including the prohibition of rejection at the
frontier) as a corner-stone of the international protection of refugees. This
principle is imperative in regard to refugees and in the present state of
international law should be acknowledged and observed as a rule of jus
back to top