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Rights, Legitimate Expectations, Needs and Responsibilities: UNHCR and the New World Order

Gilbert, G (1998) 'Rights, Legitimate Expectations, Needs and Responsibilities: UNHCR and the New World Order.' International Journal of Refugee Law, 10 (3). 347 - 388. ISSN 0953-8186

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This paper starts from the premise that despite the enlarged role that UNHCR has taken on, particularly since 1989, it is still governed by its original 1950 mandate to provide international protection to refugees, as defined. This extended work has led it to deal with non-refugees, even those who are not even internally displaced, and to carrying out tasks beyond those originally envisaged. Furthermore, its legal personality in international law has increased with its functions, and it is pointless to suggest that UNHCR should return to its original role. Thus, the aim of the paper is to examine what rights UNHCR already possesses which are pertinent to its new-found tasks and what rights it needs vis-à-vis various actors. In some cases, it is difficult to conceive of the need in terms of a right, and in those cases the object was to highlight a legitimate expectation. If UNHCR has this expanded role, however, the question arises as to its responsibilities in international law. Responsibility has two facets: responsibility for what and to whom. Both aspects are examined, acknowledging that as things stand UNHCR is not sufficiently accountable. The additional difficulty, though, is that in many situations there is multi-agency activity, making it hard to attribute responsibility to any one actor. The conclusion is that these rights and responsibilities need to be codified in some international convention which it is open to UNHCR, and other IGOs possibly, to join. While mere paper rights are of no direct, practical consequence, the fact that UNHCR workers can at least assert them in their dealings with State officials when they are being denied and that a modern clarification of the mandate will be established, has to be of benefit.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: K Law > K Law (General)
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities > Law, School of
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 16 Nov 2017 14:32
Last Modified: 16 Nov 2017 15:16

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