|Statement by Che Ying of the Chinese Delegation at the Third Committee of the 60th General Assembly on Refugees (Agenda Item 39)|
As this is the first time Mr. Guterres, the new High Commissioner for Refugees, attends the 3rd Committee of the current session of the General Assembly, I'd like to take this opportunity to congratulate him on his election. On his 3rd day in office, the new High Commissioner visited refugee camps in Uganda. Since then, he made numerous visits to many other locations where conditions are harsh to learn at first hand about the life of the refugees. His hands-on approach fully demonstrates his earnest commitment and devotion to the cause of the refugees, for which the Chinese delegation would like to express high appreciations.
The latest UNHCR statistics shows that the number of refugees worldwide fell in 2004 to 9 million, the lowest total in the past 25 years. This is a gratifying result achieved by the international community as a result of its concerted efforts in the spirit of "international solidarity and burden-sharing". This achievement is also the result of immense contributions made by the entire UNHCR staff, relevant governments and humanitarian relief agencies. The Chinese delegation is highly appreciative of such efforts.
At the same time, however, the number of people "of concern" to UNHCR rose to 19.2 million. A permanent solution to the problem of refugees throughout the world remains elusive. At the 2005 World Summit, member states made a solemn commitment to make joint efforts with a view to solving the problem of refugees and reaffirmed their determination to seek durable solutions for refugees in the sprit of "international solidarity and burden sharing" through various efforts, including those aimed at addressing the root causes of the refugee problem. It is our hope that this solemn declaration will give a new impetus to the international protection of refugees.
The 2005 World Summit also reaffirmed the importance of the realization of Millennium Development Goals to the solution of the refugee problem. There can be no lasting peace without development, and there's no durable solution to the problem of refugees without peace. The Chinese government commends the concept of "bridging the gap between relief and development" put forward by the High Commissioner and his related initiatives. We hope that UNHCR will continue to play its catalytic role in prompting the international community to increase assistance to those developing countries that host large numbers of refugees and focus on seeking solution to the protracted problem of refugees.
This year, reform is the theme for the whole United Nations system, and UNHCR is no exception. The Executive Committee of the High Commissioner's Program agreed at its just-concluded meeting earlier October to create a new post for an Assistant High Commissioner for Protection to enhance UNHCR's function in international protection. The Chinese delegation is of the view that: (1) UNHCR should carry out its international protection mandate in compliance with its Statute and the relevant General Assembly resolutions; (2) In stressing the delivery of "international protection", another important function of the UNHCR, namely, assisting countries to "find durable solutions for refugees" should not be neglected or weakened; (3) UNHCR should fulfill its international protection mandate on the basis of full cooperation with member states as is called for by its Statute and the relevant General Assembly resolutions.
The Chinese delegation hopes that UNHCR will seize the opportunity presented by the broad reform underway in the UN system to further enhance its internal management and improve efficiency in its use of funds so as to better respond to the refugee problem of the new era.
With the assistance of UNHCR and the International Organization for Migration, the Chinese government successfully hosted a Symposium on Durable Solutions for Enhanced Regional Capacity Building of the Intergovernmental Asia-Pacific Consultation on Refugees, Displaced Persons and Migrants (APC) in Beijing on July 4 through 6, 2005. It also hosted APC's annual meeting in the latter part of last month. China is ready to further strengthen exchanges with other Asian-Pacific countries and UNHCR on refugee and related issues with a view to strengthening and further developing the APC mechanism.
At present, the increasingly rampant terrorism poses a serious challenge to the international protection of refugees. The frequent occurrence of terrorist attacks on humanitarian relief agencies and their staff members threatens the personal security of relief workers. China resolutely joins the international community in condemning terrorist attacks against humanitarian personnel. We support the measures taken by UNHCR to further enhance security and guarantee the safety of its relief workers.
On the other hand, terrorists and other serious criminal offenders often use asylum as cover to escape from justice and to continue harming the innocent. The double standards and politicization of the asylum procedures undermine the credibility of refugee protection. The Chinese delegation calls on the parties concerned strictly to abide by the Refugee Convention so as to make sure that the international protection regime for refugees not be abused and politicized and that its neutrality and non-political character be kept intact.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.