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The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

The rules, agreements and institutions, which have been established by the international community to regulate and solve refugee problems, are often referred to as The International Refugee Regime. The central organization in this regime is the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

UNHCR was established in 1950 by the United Nations General Assembly. Its primary purpose is to safeguard the rights and welfare of refugees and to find lasting solutions to their problems. The statutory bases for this work are the 1951 United Nations Refugee Convention and its Protocol.

The organization offers wide-ranging humanitarian assistance, in particular to countries with refugee populations. Activities consist of securing protection and assistance for the refugees.

At the same time, UNHCR is doing important work establishing norms and standards for international protection of the displaced and for the international asylum system, including technical assistance to national refugee and asylum legislation.

UNHCR is a central player in the process of humanitarian reform, which was started in 2005 with a view to strengthening the international community’s disaster preparedness and response to crises.

In addition to its mandate to provide refugees with protection and assistance, UNHCR has since 2005 strengthened its role to provide a more consistent and predictable responds to needs of internally displaced persons.

UNHCR has also engaged actively with other organizations, including the World Bank, UNDP, and the Peacebuilding Commission, to strengthen support and action by the international community in the transition phase from humanitarian relief and development, in order to ensure that longer term needs are covered.

In 2008 approximately 9.7 million persons in the world had refugee status. According to the latest statistics, there are globally approximately 26 million persons, who are internally displaced. Almost half of these, just under 12 million people, are in Africa.   
Denmark’s cooperation with UNHCR

UNHCR is an important partner for Denmark with respect to humanitarian policy and assistance to displaced.
Denmark works to actively ensure that the organization carries out its work at the highest level of efficiency and in constructive cooperation with other United Nations Organizations and NGOs. Denmark participates actively in UNHCR’s Governing Body (ExCom). This active engagement and continuous dialogue with UNHCR provides a broad base of information and influence both on the work of the organization as well as on international cooperation in view of solutions regarding displaced persons. 
In 2006, UNHCR, broadly backed by the donors including Denmark, initiated a programme of organizational reform with the aim of increasing its flexibility and effectiveness as a humanitarian organization, as well as strengthening its emergency preparedness and its response to crises in keeping with the humanitarian reforms.
Since 2007, Denmark, in cooperation with the United Kingdom and Canada, has had a joint organization strategy for UNHCR. This strategy focuses on the humanitarian areas of UNHCR’s work, which Denmark, the United Kingdom and Canada jointly prioritise.

More details at

High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres, Portugal (from 2005)  

Governing body :
Executive Committee of the High Commissioner’s Programme (ExCom)

72 members
 Denmark’s contribution in 2008 DKR 307 million (of which DKR 130 million is a non-earmarked general contribution)