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UNHCR Global Appeal 1999 - Headquarters


UNHCR Global Appeal 1999 - Headquarters

1 December 1998


UNHCR Headquarters, located in Geneva, Switzerland, provides all operational and administrative support to the agency's field activities. As of November 1998, nineteen per cent of UNHCR's total staff of 4,416 is based at Headquarters.

The Executive Office of the High Commissioner, based in the Geneva Headquarters, informs operational units of executive decisions and political developments while also keeping the High Commissioner apprised of developments in the field.

The Division of International Protection, also located at Headquarters, oversees the agency's worldwide protection activities. These include formulating international protection standards and norms, ensuring a consistency of approach to protection issues, providing training and support in the area of refugee law and advocacy, and organizing and facilitating resettlement.

UNHCR maintains an operational presence in 124 countries. The agency coordinates its field operations through six Headquarters-based and two field-based operations bureaux: Central, East and West Africa (CEWA); the Great Lakes region; Asia and the Pacific; Europe; the Americas; Central Asia, South-West Asia, North Africa and the Middle East (CASWANAME) - all Headquarters-based; and Southern Africa (Pretoria) and the former Yugoslavia (Sarajevo), both field-based, though both are also assisted by a liaison unit at Headquarters.

Headquarters is also the home of a number of support divisions that provide essential assistance to UNHCR's field operations. These advise and assist in the formulation of policies in a range of areas. They are also responsible for: activities related to emergency preparedness and response; donor relations and fund-raising; financial control; preparation of programme budgets; procurement; public information; evaluation and oversight; human resource management; training; staff security; programme management and technical support to operations; documentation and research; and liaison with NGOs.

Emergency Preparedness and Response

The Section (EPRS) responds directly to refugee emergencies when the local UNHCR presence requires additional resources. It also maintains and bolsters the preparedness and response capability of UNHCR by providing assistance, training, and expert logistical knowledge in dealing with crises, such as mass refugee movements in unstable areas.

Special emergency-response teams, consisting of UNHCR staff, is kept on standby for emergency deployment. Team members are drawn from various duty stations in the field and from sections at Headquarters. They participate in an intensive-training course, in which they are taught practical skills necessary during an emergency, such as personal security, telecommunications, protection, logistics and first aid. Special workshops are also organized to train UNHCR's operational staff in emergency management. Often, NGO representatives also participate. Additional staff, also on standby for emergencies, are provided through agreements between UNHCR and a number of NGOs and government agencies.

Through a new initiative that began in 1998, emergency management workshops are organized for managers at Headquarters. The aim is to strengthen Headquarters' capacity to provide support to field operations during emergencies. In 1999, EPRS will also promote the integration of contingency planning into mainstream country planning.

Donor Relations and Fund Raising

The Funding and Donor Relations Service is the main focal point within UNHCR for relations with the donor community. The Service is responsible for mobilizing resources from traditional donors as well as for broadening the donor base in an effort to achieve more equitable burden-sharing. The service produces the Global Appeal and other funding submissions and organizes donor briefings on major operational developments when required.

Financial Management

The Division of Financial Management Services under the direction of the Controller advises and assists the High Commissioner in formulating financial policies and ensures that the management of funds is consistent with relevant financial and budgetary policies, procedures and guidelines. Financial, accounting and budgetary support is provided to organizational units at Headquarters as well as to field operations. The service comprises three sections: finance, budget and treasury. The Controller also oversees the effective management of assets.


The Supply and Transport Section (STS) provides timely and cost-effective sourcing and delivery of goods and services to UNHCR's operations worldwide. While some procurement is decentralized to the field, other relief items are still procured from Headquarters, mainly under long-term frame agreements established between UNHCR and some 50 suppliers.

Public Information

Protecting and assisting refugees around the world requires broad public support. To mobilize this support, the Public Information Section at UNHCR Headquarters reaches out to civil society in a variety of ways: through relations with the media; by producing written and audio-visual information materials, including, with the Centre for Documentation and Research, UNHCR's site on the World Wide Web; by conducting public awareness activities and private-sector fund-raising; and, most recently, by offering mass-information activities that provide refugees and others of concern to UNHCR with the objective information they need to make informed decisions about their future. The Section also advises UNHCR units on the development and implementation of information activities aimed specifically at refugees and returnees and provides guidance to UNHCR public information and external relations officers in the field.

