Elected by and reporting to the United Nations General Assembly, the High Commissioner performs functions as described in UN General Assembly resolution 428 (V) of 14 December 1950 in order to administer and direct the work of the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees in the performance of its mandate.
The Executive Office of the High Commissioner comprises the Deputy High Commissioner, the Assistant High Commissioner for Operations, the Assistant High Commissioner for Protection and the Chef de Cabinet, and their staff. The Executive Office is situated within the larger organizational entity, Executive Direction and Management (EDM).
The Executive Office crafts a clear and consistent corporate vision, sets operational priorities and strategies and oversees UNHCR’s activities worldwide. It engages directly with donors and States at the highest level to secure political and -financial support for UNHCR.
The Deputy High Commissioner (DHC) oversees and provides strategic leadership for all functions related to the managerial, financial, and administrative running of the Office. The Controller and Director of the Division of Financial and Administrative Management, as well as the Directors of the Divisions of External Relations, Human Resources Management, and Information Systems and Telecommunications all report directly to the DHC, who also supervises the Heads of the Legal Affairs Service and the Organizational Development and Management Service, as well as the Ombudsman, the Chief Risk Officer and the Head of UNHCR Innovation.
The Assistant High Commissioner for Operations (AHC-O) oversees and ensures strategic leadership and direction for all UNHCR operations in the field, the five Regional Bureaux at Headquarters, as well as the Division of Programme Support and Management and the Division of Emergency, Security and Supply
The Assistant High Commissioner for Protection (AHC-P) ensures that protection focus is instilled into all aspects of UNHCR’s work, oversees the development and implementation of protection policy and legal standards, and coordinates high-level advocacy on protection matters. The AHC-P oversees the activities of the Division of International Protection; provides guidance on protection policy to the Regional Bureaux, the Division of Programme Support and Management and the Division of External Relations and to communications relating to protection. The AHC-P works closely with the AHC-O to provide overall strategic direction for operational protection aspects of UNHCR’s work.
The Inspector General’s Office, the Ethics Office, the Evaluation Service, and the Liaison Office in New York report directly to the High Commissioner, as do the High Commissioner’s Spokesperson and the Secretary of the Executive Committee.
The Inspector General’s Office (IGO) supports the effective, efficient and accountable management of UNHCR operations, including through preventive measures that minimize the need for remedial action, and upholds an environment of integrity by contributing to the maintenance of the highest standards of personal and professional conduct by UNHCR workforce. The IGO participates in the development of relevant UNHCR policies, monitoring implementation and impact through inspection, investigation and ad hoc inquiry activities.
The Evaluation Service (ES) commissions and manages the centralized evaluations primarily focusing on policies, strategies, programs and themes of corporate significance at the global, strategic level and for Level 3 emergency operations. ES provides also expertise, support, guidance and to as well quality assurance oversight of decentralized evaluations commissioned by Divisions, Regional Bureaux and/or Regional and Country offices for activities, themes, and operational areas, strategies, at the country or regional level.
The Liaison Office in New York (LONY) represents UNHCR at UN Headquarters in New York by promoting the Organization’s policies, strategic priorities and advocacy messages. LONY promotes the needs of people of concern through participation in fora on humanitarian reform and -financing, maintaining international peace and security, protection of civilians, human rights mainstreaming, and sustainable development, as well as other relevant New York-led initiatives. LONY contributes to the formulation of resolutions by the Security Council, the General Assembly, and its subsidiary bodies, as resolutions pertain to people of concern. It also provides input to reports of the Secretary-General and other strategic reviews. Through collaboration with NGO partners, key UN Secretariat entities, and agencies, funds and programmes in New York, LONY provides strategic advice to the High Commissioner on evolving political and policy matters that may affect the work of UNHCR.
The Ethics Office ensures that all individuals of UNHCR’s workforce observe and perform their functions with the highest standards of integrity, by fostering a culture of respect, transparency and accountability throughout the Organization as required by the UN Charter, the UNHCR Code of Conduct, and UN Staff Regulations and Rules. It develops ethical standards in collaboration with the UN Ethics Offi¬ce and the UN Ethics Panel; promotes and disseminates ethics-related policies; and provides guidance to staff members and senior management on ethical standards and dilemmas to address and prevent problems before they emerge. It coordinates the annual refresher courses on the Code of Conduct to UNHCR operations globally; oversees the policy on protection from retaliation for individuals who report misconduct or participate in audits, inspections, investigations, inquiries or the work of the Ombudsman; and administers the Financial Disclosure Programme.
Additional to the Executive Office, Executive Direction and Management also includes the Organizational Development and Management Service, the Legal Affairs Service, the Ombudsman’s Office, the Enterprise Risk Management Unit and UNHCR Innovation.
The Organizational Development and Management Service (ODMS) maintains a strategic overview of UNHCR’s system of management and organizational design, including through structural and staffing reviews. The outcomes of such reviews inform policy on Organization-wide subjects, including coordination models and accountability. ODMS also serves as the Coordinator of the Guidance Management System within UNHCR. In addition, ODMS, where required, provides support and follow-up to internal and audit findings and recommendations in relation to overall management structures and staffing.
