The role and effectiveness of the UN’s ‘peacekeeping’ mission in former Yugoslavia has been widely scrutinised.[1] Less attention has been paid to the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) which, on 25 October 1991, received a letter from the UN Secretary-General, Javier Pérez de Cuéllar, requesting its assistance to displaced people in the disintegrating Yugoslav Federation. Although the letter was routine and did not formally designate the UNHCR as the ‘lead agency’ in the UN’s humanitarian response, the new Secretary-General, Boutros Boutros-Ghali subsequently referred to this status in his report on the situation in former Yugoslavia in May of 1992.[2] A team led by Larry Minear, reporting for the Thomas J. Watson Jr Institute at Brown University on humanitarian action in the former Yugoslavia has highlighted the UNHCR’s role, but without a specific UNHCR focus or analysis of the political ramifications of its extended mandate.[3] There has also been a paucity of academic literature on the concept of ‘lead agency’, though James Ingram, (former executive director of the World Food Programme), has given a valuable insider’s view of the agency rivalries which bedevil the UN’s institutional co-ordination.[4]

We aim to redress the lack of debate by explaining that the ‘lead agency’ concept came about not only as an answer to the problem of co-ordinating the UN’s humanitarian missions, but also became, in former Yugoslavia at least, a substitute for effective international political management of the crisis. We also question whether the UNHCR is an appropriate organization for co-ordination functions, given its primary function as an independent non-political actor representing the interests of refugees and displaced people. The Commission had been asked to cope with displaced persons, but as the conflict intensified and ethnic cleansing occurred in Bosnia-Herzegovina, the UNHCR’s remit began to incorporate those people threatened with displacement but who had not yet left their homes! Moreover, the lead agency concept has involved the UNHCR in a whole range of activities, including human rights, economic development for repatriation and the protection and security of people displaced and threatened with displacement – activities which have swollen the UNHCR’smandate and stretched its capacities. Finally, the article addresses the extent to which the UNHCR was susceptible to politicization by its role, particularly as a consequence of its close association with UNPROFOR and the militarization of humanitarian aid.

In highlighting the challenges to the UNHCR’s lead agency mandate, it is essential to stress at the outset that the following analysis is not a critique of the effectiveness of the UNHCR’s humanitarian assistance or of the selfless dedication of UNHCR personnel in former Yugoslavia. Protection and the provision of aid during a war has been a novel experience for the UNHCR, undertaken at great personal risk to field officers (12 of whom had died on duty up to mid-1995), and has won the admiration of journalists who have taken a cyncial view of UN operations in general.[5] UNHCR statistics indicate the millions of people assisted and supplies distributed.[6] It is impossible to assess accurately how many lives have been saved, or how many more would have been lost without the UNHCR’s presence. That more could have been done may be true, but it can also be argued that the failures of the UNHCR are partly attributable to factors beyond its control, including the unwillingness of member states to accept larger numbers of refugees or provide sufficient ground forces to prevent attacks on the so-called ‘safe areas’.

<h2The Lead Agency Concept as the Answer to Co-ordination

The evolution of lead agency status has been a function of the need for co-ordination of the various parts of the UN network engaged in humanitarian interventions. Essentially, the ad hoc evolution of the concept has been closely related to the problems encountered in field operations and to various pressures for structural reform within the UN. It has thus reflected the political and operational pressures arising from humanitarian interventions, rather than reflecting legal or normative standards. The UN’sresponses to complex and conflict-related humanitarian emergencies have been the subject of penetrating critiques, highlighting particularly the problems of co-ordination.[7] Most of the UN humanitarian agencies, such as UNICEF, the World Food Programme (WFP) and UNHCR, have emergency response units but the UN’s top-heavy co-ordination has not necessarily increased operational effectiveness in sudden emergencies. The lead agency designation has, in effect, been an attempt to answer the problem of co-ordinating humanitarian missions in the field, with UNICEF, for example, taking a de facto lead in the Sudan and Cambodia; the WFP in Angola; the UNHCR in Cyprus (where peacekeepers lacked humanitarian capabilities) and the Horn of Africa.

Until the Gulf Crisis in 1991, the main mechanisms for co-ordinating UN emergency assistance at thestrategic level were the Disaster Relief Organization (UNDRO), founded in 1971, and the Resident Representative in recipient states of the UN Development Programme (UNDP). UNDRO had survived the censure of a Joint Inspection Unit report in 1980, but its limited operational capacity was subsequently exposed in complex emergencies, notably in dealing with the exodus of peoples as a consequence of the Gulf War. UN planning for humanitarian action in the Gulf Crisis had given UNDRO a co-ordinating role in dealing with an anticipated exodus of several hundred thousand people fleeing Iraq and Kuwait. This involved, maintaining contact with Permanent Missions, agencies, the ICRC and NGOs; acting as a channel for consolidated appeals; and allocating tasks to agencies. At the same time, experienced senior UN staff members were to be deployed to each transit state in the region to act as the focal point for assistance, though under the overall authority of the Resident Representative. The UNDP Representatives were defined as humanitarian co-ordinators at country level, but the nature of their expertise as development programmers did not automatically equip them for emergency relief tasks, and much depended on the personality and energies of individuals.[8] An innovative feature of the planning for the Gulf Crisis was the assignment of specific fields of responsibility to particular UN agencies according to their expertise. Thus UNHCR was given responsibility for building and managing camps, and had joint responsibility with the World Food Programme for transport and other relief supplies.[9] However, the system came under severe strain because no one had foreseen the displacement of people to, and exodus from, Northern Iraq of mid-1989 to 1991. The UNHCR came underpressure from the United States to deal with the humanitarian needs of Kurds in a zone in Northern Iraq which was created and guaranteed by the Coalition’s military power.[10]

