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Declaration of Commitments in Favour of the Populations Affected Both by Uprootedness and by Conflicts and Extreme Poverty, within the Framework of Consolidating Peace in Central America

Publisher CIREFCA
Publication Date 29 June 1994
Citation / Document Symbol CIREFCA/CS/94/4
Related Document(s) Declaración de compromisos en favor de las poblaciones afectadas tanto por el desarraigo como por los conflictos y la extrema pobreza, en el marco de la consolidación de la paz en Centroamerica
Cite as CIREFCA, Declaration of Commitments in Favour of the Populations Affected Both by Uprootedness and by Conflicts and Extreme Poverty, within the Framework of Consolidating Peace in Central America, 29 June 1994, CIREFCA/CS/94/4, available at: [accessed 23 May 2023]
Comments Adopted by Consensus at the 4th Plenary Session of the Third International Meeting of the Follow-up Committee of the International Conference on Central American Refugees (CIREFCA), 29 June 1994. Includes Annex I ("Priority Target Areas"), Annex II ("Agreement on the Establishment of a Temporary Commission for the Transition from Emergency to Development Upon the Finalization of CIREFCA"), and Annex III ("Statement by Mrs. Rebeca Grynspan, Second Vice-President of Costa Rica, on Behalf of the CIREFCA Convening Countries").
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.


The Governments of the convening States, non-governmental organizations, donors, United Nations agencies and programmes, and the intergovernmental organizations represented at the Third International Meetings of the Follow-up Committee of the International Conference on Central American Refugees (CIREFCA), held in Mexico City on 28 and 29 June 1994,

Noting the important achievements of the CIREFCA process with regard to: strengthening international protection and respect for the fundamental rights of Central American refugees, returnees and displaced persons: implementing lasting solutions for the uprooted populations of Central America; supporting the incorporation of uprooted populations into the development process; incorporating the gender approach into activities in favour of the uprooted population; promoting dialogue and consensus-building among all the actors at both national and regional level; and mobilizing significant financial resources to implement projects benefiting uprooted populations;

Reiterating the importance and legal force of the principles of full respect for the rights of the individual, as expressed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and elaborated upon in various International Conventions, including the United Nations Convention on the Status of Refugees, the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, as well as inter-American conventions on asylum and important declarations of principles such as the Declaration of Cartagena de Indias, and in the strategies for action set forth in the document "Principles and Criteria for the Protection of and Assistance to Central American Refugees, Returnees and Displaced Persons in Latin America", in order to achieve lasting solutions to the problem of uprootedness in the region;

Noting the messages of support for the CIREFCA process and the request that all the participants continue supporting uprooted populations once the aforesaid process has been finalized, as expressed in the Conclusion adopted by the Forty-fourth Session of the UNHCR Executive Committee in October 1993; in the Agenda of the Declaration of the Fourteenth Summit Meeting of Central American Presidents in Guatemala on 29 October 1993, in General Assembly Resolution A/RES/48/117 of 24 March 1994; and at the San José X Meeting, held in Athens. Greece, on 28 and 29 March 1994;

Bearing in mind the important resolutions adopted by the Central American Presidents during their Fourteenth Summit Meeting in Guatemala to consolidate peace, democracy and integrated development: their commitment to "intensifying democratic processes and ensuring respect for human rights in the region, combatting poverty, and advancing in modernizing production with benefits for all the sectors that comprise our societies, while preserving the environment;" and their initiative to convene the forthcoming "International Conference on Peace and Development in Central America."

