Follow-up to the international conference on the reception and integration of resettled refugees

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Resolution number: 
December 2001
  1. In April 2001, as part of the larger Integration Initiative supported by the tripartite partners in resettlement, the International Conference on the Reception and Integration of Refugees was held in Sweden. The conference endorsed resettlement and integration as important planks in the international protection system and durable solutions. Among the outcomes of the Conference is a set of principles endorsed by all the participants that provides a platform for further initiatives to take place involving traditional and emerging resettlement countries.
  2. One of the elements of the Initiative, the UNHCR Reception and Integration Handbook, will enunciate a framework for supporting people from refugee backgrounds in resettlement countries to rebuild their lives. This process is underway and continues to involve a Task Force made up of governmental and NGO representatives from many of the traditional and emerging resettlement countries, including Canada.
  3. Other outcomes have begun in less structured ways such as through informal sharing of information, site visits and exchange of material resources. In Canada, these early activities include the facilitation of site visits and conference participation by representatives from Chile, one of the emerging resettlement countries in southern South America and the resulting commitments to ongoing relationships between Canadian NGOs and the Chilean resettlement partners.
  4. As UNHCR does not inherently have the expertise in reception and integration issues, and as the financing of a focal point for the Integration Initiative concludes as of December 2001, the process for facilitating the continuation of the integration initiative, including the post-ICRIRR process, is vulnerable.
  5. Canada took a lead role in the planning process leading up to the ICRIRR conference and has endorsed the overall Integration Initiative including becoming a member of the Reference Group for the Integration Initiative and supporting governmental participation in the Task Force responsible for developing the Reception and Integration Handbook. In recognition of this leadership role, UNHCR requested the Government of Canada to Chair the Reference Group and provide leadership in facilitating the post ICRIRR process. To date Canada has not responded to this request.
  6. The ICRIRR Principles include commitment to tripartite processes and the participation of relevant partners concerned with the resettlement and integration of refugees. The UNHCR Working Group on Resettlement, currently a bilateral forum, through the Reference Group for the Integration Initiative, is tasked with providing follow-up to the ICRIRR process. Furthermore, the Working Group on Resettlement is also the principal body of UNHCR and its resettlement partners for dialogue on ongoing broader refugee resettlement policies and initiatives.
  7. During the Annual Tripartite Consultations on Resettlement in Geneva (June 2001), participants expressed interest in including NGO representation on the UNHCR Working Group on Resettlement. Although there is receptivity to NGO presence at the Working Group this has yet to be defined and agreed upon by the existing UNHCR and governmental membership.
  8. The Canadian Council for Refugees was actively engaged in the preparation for and participation in the ICRIRR Conference and endorsed the principles and the resolutions evolving from the Conference. Furthermore, the CCR is also considering how it may participate more actively in international fora.
Therefore be it resolved: 

That the CCR:

  1. Urge the Government of Canada, through the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, to reaffirm its commitment to the principles agreed to at the ICRIRR Conference in April 2001 and explore how best they may be implemented within Canada and in its relationships with other resettlement countries;
  2. Strongly encourage the Government of Canada, through the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, to provide leadership by assuming the Chair of the Reference Group to the Integration Initiative and by supporting and facilitating networking between resettlement countries in the spirit of the ICRIRR process;
  3. Urge the Government of Canada, through the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, to seek ways in which to support activities and initiatives undertaken by the Canadian government and by Canadian NGOs to further the principles endorsed at the ICRIRR Conference and to strengthen resettlement initiatives in emerging resettlement countries;
  4. Request that the Canadian Government express support, in dialogue with its governmental resettlement country partners, for the representation of NGOs at the UNHCR Working Group on Resettlement and the facilitation of Canadian NGO participation;
  5. Seek ways to integrate the Principles endorsed at the ICRIRR Conference into the priorities and activities of the Canadian Council for Refugees.