The Gulf Crisis increased pressure on the UN to review the co-ordination of relief.[11] In resolution 46/182 of 19 December 1991 the General Assembly called for: a new ‘high-level official (emergency relief coordinator)’ with direct access to the Secretary-General; ‘a secretariat based on a strengthened Office of the United Nations Disaster Relief Coordinator; and the consolidation of existing offices that deal with complex emergencies’. The official would also act as the chairperson of a new Inter-Agency Standing Committee which would include UN agencies, the Red Cross and relevant NGOs. In some quarters itwas anticipated that the new post would amount to a high-level co-ordinator or ‘trouble-shooter’ on the model of Prince Saddrudin Aga Khan who had been appointed by the Secretary-General to set up a relief system in Afghanistan, and who had negotiated a Memorandum of Understanding with Iraq for the disposition of UN humanitarian guards in the Kurdish safe haven.[12] However, the new emergency relief and humanitarian co-ordinator was not equipped with the power to ‘direct’ agencies and institutions which could continue to ‘hide behind the undeniable authority of their legislative bodies.[13]

In fact, the post became a new agency, a new bureaucracy, accorded secretariat status as the Department of Humanitarian Affairs (DHA), alongside the Department of Political Affairs and Department of Peacekeeping Operations.[14] The DHA has been instrumental in improving information management, but has lacked the authority to impose co-ordination on competing UN agencies.[15] The crisis in Yugoslavia deepened while the lessons of the Gulf emergency were being absorbed and before re-organization to implement resolution 46/182 was up and running. The UN Secretariat had to rely on existing capabilities. This partly explains why, in spite of the complexities of the political and military situation in former Yugoslavia, a specialized agency, whose primary concern is not the co-ordination of humanitarian intervention but the protection of refugees, was chosen to lead the humanitarian response.

The Resort to UNHCR?

Whilst it is unnecessary here to present a detailed account of the UN’s involvement in former Yugoslavia, it is important to understand the immediate context in which the UN Secretary-General designated UNHCR as the lead agency. The resort to reliance on the UNHCR as the situation unfolded then becomes clear.

First, constitutionally the UNHCR’s operations in Croatia fell both within its mandatory role in dealing with refugees and its case specific role in dealing with displaced persons. The UNHCR had been able to act with greater flexibility in Africa since 1969, when the Organisation of African Unity had expanded the definition of refugees to encompass those fleeing general warfare and disorder, as well as those escaping persecution.[16] Moreover, General Assembly resolutions could refer to specific groups of displaced persons which fell outside the restricted definition of refugee. The Commissioner, Prince Sadruddin, had also made use of the growing demand for the UNHCR’s services to expand the Commission’s work in two other respects: after the Algerian civil war, by working within the country of origin to reintegrate returning refugees; and after a civil war in the Sudan in February 1972, by taking responsibility for internally displaced persons who had not crossed international borders. The UNHCR was the focal point for relief in the Sudan, and again in arranging repatriation after the Indo-Pakistan War in 1971.[17] Although there is a Secretary-General’s Representative for Internally Displaced Persons, there is no special agency, and customarypractice has been for the UNHCR to protect displaced persons if their situation is linked and analagous to that of a potential or existing refugee problem, and provided the Secretary-General or competent principal organs of the UN make a request with the consent of the states concerned.[18]

Second, the humanitarian emergency in Yugoslavia was identified, in similar terms to the Gulf crisis, as a problem of dealing with refugees and displaced persons. However, the circumstances in Yugoslavia, where a war was still in progress, were quite differentto the strategic conditions in Northern Iraq. Population movements intensified after Croatia’s declaration of independence on 25 June 1991 and, by the autumn of 1991, half a million refugees required assistance. The Government of Yugoslavia formally asked the UNHCR for help in dealing with the problem, and an approach was made to the UN Secretary-General. Following discussions between Javier Pérez de Cuéllar and the High Commissioner for Refugees, the formal request for UNHCR assistance was made in the letter of 25 October.

