United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR UPSC Notes)| IAS Target IAS Target

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is a United Nations programme with the mandate:

  • To protect refugees,
  • Forcibly displaced communities and stateless people,
  • help in their voluntary repatriation, local integration or resettlement to a third country.

UNHCR was Created 1950.
UNHCR is a member of the United Nations Development Group.
The UNHCR has won two Nobel Peace Prizes In 1954 and again in 1981
Prince of Asturias Awards for International Cooperation in 1991.
Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development in 2015.
Mother Teresa Award for Social Justice by the Harmony Foundation, Mumbai.
Headquarters Geneva, Switzerland
Report The Global report
Parent organization
  • United Nations General Assembly
  • United Nations Economic and Social Council


Following the termination of the League of Nations and the formation of the United Nations, the international community was acutely aware of the refugee crisis following the end of World War II. In 1947, the International Refugee Organization (IRO) was founded by the United Nations. The IRO was the first international agency to deal widely with all aspects of refugees' lives. The UN realized that a body was needed to oversee global refugee issues after World War II. So, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has been set-up as a subsidiary organ of the General Assembly in December 1949.


  • To provide, on a non-political and humanitarian basis, international protection to refugees and to seek permanent solutions for them.
  • UNHCR's mandate has gradually been expanded to include:
    Protecting and providing humanitarian support to whom it describes as other persons "of concern," including internally displaced persons (IDPs) who would fit the legal definition of a refugee under the 1951 United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and 1967 Protocol, the 1969 Organization for African Unity Convention, or some other pacts.


  • It tries 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, assimilate locally or to resettle in a third country
  • To co-ordinate international action to shield refugees and resolve refugee problems worldwide.
  • Its primary purpose is to protect the rights and well-being of refugees.
  • UNHCR maintains a database of refugee information, ProGres, which was created during the Kosovo War in the 1990s. The database holds biometric data, including fingerprints and iris scans and is used to determine aid distribution for recipients. In current, UNHCR has major missions in Lebanon, South Sudan, Chad/Darfur, Democratic Republic of Congo, Iraq, Afghanistan as well as Kenya to help and provide services to IDPs and refugees in camps and in urban settings.