The Legal Affairs Service (LAS) is UNHCR’s central legal office on non-refugee law matters and is responsible for planning, coordinating and managing the Organization’s legal affairs. This includes advising on various legal aspects of UNHCR’s operations and activities, as well as preparing agreements regulating UNHCR’s relations with hosting countries and other entities; procurement and commercial contracts; and claims and disputes involving the Organization’s operational activities.
LAS also works to reduce potential financial and other types of loss through legal risk analysis; protects the interests of the Organization in internal administration of justice proceedings; and contributes to ensuring that UNHCR’s activities are carried out in accordance with its internal regulatory framework and relevant law.
The Ombudsman’s Office provides a confidential, impartial and independent service for the informal resolution of work-related problems and conflicts. It offers an informal alternative to formal complaint-handling systems, such as the Inspector General’s Office, the Management Evaluation Unit or the United Nations Dispute and Appeals Tribunals. Recourse to the Ombudsman is voluntary and strictly confidential. Wherever possible, the Ombudsman helps individuals to develop new ways to solve problems themselves and works primarily through negotiation, influence, personal powers of persuasion and good practice.
The Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) Unit supports managers at all levels of the Organization in discharging their responsibilities in respect of UNHCR’s ERM policy. The ERM Unit is complemented by a network of risk management focal points across the Organization to decentralize the capacity for managing risk both in the Field and at Headquarters.
UNHCR Innovation is an interdivisional initiative launched in 2012 and officially established as a unit in December 2014 for creating and disseminating new ideas and knowledge within UNHCR. It works at integrating fresh perspectives on education, energy, communications, shelter, and livelihoods. UNHCR Innovation´s approach has three facets: i) amplify innovations already happening within UNHCR; ii) connect innovators within UNHCR to resources, to one another, and to external partners and mentors; and iii) explore innovations happening outside the Organization and looking for ways to adapt existing innovations to the needs of persons of concern.
Reporting to the Deputy High Commissioner, the Division of External Relations (DER) mobilizes public, political and financial support so that UNHCR is best able to meet its global accountabilities for all people of concern. DER manages UNHCR´s external communications, public and private donor relations and resource mobilization, public relations, archives and records management.
The Division develops effective partnerships with UN agencies and NGOs, governments and companies, and drives support for UNHCR´s role and accountabilities for humanitarian leadership and coordination. It engages with individuals to foster awareness, empathy and action among key audiences including financial and political support. DER´s media outreach is an important tool for UNHCR’s advocacy and communications activities,
The Office of the Director provides strategic guidance to the Division, developing a cross-service integrated external relations approach. By managing the Division’s resources, including staffing, programme and administrative budgets, the Office provides guidance and support to the Services and Sections in the Division and ensures coordination with other Divisions, Services and Bureaux at the strategic level. Heads of Services and Chiefs of Section report directly to the Director.
The Donor Relations and Resource Mobilization Service (DRRM), based in Geneva, interacts with governmental, intergovernmental and UN donor bodies in matters relating to resource mobilization and allocation, and provides guidance, training and project support to Field operations and Headquarters in preparing funding appeals. DRRM organizes missions, consultations and briefings for donors, and publishes the annual Global Appeal and Global Report. It regularly updates Senior Management, Regional Bureaux and Field operations on funding strategies and on resource mobilization and allocation matters.
The Service coordinates inter-agency funding activities, supports the development of refugee response plans on the ground, and guides funding relationships as part of the Solutions Steering Group (SSG).
DRRM has three interlinked sections:
The Governmental Donors and Funding Analysis Section, with groups responsible for a specific donor region, providing analysis on the regional and countrywide funding situation and defining funding projections;
The Humanitarian Financing and Field Support Section, supporting on-the-ground resource mobilization from decentralized and/or pooled resources, coordinating multi-donor trust funds and inter-agency initiatives to support transition and development actors; and
The Global Appeals and Reports Section, which documents and disseminates UNHCR donor communication.
The Private Sector Partnerships Service (PSP) coordinates and seeks to maximize private sector support for UNHCR´s assistance and protection activities, while providing information on issues regarding persons of concern. PSP is divided into sections, responsible for leadership giving, strategy and marketing, fundraising support and fundraising operations, each headed by a Chief who reports directly to Head of Service at the Copenhagen GSC.
PSP collaborates with Divisions and Regional Bureaux in strengthening support for and disseminating information about UNHCR´s fundraising efforts.
The Governance and Partnership Service (GPS), located in Geneva, serves as Secretariat to the Executive Committee (ExCom), with its Head of Service acting as Secretary to ExCom. GPS also supports the Executive Office in organizing high-level events and clearing the High Commissioner´s verbal and written communications. GPS promotes and facilitates strategic engagement with current and potential partners, including governmental and intergovernmental entities, other UN agencies, national and international NGOs, and private sector and civil society organizations. Within GPS the Partnership Section organizes the annual UNHCR-NGO consultations, and facilitates all formal and informal dialogue between partners and UNHCR at Headquarters and in the Field.