The UNHCR seemed the most appropriate agency, given its unrivalled experience in assisting refugees since its formation in 1951. This is not to say that the agency has been free from criticism or that its reputation since 1951 has been entirely free from blemish. Research suggests that the Commission has periodically failed to represent the interests of refugees from Vietnam, Haiti and Cambodia and has been indirectly responsible for the negligent treatment of asylum seekers in southern Africa, El Salvador and Cambodia.[19] Nevertheless, it was the only humanitarian agency with anything like the bureaucratic infrastructure and field capacity to deal with a huge movement of people. The High Commissioner’s budget had expanded from $300,000 in the early 1950s to address the needs of one million refugees, to $1,127 billion by 1993 to assist an estimated 18 million refugees world wide.[20] It had also made its mark in co-ordinating relief for the Kurds from June 1991 to September 1992 (after which the problem was deemed to be an internal one and UNICEF took over).

Third, relative to other aid organisations, UNHCR had also made a head start in Yugoslavia. There was no resident UNDP representative in Belgrade but UNHCR was acting in support of the ICRC in the area and was already handling routine refugee issues from itslong-standing offices in Belgrade and in the surrounding states. In the summer of 1991, the UNHCR alsoappointed a Special Envoy José-Maria Mendiluce who established an office in Sarajevo before Bosnia-Herzego vina existed as a separate an entity. The Sarajevo office was perceived at the time as a way of emphasising the UNHCR’s impartiality and avoiding Croat suspicion of the Belgrade office. Indeed, UNHCR personnel from that office were unable to travel between Belgrade and Zagreb. Although there were still only 19 international staff members on duty in former Yugoslavia at the end of 1991, the number expanded so that by the end of 1993, the UNHCR’s potential been mobilised and it had at least 29 offices and almost 700 international and local staff operating within a budgetary request in excess of $295 million.[21]

Consent without Peace

Much of the humanitarian endeavour in former Yugoslavia, including the UNHCR’s, was predicated on both consent and the eventual acceptance of the parties to ceasefires and peace agreements, including the peace plan hammered out by Vance and David Owen, and subsequently amended by Owen and Thorvald Stoltenberg for a division of Bosnia and Hercegovina into statelets, loosely reflecting ethnic divisions. Consent, or at least passive tolerance of humanitarian action, has been relative and conditional but generally negotiable with the warring parties, often after time-consuming diplomacy at tactical and local levels. More serious was the absence of durable ceasefires and political progress towards a peace. As Nicholas Morris, Mendiluce’s replacement as UNHCR’s Special Envoy pointed out: ‘The failure of the international community to reverse the logic of war has meant the failure of humanitarian operations predicated on the logic of war being reversed.'[22]

The UNHCR carved out its role independently of the establishment of the UNPROFOR peacekeeping mission in 1992. As an internal matter for Yugoslavia, the Security Council did not become involved in the crisisuntil 9 November 1991 when the six Yugoslav republics requested a peacekeeping presence. Cyrus Vance, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, helped to negotiate a ceasefire and an agreement to establish UN troops in Protected Areas of Serb-occupied Croatia – the United Nations Protection Force in the Former Yugoslavia (UNPROFOR I). In essence the Security Council decision of 15 December 1991 to setup UNPROFOR to safeguard the UN Protected Areas (UNPAs), which were largely occupied by Serbian militias, rested on basic peacekeeping principles. Indeed the force was not finally authorized for deployment until 21 February 1992 when a ceasefire and other conditions had supposedly been met. The UN was mandated to stabilize, demilitarize and provide law and order in each UNPA, whilst assisting in the voluntary return of displaced persons and refugees. UNPROFOR was to ‘create the conditions of peace and security required for the negotiation of an overall settlement of the Yugoslav Crisis’.[23] By the end of March 1992, when UNPROFOR was in place, the UNHCR had already been undertaking its humanitarian role for six months and had established a presence in Bosnia. However, the UNHCR had been unable to secure the voluntary return of refugees and had to cope with non-Serbs forced out of the UNPAs.

Indeed, the trials of UNHCR in former Yugoslavia were to parallel those of UNPROFOR – with the added complication of having its aid operation militarized. UNHCR’s role as lead agency and continual expansion of UNPROFOR’s mandate brought the humanitarian and military arms together. On 29 June 1992 the Security Council expanded UNPROFOR’s mandate to open Sarajevo airport for UNHCR airlifts (Res. 764), and on 13 August Chapter VII was invoked, calling on states to take ‘all measures necessary’ to facilitate humanitarian aid deliveries (Res. 771). On 14 September 1992, the Security Council expanded UNPROFOR’s responsibilities to include ‘protective support to UNHCR-organized convoys’ (Res. 776). UN directives expanded its role to include, organising patrols to protect homes; immigration and customs functions at UNPA borders; and interviewing individuals who had been forced to flee their homes.[24] In April and May 1993, the UN Security Council expanded UNPROFOR’s role further byadding Sarajevo, Srebrenica, Tuzla, Zepa, Gorazde and Bihac to the list of ‘safe areas’. UNPROFOR’s mandate was also strengthened with additional observers to monitor humanitarian assistance in those areas.

