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Country Information and Guidance

An asylum seeker spends time at a community center that provides humanitarian aid at the United States-Mexico border.

Overview of UNHCR Country-Specific Guidance

UNHCR oversees the implementation of the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees. One of the ways that UNHCR exercises its supervisory responsibility of assisting States in their interpretation and application of international refugee law is by producing country-specific guidance. This work is informed by UNHCR’s wide field presence and extensive experience in refugee protection, including the adjudication of refugee status, and advances a consistent application of the refugee criteria across operations and jurisdictions.

UNHCR country guidance is widely used in both UNHCR mandate refugee status determination (RSD) and State asylum procedures. It typically contains a combination of objective country of origin information—covering economic, social, security, human rights, and humanitarian conditions in the country—and conclusions, or guidance, drawn from those facts. UNHCR understands that asylum seekers in the United States might need to submit documentation of general conditions, the state of human rights, and significant events in their countries of origin to advance their claims, and its materials address these topics and can help evaluate, for instance, whether they suffered past persecution or have a well-founded fear of persecution.

UNHCR produces three main types of country guidance and position papers:

  • Eligibility Guidelines and International Protection Considerations offer guidance on the eligibility for international protection of specific at-risk groups or profiles of individuals.
  • Positions on Returns contain country-specific policy guidance regarding the reasonableness and feasibility of return based on conditions there.
  • Guidance Notes contain country-specific policy guidance on issues other than eligibility or return, such as temporary protection for individuals from a certain country of origin or a suspension of decision making on their claims.

Guidance generally is considered to remain valid as long as the factual situation in the particular country has not changed significantly, and therefore the validity of each guidance paper should be regarded on its own terms.

The country publications listed below are available on Refworld, UNHCR's online database. Refworld is searchable by keyword and/or country and features reports from a variety of sources, including UN agencies, governments, and non-governmental organizations.

UNHCR Eligibility Guidelines & International Protection Considerations

UNHCR Positions on Return

UNHCR Guidance Notes

Other Select UNHCR Reports 

UNHCR Materials on Ivorian Refugees and Cessation Clauses

Additional Country of Origin Information Resources

Asylum seekers might provide additional information on their countries of origin to support their protection claims. UNHCR is aware of the following reports and databases that may contain relevant and useful information:

General Country Reports

Further Resources