Evaluation, Inspection and Oversight

Inspections regularly review the management and overall impact of both field operations and units at Headquarters. During the past year, inspections have focused on major UNHCR operations, such as those in the Great Lakes region of Africa and in the former Yugoslavia. After a final inspection report is issued, the inspected office is asked to detail progress on its compliance with the inspection's recommendations. In 1999, field-level inspections are planned for 16 countries.

Evaluations examine operational aims and the extent to which they are being achieved. They also assess whether operations are having the desired impact and are being conducted in an efficient and cost-effective manner. New systems will help field managers better assess the effectiveness and impact of their work. The use of a decentralized system will facilitate the exchange of best practices and lessons learned as well as improve the quality of reporting and level of accountability and transparency. A review of the "Enhancement of the Evaluation Function in UNHCR" in late 1998 recommends that evaluations be given higher priority and visibility and that a culture be created in which managers regard evaluation as one of their core

The Director of the Inspection and Evaluation Service, the focal point for investigation in UNHCR, can initiate investigations into possible misuse of funds, resources, or facilities, or other illegal or improper conduct involving UNHCR staff, staff of implementing partners or contractors. An Investigation Coordinator post has been approved and will be filled in 1999.

The Oversight Committee, chaired by the Deputy High Commissioner, reviews issues related to oversight (including audits), and works to ensure effective follow-up to oversight reports.

External audits of UNHCR's accounts are conducted annually by the United Nations Board of Auditors, in accordance with the Financial Rules and Regulations of UNHCR and the United Nations. Internal audits are carried out by a UNHCR section of the Audit Management Consulting Division (AMCD) based at the United Nations in Geneva. It reports to the Office of Internal Oversight (OIOS) in New York.

Human Resources Management

The Division of Human Resources (DHRM) administers more than 4,000 staff members and advises and assists the High Commissioner in the development and formulation of adequate personnel policies and in their implementation. While an increasing number of responsibilities have been delegated to field operations, DHRM at Headquarters still oversees international recruitment, staff development, staff welfare, performance management and post classification.

UNHCR has been reviewing its structure, worldwide, since 1997. As a result, a number of international and general service posts were discontinued at Headquarters and in the field in 1997 and 1998. Further staff reductions can be expected during 1999.

The Career Management System (CMS), introduced in 1997, gained further momentum during 1998. This approach to human-resource management allows staff and their managers to make objective performance evaluations against clearly established objectives. In 1999, the system will be consolidated through additional training programmes.


Training programmes focus on protection and refugee law, emergency management, programme management, people-oriented planning, food aid and registration, nutrition, logistics, security awareness, the environment and resettlement.

As in 1998, UNHCR plans to dedicate two per cent of its staff costs to staff training in 1999.

Management development training is also important to UNHCR, especially as more responsibility is delegated to field operations. The contents of a training programme for representatives and heads of offices, developed in 1998, will be adapted for mid-level managers in 1999.

Staff Security

UNHCR and its implementing partners often work in hazardous and volatile conditions. Arbitrary killings, arrests, illegal detentions and kidnappings are of grave concern to the Office. The abduction of a UNHCR staff member, Vincent Cochetel, in North Ossetia in early 1998, has reinforced the priority given to staff security. The High Commissioner is catalyzing efforts to address the issue in collaboration with other United Nations organizations.

In 1998, the United Nations Administrative Committee on Coordination (ACC) gave UNSECOORD the responsibility to conduct United Nations-wide security training on a cost-sharing basis. The Designated Official of the United Nations and the United Nations Security Management Team is responsible for country security plans in times of crisis and in times of relative calm. The United Nations Field Security Officer is responsible for all physical measures related to crisis readiness and prevention at the duty station. This official also liaises with national military and law enforcement agencies and civilian authorities.

In addition to the United Nations system-wide efforts, UNHCR deploys a network of Field Staff Safety Advisors (FSSA) to high-risk field operations (such as the Great Lakes region, former Yugoslavia and Eastern Europe) to assist and advise UNHCR staff who are exposed to danger. All UNHCR FSSAs have participated in a training-of-trainers course to familiarize themselves with teaching the United Nations security-awareness package. In 1998, all representatives and senior officials were trained on how to manage security for staff outside capital cities. Half-day training courses on staff security are provided to all new staff members and expanded training is offered to members of the emergency response team.

