IN recent years, wars and conflict had been a major concern for the international community. Wars had brought different challenges with the states involved as well as the surrounding countries that are affected with such issues. In recent wars, technological gadgets utilized in such situation had been better in comparison to past machineries used by the conflicting countries.
Due to the development through the technological advancement of armaments used, it evident that the people affected with such kind of wars are higher than normal, in comparison with the last wars. The numbers of casualties as well as the refugees grow higher in every war that is being exercised. This situation is such an inhumane act for the reason that, the nationalities that are not involved in the war are ones that are mostly affected with actions taken by the conflicting parties.
The resolution of the people is to leave their personal properties in order for them to prevent and save themselves from the deadly effects of the war. With such situations, the nationality of territory in which the conflict is at hand becomes refugees. Therefore, these people are not entirely protected by the laws of their home state or any laws. However due to the increasing number of refugees in different countries, the United Nations launched a declaration and a commission in which the refugees would somehow be given protection during unpredictable instances.
The UNHCR or the United Nations Higher Commissioner for Refugees was created by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on December 14, 1950. The main priority of this commission is to “lead and co-ordinate international action to protect refugees and resolve refugee problems worldwide” (UNHCR, n.d.)
The main purpose of this agency is to assure the safety of the “rights and well being of refugees.” It aims to safeguard that every individual has the right to “exercise and search asylum” as well as find a safe territory in a state different from their own. However, these asylums have the option to return to their home state voluntarily, to create their own locality or to migrate to another country of their choice. For many years now, the UNHCR was able to help refugees in starting their lives again. (UNHCR n.p.)
The Geneva Convention of the on the other hand was a convention in which a Swiss citizen named Henry Dunant established. After seeing the effects of war to the innocent citizens within the territories which are in war, he had decided that there should be an agency in which the people affect in such situations much addressed.
The agency that he established in now called Red Cross. However, his call for an international agreement to address such issue became a development for the casualties of war. Through out the first establishment of the concern for the casualties of war, there are currently 4 different Geneva Conventions which covers “armed forces on land and at sea, prisoners of war and civilians” (“Geneva Convention”, n.p.)
Through out this paper, the UNHCR, the Geneva Convention and the International Law would be the main basis for addressing the main concerns within this research paper.
United Nations Higher Commissioner for Refugees: The Cessation of Refugee Status
In the book International Law written by Isagani Cruz, stated that “individuals are not merely an object but a subject of International Law” (Cruz, 42). With such note at hand, the international law together with the UNHCR established a mandate in which the refugees are given the right and the assistance whenever they needed. The UNHCR’s mandate for Refugee Status Determination (RSD) is the main material in which promotes the protection of refugees against the vicious and life threatening causes of war. The main purpose of the UNHCR is to determine if the individual is under the preferences of the United Nations.
Through the power vested in the UNHCR they determine the people who are in deep need of assistance. The UNHCR mandate also provides the duties and responsibilities of the government and actors involved in the issue in order to rightfully protect the refugees with effectiveness and fairness. In addition, the UNHCR could also screen group of refugees’ are qualified within the criteria of the mandate. Although the UNHCR is entitled to categorize the individual, procedures must be done in order to create a just analysis of the situation at hand. (UNHCR, 1-1)
In the situation of the voluntary reestablishment of refugees, basing on the Constitution of the International Refugee Organization written within its preamble that “that genuine refugees and displaced persons should be assisted by international action, either to return to their countries of nationality or former habitual residence, or to find new homes elsewhere, under the conditions provided for in this Constitution” (United Nations, 1946). Therefore, the refugees are given the right to be assisted and given attention if he or she needs to be evacuated in another state or if the refugees realize that it is the right moment to return back to their home states.
However, the UNHCR mandate creates limitations and categorizes the refugees in order to view if the desire and the aim of the refugees will not be creating any commotion within the country of their choice or their home states. Just like other procedures, the UNHCR will screen the individual or the group in order to justify if it is the rightful time for them to go back from their voluntary reestablishment. In the guidelines of the “UNHCR Handbook on Procedures and Criteria for Determining Refugee Status under the 1951 Convention and the 1967 Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees” which contains the procedures and criteria stated that:
Due to the fact that large numbers of refugees voluntarily repatriate without an official declaration that conditions in their countries of origin no longer justify international protection, declarations are infrequent. Furthermore, many States Parties grant permanent residence status to refugees in their territories after several years, eventually leading to their integration and naturalisation. (UNHCR, 2003)
In addition, the Geneva Convention had stated that the Refugees have the right to have naturalization if the individual or the group decided that they wanted to stay in the refuge country that they have chosen. As stated in article 34 of the Geneva Convention:
The Contracting States shall as far as possible facilitate the assimilation and naturalization of refugees. They shall in particular make every effort to expedite naturalization proceedings and to reduce as far as possible the charges and costs of such proceedings. (Geneva Convention 32)
If the applicant was rejected due to not being able to attain the criteria of the UNHCR mandate and did not pass the normal procedures done by the committee, the refugee would certainly be discarded in his or her cessation as a refugee. However, the refugee could repeat the procedures of the cessation of refugees and submit another application but due to the past rejection of the refugee, the second processing of the papers would be affected.