However, the UNHCR’s independence was compromised and its lack of experience or mechanisms for dealing with conflict and ethnic cleansing threatened to overwhelm it. As Mendiluce remarked with reference to the standard field officers manual: ‘we are going to have to throw away the Blue Book.'[25] Efforts to provide humanitarian assistance were increasingly hampered by actions of the protagonists in the conflict – by militia-controlled roadblocks and attacks on aid operations. For example, both the UNHCR and ICRC had to pull out of Sarajevo temporarily after an ICRC member was killed on 18 May 1992. Also, in early September 1992, an Italian transport plane bringing humanitarian supplies to Sarajevo was shot down and a UN convoy to the city was attacked by Bosnian Govvernment troops killing four Italians and two French soldiers.

Above all, the number of internally displaced people andpotential refugees threatened to overwhelm the UNHCR’s capacity. Between March and July 1992, atrocities in prison camps and a Serbian campaign of ethnic cleansing expanded the number of refugees seeking to escape the conflict. By the summer of 1992, the UNHCR reported the existence of 1.3 million Bosnian refugees. By the autumn, estimates of 20,000 rapes of Bosnian Muslims by Serbs were made public and the UN estimated that the number in need of urgent assistance in the region was in excess of 4 million people. It was ethnic cleansing in particular which confronted UNHCR with a fundamental challenge to its extended mandate. Instead of coping with refugees as a fall-out from conflict, the UNHCR had to deal with a situation where the creation of displaced people was a primary aim of the participants.

The UNHCR and Ethnic Cleansing

The UNHCR lacks a general mandate for dealing with internally displaced persons and its activities are generally limited to providing assistance to people who cross international boundaries and seek political asylum. True, in requesting the Commission to direct its efforts towards displaced people within the disintegrating Yugoslavia the Secretary-General had not broken new ground. The precedent had already been established in Africa and was to be continued in Azerbaijan, Tajikstan, Georgia and Sri Lanka. But Pérez de Cuéllar’s initial invitation to deal with displaced persons in Croatia was to plunge the organisation into an unfamiliar political environment. By the spring of 1992 the UNHCR was working for the first time in the midst of war, and it was no more prepared for the atrocities and ethnic cleansing than the rest of the international community.

The policy of ethnic cleansing, especially inBosnia-Herzegovina placed the Commission in a difficult position. Although historically the UNHCR’s modus operandi was assisting people who had been forced to flee intolerable circumstances, the UN’s universal condemnation of ethnic cleansing pointed to a policy of keeping people in their homes. But as the conflict intensified and ethnic cleansing crystallised in areas of Bosnia-Hercegovina, the UNHCR’s began to deal with civilians under threat but who had not yet fled.[26] The UNHCR then found itself in the ‘ironic and awkward position of trying to save lives by helping people become refugees.'[27] The UNHCR had to reconcile the dilemma of facilitating people’s departure from life threatening circumstances whilst not being accused of complicity in ethnic cleansing. Mrs Ogata encapsulated the problem thus:

In the context of a conflict which has as its very objective displacement of people, we find ourselves confronted with a major dilemma. To what extent do we persuade people to remain where they are, when that could well jeopardize their lives and liberties? On the other hand, if we help them to move, do we not become an accomplice to ‘ethnic cleansing?[28]

At the same time, governments could use their opposition to ethnic cleansing to limit resettlement programmes.[29] In July 1992, the UNHCR responded to the predicament with a significant departure from its traditional policy of assisting refugees and displaced persons by engaging in ‘preventive protection’. An internal working group recommended that whilst the right to asylum remains intact, ‘at least on a temporary basis and until a solution can be found’ the UNHCR should also strengthen protection in order to prevent refugee flows. By 1994 this had been amended to a strategy of temporary protection which included admission to safety, protection against refoulement and facilitating safe return when conditions permitted.[30]

Whilst in some contexts it may be regarded as laudable that attempts were being made to prevent refugee flows at source, such a policy does raise a number of questions. First, is such a policy practical in an environment where ethnic cleansing places lives at risk? Second, is the UNHCR an appropriate, independent organisation to judge and implement decisions on the relative safety of people whose lives are at risk in their own homes? To a large extent, confidence in the ability of the UNHCR to judge the safety of people whose lives are threatened depends upon the availability of UNHCR staff and resources to co-ordinate adequate protection. In the absence of sufficient personnel and resourcesto ensure protection, a policy of preventive protection is open to criticism. By 1995, the UNHCR had 738 staff members in former Yugoslavia,[31] but at the end of 1993, there were approximately 25 UNHCR officers with protection responsibilities. This hardly represented a presence sufficent to protect people in their homes so as to justify refusing to move people to safety. Without additional resources, the UNHCR’s policy of preventive protection left the Commission open to the charge of bowing to the preferences of donor governments rather than representing refugee interests. By first attempting to inhibit large scale refugee movements, and then to give protection on a temporary basis, UNHCR personnel were not accessories to ethnic cleansing and were adopting the lesser of two evils. However, the policy does appear to have meshed with the reluctance of many donor governments to participate in resettlement programmes for refugees. This takes our discussion from the specific operational problems in Yugoslavia to the more general predicaments which the lead agency task starkly revealed as a consequence of the Yugsolav experience.

