In the last few years, a number of initiatives have been launched to clarify and strengthen implementation of UNHCR's mandate. This "Special Feature" brings together some of the key documents in Refworld that stem from these initiatives.
The High Commissioner's Dialogue is aimed at examining challenges and dilemmas linked to international protection. Its first meeting took place on the issue of "Refugee Protection, Durable Solutions and International Migration"; the second meeting on "Protracted Refugee Situations", and the third meeting on "Challenges for persons of concern to UNHCR in urban settings". The fourth Dialogue will be held on 8-9 December 2010, on the issue of "Protection Gaps and Responses".
Convention Plus was a UNHCR initiative, aimed at improving international protection worldwide and facilitating the resolution of refugee problems through multilateral special agreements. It did so through a process of discussion and negotiation with States and other UNHCR partners aimed at achieving firmer commitments to refugee protection and durable solutions, and promoting international burden- and responsibility-sharing. To consider progress on the Convention Plus initiative, the High Commissioner's Forum was established in 2003, and met biannually (until 2005). It consisted of UNHCR's stakeholders, including ExCom members, Standing Committee observers and NGOs.
The "UNHCR 2004 process" was launched in 2001 with a view to determine how UNHCR could be better positioned to meet new challenges, which have affected its capacity to carry out its mandate. To this end, the review focused on several areas, including the challenges of modernity; UNHCR's mandate; persons of concern to the Office; UNHCR's governance structure; UNHCR's position in the United Nations family; the asylum/migration nexus; and UNHCR's funding mechanism. The outcome was a report to the General Assembly containing proposals of the High Commissioner to strengthen the position of the Office and raise the profile of refugees on the agenda of the UN.
In the context of implementation of the Agenda for Protection (deriving from the Global Consultations process) and in order to take stock of developments in refugee law and to examine a number of emerging issues, UNHCR, often in cooperation with its partners, organized several expert meetings. To facilitate discussion, background papers were commissioned from experts. Participants in the roundtable discussions were selected amongst governments, NGOs, academia, the judiciary and legal practitioners.
The Global Consultations on International Protection were organized, starting in 2001, to mark the 50th anniversary of the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. The process was designed to improve the international protection of refugees, and ran in three "tracks": a Ministerial Meeting of signatories to the 1951 Convention which re-affirmed commitment to the Convention, a series of expert meetings on various refugee law issues relevant to the interpretation of the Convention, and several meetings in the framework of the Executive Committee which examined issues not covered by the Convention.