UNHCR signs Memorandum of Understanding with European Council on Refugees and Exiles

Briefing Notes, 28 September 2007

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Jennifer Pagonis to whom quoted text may be attributed at the press briefing, on 28 September 2007, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

On the eve of the Annual Consultations with NGOs in Geneva last Tuesday, UNHCR signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE), a network of 76 refugee-assisting organisations in 31 European countries.

The agreement, signed by the UNHCR Director for Europe, Pirkko Kourula, and the ECRE Secretary General, Bjarte Vandvik, establishes an important strategic partnership in support of efforts to ensure fair and humane policies for the treatment of refugees and asylum seekers in Europe. This partnership is intended to enhance and develop existing cooperation between the two organisations in relation to their advocacy, monitoring and capacity-building initiatives, as well as efforts to promote Europe's wider role in global responsibility-sharing for the protection of refugees.

One of UNHCR's most significant aims in Europe is to promote, support and encourage civil society to play a greater role in the development and implementation of protection principles across the continent. In this respect, ECRE is a trusted partner serving as an independent monitor of protection systems.

The collaboration will become increasingly significant as UNHCR continues to consolidate its presence in Europe, by emphasising the importance of ensuring strong links with prominent and vocal partners across the continent.