The Wider Dilemmas

The UN Secretary-General’s decision to appoint the UNHCR to the lead agency role may have been logical but it compounded the Commission’s difficulties in adopting new and potentially controversial areas of responsibility.

Politicisation and Financial Pressures

First, it can be argued that in former Yugoslavia the dangers of politicisation have been amply demonstrated by the UNHCR’s roleas a substitute for international diplomacy and political resolve. As severalcommentators, as well as the Commissioner herself, have remarked: ‘The political problem should not be given the façade of being dealt with through humanitarian assistance’.[32] The UNHCR has been pushed into a vacuum where there is no overall UN strategy, and humanitariansm has become a substitute for a coherent international political response. This has been demonstrated in numerous ways – from, the pressure in the EU by the German Foreign Ministry for recognition of Croatia’s independence, to the disputes over management of NATO air-strikes.

Second, the request by the UN Secretary-General for the UNHCR to bear more responsibility and leadership within the conflict in former Yugoslavia must be viewed in the context of the pressure to prevent people crossing international boundaries. The UNHCR’s primary role is treaty-based and legal rather than political. It was founded to protect and assist the world’s refugees according to the international laws of asylum, statelessness and refugee status. It was designed to be an independent, non-political actor within the administrative and financial framework of the United Nations. Article 2 of the Statute of the UNHCR declares:

The work of the High Commissioner shall be of an entirely non-political character; it shall be humanitarian and social and shall relate, as a rule, to groups and categories of refugees.[33]

Several general factors have conspired to increase the fragility of this ideal, including changes in UNHCR policy.

The Commission has been criticised for reacting to the preferences of the donor governments of the industrialised world in the formation of policy towards Third World refugees.[34] Such preferences appear to include a desire to limit the numbers of refugees seeking asylum and a reluctance to implement comprehensive resettlement programmes as a durable solution for large scale refugee movements. Official UNHCR statistics indicate a rapid increase in the number of asylum applicants to industrialised countries, rising from less than 102,000 in 1983 to over 839,000 in 1993 – an increase of 824 per cent within one decade. A number of West European governments have tightened their asylum laws by introducing stringent determination procedures and visa restrictions (such as fines for airlines carrying refugees with inadequate travel documents).[35] Moreover, in1992, Germany, France and the Benelux countries signed the Schengen Agreement which contained provisions to prevent multiple asylum requests.[36]

It is perhaps not suprising that the UNHCR has been accused of developing contemporary refugee policy in line with the wishes of the developed world.. The UNHCR is well aware that the industrialised countries are becoming increasingly uneasy about the growing number of asylum seekers.[37] Ninety-nine per cent of funds needed by the UNHCR to finance its annual programmes comes from voluntary contributions made available from member states of the High Commissioner’s Executive Committee. As the number of refugee movements has increased, the gap between assessed needs and likely resources assumed crisis proportions. By October 1989, there was a shortfall of over $100 million between the funds that the donors actually provided and the budget they had approved a year earlier. Voluntary contributions from donor governments were increasingly based upon what was available rather than on an assessment of refugee needs, and the High Commissioner was frequently placed in the invidious position of attempting to solicit funds from donors for refugee programs which they may find politically sensitive.[38]

Within the context of this already problematic financial and political environment, the war in the former Yugoslavia created the largest European flow of refugees since the Second World War. By July 1993, barely 20 months after the Secretary-General’s request for the UNHCR to adopt the role of ‘lead agency’ in the region, the total number of people seeking sanctuary in Croatia, Serbia, Montenegro, Slovenia and Macedonia totalled over 1.2 million. In addition, at least 600,000 more had sought refuge outside the immediately affected region. The Commission has been pragmatic about the prospects of Western governments offering resettlement and political asylum:

Today, the opportunities for permanent integration in receiving countries are limited. It seems very unlikely that people who have fled en masse to a neighbouring country will in future be offered large-scale resettlement elsewhere.[39]

In recent years, Western governments have preferred to offer ‘temporary protection’ from violent conflict. This usually takes the form of ‘humanitarian status’ or ‘temporary protected status’ and falls short of full refugee status. These impermanent classifications allow asylum seekers to remaintemporarily at the discretion of the authorities until it is deemed safe for them to return home. The UNHCR has made two appeals to Western governments to provide such contingency places for Balkan refugees. Under the first programme from October 1992 to July 1995, 31,870 people were given temporary refuge. The United States (5,812), Denmark (5,954), Sweden (3,970) and Germany (3,117) were the most accommodating. The British Government agreed to participate in the programme in October 1992 but, by simultaneously imposing the need to obtain a visa on all those travelling from former Yugoslavia before they arrived in Britain, successful applications were limited to 1,723.[40] It should also be noted that, of the 11,000 people from the former Yugoslavia who have applied for asylum in the United Kingdom since the conflict began, 2,000 applications had been processed by July 1995 and only 25 people had been granted full refugee status.[41]