The Inter-Agency and Coordination Service (IACS), based in Geneva, was created in 2014. Together with DRRM, IACS provides guidance on inter-agency coordination matters on humanitarian and development issues. Externally, IACS presents and advocates UNHCR's positions on behalf of DER in inter-agency fora, e.g., Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC), Chief Executives Board (CEB) and UN Development Group (UNDG). More specifically, IACS provides guidance and support on the Refugee Coordination Model, the UNHCR-OCHA Joint Note on Mixed Situations and related coordination mechanisms.
The Communications and Public Information Service (CPIS), located in Geneva, generates and maintains media interest in the work of UNHCR, and coordinates proactive and reactive media relations by ensuring consistent, focused and strategic communications in line with UNHCR´s operational goals. CPIS employs a range of multimedia tools, including social media, as means to promote UNHCR policies, activities and objectives with respect to fundraising, advocacy and legal issues. The Service supports the Office of the High Commissioner, the Head of Service acting as the High Commissioner´s spokesperson.
The Strategic Communications Section (SCS), based both in Geneva and at the Copenhagen GSC, is in charge of implementing UNHCR´s Global Strategic Communications Strategy through global strategic messaging, brand development and management, communications, monitoring and analysis, and internal communications. The Section uses evidence-based research to direct the strategy and tactics of UNHCR´s communication.
The Digital Engagement Section (DES), based at the Copenhagen GSC, is organized into a Digital Publishing Unit, a Creative Unit and a Marketing Unit. It strives to improve and strengthen UNHCR´s digital engagement and communications capacity worldwide. It seeks to use its digital and social media outreach networks for consolidating and facilitating UNHCR media engagement with existing and new audiences.
The Events, Campaigns and Goodwill Ambassadors Section, located in Geneva, at the Copenhagen GSC and in New York, aims at increasing public awareness for UNHCR’s efforts and support and empathy for persons of concern. It organizes and manages UNHCR flagship events and campaigns including the World Refugee Day Campaign, the Nansen Refugee Award, the I Belong Campaign, and the Global Goodwill Ambassador Programme.
The Records and Archives Section (RAS), located in Geneva and with a small presence at the Copenhagen GSC, seeks to comprehensively capture the institutional memory by provid
Reporting to the Assistant High Commissioner for Operations, the of Division Emergency, Security and Supply (DESS) is responsible for providing strategic direction, support and oversight to Regional and Country Offices in relation to emergency preparedness and response, supply chain management, and the security of staff and persons of concern.
The Director of DESS oversees and provides strategic direction and guidance to the Division in order to ensure a coherent and effective overall response, and represents UNHCR in the IASC Emergency Directors‘ Group. The Director is UNHCR’s security focal point for UNDSS, supported by the Head of the Field Security Service. The Director of DESS is assisted by a Deputy Director, principally responsible for coordinating and supporting, among others, the functions of the Emergency Service and the Field Security Service.
The Compliance and Risk Management Unit (Supply Chain) is responsible for coordinating audit activities and following up on recommendations, monitoring supply transactions to ensure compliance, overseeing the development of supply-related guidance material, maintaining DESS risk registers, and quality management related to core relief items.
The Division is structured into four Services.
The Emergency Service (ES) has overall responsibility for coordinating UNHCR’s emergency preparedness and response capacity in line with the Refugee Coordination Model (RCM) and the inter-agency framework of the Transformative Agenda, and within the framework of UNHCR’s Policy on Emergency Response Activation, Leadership and Accountabilities.
The ES Emergency Standby Teams comprise staff with multi-functional profiles who can be immediately deployed according to operational needs to provide support in assessing and responding to the various phases of an emergency. The standby teams provide rapid and effective community-based protection at the Field level, an inclusive approach to persons of concern, and a focus on the prevention of sexual and gender-based violence and child protection from the outset of the emergency. An Emergency Preparedness Team is responsible for developing and supporting the implementation of a Global Preparedness Strategy for UNHCR, including support to key risk operations, definition of risk scenarios, setting minimum and advanced preparedness actions at Field and national levels, developing country and regional contingency plans and supporting preparedness trainings.
The Emergency Partnership and Deployment Unit manages internal emergency deployments drawn from the Emergency Response Team (ERT) Roster and the Senior Corporate Emergency Roster (SCER) as well as other emergency staffing deployments.
The Emergency Policy and Capacity Development Section is responsible for ensuring that policies, guidance (including UNHCR’s Emergency Handbook) and training are in place and that these reflect best practices, lessons learnt, and the reality on the ground drawing on the Field experience of emergency standby teams and emergency operations. The Section also oversees the Regional Centre for Emergency Preparedness (e-Centre), located in Bangkok and headed by a Coordinator who works with offices throughout the Asia-Pacific region promoting preparedness in the context of humanitarian emergencies.
The Emergency Preparedness Section is responsible for guiding, coordinating and overseeing the development of global and country-specific strategies for emergency preparedness, as well as establishing new tools to enhance and streamline UNHCR and inter-agency activities and country-level capacity building in emergency preparedness.
The Field Security Service (FSS) works to strengthen a culture of security, based on sound risk management practices, so that the Organization can deliver protection and assistance to persons of concern safely and effectively even where risks remain. FSS is responsible for providing global advice and support on security and safety issues, and for the deployment of Field Safety Advisers (FSAs) and Structural Engineers in support of country or regional operation.