The past documents would evidently be recalled and seen by the committee as well as the past reasons for the rejection. In order to reopen the files of the past a process of reopening the files is necessary in order to refresh the new and old documents. The same procedures are also done in order to determine whether an individual and his or her files could be recalled. In the Unit 9 of the UNHCR mandate it stated that:
As a general rule, Applications for RSD by persons whose refugee claims have been duly examined and rejected under the UNHCR RSD procedures and whose files have been closed, should not have their claim re-examined. This would include Applicants who have failed to exercise the right to appeal a negative RSD decision within an established period. However, in certain cases, it maybe appropriate to re-open a closed file and to refer the individual to RSD procedures. (UNHCR 9-2)
In the situation of the cessation of Derivative Status, the main applicant of the Refugee cessation has the right to extend to the individual’s family members or his or her dependents. However, the cessation determination should not affect the right of the individual that is accorded to him or her. The main claimants of the cessation have an independent declaration in comparison with the member of his or her family and dependents:
“Cessation of the refugee stats of the Principal Applicant will extend to the derivative status accorded to the family members/dependents of the Principal Applicant. The cessation determination will not affect the right of the persons who has derivative refugee status to make an independent claim.” (UNHCR 11- 4)
The cancellation of the derivative status of the individual or the main claimant should be distinguished properly. The personal file of the primary claimant of the cessation of the refugee status is indicated within the database of the UNHCR which will be used in tracking other family members.
The refugees are entitled to their right to have a home state whenever they decide to. These individuals would be filing their documents to the UNHCR. The committee shall be processing these documents and procedures must be done in order to properly justify the legalization and the cessation of the refugees. However, how would the refugee know if it is truly the right time for the cessation?
After months of being displaced and given the title of being a refugee, an individual must first be able to file a certification that he or she is a refugee of such situation and a state, “The UNHCR Refugee Certificate should attest to the fact the individual named in the document is a refugee, and as such, is a person who should be protected from the forcible return to a country in which he/she would face persecution” (UNHCR 8-1). The certification is the most important file that the refugee has. Given that he or she had been separated with all their other personal documents.
The UNHCR committee should communicate with the host country in order to have peaceful coordination and for the refugee’s recognition and acceptance within the host country. The certification would be the legal way in which the Refugee would have the right to stay in the host country without being held as a prisoner or an enemy of the state. This legal process would be beneficial for the refugee (UNHCR 8-1). The refugee must therefore give the correct information and attend the interviews that the mandate requires in order to fully accomplish the processes that are required by the mandate and the international law.
Due to different conflicts and situations that an individual have to encounter instances such as being a refugee is one of the consequences that a person could sometimes experience. With such situations, the protection and the safety that the UNHCR is promoting is the strongest hold that most of the refugees could have. All the rights that are given to an individual through the international law are also upheld for the refugees.
Although the situations of refugees are one of the main causes of the UNHCR and the Geneva Conventions these files are not enough to provide peace and security among the refugees and other individuals. Providing peace and security after a tragic and traumatic experience could help in order to somehow ease the pain of the experience. However, this is not enough for most people within the situation of being a refugee. The uncertainty and not being protected by any law while still not having the certification or claim that the individual is a refugee.
Although the program of the UNHCR and the mandate that it had launched is one of the most relevant files that is available for the refugees, the processes and the files that are need to be submitted still needs to take time in order to be fully certified or recognized as a refugee. All the processes take time and effort in order to attain such. With the processes and the legalities that are needed to be done, refugees would certainly have convoluted and difficult time through the waiting process. Other than the UNHCR and the Geneva Convention, the international community must be able to create another convention in which focuses to the immediate answer to the needs of the refugees.
Cruz, Isagani. International Law. Quezon, City Philippines: Phoenix Publishing, 1991.
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