2005.11.10: Item 39: Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Questions Relating to Refugees, Returnees and Displaced Persons and Humanitarian Questions

H.E. Ambassador Shin Kak-soo, Deputy Permanent Representative, at Third Committee of the General Assembly

Mr. Chairman,

1. Let me begin by thanking the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees for his report to the General Assembly. It is encouraging that the number of refugees worldwide has been decreasing in recent years, reaching its lowest level in 25 years in 2004. This can be attributed to successful repatriation processes, mainly in Afghanistan and in some African countries. We commend the UNHCR and concerned governments for making this positive development possible.

2. Yet, my delegation remains concerned about protracted refugee situations in many parts of the world. In this regard, the international community should provide the UNHCR with resources necessary to strengthen its capacity for humanitarian response and refugee protection. On its part, the UNHCR should seek lasting solutions in the countries concerned, particularly in terms of facilitating population resettlement and providing timely humanitarian support and human rights safeguards. These are of paramount importance and are at the core of the organization’s mandate. We expect that the High Commissioner’s new initiatives, including the creation of an Assistant High Commissioner for Protection, will enhance the UNHCR’s role both at headquarter and in the field. We welcome all such efforts by the UNHCR to augment its protection role.

3. In addition, the special needs of vulnerable refugees, particularly women and children, should be duly reflected both in the UNHCR’s policy planning and in its field operations. We are pleased that the UNHCR incorporates among its priorities gender equality, the care of refugee children, reproductive health, and community development. It is our hope that the UNHCR will pursue these standards by coordinating with other stake-holders, including relevant international agencies, NGOs, and local communities.

4. We also recognize the increasing importance of the IDP issue and the need for the UNHCR’s engagement in addressing it. The organization’s expertise and infra-structure can effectively contribute to finding solutions in this area. Yet with limited resources, the UNHCR’s participation should be based on the division of labour among relevant organizations because its primary mandate of protecting refugees must not be affected. Furthermore, as limited resources are a constant challenge, enhancing organizational efficiency should be a prime necessity. In this regard, we applaud the UNHCR’s efforts to increase its effectiveness through targeted planning, results-based management, strengthened oversight, and a framework for accountability. We, of course, welcome the UNHCR’s efforts to broaden its funding base.

5. My delegation recognizes the growing need for the UNHCR to improve its response to emergency refugee situations. We therefore encourage the UNHCR to step up its efforts in such areas as staff training, establishment of early warning systems, and rapid deployment.

6. Finding a lasting solution to the plight of refugees remains a crucial challenge for all of us. The UNHCR should be an effective organization with a well-planned strategy and superior expertise. State Parties should comply with obligations under the United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Refugees of 1951 and its Protocol of 1967. Most importantly, every stakeholder should demonstrate political will and a spirit of solidarity in sharing burdens and responsibilities.

7. Finally, the Government of the Republic of Korea wishes to express its support for the UNHCR and reaffirm its commitment to working closely with the UNHCR and other entities in addressing refugee-related issues.

Thank you.