UNHCR publishes policy and guidance to assist States and other stakeholders in the implementation and application of international law relating to refugees, asylum-seekers, stateless persons, internally displaced persons and returnees.
Pakistan. UNHCR’s education initiatives in Balochistan July 2022

Female Afghan students of primary grade at Girls Primary School in Pakistan.

Legal Instruments Collection
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UNHCR tripartite agreements are the basis and framework for voluntary repatriation and contribute to reintegration. Whenever possible, reintegration considerations should be incorporated into peace agreements, as well as in bi or tripartite agreements on repatriation. 

Furthermore, other agreements are also available, such as host-state agreements, cooperation agreements and memoranda of understanding with various stakeholders.

See all UNHCR Agreements

Comments on Legislation

The international obligations of States relating to displaced and stateless persons need to be transposed into regional and/or national laws in order to ensure their effective implementation. 

UNHCR reviews and comments on (draft) national and international/regional legal instruments in order to assist States and inter-governmental organizations in ensuring that the legislation is in accordance with international law and standards relating to displaced and stateless persons.

See all UNHCR comments on national legislation or comments on international/regional legal instruments

Model Laws

These include draft instruments in order to assist States in acceding to the relevant Conventions as well as adopting, reforming and modernizing their laws and legislation and conclude agreements in accordance with international law relating to displaced and stateless persons

See all UNHCR model laws

Legislative History / Travaux Preparatoires

Containing the report of the Colloquium on Legal Aspects of Refugee Problems (Bellagio 21-28 April 1965) and the subsequent measures as proposed by UNHCR to the UNGA on extending the personal scope of the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees which led to the adoption of the 1967 Protocol.

See the preparatory works published by UNHCR

Legislation Compilations

This document type includes compilations of legislation (e.g. legislative updates Ukraine), selected legislative materials relating to a particular theme (e.g. Rescue at sea, detention), as well as thematic compilations of General Assembly and ECOSOC resolutions on various topics  as compiled by UNHCR. 

See all UNHCR legislation compilations

Case Law Collection
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Court Interventions / Amicus Curiae

Interventions before courts are an important tool through which protection standards can be developed and a consistent application of refugee law fostered. Interventions before courts may take different forms, depending on the national or supranational context, including formal amicus curiae briefs, advisory opinions or letters to the court or parties involved, as well as public statements.

Refworld is the repository of all interventions made by UNHCR in judicial proceedings before national, regional and international courts or tribunals. Where available, they are linked to the court decision in the case(s) once issued.

See all UNHCR Court Interventions / Amicus Curiae

Case Law Compilations

Compilations produced by UNHCR of case law from a specific court or tribunal or on a specific theme or topic. 

See all UNHCR case law compilations

Policy & Guidance Collection
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Strategic Policy & Guidance

Documents relating to UNHCR's strategies, organizational policies, plans of action, programmes, and initiatives, including review and progress reports on the implementation of such protection strategies and policies.

See all UNHCR strategy documents relating to protection.

Legal Policy & Guidance

This document type contains UNHCR's legal policy and guidance documents, ie those documents issued by UNHCR that have a normative/doctrinal character, providing interpretative guidance. 

In particular, it contains:

  • the Handbook on Procedures and Criteria for Determining Refugee Status 
  • the Handbook on Protection of Stateless Persons (replacing guidelines nos 1-3)
  • Guidelines on International Protection (nos 1 - 13)
  • Guidelines on Statelessness (nos 4-5)
  • Procedural Standards

See all UNHCR legal policy & guidance

Operational Policy & Guidance

Policy and guidance on the operationalization and implementation of protection in the field. While many of these documents are addressed to UNHCR staff and implementing partners, States, NGOs, and anyone else working on the implementation of protection will certainly find useful information here. 

See all UNHCR operational protection guidance

Country/Situation Specific Policy & Guidance

One of the ways that UNHCR exercises its supervisory responsibility of assisting States in their interpretation and application of international refugee law is by producing country-specific guidance. This work is informed by UNHCR’s wide field presence and extensive experience in refugee protection, including the adjudication of refugee status. It seeks to advance a consistent application of the refugee criteria across operations and jurisdictions.

UNHCR country guidance is widely used in both refugee status determination (RSD) procedures under UNHCR's mandate and in State asylum procedures. It typically contains a combination of objective country of origin information—covering the security and human rights situation in the country of origin, as well as the socio-economic and humanitarian conditions—and conclusions, or guidance, derived from the application of the international refugee law framework to those facts.

See all UNHCR's country guidance

Policy Recommendations

Recommendations and comments on policy at the regional (in particular relating to the EU Presidency) and international level.

See all UNHCR's policy recommendations

UPR Submissions

UNHCR regularly issues public submissions on States under review. These submissions contribute to the compilation of UN information. Once a State’s review (or “Working Group” session) has taken place, a final report of the Working Group is adopted which sets out all of the recommendations a State has received. States may then “note” these recommendations, or “support” them and commit to their implementation.

See all UNHCR's submissions


Statements and speeches delivered by the High Commissioner, Assistant-High Commissioner for Protection, the Director of the Division of International Protection and others which may contain elements of protection policy considerations.

See Speeches and Statements delivered by UNHCR Officials

Notes on International Protection

The Notes on International Protection provide information on the protection activities of UNHCR and on developments and trends in the field of international protection of refugees. 

They provide guidance on UNHCR’s position on international protection issues, and are submitted annually by the High Commissioner (via the Standing Committee) to the Executive Committee and constitutes an official General Assembly document. The Note highlights major protection challenges and the way in which they are addressed.

See all Notes on International Protection submitted by UNHCR

Policy & Guidance Compilations

This document type contains thematic compilations of Executive Committee Conclusions as selected by UNHCR.

Research & Reports Collection
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Annual & Sessional reports

Reports issued on an annual or sessional basis, including the report of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees submitted to the UN General Assembly. 

See all annual/sessional reports


Conference Reports

Documents relating to high-level dialogues, ministerial meetings, international and regional conferences, expert meetings and round tables, workshops and other meetings from for example working groups. Conference Reports often contain the recommendations/conclusions of the proceedings.

See all conference reports

Country reports

Reports relating to countries, including country-of-origin information compilations issued by UNHCR, protection analyses and mission reports.

See all country reports

NB. The English Refworld site no longer contains a country-of-origin information collection, with the exception of COI produced by UNHCR. Users are referred to www.ecoi.net for country-of-origin information, which is a database maintained by UNHCR’s longstanding partner ACCORD, part of the Austrian Red Cross.  

Regional reports

Reports relating to a specific region.

See all regional reports

Thematic reports

Reports on a topical issue, without a specific regional or national scope (e.g. climate change, COVID-19).

See all thematic reports


Research is drafted by individual authors or commissioned by UNHCR. UNHCR facilitates publication on Refworld but is not responsible nor does it necessarily endorse the content of these papers.

See all research papers

And further
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General information such as brochures, fact sheets, and FAQs relating to displaced and stateless persons.

See all UNHCR tools

Training manuals

Training and self-study models relating to international protection of displaced and stateless persons.

See all training manuals

News & Updates

News and updates relating to the #IBelong Campaign