United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) was established in 1950 by the United Nations General Assembly. The Agency is mandated to lead and coordinate international action to protect refugees and resolve refugee problems worldwide.
The 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol are the key legal documents that form the basis of the work of the UNHCR. These two documents define the term ‘refugee’ and outline the rights of refugees, as well as the legal obligations of States to protect them.
The core principle is non- refoulement, which asserts that a refugee should not be returned to a country where they face serious threats to their life or freedom. This is now considered a rule of customary international law.
UNHCR serves as the ‘guardian’ of the 1951 Convention and its 1967 Protocol.
UNHCR in Armenia
The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) established its presence in the Republic of Armenia in December 1992 to support more than 500,000 Armenians who fled the massacres in Azerbaijan, 360,000 of whom received asylum in Armenia. In the initial period, UNHCR mainly carried out its activities to meet urgent humanitarian needs, as well as provide shelters to refugees.
Until 2005, according to the report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Armenia topped the list of countries with the highest number of refugees per 1,000 inhabitants (1,000/73). For comparison, Chad was second on the list (1,000/28).
Guided by Armenia's development trends, UNHCR has gradually transitioned from providing humanitarian aid to developing the capacity of the RA government to organize protection and support for refugees and provide long-lasting solutions to refugee problems.
Currently, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Armenia is implementing programs to assist the forcibly displaced people who took refuge in Armenia as a result of the aggressive war waged by Azerbaijan against the people of Nagorno-Karabakh in the fall of 2020, as well as for internally displaced persons as a result of military aggression of Azerbaijan against the sovereign territory of Armenia on September 13-14, 2022.