FSS oversees the Global Field Security/Safety functions in Nairobi and Bangkok; facilitates reviews of high-risk operations; monitors Minimum Operating Security Standards (MOSS) compliance; and provides support in the case of unanticipated security-related needs. FSS represents UNHCR in the Inter-Agency Security Management Network (IASMN) and through all the associated working groups of the UN Security Management System.
The Supply Management Logistics Service (SMLS) located in Budapest GSC is responsible for ensuring efficient and reliable delivery of assistance to persons of concern and for strengthening supply support to UNHCR operations as a whole. SMLS is also the custodian of the UNHCR Global Stock Management System.
The Supply Operational Support Section (SOSS) is responsible for pre-emergency stock planning, optimizing stock levels in global and regional stockpiles and logistics coordination of global and regional transport networks and customs clearance. It undertakes supply needs assessment and warehouse and global stock management in Dubai (UAE), Copenhagen (Denmark), Isaka (United Republic of Tanzania), Accra (Ghana), Douala (Cameroon), Nairobi (Kenya), and Amman (Jordan). The Section comprises the Emergency Supply Unit in coordination with the Procurement Service.
The Assets and Fleet Management Section (AFMS) is responsible for ensuring the overall management of UNHCR’s assets. The Section provides fully equipped vehicles, on a lease scheme to operations, and manages the disposal of assets to meet operational requirements and safety standards.
The Infrastructure Management Unit (lands and building) provides guidance to Field operations regarding acquisition or rental of land and buildings. It also provides technical support on engineering technical subject matters related to property, building and leasing projects and maintains a database of UNHCR’s land and buildings and a central repository of all lease agreements.
The Supply Chain Planning Section, in coordination with the Procurement Service, provides advice and capacity building to all operations in respect of supply planning and steers consolidated planning processes in the area of logistics and procurement at global level.
The Procurement Service (PS) located in Budapest GSC is responsible for global procurement. PS interacts on behalf of UNHCR with the Common Procurement Activities Group (CPAG), a forum for local procurement cooperation amongst Geneva-based UN Organizations and is comprised of the Procurement HQ Section, including a Vendor Management and Contract Administration Unit, and the Procurement Field Support Section, which supports partner pre-qualification and provides assistance and guidance to UNHCR operations on procurement as well as capacity building for the supply chain worldwide. The Section also contains the Supply Policy and Capacity Development Unit responsible for policy development, Help Desk Support and capacity building for the supply chain and provides support to the supply team worldwide.
Reporting to the Deputy High Commissioner, the Division of Financial and Administrative Management (DFAM) contributes to safeguarding the financial resources entrusted to UNHCR by maintaining and improving its financial and administrative systems, policies and procedures and promoting cost-effective and transparent use of these resources.
DFAM advises on and monitors UNHCR´s overall compliance with financial rules, regulations and related internal controls and is also responsible for the preparation of the annual financial statements of UNHCR. It develops financial policies and guidance as well as management reports and accounting analysis, to assist decision-making on the use of resources and aims at strengthening the financial management capacity in the Field and in Headquarters. DFAM manages the process of establishing UNHCR's budget, monitors its execution and reports on its implementation while leading UNHCR's efforts to improve performance management and accountability of implementing partners. It also plays a key role in UNHCR's efforts to improve oversight and audit mechanisms.
The Director of the Division also serves as the Organization's Controller.
The Office of the Controller has responsibility for the overall management of the Division and also hosts the Secretariat of the Headquarters Committee on Contracts. The Policy and Audit Coordination Unit (PACU) is the focal point in UNHCR for all audit-related matters, interacting with both the internal and external auditors, as well as the Inspector-General's Office if necessary. PACU also hosts the Secretariat of the Independent Audit and Oversight Committee (IAOC).
The Change Management and Field Support Unit (CMFSU) supports the Controller ensuring the efficient and successful implementation of initiatives relating to financial management and control, including development and oversight of communications and training on financial management.
MSRP support services are provided through the Senior System Administrator who administers access rights to UNHCR’s ERP system. A project for the upgrade of the existing MSRP Finance and Supply Chain Management system has been initiated by UNHCR and, for the duration of the project, the manager of the MSRP Upgrade Project reports to the Controller.
The Programme Budget Service (PBS) is based in Geneva with some positions located in the Budapest GSC. Reporting directly to the Controller, PBS provides strategic advice to Senior Management on effective allocation of resources and is responsible for a wide range of budget-related issues. PBS also provides the secretariat support for the Annual Programme Review (APR) process and the Budget Committee and is responsible for the preparation of the Biennial Programme budget.
The Implementing Partnership Management Service (IPMS), based in Geneva with some positions located in the Budapest GSC, reports to the Controller and is responsible for all matters related to the management of |UNHCR’s framework for Implementing with Partners. This includes setting policies and procedures; providing guidance and coordination; implementing strategies, and providing assurances regarding the use of financial resources spent through partnerships.
The Accounts and Financial Service (AFS) based in the Budapest GSC is responsible for the preparation of statutory and management information used in UNHCR’s financial statements. It works to ensure their compliance with UN/UNHCR Financial Regulations and Rules and provides advice and guidance to finance staff in UNHCR offices worldwide.