The first UN appeal requested $24.3 million to cover the needs of 500,000 for a seven month period. This represented the equivalent of $7 per person per month for all food, health, shelter, social services and administrative overheads. The UN decided not to challenge donor governments with the costs of a full service program but to keep their requests ‘realistic’.[42] Subsequent appealsfollowed a similar pattern with per capita requests reflecting a small increase but remaining relatively limited. For example, for the first 6 months of 1994, a request for $522.6 million represented a monthly allowance of $16 per person in Bosnia and Hercegovina. However, in this UN operation which attempted to combine military and humanitarian ambitions, the majority of the funds and resources went to the 25,000 personnel within UNPROFOR.[43]

Politicisation as a problem has also intensified in the 1990s as the UNHCR increasingly emphasises ‘country of origin solutions’ to eradicate the causes of refugee flight. This presumes that there is a ‘right to remain’ and a ‘right to protection’ and that addressing the causes of flight is not only of domestic concern but a concern also of other states.[44] In shifting to prevention and protection within borders, the UNHCR is inevitably more involved in intercession in the domestic political problems of states, and although present by consent, there is an implied trusteeship over groups of people which, in the case of Rwandan refugees for example, has expanded to the extent that UNHCR deployed military and police advisers to help control camps. The Commissioner, Mrs Sadako Ogata has attempted to draw a fine line on the issue of intervention. She has argued for examplethat the operational concept of protection includes the expectation that UNHCR officers in the field will not only observe human rights violations but report on them and seek remedial action from appropriate authorities. However, given that reporting violations is itself likely to be regarded as a political act in errant states, this risks contradicting her own statement that UNHCR should not investigate human rights abuses since its humanitarian role ‘should be broadly non-judgemental’.[45] In Cambodia the UNHCR set up a UN Field Office for Human Rights after the 1993 elections which quickly ran into resistance from the government which refused to send suspects for trial.[46] Whether or not the ‘right to protection’ policy is effective, the emphasis on comprehensive responses to crises, means that: ‘Humanitarian agencies are being drawn more deeply into intricate political processes’, which include close interaction with other external participants such as third party mediators.[47]

Co-ordination or control?

A further problem has been the lack of clarification about the concept of lead agency, as acknowledged in the UNHCR itself.[48] The UNHCR had a wide latitude to interpret the role to embrace whole range of activities, including protection and security, on behalf of people displaced and threatened with displacement throughout the region. There was no precise definition of the lead role concept and no clear guidelines outlining the responsibilities within this function. In fact the UNHCR interpreted its role as having:

prime responsibility for logistics/transport, food monitoring, domestic needs, shelter, community services, health, emergency transition activities in agriculture and income generation, protection/legal assistance, and assistance to other agencies in sectors under their responsibility.[49]

To a certain extent, such a wide range of responsibilities has been reduced because other UN agencies have taken on specialist roles. The WFP assumed responsibility for food aid and themobilization and delivery of food. A UNHCR seed distribution programme in 1993-94 was handed over to the Food and Agriculture Organization. The World Health Organization became responsible for the health sector including rehabilitation of health services and provision of medical equipment and supplies. UNICEF had responsibility for the survival and development needs of women and children. Even so, the UNHCR’s responsibilities under the rubric of ‘protection’ were extremely broad. For example, acting on a UNHCR proposal and operating under the UNHCR an International Management Group Infrastructure for Bosnia and Herzegovina (IMG-IBH) was formally established by donor governments in November 1994 to address the infrastructure needs of Bosnia-Herzegovina to bridge the gap between emergency relief and reconstruction inanticipation that refugees would return.[50] In short there is some substance to the criticism that although a holistic approach may be desirable, the UNHCR was spreading its capacities too thinly.

In addition, and as already argued, the lead agency concept was primarily about operational and field co-ordination. In theory, a co-ordinated approach would lead to a more efficient and cost-effective utilisation of humanitarian resources. In reality, a well orchestrated and common effort was slow to materialise. In the early years of UNHCR’s involvement, it interpreted its role as lead agency in terms of maintaining a direct operational control across a wide range of sectors, rather than delegating certain responsibilities to agencies with the established expertise. As the number of displaced persons and people at risk escalated to over 4 million in 1993, the ability of the UNHCR to maintain direct responsibility became more difficult logistically. Thus, the UNHCR might well have delegated early medical evacuations to actors such as the International Organisation for Migration. IOM’s primary activities in 1992 were limited to the transport of 1,000 refugees to Switzerland. In addition, WHO, UNICEF and the World Food Programme also assumed a relatively limited role throughout the initial phases of the conflict. Indeed, WHO did not begin to operate in Serbia until the summer of 1993. The new Department of Humanitarian Affairs (DHA) might have brought more effective co-ordination to the UN’s humanitarian activities, but the UNHCR had already established its managerial style in the region. The DHA found it difficult to assert itself post facto and was primarily concerned with raising funds for UN operations. Athough the Secretary-General’s Special Representative was the overall co-ordinator of UN activities in former Yugoslavia, in its capacity as lead agency the UNHCR was expected not only to act independently in refugee assistance andto operate jointly with others (such as a medical evacuation programme with the ICRC), but also to co-ordinate a variety of relationships with the other UN agencies, UNPROFOR, the European Commission’s Humanitarian Office (ECHO), NATO and the military and political representatives of the belligerents. This has involved, for example, UNHCR opening a liaison office in NATO headquarters Brussels.

