The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) was established by the General Assembly in 1950. UNHCR was initially created for a provisional period of three years, its being provided in the Statute that the arrangements for the Office were to be revisited at the eighth regular session of the General Assembly ‘with a view to determining whether the Office should be continued beyond 31 December 1953’. Between 1953 and 2003, the mandate of the UNHCR was extended periodically, for a period of five years at a time, making it more difficult for it to engage in long-term planning of its work. Only in 2004 did the General Assembly remove the temporal limitation attached to the UNHCR, authorizing the continuation of the Office ‘until the refugee problem is solved’. This chapter discusses the UNHCR’s position within the UN system, its structure, location, mandate, and role.
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