Recalling the request made to the agencies of the United Nations system, in particular to United Nations Development Programme, and to international institutions to "provide the necessary resources to establish updated and new programmes of a regional nature, under mechanisms to be defined by the Central American countries jointly with the donor community ", included in Resolution A/48/L.21/Rev.1 * on "The situation in Central America: procedures for establishing a firm and lasting peace. and progress towards shaping a region of peace freedom, , democracy and development", adopted on 10 December 1993 by the United Nations General Assembly during its Forty-eighth Session;

Recalling the Tegucigalpa Commitment and Protocol and the National Plans or Action on Human Development, Childhood and Youth, signed by the Central American Presidents at the Eleventh Summit Meeting held in Honduras in December 1991, as well as the commitments made through Agenda 21, adopted at the Earth Summit, held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in June 1992;

Emphasizing the need to uphold respect for the fundamental rights of refugees, returnees and displaced persons, as well as of other impacted and affected populations, and to incorporate them as a whole into the reconciliation process and into equitable development, in order to strengthen the peace process;

Recognizing that the process of national reconciliation demends effective participation at the local level and that it is therefore imperative to strengthen local institutions in order to advance in the pacification and democratization processes;

Noting the ethnic and cultural diversity of the populations that compose the societies of the convening countries, and that it is essential to consider this reality in formulating proposals for development;

Considering that the condition of gender is one of the central elements on which the concept of sustainable human development is based:

Considering the continued existence of refugee populations for which adequate levels of assistance will need to be maintained, and that the most favourable prospects for voluntary repatriation require facilitating and supporting the option of reintegration in their country or origin;

Bearing in mind that despite substantial advances with regard to attention to the target population of CIREFCA, the continued existence of specific issues of uprootedness affects significant sectors of' the Central American population;

Noting with satisfaction the progressive involvement of representatives of beneficiaries' organizations in the CIREFCA process:

Noting the recent " Agreement on the Resettlement of Populations Uprooted by the Armed Confrontation", signed in Oslo within the framework of the Guatemalan peace process and the efforts the International Community has been making in favour of those uprooted populations:

Taking as the basis for a process of consensus-building the strategies set forth in the official document "National Strategies in Favour of the Populations and Areas Most Affected by Extreme Poverty; Conflicts and Uprootedness" of this international meeting;

Noting that progress has been made in each country in identifying a pending agenda with regard to uprootedness, to which the commitments assumed by all the actors in the Concerted Plan of Action in Favour of Central American Refugees. Returnees and Displaced Persons, adopted by CIREFCA in May 1989, are applicable;




The Governments of Belize, Costa Rica. El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico and Nicaragua, duly represensed at the Third International Meeting of the Follow-up Committee of the International Conference on Central American Refugees, held in Mexico City on 28 and 29 June 1994,

Convinced that in order to continue advancing towards the consolidation or peace in the new Central American context and give continuity to the treatment of uprooted populations, a change of emphasis has become necessary from the emergency programmes that have prevailed, so that once this stage has been overcome, actions will be initiated towards sustainable human development strategies in the areas or populations prioritized by our countries for the consolidation of peace and the eradication of extreme poverty;

Assume the commitment to:

1.         Concentrate efforts on areas in the Central American countries characterized by situations in which the problems of uprootedness are further aggravated by the highest indices of extreme poverty, social exclusion, conflictive situations or severe environmental degradation. depending on the case. These have been identified and prioritized in each country and included in the Annex to the present Declaration;

2.         Apply concerted sustainable human development strategies in those areas as specified in the documents submitted to this meeting by the seven convening countries, with the aim of equitably guaranteeing to all their inhabitants the full exercise of their civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights;

3.         Adopt measures that favour and strengthen a climate and a process of dialogue and consensus-building with organizations representing society, open up these processes to new actors and take them to the local level, since it is believed that community participation in defining problems and in designing, programming, financing, executing and following up on projects is essential to national reconciliation, the consolidation of peace and the strengthening of democracy;

4.         Increase the capacity for managing development in the prioritized areas, especially through the strengthening of local government and organizations and the training of their human resources;

5.         Link strategies for the prioritized areas to national development plans, making the necessary national and local budget allocations for investment and operation, and proposing the necessary amendments in the legal and institutional frameworks;

6.         Execute actions to broaden employment and income opportunities for the poorer populations in the prioritized areas and to ensure the feasibility of durable solutions for the Voluntary repatriation and the reintegration of returnees and displaced persons, within the framework of concerted I sustainable human development strategies and programmes, and adopting a specific gender approach;

7.         Place special emphasis on measures to solve problems of access to land. land tenure and certification of land titles, as well as access to technical assistance, credit and markets, and on an environmental management and regional planning approach. Furthermore, adopt measures tending to complement agricultural development projects with initiatives aimed at the generation of employment and income from, industry and services, to guarantee longterm sustainable development, bearing in mind that land is a finite resource.