The Treasury and Cash Service (TCS), based in Geneva with some positions located in Budapest GSC, is responsible for safeguarding cash resources, by managing foreign exchange and investments, and analyzing global liquidity flows. The Service also provides integrated guidance for the delivery of Cash-Based Interventions (CBI) embedding financial governance to manage specific financial risks associated to cash delivery requirements.
The General Services Section (GSS), based in Geneva, is responsible for the management and coordination of security services and office space at Headquarters, as well as for the administration of official travel originating from Headquarters.
The Division of Human Resources Management (DHRM) reports to the Deputy High Commissioner. It is responsible for formulating and implementing HR policies and strategies to support UNHCR and its personnel in responding rapidly and flexibly to operational requirements in often challenging environments; and for upholding sound principles and practices for staff development, welfare and integrity in a service-oriented manner.
To this end, DHRM maintains global oversight of staff management across the Organization, assesses and analyses staff profiles and emerging trends, and seeks to introduce sustainable human resources strategies geared towards recruiting and retaining the most qualified and expert personnel.
DHRM is based in both Geneva and Budapest, and comprises the Office of the Director and six Services.
The Office of the Director, based in Geneva, administers the Division and is in charge of responding strategically to operational and Organizational concerns of UNHCR on workforce issues.
The Global Learning Centre (GLC), located in Budapest GSC, coordinates learning activities for staff as well as partners, ensuring that learning is widely available, methodologically and substantively sound, and aligned with UNHCR’s strategic and operational priorities. Learning opportunities are made available for staff and partners through the online platform Learn and Connect, as well as through other distance-learning projects. The Centre offers a wide range of training tools and functional certification programmes in key areas where current and future needs are identified, such as leadership, supply, human resources, programme and protection. The GLC is also in charge of induction and orientation programmes for new staff.
The Human Resources Policy and Planning Service (HRPPS), based in Geneva,develops HR policies, while enhancing workforce planning and management reporting capacities and maintaining and classifying job descriptions (the Post Classification Unit is located in Budapest GSC) HRPPS identifies trends in workforce requirements that influence HR planning, and manages data analysis systems concerning UNHCR’s global workforce. It also monitors the implementation of UNHCR’s policies on gender equality and employment of persons with disabilities.
The Human Resources Staff Service (HRSS), based in Budapest GSC, includes the Personnel Administration and Payroll Section (PAPS), the Headquarters Liaison and Compensation Unit (located in Geneva) and the Performance Management Unit. The Service oversees functions related to personnel administration, payroll and performance management. HRSS provides HR guidance to all staff and managers worldwide.
Staff Health and Welfare Service (SHWS), located in Geneva, is composed of three sections.
The Medical Section is responsible for monitoring, promoting and maintaining the health and wellness of all UNHCR staff members and for ensuring that they are suitably fit to work in their locations of assignment. The Section manages a central repository of staff medical records and engages in health promotion. It also organizes first aid training to prepare staff for working in emergency settings; monitors and follows up on medical evacuations; and provides counseling on health issues, including mental health.
The Staff Welfare Section is responsible for promoting mental and psychosocial health by mitigating stress-related hazards for staff, especially in Field operations with high-security challenges and hardship living conditions. Counselors provide trauma interventions and support the implementation of preventive procedures such as pre- and post-deployment psychological debriefing.
The Global Staff Accommodation Unit, supports Field operations in meeting UNHCR’s minimum standards for working and living conditions for UNHCR staff worldwide. The Unit also pioneers innovative, eco-friendly and durable accommodation solutions.
The Assignments and Career Management Service (ACMS) works to ensure an optimal alignment of UNHCR’s workforce and is responsible for ensuring integration between assignments and career management services. It comprises:
the Career Management Support Section (CMSS), located in Budapest GSC, which facilitates effective links between postings, career management and learning. CMSS provides individual career counselling to staff members and career development opportunities in collaboration with the GLC.
The Assignments and Promotions Section (APS), located in Geneva, which plays an integral role in the assignments process. In coordination with CMSS, APS consults with staff and managers to match applicants to vacant positions. It also serves as the Secretariat for different assignments bodies and for the yearly promotions sessions.
The Talent Outreach and Acquisition Section (TOAS), located in Budapest GSC, undertakes external recruitment of new workforce. TOAS seeks to attract external talent through cohort recruitment programmes with UN Volunteers (UNV) and the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS), Junior Professional Officers (JPOs), consultants and contractors, and guides the management of recruitment processes and the development of future strategies.
The Strategic and Transformative Human Resources Service (STHRS), based in Geneva, was created in 2015 with the key objective of addressing evolving Organizational resource challenges. Through the implementation of a comprehensive HR strategy issued in early 2016 and enhanced partnerships with Divisions and Bureaux, the Service provides leadership in workforce planning.
With oversight from the Assistant High Commissioner for Protection, the Division of International Protection (DIP) leads the progressive development of international law and protection policy relating to forced displacement and statelessness. It provides guidance on the legal and operational complexities of displacement, migration, refugees, asylum and resettlement. It also helps to plan global policy and allocate resources that best address the protection needs of communities on the ground, with particular focus on children and those at risk of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV). To this end, DIP works with Regional Bureaux, Field Offices, other HQ bodies and partner Organizations, including governments, judiciaries and inter- and non-governmental institutions.