But what precisely is meant by co-ordination in this context? As UNREO’s liaison officer, Anita Menghetti commented in regard to Rwanda: ‘The C-word throws everyone into a tizzy. There is the perception in the agency world that if you are being co-ordinated you are being controlled.'[51] Co-ordination has not been properly defined in the UN secretariat. It does not imply subjection by participants, but it inevitably involves an exercise of authority and leadership in order to create a level of integrated effort which avoids unecessary duplication. In the UNHCR, operational co-ordination has involved:

  • taking the lead in policy-making, planning and information sharing;
  • acting as the main point of contact for other UN agencies, UN military and political components, NGOs and parties to the conflict;
  • allocating tasks according to sectoral expertise and interests of beneficiaries;
  • co-ordinating funding efforts and consolidated appeals to donors.
  • In the field it involves:

  • providing guidance, policy advice and information;
  • co-ordinating field activities to avoid duplication of efforts;
  • providing administrative and logistic support to humanitarian actors;
  • acting as an interface between political and military components of UN operations and NGOs.[52]

In regard to the protection of internally displaced people, the humanitarian agencies involved have argued that existing co-operation needed ‘reinforcing and structuring without losing the benefits of a flexibility which would allow for allocation of responsibility in accordance with the specific characteristics ofany given situation.'[53] In fact, NGOs do work closely with UNHCR through a Partnership in Action Programme which led to the Oslo Declaration in June 1994. This declaration ‘recommends’ that NGOs ‘should recognise the co-ordinating responsibility of UNHCR as the lead agency in refugee emergencies, and the UNHCR should ensure that it has the capacity to undertake this co-ordination effectively.'[54] It remains to be seen whether the recommendation is acted upon or whether structured co-operation will be the preferred format. Integrating components into operational plans may not succeed, since many of the diverse bodies involved are likely to guard their freedom of action, often to maintain a distance from the perceived partiality in the field of UN agencies. The most that could be agreed in Oslo was: to flesh out co-operation; to establish consultation mechanisms; dialogue and information sharing; the establishment of repatriation committees in countries of origin; regular NGO involvement in policy formulation and joint advocacy of refugee rights. In any event, there is a risk, recognized in the UNHCR, that co-ordination could become a substitute for protection, rather than the former being the means to achieve the latter.[55]

Of course neither the problems of politicisation nor of establishing and defining an appropriate role would have been so crucial had the situation on the ground not become increasingly fraught during 1992 and 1993 as the fighting spread to Bosnia-Hercegovina and the protagonists sought to consolidate territorial gains.

Relations with the Military

Assessing the civil-military relationship in July 1994, Mrs Ogata highlighted the benefits of the military facilitation in delivering assistance, including the securing of Sarajevo airport and airdrops to inaccessible areas.[56] The UN’s military role in humanitarian protection has been well documented by the Minear team: escorting convoys, deterring pillage, facing down violence, removing physical obstacles and providing heavy lift, including airlift.[57] The structural challenge which this created has been summarised by the UNHCR as follows:

The coordination of humanitarian efforts with political and military actions in refugee producing conflicts is not without its difficulties….It blurs traditionally distinct roles and, if mis-managed, could compromise the strictly neutral character of humanitarian aid, which is the best guarantee of access to people in need.[58]

However, Mrs Ogata also noted that negotiation, not force, had been used to obtain humanitarian access: ‘Negotiations andconsent are critical for assuring “humanitarian space”‘. However, the use of airstrikes had increased the risk to the lives of humanitarian staff and by implication endangered the perceived impartiality and neutrality of humanitarian organizations associated with the operation: ‘In these circumstances, humanitarian organizations may need to distance themselves from the UN military operations.'[59]

The military operations of UNPROFOR did not always work in tandem with the humanitarian goals of the UNHCR. From the beginning of operations in Sarajevo, Mendiluce had resisted the militarisation of aid. As Mrs Ogata acknowledged, political and humanitarian objectives are not necessarily coincidental.[60] Indeed, there were a significant number of occasions when the humanitarian activities of the Commission were apparently compromised by being associated with the UN’s military actions. In Croatia, for example, UNPROFOR personnel were responsible for controlling and policing the UN Protected Areas (UNPAs). Their primary concern was to fulfil the agreement with the Croatian authorities and maintain order in the UNPAs and adjacent areas (the Pink Zones). In order to accomplish this, military personnel were anxious to restrict movement in and out of the Protected Areas. However, the UNHCR had limited direct representation in the UNPAs, and UNPROFOR personnel were frequently unfamiliar with international humanitarian law or interpreted their role in ways which did not automatically accord with human rights protection. As a result, it is apparent that movement restrictions were imposed upon asylum seekers or displaced people seeking repatriation to their homes. In October 1992, the Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights, Tadeusz Mazowiecki reported that there were 700,000 refugees in Croatia and:

