What We Do

Global Strategy - Beyond Detention 2014-2019

The detention of asylum-seekers and refugees has become commonplace in a number of countries and has serious lasting effects on individuals and families. UNHCR is concerned about the growing use of immigration detention, particularly of children. The UN refugee agency addresses these practices through its "Global Strategy - Beyond Detention 2014-2019," which aims to support governments to make the detention of asylum-seekers an exceptional rather than routine practice.

Under the Global Strategy, UNHCR will work with governments, international and national non-governmental organizations and other relevant stakeholders to address some of the main challenges and concerns around governmental detention policies and practices.

The three main goals of the strategy are to:

  • end the detention of children;
  • ensure that alternatives to detention are available in law and implemented in practice;
  • ensure that conditions of detention where detention is necessary and unavoidable meet international standards by, inter alia, securing access to places of immigration detention for UNHCR and/or its partners and carrying out regular monitoring.

The Global Strategy will be implemented at country and regional level, through the development of specific national plans of action. These will include a set of specific actions and initiatives that would need to be developed in order to achieve the overall global goals, including advocacy, awareness-raising and campaigning, cooperation and capacity-building, strengthening partnerships, information sharing, data collection and reporting, research and monitoring.

UNHCR has identified a number of countries to work with initially to revisit detention practices and to strengthen alternatives to detention, including Hungary, Indonesia, Lithuania, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, Thailand, UK and Zambia. UNHCR plans to expand this group of countries over the coming five years.

National Actions Plans




Beyond Detention. A Global Strategy to support governments to end the detention of asylum-seekers and refugees.

UNHCR's Global Strategy - Beyond Detention 2014-2019 aims to make the detention of asylum-seekers an exceptional rather than routine practice

UNHCR - IDC video on alternatives to detention for childrenPlay video

UNHCR - IDC video on alternatives to detention for children

The story of a young boy and girl forced to flee their homes, and how detention can be avoided in order to complete their migration status.

Detention (Special Feature)

Available on Refworld (external link)