The Division’s work is coordinated by the Office of the Director, who reports through the Assistant High Commissioner for Protection to the High Commissioner.
Within the Policy and Law Service, the Protection Policy and Legal Advice (PPLA) Section develops and works to influence the implementation of international law and standards in the area of forced displacement through guidance on protection issues and policies, including within the context of the work of the Executive Committee. PPLA also comments and advises on national legislation related to protection, and facilitates the preparation of court interventions by UNHCR around the world, as well as overseeing the implementation of UNHCR’s data protection policy regarding persons of concern.
The Asylum and Migration Unit addresses challenges arising from the links between refugee protection and international migration. The Unit advocates for the development of laws, policies, practices and strategies which comply with applicable international and regional human rights, refugee and statelessness law standards, and ensures that refugees, asylum-seekers and other persons with specific protection requirements are identified and their needs properly addressed. Amongst key themes addressed are: protection-sensitive entry management, including in relation to interception and rescue at sea as well as at land and air borders, and combating human trafficking and smuggling in human beings.
The Human Rights Liaison Unit contributes to the development of international human rights law and standards and to the strengthening of the existing normative framework for refugee protection. The Unit promotes the effective use of international human rights law and standards and acts as the main liaising body between UNHCR and various UN human rights mechanisms. The Unit also cooperates with a broad array of other human rights actors such as the Council of Europe (CoE), EU Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA), the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), UNICEF, the UN Development Group’s Human Rights Working Group, and with existing regional human rights systems in Europe, the Americas, Africa and Asia.
The Refugee Status Determination (RSD) Section determines refugee status of persons of concern in States that do not examine asylum claims or where national asylum systems are not yet fully functioning; oversees implementation of RSD standards and procedures; and provides guidance and operational support. In particular, the Section is responsible for: (i) researching and drafting UNHCR eligibility guidance and non-return advisories; (ii) knowledge management in the areas of country-of-origin information (COI), law and policy; (iii) cooperating and collaborating with States, international/regional and non-governmental Organizations in the area of COI; (iv) the commissioning of COI research; and (v) assisting UNHCR staff, States and others stakeholders by providing capacity building and training programmes.
The Protection and National Security Section leads efforts to ensure that measures to address terrorism, as well as serious crimes that threaten national or international security and public order, comply with international legal obligations towards persons of concern to UNHCR. The Section advises and supports other parts of DIP, Regional Bureaux and entities in the Field on questions concerning exclusion, security and related issues, including in the context of individual case processing, court interventions and national legislation, and works to develop UNHCR’s policy responses to security-related challenges in the area of protection.
The Statelessness Section develops guidance to help Field Offices and Headquarters implement UNHCR’s mandate to prevent and reduce statelessness and protect stateless persons. The Section develops training programmes on the theme of protection of stateless persons; leads UNHCR’s #IBelong Campaign to End Statelessness by 2024; and designs programmes and guidance for stakeholders in their planning and implementation of activities related to statelessness.
From the onset of emergencies, the Protection Operational Support Service helps to strengthen preparedness and response to the most critical protection risks in refugee situations, including through guidance for Field operations, emergency deployments, and mobilizing of partners and other actors.
The Child Protection Unit provides assistance, advice and support to Regional Bureaux and Field operations by implementing UNHCR’s policies and strategies to protect forcibly displaced and stateless children and youth. The Unit develops guidance and practical tools relating to the protection of children and youth and works at the global level, both bilaterally and in inter-agency fora, to enhance and expand operational partnerships.
The Gender Equality Unit promotes gender equality at all levels of UNHCR ´s activities through appropriate policy and guidance, technical assistance, advice and hands-on support. The Gender Equality Unit seeks to implement the Age, Gender and Diversity (AGD) policies, advocating for and supporting programmes of inclusion and targeted actions to address discrimination and protection gaps affecting specific groups of persons of concern.
The Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) Unit supports UNHCR Field operations in establishing SGBV prevention and response mechanisms. The Unit helps Regional Bureaux to implement UNHCR’s SGBV strategy including through policy, guidance, technical assistance and expert deployments. It also builds capacity among UNHCR staff and partners on SGBV issues, and participates in inter-agency networks and partnerships.
The Emergency Protection Support Unit provides real-time guidance to the Field and Headquarters in and during the various phases of an emergency. This includes providing practical support for implementing the Refugee Coordination Model; developing effective protection and solutions strategies; ensuring that AGD provisions are assessed and put in place at the community level; and helping mobilize appropriate technical and staffing resources to support protection in emergencies.
The Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) Section provides policy guidance and operational support to Field operations in IDP situations. The Section represents UNHCR in the Global Protection Cluster and collaborates with the Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of IDPs to offer guidance and technical advice
The Global Protection Cluster Unit supports the coordination of a broad range of entities specializing in protection issues and reaches out to political, military and development bodies to ensure that protection is a key component of all humanitarian responses to crises arising from conflict or natural disaster. Through multiple partnerships, the GPC Unit helps build response capacity at the Field level; promotes country and global protection advocacy; supports resource mobilization; and carries out support missions to assist Humanitarian Coordinators and Humanitarian Country Teams to analyze situations requiring protection, response and strategic solutions.
