The office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) was created in 1950, during the aftermath of the Second World War, to help millions of Europeans who had fled or lost their homes. We had three years to complete our work and then disband.
Today, over 70 years later, our organization is still hard at work, protecting and assisting refugees around the world.
With your support, we can continue.

In 1954, UNHCR won the Nobel Peace Prize for its ground-breaking work in Europe. But it was not long before we faced our next major emergency.
In 1956, during the Hungarian Revolution, 200,000 fled to neighbouring Austria. Recognizing the Hungarians as 'prima facie' refugees, UNHCR led efforts to resettle them. This uprising and its aftermath shaped the way humanitarian organizations would deal with refugee crises in the future.
During the 1960s, the decolonization of Africa produced the first of that continent’s numerous refugee crises. We also helped uprooted people in Asia and Latin America over the following two decades. In 1981, we received a second Nobel Peace Prize for what had become worldwide assistance to refugees.
The start of the 21st century has seen UNHCR help with major refugee crises in Africa, the Middle East and Asia. We have also been asked to use our expertise to help many internally displaced by conflict and expanded our role in helping stateless people. In some parts of the world, such as Africa and Latin America, the 1951 Refugee Convention has been strengthened by additional regional legal instruments. UNHCR now has more than 17,878 personnel working in 132 countries. Our budget, which in its first year was US$300,000, grew to US$8.6 billion in 2019.
In 2020, we marked our 70th anniversary. During our lifetime, we have helped well over 50 million refugees to successfully restart their lives.

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency 
70 years ago, UNHCR was given a mandate to protect those forced to flee with the signing of the 1951 Refugee Convention.
Today, as 82 million people are displaced, our work remains as important as ever.


A refugee, according to the Convention, is someone who is unable or unwilling to return to their country of origin owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion.

It provides that no one shall expel or return (“refouler”) a refugee against his or her will, in any manner whatsoever, to a territory where he or she fears threats to life or freedom.

The Convention also does not apply to those refugees who benefit from the protection or assistance of a United Nations agency other than UNHCR, such as refugees from Palestine who fall under the auspices of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). Nor does the Convention apply to those refugees who have a status equivalent to nationals in their country of asylum.


The 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol are the key legal documents that form the basis of our work. With 149 State parties to either or both, they define the term ‘refugee’ and outlines 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. According to the legislation, States are expected to cooperate with us in ensuring that the rights of refugees are respected and protected.


Please see the below named documents of the UNHCR in the UNHCR folder

  1. UNHCR.Convention (1951) . Discussions

  2. UNHCR.Convention (1951) and Protocol (1967) Relating to the Status of Refugees

  3. UNHCR.Convention (1951).names of states and dates of ratification

  4. UNHCR. Protocol (1967) names of states and dates of ratification

  5. UNHCR.Convention (1951) and Protocol (1967); an Analysis. 1990

  6. UNHCR.Convention (1951) and Protocol (1967) FAQ