8.         Recognize that the document entitled "Principles and Criteria for the Protection of and Assistance to Central American Refugees, Returnees and Displaced Persons in Latin America " adopted as a reference document in Guatemala City in 1989, today serves as a guideline for the practice of asylum in the region. In keeping with the spirit of this document, the governments commit themselves to promoting the durable solutions established in international law on asylum and political asylum, particularly as regards voluntary repatriation, and it the latter is not possible, they will evaluate, in accordance with their internal norms and legislation, the possibility of local integration of refugees, ensuring that refugees who are unable to return to their country of origin can enjoy the exercise of their fundamental rights and lend a decent, productive life. To that effect, the governments will carry out in accordance with their own legislation, the documentation procedures to guarantee the legal security of refugees, returnees and displaced populations;

9.         Place priority attention on internally displaced populations having urgent needs as regards assistance and protection, as well as on women, children and other populations affected by the internal conflicts and uprootedness, by adopting policies, strategies and participatory programmes to involve all the actors at the local level and to allow and encourage reconciliation;

10.       Include the gender approach as an explicit part of all programmes and projects formulated within the framework of national and regional development:

11.       Continue to respect the right of association and the autonomy of non-governmental organizations and of organizations of the affected population.

In view of the foregoing considerations and commitments, the non-governmental organizations, United Nations agencies and programmes, intergovernmental organizations and donors represented at this meeting make the commitment to:

12.       Support the implementation or the actions necessary to ensure compliance with the above commitment, based on recognition or and mutual respect for the different mandates, roles and capacities of each actor;

13.       Promote , as far as possible, the harmonization of criteria among donors. United Nations agencies and international financial institutions in order to optimize the use of resources and the results in benefit of the affected populations, within the framework of sustainable human development;

Specifically, the non-governmental organizations express their willingness and their commitment to:

14.       Participate through their presence and provide technical assistance and human, material and economic resources to strengthen the culture and practice of peace and democracy in the region, so that the human rights of women, men and children are fully respected, and so that all sectors of the societies in the region participate fully as social, political and economic actors, respecting the Rule of Law;

15.       Participate in the formulation of concerted responses to the specific and urgent needs of the uprooted population in a vulnerable situation, through forums, working groups and processes aimed at following up on the pending agenda of CIREFCA, at both national and regional levels;

16.       Contribute to the definition, design, implementation and evaluation of programmes and projects aimed at responding to the urgent needs of uprooted populations;

17.       Strengthen and intensify dialogue, consensus-building and co-ordination among themselves, as well as with governmental institutions, United Nations agencies and international financial institutions, in order to increase their contribution to the consolidation of peace and development by seeking lasting solutions to the problems of uprootedness at local, national and regional levels;

18.       Strengthen the presence of their networks in areas prioritized by consensus and support the processes of organization, participation and reconciliation in those areas.

Similarly, the donors represented at this meeting make the commitment to:

19.       Continue providing their political, technical and financial support to the region. duly taking into account in their co-operation policies the humanitarian and transitional requirements of a post-conflict situation;

20.       Participate, as far as possible, while respecting the norms and procedures of each donor, in the concerted formulation, financing and implementation of strategies and actions for the prioritized areas and support the processes of return and reintegration of repatriates and displaced persons and the local integration of refugees. Also. call upon other donors and international financial institutions to adhere to this commitment:

21.       Provide priority support to local efforts and initiatives promoted by both governmental and non-governmental actors and include the beneficiaries in the evaluation of results and projects:

Likewise, the United Nations agencies and programmes represented at this meeting make the commitment to:

