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UNHCR and the Protection Mandate

Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2011

One need not venture far into the world of refugee assistance to encounter a maxim whose air of axiomatic truth can be a conversation-stopper, and whose terms, like sacred postulates of the refugee-response system, are rarely unpacked: The Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has the refugee-protection mandate.

But several issues within that black box are worth illuminating. Namely, what does "refugee protection" mean? What is the nature of the "mandate"? And is it true that UNHCR is its unique possessor? While this might seem like a dry line of inquiry, like so much else these days, it will eventually lead to George Clooney. ...

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