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The High Commissioner

Filippo Grandi is the 11th United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

He was first elected by the UN General Assembly on 1 January 2016 for a five-year term. The General Assembly has since twice re-elected him to serve, and he will now complete his term on 31 December 2025.

Challenges of forced displacement and statelessness have grown in scope, scale and complexity, and displacement numbers reached unprecedented levels. During Grandi's tenure, UNHCR has striven to better protect, empower and seek inclusion and solutions for displaced and stateless people, and to enable a better response to emergencies. This includes strengthened efforts, in the framework of the Global Compact on Refugees, to broaden partnerships, mainstream development engagement in our responses, and mitigate the effects of the climate change crisis on displacement.

UNHCR is navigating extraordinarily difficult waters. The combination of multiple conflicts and resulting mass displacement, fresh challenges to asylum, the funding gap between humanitarian needs and resources, and growing xenophobia is very dangerous.

– Filippo Grandi, 11th United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

Grandi was born in Milan in 1957 and has been engaged in refugee and humanitarian work for more than 30 years. From 2010 to 2014, he served as Commissioner-General of UNRWA, the UN Agency for Palestine refugees, having previously been its Deputy Commissioner-General since 2005. He also served as Deputy Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General in Afghanistan and has worked with NGOs and UNHCR in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and at our Geneva headquarters.

Grandi holds a degree in modern history from the State University in Milan, a BA in Philosophy from the Gregorian University in Rome and an honorary doctorate from the University of Coventry.


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Mandate of the High Commissioner

Read and download the Mandate of the High Commissioner for Refugees.

View the Mandate (pdf)


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UNHCR Strategic Directions

UNHCR’s Strategic Directions were launched by the High Commissioner in 2017 and renewed in 2022. They guide UNHCR's efforts to achieve a collective and sustainable impact for forcibly displaced and stateless people, and the States and communities that host them.

View UNHCR's strategic directions 2022-2026 (pdf)


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Previous High Commissioners

UNHCR has been led by 11 High Commissioners since it was established in 1950. Together with our staff and partners, they have spent over 70 years working to protect and advocate for people forced to flee.

Learn more about Previous High Commissioners