The Protection Management Service (PMS) supports country operations with designing and implementing long-term and multi-partner protection and solutions strategies from the onset of forced displacement onwards, and enables broader engagement with partners on national action plans for achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). PMS further develops policy, guidance and solutions in rule-of-law settings, and identifies and promotes best practice and mechanisms of integration and inclusion in areas such as housing, land and property, access to justice and legal instruments.
The Comprehensive Solutions Unit (CSU) supports country operations with legal policy and operational guidance within the areas of voluntary repatriation and cessation of operations. It seeks to define additional pathways to protection and solutions while identifying and promoting best practice as well as mechanisms of integration and inclusion within the areas of rule of law and governance, such as housing, land and property, access to justice and legal documentation. The Unit is involved in multi-sector support to operations, while designing and implementing long-term and multi-partner protection and solutions strategies from the onset of forced displacement onwards. It also engages with partners on national action plans for achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).
The Community-based Protection Unit (CBPU) supports country operations in managing community-oriented programmes that cover priority needs for people of concern, such as cash-based interventions (CBI) for certain groups; provides technical support in the form of training tools; and assists in building and strengthening national and regional partnership networks.
The Education Unit, based in Copenhagen GSC, supports country operations with technical advice, operational tools and strategic direction to enable access for people of concern to pre-primary, primary, secondary, tertiary and informal education. This includes monitoring of education statistics; building capacity through training; managing deployments; disseminating guidelines; and strengthening partnerships with national actors with the goal of achieving sustained inclusion of children and young people of concern in national education services. The Unit also manages the German Government-funded DAFI Scholarships programme for tertiary education.
The Protection Management Unit (PMU) works to ensure that sustained and substantive protection considerations are included in all parts of UNHCR’s organizational and operational framework. PMU is tasked to assist country and Field operations to better monitor and evaluate their programmes for durable protection solutions, including through protection learning interventions.
Work on Accountability Unit provides a framework, guidance and operational support for achieving UNHCR´s accountability commitments towards people of concern. The team provides technical support for country operations to initiate or improve accountability systems, and makes available resources including standardized guidance, tools and policy documentation
The Resettlement Service works with operations and States to ensure effective and targeted delivery of the global resettlement programme against States’ resettlement quotas. This includes providing: States and Field entities with guidance regarding targeting and processing of resettlement cases; technical advice, especially to emerging resettlement countries, on the development of procedures and the use of electronic submission tools; data tracking and analysis to assess whether resettlement delivery meets globally agreed quotas; training; technical missions to help reduce the risk of fraud in Field operations; coordination of the Resettlement Deployment Scheme; and presence in relevant inter-agency fora and support to the Annual Tripartite Consultations on Resettlement and other resettlement-related groups and meetings.
Reporting to the Deputy High Commissioner, the Division of Information Systems and Telecommunications (DIST) is responsible for ensuring that UNHCR takes advantage of cost effective information and communications solutions that enable the Organization to fulfil its mandate.
The Chief Information Officer (CIO) and Director of DIST is responsible for technology strategy and planning, performance and results; policy formulation; investment planning and oversight; compliance and audit coordination; supplier relationship management; and resource management.
The Resource Management Unit provides administrative, financial, human resources and supply support functions for DIST. A major part of the Unit is based in Amman with responsibility for supporting operational emergencies.
The Vendor Management Unit maintains a direct relationship with external vendors which provide services to the Organization and oversees the contractual aspects of vendor management.
The ICT Portfolio Management Office maintains the portfolio of all ICT projects and programmes and ensures that the UNHCR standard project methodology is followed and that project reviews are completed throughout the development lifecycle.
The ICT Policy, Risk and Compliance Office is responsible for developing and maintaining the catalogue of ICT Policies and Guidelines, conducts regular risk analysis and compliance reviews on the existing ICT systems.
The ICT Business Relationship Management Service focuses specifically on building strategic partnerships with Divisions and Regional Bureaux in order to enhance the use of ICT to support and improve operations in the Field and at Headquarters, and is responsible for the day-to-day running of UNHCR’s portfolio of refugee-related software systems.
The ICT Project Services Section is responsible for the execution of projects according to the Project Management Life Cycle. It develops, maintains and tracks project plans and schedules, cost estimates, risk and problem logs, and ensures that each project remains on schedule and within budget.
The Service Development and Support Section, located in Budapest GSC, is directly responsible for the delivery of new applications, enhancements to existing applications, and business as usual or ongoing support.
The Business Relationship Management Team provides focal points for all Divisions and Regional Bureaux, as well as specific leads for critical application areas in order to support operations.
The Digital Service Section interacts with DIST’s business partners in the delivery of collaborative systems (e.g. Intranet, Sharepoint, social media etc.), digital services and online innovation.
The Customer Support Service has overall responsibility for the provision of quality services to the UNHCR user community. Within the service, the Global Service Desk is responsible for registering and ensuring the resolution of all ICT incidents and service requests across the Organization. Service Desk analysts are located in Kuala Lumpur, Amman, Budapest and Panama to ensure a round-the-clock approach for all UNHCR staff.