Despite these measures, UNHCR staff members continue to face grave risks in many operations around the world. The recommendation by the ACC, that minimum operating standards be established, will therefore be urgently addressed in consultation with other front-line agencies, such as WFP and UNICEF. Achieving a balance between the need for responsiveness and the need to minimize the risks involved will require great understanding from all concerned.

Programme Management and Technical Support

To best meet the needs of refugees and other persons of concern to the Office, programmes must be developed according to solid needs assessments and criteria for refugee protection and assistance must be applied consistently. To this end, UNHCR provides regular training on programme matters to staff who conduct projects in the field. Special regional workshops covering topics such as needs assessment, project design, implementation, monitoring, evaluation and reporting are organized throughout the year. Twenty such workshops are planned for 1999.

During the needs assessment phase of project planning, field operations often benefit from the technical guidance of a team of Headquarters-based experts of the Programme and Technical Support section. These experts are specialized in fields as diverse as public health, water, physical planning, agriculture, community services, nutrition and education and spend much of their time in the field helping others evaluate needs so projects can be planned.

Documentation and Research

The Centre for Documentation and Research (CDR) consists of the Policy Research Unit and the Documentation and Information Management Unit. The Policy Unit is responsible for reflection on, and review of, UNHCR's policies on a number of issues directly related to the efficient execution of the Office's mandate. To this end, it provides the UNHCR Policy Committee with pertinent position papers and undertakes research on a range of policy issues. The Policy Unit is also responsible for the development of a cooperative framework with the research community, and the production of the biennial publication, "The State of the World's Refugees."

The Documentation and Information Management Unit within CDR maintains a public library and provides an authoritative collection of relevant refugee literature, country information, and legal resources. It also maintains and develops REFWORLD, a collection of full-text databases on CD-ROM that offers easy access to a wide range of legal, country, and other refugee-related information to UNHCR staff and to the public at large. In coordination with the Public Information Section, a selection of REFWORLD resources is incorporated into UNHCR's Internet web site ( The Unit also produces a number of specialized publications for use by UNHCR staff, inter-governmental agencies, NGOs, and other researchers interested in a broad range of refugee-related issues.

Liaison with NGOs

As UNHCR's activities have expanded and diversified over the years, its relations with NGOs have become increasingly important. NGOs frequently act as UNHCR operational partners in implementing specific projects and, more generally, as advocates for the refugee cause. The NGO Coordination Unit facilitates the agency's joint activities with numerous local and international NGOs.

The Operations Management System

The Operations Management System (OMS) will provide the means by which the organization ensures that all aspects of its operations are appropriate, consistent and effective. It will specify the sequence of relevant actions at different levels and locations, and establish responsibilities accordingly. OMS also involves the establishment of operational guidelines, standards and norms that aid the planning, implementation and review of UNHCR's activities.

The efforts of OMS are focused on formulating new planning mechanisms, designing a new budget structure, and establishing new processes, procedures, tools and accountability mechanisms that will help UNHCR work more effectively and efficiently. The OMS will consist of two integrated elements: a management framework for the implementation of UNHCR's policy and programmes, which will consist of manuals, guidelines, and help tools to identify processes and procedures; and a new suite of information technology systems and tools for the management of protection activities, programmes, finance, supply-chain activities and human resources. Together they will provide a comprehensive management system for carrying out the organization's mandate.

OMS will be implemented in the field during 1999. Improved formats and software tools for planning, project design, monitoring and reporting will be pilot-tested, an OMS homepage will be made available on the UNHCR Intranet and on CD-ROM for operational guidance, the UNHCR Manual will be updated and a policy library of best practices will be established. A number of elements of the OMS are dependent on new Information Technology Systems. These systems are being developed as part of an Integrated Systems Project; components of the new system will be implemented in phases over the next two to three years.


The total budget for Headquarters is US$ 87,015,649 of which US$ 36,069,900 is under the General Programmes and US$ 31,185,250 is under the Special Programmes. US$ 19,760,499 is contributed from the Regular Budget of the United Nations.

71 per cent of the budget is staff costs and 29 per cent operating costs such as travel, rent, communications, supplies and equipment.