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The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Legal and Operational Functions.

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Presentation on theme: "The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Legal and Operational Functions."— Presentation transcript:

1 The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Legal and Operational Functions

2 (1) The purpose, function and goals of the UNHCR “The agency is mandated to lead and co-ordinate international action to protect refugees and resolve refugee problems worldwide. Its primary purpose is to safeguard the rights and well-being of refugees. It strives to ensure that everyone can exercise the right to seek asylum and find safe refuge in another State, with the option to return home voluntarily, integrate locally or to resettle in a third country. It also has a mandate to help stateless people.” Source: UNHCR Website In practice? Defining who is a “refugee”

3 (2) How can States join and participate? UN General Assembly States The UNHCR Executive Committee UNHCR Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC)

4 (2) How can States join and participate? They can apply to join the UNHCR Executive Committee (ExCom): 1. State makes application for admission to ExCom, usually by Note Verbale, to the Secretary-General of the UN. In the Note Verbale State outlines it’s credentials, notably: a) demonstrated interest in and devotion to the solution of refugee problems b) widest possible geographic representation c) membership in the UN or it’s specialised agencies 2. Request passed by the Secretary-General to ECOSOC;

5 3. The requesting state submits a draft decision to the Secretary of ECOSOC; 4. ECOSOC refers the matter to the General Assembly, requesting the Assembly to enlarge the number of ExCom members 5. The requesting state then submits a draft resolution to the Secretary of the Third Committee of the General Assembly; 6. The General Assembly would then resolve to increase the number of slots available for membership in ExCom 7. The Assembly then refers the matter back to ECOSOC requesting it to elect the members to fill the newly created slots; 8. ECOSOC elects the state which has applied for membership to ExCom

6 General Assembly Resolution 428 (V) of 14 December 1950, Statute of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Chapter III 16. The High Commissioner shall consult the Government of the countries of residence of refugees as to the need for appointing representatives therein. In any country recognizing such need, there may be appointed a representative approved by the Government of that country. Subject to the foregoing, the same representative may serve in more than one country. Preamble 2. Calls upon Governments to co-operate with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in the performance of his functions concerning refugees falling under the competence of his Office…

7 (3) The structure of UNHCR – organs and powers High Commissioner Assistant High Commissioner (Protection) International Protection Services Assistant High Commissioner (Operations) Operational ServicesRegional Bureaux Africa Asia and the Pacific The Americas Europe Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Deputy High Commissioner Financial & Administrative Management Information Systems & Telecommunications External Relations Human Resources Management

8 (4) The establishment of a secretariat General Assembly Resolution 428 (V) of 14 December 1950, Statute of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Chapter III 19. The Office of the High Commissioner shall be located in Geneva, Switzerland. The UN refugee agency has a total of more than 6,600 staff working in more than 110 countries Most UNHCR operations are in the field The ‘secretariat’ predominantly based in the Geneva headquarters is a series of divisions which oversee key areas as illustrated in the previous slide. UNHCR's core work is based in the field, and managed by regional offices, branch offices, sub-offices and field offices. The High Commissioner's representatives head operations in the countries where the agency works, while there are also a number of regional representatives.

9 (5) The form of dispute resolution The UNHCR has an internal review mechanism, The Inspector General's Office (IGO) 3 mandated functions: 1) Assess quality of UNHCR's management; use/misuse of resources 2) investigate allegations of misconduct by anyone working for the UNHCR 3) conduct inquiries into any violent attacks on UNHCR staff and operations (or other incidents that could affect the reputation of the organisation) IGO investigations are fact-finding (rather than punative)

10 (5) The form of dispute resolution The findings of the IGO investigation unit can lead to disciplinary or administrative action, including such sanctions as dismissal for serious misconduct, demotion, deferment of within-grade increment, and written censure. Complaint Received Investigation Disciplinary/ administrative action Evidence of misconduct Preliminary report to UNHCR’s Human Resources and Management division for further action Evidence of administrative or operational shortcomings Report sent to the High Commissioner or relevant senior manager, with recommended actions

11 (6) Type of privileges and immunities Subject to internal investigations by the IGO as described on previous slide, staff of the UNHCR are entitled to the same privileges and Immunities as other UN staff. Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations, 1 U.N.T.S. 15, 13 February 1946: Section 29 Officials of the United Nations shall be immune from : (a) …legal process in respect of words spoken or written and all acts performed by them in their official capacity (c) …national service obligations (d) …immigration restrictions and alien registration (e) Be accorded the same privileges in respect of exchange facilities as are accorded to the officials of comparable ranks forming part of diplomatic missions to the Government concerned (b) Be exempt from taxation on the salaries and emoluments paid to them by the United Nations Waiver of immunity Section 20 The Secretary-General shall have the right and the duty to waive the immunity of any official in any case where, in his opinion the immunity would impede the course of justice and can be waived without prejudice to the interests of the United Nations.

12 Thank you for your attention! L.Langberg M. Mikulska V. Hunbogadottir M. McKeighen


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