The ICT Field Operations Section is responsible for providing global on-site ICT support services and also ensures that DIST has in place the structure, processes, resources and capacity for emergency preparedness and response. This section takes the lead in ensuring that the emergency operation has adequate ICT resources (equipment and staff) and deploys short-term ICT staff resources.
The ICT Cross-Functional Unit, located in Budapest GSC, is responsible for a series of functions that straddle the three DIST services. These include change management, asset management, and configuration management. It ensures that ICT projects are integrated into the business processes and services; errors are reduced and risks minimized from transition to production systems; and that services can be used as required.
The ICT Operations Service, located in Amman, Jordan, has overall responsibility to deliver and maintain the common ICT Infrastructure which is the foundation of all DIST services. Within the service, the ICT Security Section is responsible for developing policies and standards in relation to ICT security in both applications and infrastructure and ensuring compliance.
The ICT Network and Telecoms Section is responsible for the overall delivery of Local and Wide Area Network services and UNHCR’s long-term network and telecommunications strategy to increase efficiency of the network and extend its reach to the final point of delivery in deep-Field locations.
The ICT Platform Section is responsible for the overall delivery of UNHCR’s Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) and for the medium and long-term Platform strategy to ensure efficient delivery of platform and applications, with emphasis on those located in deep-Field locations.
The End-User Devices Unit is responsible for the overall delivery of UNHCR’s End-User Devices configuration and support infrastructure, including computers and mobile devices, in Headquarters and the Field, to ensure efficient delivery of corporate applications and end-user services.
Reporting to the Assistant High Commissioner for Operations, the Division of Programme Support and Management (DPSM) leads efforts to strengthen programme quality, capacity and results-based management (RBM); provides analysis to inform management decision-making on resource allocation; sets global strategies, policies and standards; develops practical guidance and tools; and promotes new operational approaches across a wide range of technical areas that are essential for the protection of people of concern to UNHCR.
With staff based in Geneva, the Copenhagen GSC, and Regional Service Centres in Nairobi and Bangkok, DPSM directly supports Field operations through deployments and global technical specialist networks.
The Office of the Director oversees and provides strategic guidance to the Division, including the development and implementation of policies and strategies of institutional importance, such as the 2014 Policy on Alternatives to Camps, which incorporates the 2009 Policy on Refugee Protection and Assistance in Urban Areas.
The Programme and Analysis Support Section (PASS) coordinates programme management and provides strategic direction and guidance on all aspects of an operation’s management. The Section also builds global programme management capacity and provides direct support to offices in the Field. PASS is responsible for the programme management tools Global Focus Insight and Focus Client, as well as for the Global Strategic Priorities, and forms part of the Secretariat for the Annual and Mid-Year Programme Reviews.
The Field Information Coordination Support Section (FICSS), based at the Copenhagen GSC with some liaison positions in Geneva, supports the operational data management systems necessary for the planning, management and delivery of UNHCR’s programmes. FICSS ensures UNHCR's co-leadership of the Global Camp Coordination and Camp Management (CCCM) Cluster and hosts the inter-agency Joint IDP Profiling Service (JIPS). The Section sets policies and standards, develops tools and approaches and provides capacity building and direct Field support in the areas of information management, population and operational data, geographical information systems and mapping, statistics, needs assessments and surveys.
The Identity Management and Registration Section (IMRS), based in the Copenhagen GSC, works to strengthen policy and guidance on identity and case management, including by upgrading related tools and operational approaches. The Section provides technical support and builds capacity in Field operations for registration, identity management and case management. It also works with the dedicated DPSM-DIST Project Team to support development and the global deployment of proGres in Partnership and the Biometric Identity Management System (BIMS).
The Public Health Section (PHS), based in Geneva, is responsible for policy and standard setting; technical support and guidance; and monitoring and evaluation in the areas of Public Health and HIV, Reproductive Health, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), and Nutrition and Food Security. The Section works to continuously strengthen its technical networks and plays an important role in emergency response.
The Shelter and Settlement Section (SSS), based in Geneva, provides technical support to enhance UNHCR` s capacity to respond to the shelter needs of refugees and others of concern. SSS supports the development of global and country-level shelter strategies, site plans and tools; conducts research and development on innovative shelter solutions; and establishes technical specifications for shelter materials and related core relief items. The Section also assures UNHCR’s co-leadership of the Global Emergency Shelter Cluster.
The Operational Solutions and Transition Support Section (OSTS), based in Geneva, works to develop strategies and policies, and to provide support to Field operations on durable solutions, livelihoods and self-reliance, environment, climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction. OSTS works closely with development actors with a view to achieving synergies, building refugee self-reliance and finding solutions to protracted refugee situations.
The Cash-Based Interventions Section (CBIS), located in Geneva, provides overall coordination, guidance and technical support for institutionalizing cash-based interventions and ensuring their expanded and systematic use in UNHCR’s Field operations. This work includes adapting policies and procedures, developing guidelines, and improving tools and systems to strengthen UNHCR’s technical capacity to implement CBIs.