22.       Provide joint support, through their offices, resources, services and their national and regional programmes, to the efforts and actions of the Central American governments and societies to address the pending agendas related to uprootedness, development of prioritized areas and implementation of national policies adopted or to be adopted in support of such development, and participate in the efforts to harmonize the criteria of international donors with the aforementioned policies, in keeping with their respective mandates;

23.       Continue to promote the processes of dialogue, work and reconciliation with the affected populations, non-governmental organizations and representations of society, bearing in mind the agreements of the co-ordination meeting of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) with NGOs (Managua, Nicaragua, March 1993), and of the PARINAC meeting between the United Nations High Come missioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and NGOs (Oslo, Norwav, June 1994);

24.       In particular, UNDP commits itself to providing priority support, through its national and regional programmes, to the efforts and actions of the Central American governments and societies to eradicate poverty and address the pending agendas on uprootedness, as well as to continue formulating, in a concerted and participatory manner, strategies, methodologies and periodic evaluations to make the concept of sustainable human development operational in its different dimensions;

25.       UNHCR, for its part, will continue to ensure international protection and the promotion of durable solutions for the refugees, returnees and populations "of special concern" to UNHCR. This will be carried out in accordance with its mandate, the policy established by the High Commissioner with regard to prevention, the principles established in the Conclusions of the UNHCR Executive Committee and the document adopted by CIREFCA in 1989 entitled "Principles and Criteria for the Protection of and Assistance to Central American Refugees, Returnees and Displaced Persons in Latin America."


The Governments of the Convening States, non-governmental organizations, United Nations agencies and programmes, donors and intergovernmental organizations represented at this meeting consider it necessary to:

26.       Carry out an evaluation, in the light of the finalization of the CIREFCA process, of both its implementation and its methodology and mechanisms, to be submitted to all the actors;

27.       Establish a Temporary Commission in accordance with the contents of the Annex, to propose national and regional mechanisms that will favour the promotion, implementation and follow-up of the commitments assumed under this Declaration between the Central American countries and the donor community;

28.       Inform the organizers of the International Conference on Peace and Development in Central America, convened by the Central American Presidents, of the contents of this Declaration;

29.       Request the international community to provide special technical and financial support for the fulfillment of the specific accords being reached in the Guatemalan peace process.

Finally, the participants in this international meeting:

Emphasize the important efforts made by the CIREFCA convening countries to implement policies. programmes and projects in favor of the uprooted populations;

Recognize and underscore the importance or the political, technical and financial support provided by the International Donor Community for the consolidation of peace in the region through CIREFCA;

Recognize also the valuable contribution of non-governmental organizations in the implementation of the CIREFCA Concerted Plan of Action;

Recognize the collaboration of the Office of the United Nations Secretary-General,. UNHCR and UNDP in implementing the Concerted Plan of Action, particularly through the CIREFCA Joint Support Unit, and of the UN system's agencies and programmes as a whole;

Express their gratitude to the people and Government of Mexico for the hospitality extended during the holding of the present meeting.

ANNEX I: Priority Target Areas

(Source: Executive Summaries of the national strategies concerted between the Governments NGOs and other representatives of civil society, UNDP and UNHCR)


(Currently being identified in a concerted manner and according to sectoral priorities)

Costa Rica:

Border regions with Nicaragua and Panama. and the region of Limón: particularly the districts of Upala, Sarapiqui and Los Chiles (Huetar Norte region), Limón and Talamanca (Huetar Atlántica region), Corredores and Buenos Aires (Brunca region).

El Salvador:

The 115 municipalities (located in 12 departments) included in the National Reconstruction Program (PRN) and the priority areas identified by the NGOs, which include 193 communities located in 36 municipalities and 11 departments, some of which are not covered by the PRN


One hundred and nineteen municipalities of the departments of Alta Verapaz, Baja Verapuz, El Petén. El Quiché, Guatemala City, Huehuetenango, San Marcos and Santa Rosa.


-. The five departments forming the Western Region and located in the border with El Salvador and Guatemala: Copán, Intibucá, La Paz, Lempira and Ocotepeque

-. The Department of El Paraíso, in the Southeastern Region and in the border with Nicaragua.

