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The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

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 situations, 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 1951 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 1967-Protocol.
UNHCR works in 134 countries under the humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality, independence and impartiality, which are essential for preserving humanitarian space.

The organization offers wide-ranging humanitarian assistance, in particular to countries with refugee populations. Activities consist of providing protection and assistance for the refugees and securing durable solutions.
At the same time, UNHCR is doing important work establishing norms and standards for international protection of the forcibly displaced and for the international asylum system, including technical assistance to national refugee and asylum legislation.
In addition to its mandate to provide refugees with protection, assistance and secure durable solutions, UNHCR has since 2005 strengthened its role to provide a more consistent and predictable response to needs of internally displaced persons.
UNHCR has also engaged actively with other organizations, including the World Bank, and UNDP, to strengthen support and action by the international community in the transition phase from humanitarian relief to more long-term solutions oriented approaches with the involvement of development actors, in order to ensure that longer-term needs are covered.

At 2020 there were approximately 25.9 million refugees globally. 20.4 million of these refugees are under UNHCR’s mandate. According to the latest statistics, there are globally approximately 70.8 million forcibly displaced people worldwide. Approximately 41.3 million of these are internally displaced. About 57 per cent of refugees came from  just three countries: Syria, Afghanistan and South Sudan and about 80 percent of refugees live in countries neighbouring their countries of origin. More than half the world’s refugees are children.

On September 19 2016, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a set of commitments to enhance the protection of refugees and migrants. These commitments are known as the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants). It paved the way for the adoption of two new global compacts in 2018: the Global Compact on Refugees and the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration. For more information on both compacts:

The New York Declaration called upon UNHCR to develop and initiate the application of the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF) in particular situations, in close coordination with relevant states, other UN agencies and stakeholders. The CRRF specifies key elements for a comprehensive response to any large movement of refugees. The CRRF is an integral part of the Global Compact on Refugees. The Global Compact on Refugees was developed through several rounds of formal consultations which took place in 2018. The Global Compact on Refugees was affirmed by the UN General Assembly on 18 December 2018  The Global Refugee Forum held in Geneva on 17-18 December 2019 represented the first step in the implementation of the Global Compact on Refugees.

Denmark’s cooperation with UNHCR
UNHCR is an important and longstanding partner for Denmark with respect to humanitarian policy and assistance to forcibly displaced persons. Denmark is UNHCR’s sixth largest  government donor and UNHCR is Denmark’s largest humanitarian partner. Denmark supports sustainable and solutions-oriented responses to the situation of refugees, stateless persons, returnees and internally displaced people. Denmark is a strong supporter of multi-year planning and programming for solutions and for stronger linkages with development actors.
Denmark works actively to ensure that the organization carries out its work at the highest level of efficiency and accountability, and in constructive cooperation with other United Nations Organizations and NGOs. Denmark participates actively in UNHCR’s Governing Body (the Executive Committee), where Denmark has been a member since its establishment in 1958. 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 for forcibly displaced persons. UNHCR describes the collaboration with Denmark here


High Commissioner for Refugees   Filippo Grandi, Italy (from 2016)  

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

 106 members
Denmark’s contribution in 2020 DKK 510 million (of which 235 million DKK is un-earmarked)

Strategy for Denmark's cooperation with UNHCR 2017-2021

More details at