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UNHCR reform and relocation proposals

Briefing notes

UNHCR reform and relocation proposals

24 April 2007

Several of you have asked about recent reports regarding UNHCR proposals to relocate a number of its services outside Geneva. There have been some inaccuracies reported, so to clarify, here's what we're looking at.

UNHCR is considering relocating several of the administrative and support functions it currently carries out at its Geneva headquarters to a new centre outside Switzerland. Services concerned are in the areas of human resources, and financial and supply management. The number of positions under consideration for relocation is 155 out of the current headquarters total of close to 900. This relocation is being considered as part of a broader process of structural and management change in UNHCR. The aim is to ensure that services are located where they are most efficient and cost-effective. For a number of reasons, UNHCR's headquarters' costs have been increasing in recent years and it wishes to reverse that trend. UNHCR considers that it has a moral obligation to keep its administrative costs to a minimum and to devote as many of its resources as possible to its programmes of protection and assistance for refugees and other people of its concern.

No final decision has been taken on whether to relocate the services under review or on what the final location would be. PricewaterhouseCoopers has just completed a feasibility study which includes a shortlist of potential locations. Two of these are in Asia (Chennai and Kuala Lumpur) and two in Europe (Bucharest and Budapest).

A decision is not expected to be taken until May 2007, following further consultations with staff, Member States of UNHCR's Executive Committee, and Governments of the potential host countries.

If a positive decision is taken in May, the relocation would begin towards the end of 2007 and would be phased over a number of months.