-. The Department of Gracias a Dios (La Mosquita), in the Northeastern Region and in the border with Nicaragua.


The micro-regions and adjacent areas around the refuge: settlements in Campeche and Quintana Roo: refugee communities and areas with Mexican communities living in extreme poverty in the State of Chiapas.


Municipalities of Somoto (Region I); El Rama, Muelle de los Bueyes, El Almendro, Villa Sandino. Santo Domingo, Acoyapa, Nueva Guinea and Camoapa (Region V); Waslala, Rancho Grande. Tuma-La Dalia and Matiguás (Region VI); Siuna. Bonanza and Rosita in the North Atlantic Autonomous Region (RAAN).


Bearing in mind the clear awareness of all the actors involved in the CIREFCA process of the need to agree on and give concrete form to appropriate mechanisms to oversee the stage following the finalization of CIREFCA, which is interpreted as a transition from emergency to development, the participants in the Third International Meeting of the CIREFCA Follow-up Committee agree to the following:

1.         The will has been expressed to establish co-ordination mechanisms at local, national and regional levels, as part of regional efforts towards peace, reconciliation and development with full participation, so as to reflect the change in emphasis from emergency programmes towards human development strategies in prioritized areas, and to give continuity in addressing the problems of the uprooted populations.

2.         To that end, advantage will be taken of ClREFCA's experience, as well as the results of the evaluations of the process in all its efforts to ensure participation and consensus-building by the different actors, which will require mechanisms for consultation, decision-making and followup appropriate to this new stage.

3.         For that purpose it has been agreed to establish a COMMISSION, of a TEMPORARY nature, for a maximum of 90 days to DRAW UP A PROPOSAL FOR SUPPORT, CO-ORDI NATION AND MONITORING MECHANISMS for the implementation and follow-up of the corresponding, commitments and tasks.

4.         The new mechanisms should reflect and put into practice the following elements, among others:

a)         Direct involvement of local institutions in the process of agreement, implementation and follow-up of the actions to be carried out (local participation in decisions on development and project management);

b)         Clear, agile and simple co-ordination mechanisms between the local, national and regional spheres;

c)         Nature, establishment, objectives and functions of a REGIONAL FORUM AT THE POLITICAL LEVEL for dialogue and consensus-building, among the different actors involved, which, taking advantage of CIREFCA's experience, should expand its objectives for action to the agreed upon spheres of development and combatting poverty in keeping with the commitments assumed at this Meeting;

d)         Nature, establishment, objectives and functions of technical mechanisms in support of the above;

e)         Seeking mechanisms to co-ordinate and make these efforts compatible with other Central American co-ordination, implementation and institutional initiatives, reproducing, as far as possible, CIREFCA's methodology and mechanisms for consensus-building and participation in other spheres.

5.         This TEMPORARY COMMISSION will be made up of two representatives from each of the sectors that have participated in the CIREFCA process. The possibility of participation by representatives of the beneficiaries remains open. The Temporary Commission will consult with different sectors to incorporate representative contributions from organized civil society, local governments, central governments, donors and the United Nations system into the resulting proposal.

6.         In order to give concrete form to the elements of this agreement, a request is hereby made to UNDP to provide the necessary operational and technical support.

7.         In view of the above, thirty days after the Temporary Commission has sent its proposal, UNDP will convene a meeting with the representations of the sectors involved to consider and approve the mechanisms to which this agreement refers.


The CIREFCA convening countries, in view of the request made by the Government of Panama to effectively become integrated into the process which we will be convening after this International Meeting, wish to make the following statement:

1.         To approvingly welcome the desire of Panama to participate together with our countries, in the phase which is now being initiated.

2.         To invite Panama to become part of the group of CIREFCA convening countries, in order to jointly convene the process which we are now initiating.

            We wish to acknowledge our satisfaction for the request by the Government of Panama, as it clearly shows that the Central American integration process is currently experiencing, a renewed impetus.

Our warmest regards to the people of Panama.

Many thanks.

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