The 55th Session of the Executive Committee of the Program of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees


by Mr. Cristian BADESCU
First Secretary
Permanent Mission of Romania

Geneva, October 5, 2004

Monsieur le Président,
Monsieur Le Haut Commissaire,
Mesdames et Monsieur,

Permettez-moi, en premier lieu, de rejoindre les orateurs précédents pour féliciter notre nouveau Président, S.E. l'Ambassadeur Escudero Martinez, élu hier dans cette importante position, tout comme le vice-président, S.E. l'Ambassadeur Oshima, et Mme Ann Blomberg, le Rapporteur du Bureau. Je voudrais aussi adresser mes chaleureux remerciements aux membres du Bureau sortant, spécialement à l'Ambassadeur Boulgaris pour l'énergie et l'approche constructive qui ont caractérisé son activité comme Président du Comite Exécutif.

Monsieur le Président,

Ma délégation s'est ralliée à la déclaration du représentant des Pays-Bas, au nom de l'Union Européenne, des pays candidats et potentiels candidats, et nous partageons complètement les positions qui ont été présentées hier. Cependant, je me permets de saisir cette occasion pour brièvement évoquer les récentes démarches des autorités roumaines pour la consolidation du système national d'asile. En même temps, je voudrais mentionner l'intérêt particulier que mon pays accorde à l'augmentation de la dynamique des processus de coopération régionale pour l'identification des solutions durables à la problématique extrêmement complexe des réfugiés et des demandeurs d'asile.

Mr. Chairman,

In 1991 Romania joined the Convention on the Status of Refugees. Since that year, the cooperation between the Romanian authorities and the UNHCR Office in Bucharest has continuously developed; NGO's that are specialized in working with refugees and asylum seekers are now partners of the Romanian Government in the implementation of the national policy in this field. The shared objective is to ensure adequate protection for refugees and asylum seekers, primarily through measures aimed at setting up a fair, coherent and efficient system of mechanisms and institutions in a field that was somehow new for Romania. The cooperation of my country with UNHCR has facilitated the necessary synergies for promoting national legislation, training of officials in refugee status determination and assisting NGOs in their capacity-building projects.

The latest steps in this field are mainly in terms of enforcing the mechanisms for refugee protection and they meet the most recent developments of the European acquis communautaire. Two Emergency Ordinances adopted by the Romanian Government in 2004 [nr. 43 and 44, coming into force this year in March, April respectively] significantly improved Romania's refugee status determination procedure: inter alia, they include the explicit definition of the non-refoulement, the definition of the subsidiary protection and the definition of the refugee, which is now in complete agreement with the 1951 Convention.

The new Romanian legislation places the persons benefiting by a subsidiary form of protection into the category of refugees and grants access of the foreigners benefiting by a conditioned humanitarian protection to the integration programs with the aim of their rapid social integration into the Romanian society.

From the institutional point of view, this year the National Office for Refugees, which is the specialized agency designed to implement nationwide policies in the field of asylum, started an important decentralization process and opened two new Reception Centers that are equipped to carry out the complete asylum procedure. The Centers are located close to the Western and Easter borders, respectively, in the cities of Timisoara and Galati: the total refugee accommodation capacity in Romania has reached 1,440 places. The achievements of this year make my delegation proudly present our national asylum system as a complete and fully functional mechanism.

Mr. Chairman,

Romania follows closely the results of the initiatives that are carried out by Mr. Ruud Lubbers, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and fully supports the steps that are meant to increase the effectiveness of the organization. The main objective of our international cooperation is to secure the highest level of protection of refugees. About thirty years ago, Sadruddin Aga Khan, the former UNHCR, mentioned in his statement to the Third Committee: "It has long been an axiom of my Office, [...] that the protection function is the most central of our values." Romania greatly appreciates that the on-going implementation of objectives of the Agenda for Protection is doubled by constant endeavors for increasing the number and quality of the UNHCR's partnerships. The background of the general reform process of the UN system offers a good perspective for the creation and consolidation of more functional relations of our organization with other UN specialized agencies.

On 20 July 2004, the Security Council met to consider the item entitled "Cooperation between the United Nations and regional organizations in stabilization processes"; this was a Romanian initiative built on a previous meeting of the Council following a Mexican proposal. During that meeting, the members of the Security Council acknowledged the important role that can be played by regional organizations in the prevention, resolution and management of conflicts, including by addressing their root-causes. This delegation considers that the different situations around the world in the field of the protection of refugees and the various degrees in the implementation of the 1951 Convention and its Additional Protocol prompt us to act more efficiently for enhancing the UNHCR cooperation with regional organizations. The regional partnerships could contribute to the prevention of the exploitation of the asylum seekers by criminal networks and to the definition of durable solutions.

Mr. Chairman,

As a future member of the European Union, Romania is working hard to be ready to assume the new obligations as manager of the second longest external UE land-border. Our readiness to support the regional cooperation particularly in the field of protection of refugees is part and parcel of these preparations: we are persuaded that it is only due to co-operative efforts at the regional level that the challenges, and risks, of the refugee issue can be successfully approached.

The areas that are close to Romania, across the Black Sea, in the Caucasus, or in the Balkans, are still under the threat of unrest and violence; there are over 1 million persons that are still away from their homes in these areas. The regional co-operation and ownership are equally important for their plight to come to an end, as are the efforts of the UNHCR and other organizations.

Romania, in her present capacity of Chairman in Office of the South-Eastern Europe Cooperation Process, established as the main political objective of the co-operation agenda to enhance the role of the SEECP as a platform for European integration of these countries by making the best use of the existing institutional mechanisms in the region. Special attention is granted to the objectives and ways of action envisaged in the area of security issues and Justice and Home Affairs. One of the institutions that are increasingly efficient in this respect is the Bucharest-based Regional Center for Combating Transborder Crime; we think that it could be better employed in order to improve the quality of international protection for refugees in our region as well.

Mr. Chairman,

To conclude, it is this delegation's strong belief that the issue of the refugees and asylum-seekers has increased in terms of complexity, even if their absolute figures are declining: we share the views of the High Commissioner about this paradox. At the same time, we are confident that the imaginative steps of the UNHCR shall prove efficient in approaching this complexity. We are ready to increase our support to the UNHCR actions in this respect.

Thank you.

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