United Nations


© United Nations Photo

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees​



The UNHCR is responsible for ensuring international protection for refu gees and works to provide solutions to the problems they face. It carries out its work in accordance with its statute and is guided by the 1951 UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol. International refugee law constitutes the basic regulatory framework of the UNHCR's activities.

The Executive Committee of the High Commissioner's Programme and the United Nations General Assembly have authorised the UNHCR to intervene on behalf of other groups in addition to refugees. These groups include stateless persons, persons whose nationality is disputed, and in some cases persons displaced inside their own country.

The UNHCR works closely with governments, with regional and international organisations, and with NGOs. The participation of refugees in the decisions that affect their lives is an essential principle of UNHCR work.


Since the institution was set up, Switzerland has provided three of its high commissioners. Switzerland has been represented on the Executive Committee since its inception in 1958. The Executive Committee supports the High Commissioner in their functions, approves the programmes they submit and audits the finances and administration of the UNHCR. In its collaboration with the UNHCR, Switzerland pursues five priority objectives:
◾Promoting respect for the Refugee Convention and its additional protocols
◾Increasing the capacity of host countries in terms of asylum and protection
◾Responding to the needs of women, children and vulnerable persons
◾Ensuring services of protection for people, systematically taking aspects of age, gender and diversity into account
◾Promoting respect for international norms surrounding the protection of internally displaced persons
◾Responding to emergency situations quickly and efficiently

In addition to its basic financial contributions, the SDC also makes targeted contributions, which enable it to finance UNHCR programmes that tie in with Switzerland's humanitarian priorities. In this way, the UNHCR's activities in the area of protection for civilians in armed conflicts receive considerable support from the SDC.

Please find more information about the Swiss cooperation with UNHCR our factsheet or contact Katharina Schnöring.