Strengthening Protection Capacity

The GNA is part of UNHCR's shift towards basing its budget planning process on needs rather than on the projected levels of support the agency expects to receive from donors. Key features of the SPCP will be mainstreamed, such as engaging governments, international and national partners, and persons of concern in collaborative efforts to enhance protection capacities and improve the protection of refugees, internally displaced people and stateless people.

In the future the SPCP will become an integral part of UNHCR assessment and planning processes and existing SPCP projects will be included in the GNA.

The SPCP facilitates national responses to protection problems through a process of protection assessment, dialogue and joint planning. This includes:

  • A comprehensive analysis of gaps in protection and the consequences of needs that remain unmet.
  • National consultations with governments, international and national partners, and persons of concern to discuss the gaps identified and to recommend measures to remedy them.
  • Collaborative development of a multi-year plan of action with specific projects to improve legal and administrative capacity, enhance security, ensure basic needs are met and access to essential services assured, expand livelihoods and facilitate solutions for the coming years.

The SPCP publication "Protection Gaps: Framework for Assessing Gaps in Protection Capacity" is the primary tool used to undertake an analysis of gaps in refugee protection. A similar inter-agency tool called "Protection of Conflict-induced IDPs: Assessment for Action" is available to assess the protection situation of internally displaced people. A framework on protection of stateless people is currently being developed.

SPCP initiatives benefit from coordinated technical support from the Department of International Protection Services (in areas of legislative reform, administrative capacity building and improving refugee status determination procedures); the Department of Operational Services (enhancing registration, documentation, addressing basic needs and ensuring essential services, and enhancing livelihoods) and the Department of External Relations (advocacy and resource mobilization). They also benefit from international partnerships, such as those with the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Danish Refugee Council in the development of self-reliance strategies.

Strengthening Protection Capacity Countries


The Strengthening Protection Capacity Project (SPCP) has been active in Armenia since 2007, with a focus on bringing migration and asylum systems fully into compliance with international standards, building up the capacity of the government and civil society to protect refugees in the country, and accelerating durable solutions for refugees and naturalized refugees.


In response to forced displacement in the region, the SPCP has been working with the government and civil society in Azerbaijan since 2007 to strengthen state and community capacities to protect refugees, asylum seekers and internally displaced people (IDPs). To this end, an analysis of gaps in IDP and refugee protection has been conducted and development and implementation of projects to address them are primary priorities.

Benin and Burkina Faso

The SPCP project in Benin and Burkina Faso began in February 2005 with the aim of strengthening Refugee Status Determination (RSD) capacity, essential services such as education and expanding possibilities for self-reliance.


The Strengthening Protection Capacity Project (SPCP) was introduced in Ecuador in the spring of 2008 to strengthen state and community capacities for protection refugees and other populations of concern. Therefore, the first stage of the project in Ecuador is, accordingly, to apply the SPCP process to identify protection gaps and develop targeted projects to address them.

Ecuador is at the forefront in Latin America in the implementation of this methodology, which is being developed in the framework of the 2004 Mexico Declaration and Plan of Action and a progressive State Policy on Asylum that is a landmark in refugee protection for the whole region. The SPCP initiative will also work in the context of Plan Ecuador, a comprehensive development programme launched by the government of Ecuador to address peace and development in the northern border region.


In 2008, UNHCR introduced the Strengthening Protection Capacity project in Egypt. It is part of the overall protection strategy for Egypt aimed at stregnthening state and community capacites to protect refugees and improved migration management.


In July 2007 UNHCR introduced the Strengthening Protection Capacity Project in Georgia to help strengthen protection responses to forced displacement in the region. In Georgia, the project focuses on strengthening state and civil society capacities to protect refugees, asylum seekers, internally displaced people (IDPs) and stateless persons. In particular, SPCP projects are aimed at improving protection capacity for groups with specific needs, such as women and children, and to expand opportunities for self-reliance in displaced communities.


SPCP Kenya has been building Refugee Status Determination (RSD) capacity and helping to create a safe and healthy environment for refugees since October 2004. It is also working with the government to promote the issuance of individual identity documentation and conducts training to strengthen respect for protection principles.


The SPCP has been active in Tanzania since 2004. It has helped the government enhance the legal and administrative framework, promoted positive attitudes towards refugees and is pursuing durable solutions for refugees, including sustainable livelihoods.


SPCP was launched in July 2006 in Thailand and has since been coordinating a comprehensive response to outstanding refugee needs, including strengthened sexual and gender based violence (SGBV) prevention and response, child protection, health and psychological services, documentation, education and livelihoods.


Yemen SPCP was launched in Yemen at the end of 2007. The project is part of an overall UNHCR protection strategy for Yemen aimed at comprehensively strengthening the capacity to protect refugees and manage mixed migration. Initial SPCP initiatives aim to address key gaps faced by refugees, such as strengthening reception conditions and registration, improving living conditions, boosting self-reliance, and enhancing sexual and gender based violence (SGBV) prevention and response.


The SPCP in Zambia started in 2007. The project is working with the government and partners to profile refugees, improve legal aid, strengthen sexual- and gender-based (SGBV) violence prevention and develop a legal framework relating to refugees.

UNHCR acknowledges the generous support of the European Union for this project. The contents of this update do not reflect the views of the European Union.

SPCP General Update

Refugee ProtectionConvention and Protocol

Framework for Identifying Gaps in Protection Capacity

Refugee ProtectionConvention and Protocol