The UNHCR and World Politics: A Perilous Path

The UNHCR and World Politics: A Perilous Path

by Gil Loescher
Pub. Date:
Oxford University Press
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The UNHCR and World Politics: A Perilous Path

Over fifty years ago governments established the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to protect the world's refugees. The UNHCR was created to be a human rights and advocacy organization. But governments also created the agency to promote regional and international stability and to serve the interests of states. Consequently, the UNHCR has always trod a perilous path between its mandate to protect refugees and asylum seekers and the demands placed upon it by states to be a relevant actor in world politics.

This is the first independent history of the UNHCR. Gil Loescher, one of the world's leading experts on refugee affairs, draws upon decades of personal experience and research to examine the origins and evolution of the UNHCR as well as to identify many of the major challenges facing the organization in the years ahead. A key focus is to examine the extent to which the evolution of the UNHCR has been framed by the crucial events of international politics during the past half century and how, in turn, the actions of the eight past High Commissioners have helped shape the course of world history.

Each chapter tells the story of an individual High Commissioner and examines the unique contributions made to the development of the Office. The history of the last fifty years shows how the UNHCR has initiated and capitalized on international political developments to progressively expand its scope and authority as an important actor in world politics.

The book argues that the UNHCR has overstretched itself in recent decades and has strayed from its central human rights protection role. The protection of refugees remains a litmus test of the international community's commitment to defend human rights and to uphold liberal democratic values. Loescher offers a series of bold policy recommendations aimed at making the agency a more effective and accountable advocate for the millions of refugees in the world today.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780198297161
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publication date: 10/18/2001
Pages: 448
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.20(d)

Table of Contents

List of Abbreviationsxiii
1.The UNHCR at 50: State Pressures and Institutional Autonomy1
2.International Recognition of Refugees21
3.The Cold War Origins of the UNHCR under Gerrit Jan van Heuven Goedhart50
4.The Emerging Independence of the UNHCR under Auguste Lindt81
5.'The Good Offices' and Expansion into Africa under Felix Schnyder105
6.The Global Expansion of the UNHCR under Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan140
7.The New Cold War and the UNHCR under Poul Hartling201
8.The UNHCR's 'New Look', Financial Crisis, and Collapse of Morale under Jean-Pierre Hocke and Thorvald Stoltenberg247
9.The Post-Cold War Era and the UNHCR under Sadako Ogata272
10.Towards the Future: the UNHCR in the Twenty-First Century348

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