Governance and organization
How the UNHCR is run and structured
The UN refugee agency is governed by the UN General Assembly and the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). The 85-member UNHCR Executive Committee approves the agency's biennial programmes and budget, which are presented by the High Commissioner, who is appointed by the UN General Assembly. The current UNHCR High Commissioner is António Guterres.
The UN refugee agency's mandate was defined by the 1950 UNHCR Statute. In 2003, the General Assembly extended this mandate "until the refugee problem is solved." The High Commissioner reports annually to the ECOSOC and General Assembly on the UNHCR’s work.
As head of the organization, the High Commissioner is responsible for the direction and control of agency. The High Commissioner directs the UNHCR’s activities with the help of a Deputy High Commissioner, and Assistant High Commissioners for Protection and Operations.
The agency has a national and international staff of than 7,685 staff members working in 125 countries.
Most UNHCR operations are in the field. The worldwide operation has become highly complex, ranging from the recruitment and security of staff to the procurement of everything from medical supplies and bulk food shipments to aircraft charters. Specific departments, mostly based in the Geneva headquarters, oversee key areas, such as operations, protection, external relations, human resources and finances. A number of regional bureaux form a link between overseas offices and headquarters.
In the field, UNHCR's work is conducted from regional offices, branch offices, sub-offices and field offices. The High Commissioner's representatives lead operations in each country where the agency is active, although there are also regional representatives.