- 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. Its primary purpose is to safeguard the rights and well-being of refugees.
- It strives to ensure that everyone can exercise the right to seek asylum and find safe refuge in another State, with the option to return home voluntarily, integrate locally or to resettle in a third country. It also has a mandate to help stateless people.
- The 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees (commonly known as the Refugee Convention) and its 1967 Protocol are the key legal documents that form the basis of UNHCR’s work.
- With 149 State parties to either or both, they 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.
- India has not been a signatory of the 1951 Refugee Convention or the 1967 Protocol.
Why in News?
- The U.N. refugee agency, UNHCR has started airlifting aid into Kabul for the first time since the Taliban overran the country.