UNHCR mourns passing of distinguished ex-staff member, Leonardo Franco

Guatemalan refugees in Chiapas, Mexico in 1984. Mass displacement from Central America in the 1980s formed the impetus for the Cartagena Declaration that Leonardo Franco helped develop.

Guatemalan refugees in Chiapas, Mexico in 1984. Mass displacement from Central America in the 1980s formed the impetus for the Cartagena Declaration that Leonardo Franco helped develop.  © UNHCR/Lars Aström

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is deeply saddened by the death of Leonardo Franco, a former staff member who had a distinguished career with UNHCR, the UN Mission for the Verification of Human Rights in Guatemala and at the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. He was also Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights Situation in Sudan.

A world-renowned jurist, academic and authority on refugee protection, Franco was the author of many books and articles on international protection and refugee law. He played a key role in the development of regional mechanisms and legal instruments for the protection of refugees in Latin America, notably the 1984 Cartagena Declaration on Refugees and the 1989 International Conference on Central American Refugees (CIREFCA).

“Leonardo had a brilliant intellect, which he dedicated wholeheartedly to the protection of those suffering persecution,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi. “He was also deeply committed to the defense of human rights everywhere. His legacy within and outside UNHCR is truly remarkable.”

A national of Argentina, Leonardo Franco held several senior posts in UNHCR, including Director of the Division of International Protection and Director for the Americas and the Caribbean. 

Grandi, and UNHCR colleagues around the world, offer their sincere condolences to Mr. Franco’s family.

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