Finding Space for Protection: An Inside Account of the Evolution of UNHCR’s Urban Refugee Policy

During the past two decades, the issue of urban refugees has occupied an increasingly important place on the global refugee policy agenda. This article traces the evolution of UNHCR’s approach to the issue, focusing particularly on the complex and contested nature of the organization’s policymaking process. In that respect, the article examines the key drivers of— and constraints to—policy formulation during the period under review, examining the ways in which those drivers and constraints changed and interacted over time. The article also analyzes the role that different stakeholders, both internal and external to UNHCR, have played in policy formulation. As a result of these dynamics, the article concludes, the formulation of UNHCR policy on urban refugees has been slow and even tortuous. The article is written from the perspective of a former UNHCR staff member who was extensively engaged in the organization’s policymaking and who was responsible for researching and drafting its 2009 policy on refugee protection and solutions in urban areas. The following account draws extensively from the author’s access to discussions, documents, and other information that have not been placed in the public domain. While striving for analytical and academic rigour, the article inevitably reflects the position, experiences, and personal views of the author. 

Source: Refuge Journals

This article is culled from daily press coverage from around the world. It is posted on the Urban Gateway by way of keeping all users informed about matters of interest. The opinion expressed in this article is that of the author and in no way reflects the opinion of UN-Habitat.

Jeff Crisp

Gateway Fields

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