RECOMMENDATION 1237 (1994)
on the situation of
asylum-seekers whose asylum applications have been rejected
In the face of persecution or other threats to their life or integrity, everyone has
the right to seek and to enjoy asylum. However, under the principle of national
sovereignty the decision to grant asylum is a matter for the host state.
The 1951 Geneva Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and its Protocol of
1967, the European Convention on Human Rights and the relevant national instruments in the
field of humanitarian law must provide the basis for harmonising asylum policies and
regulations in all the Council of Europe member states.
Since the 1980s, European states have been confronted with an increase in the number
of asylum applications and have adopted a series of instruments designed to clarify the
concept of right of asylum.
Most Council of Europe member states allow asylum-seekers whose asylum applications
have been rejected to remain on their territory on humanitarian grounds, particularly on
account of international or domestic armed conflicts, serious violations of human rights
or lack of democracy.
Some asylum-seekers whose asylum applications have been rejected wish to return to
their countries of origin. Steps should be taken to ensure their safe and dignified return
and the countries of origin and temporary entry should adopt return policies combined with
support measures to assist the social and occupational resettlement of those applying to
Asylum-seekers whose asylum applications have been rejected and who are not allowed
to remain in the host country, but who do not return to their countries of origin, are in
an unlawful situation and usually risk becoming clandestine immigrants.
In the absence of legal doctrine, these frequent unlawful situations are settled only
in a pragmatic fashion; it is, therefore, important to fill a legal vacuum which is
detrimental both to the states and to the persons directly concerned.
The Assembly, therefore, recommends that the Committee of Ministers invite the
Council of Europe member states:
to set up fair and effective asylum procedures in co-operation with the Office of the
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and to harmonise asylum policies
and legislation in the spirit of the 1951 Geneva Convention and its 1967 Protocol and the
relevant national instruments in the field of humanitarian law;
to confer basic rights, as provided for in Conclusion No. 22 (XXXII) of the
Executive Committee of the UNHCR, on asylum-seekers until their applications have been
to examine the possibilities for harmonising the conditions on which those who do
not satisfy the criteria for the granting of refugee status may nevertheless be authorised
to stay for humanitarian reasons on the territory of the member states;
to give special attention and protection to solitary minors and to certain groups of
de facto refugees;
to take practical steps to curb the illegal and abusive exploitation of
asylum-seekers whose asylum applications have been rejected, bearing in mind
Recommendation 1211 (1993) on clandestine migration: traffickers and employers of
to ensure that asylum-seekers, whose applications have been rejected on the grounds
that they could have found refuge in a third country, find effective, lasting protection,
including legal protection, and fair asylum procedures when they are removed to that
to strengthen policies for bilateral and multilateral co-operation in the fields of
human rights and minority rights, and to contribute to the social and economic development
of the countries of origin of asylum-seekers whose applications are rejected;
to contribute, by means of bilateral and multilateral co-operation policies, to
the social and economic reintegration of such asylum-seekers into their countries of
to draw up bilateral and/or multilateral agreements, in close co-operation with the
International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the non-governmental organisations
promote initial and advanced vocational training schemes as well as educational and
cultural programmes for asylum-seekers whose asylum applications have been rejected,
taking account of personal circumstances, designed to assist their reintegration into
their countries of origin;
set up programmes for voluntary assisted return to the country of origin.
Assembly debate on 12 April 1994 (11th Sitting) (see Doc. 7044,
report of the Committee on Migration, Refugees and Demography, Rapporteur: Mr
Text adopted by the Assembly on 12 April 1994 (11th Sitting).