UNPROFOR, which controls much of the border between Bosnia and Hercegovina and Croatia, is being forced to limit their entry into the…UNPAs. Many displaced Muslims have been turned away at the border and some of those persons who have already crossed it, including those of military age, are being sent back both by UNPROFOR and the Croatian authorities. It is extremely regrettable that UNPROFOR has been forced to violate the principle of non-refoulement.[61]

In April 1994, to prevent UNPROFOR and NATO intervening in the seige of Gorazde Bosnian Serb authorities arrested and detained UNHCR staff in Serb-controlled areas. Such incidents have led UNHCR planners to argue that: ‘Allowing humanitarian objectives to become linked to military or political events can cause paralysis in a mission, where extraneous issues are allowed to cloud the primary principle of humanity.'[62]


Finally, it is important to note that the UNHCR and other aid organisations sometimes have to cope with the problmes of having to operate in a sanctions environment. The UNHCR’s humanitarian role was hampered by the imposition of economic sanctions by the Security Council against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro). In May 1992, the Security Council demanded an end to the war and to ethnic cleansing and passed Resolution 757 forbidding trade with the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. These sanctions were also reaffirmed by Resolution 820 in April 1993. Foodstuffs, medical supplies and ‘other essential humanitarian supplies’ were to be exempted ona case by case basis and UNPROFOR, naval forces in the Adriatic and monitors on the Danube were charged with the responsibility of policing the sanctions. Whatever the political intention, an inevitable outcome was to delay aid programmes for refugees in these areas. Thus, every item in UN aid convoys for refugees in Serbia and Montenegro was in theory subject to scrutiny. This added to costs as well as response times. In the Spring of 1993, the UNHCR paid financial penalties of $30,000 per day in demurrage costs whilst a truck convoy carrying 4,000 tons of food to Sarajevo was scrutinised at the border between Austria and Hungary. The imposition of sanctions created similar problems for health workers. The UNHCR, WHO and the International Red Cross all complained of the detrimental, time consuming problems ofacquiring drug imports and medical equipment on the basis of a case by case review.[ref] In one instance, it was reported that before a scanner for detecting cancer in children could be sent to the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, separate applications had to be submitted to the Sanctions Committee for each component part.[63] Indeed, by late 1993, Judith Kumin, the UNHCR’s Chief of Mission in Belgrade felt sufficiently frustrated to comment that, ‘trying to implement a humanitarian program in a sanctions environment represents a fundamental contradiction.'[64]


The experiences of the UNHCR in the complex violence within former Yugoslavia have raised several questions of a conceptual and operational character which have not yet been addressed in the UN.

First, the concept of the lead agency and the nature of its mandate requires clarification. Irrespective of how well the lead agency performs, as James Ingram points out, two main problems arise. To begin with, the concept is in conflict with the main thrust of resolution 46/182 which created a co-ordinator who was to be independent of agency battles. The lead agency concept in the case of Yugoslavia is outside the Secretariat loop for inter-departmental policy co-ordination, as instigated by the DHA and accepted by the other departments and Inter-Agency Standing Committee.[65] Although the UNHCR participates in the IASC, constitutionally the Commissioner’s responsibility to report to directly to the General Assembly. In addition, the concept assumes the willingness of autonomous agencies with conflicting mandates to be subordinate to one of their number.[66] The UNHCR’s rapidly expanding operational responsibilities, which drew it into running an air operations cell inGeneva, to report on human rights abuse, and deploy military advisers in Zaïre, has exposed it to accusations of ‘imperialism’.[67]

The experiences of the UNHCR in former Yugoslavia have illustrated the ambiguous nature of the lead agency’s operational and co-ordinating responsibilities. Whilst some commentators have questioned the utility of a lead agency per se, it would seem that the need remains for an overall co-ordinating body in conflicts as bitter and multidimensional as the war in theformer Yugoslavia. In operations which demand humanitarian, political and multinational military responses, the international community requires a structured organisational framework and the co-ordination of priorities. To a large extent, it could be argued that the diffuse and loosely defined goals of the UN necessitate this requirement for the majority of its operations.[68] In this context, the institutional framework for UN humanitarian operations needs to be detailed and clarified. Thus, in an attempt to ensure a more efficient utilisation of the UN’s humanitarian apparatus, a protocol could be developed to clarify the priorities of the international community in each operation. Such a protocol would seek to specify the role of the lead agency and to delineate its co-ordination responsibilities with other UN actors, including military personnel. Within this context, it may be more appropriate for the DHA to develop a more assertive co-ordinating role for UN operations.

Second, whilst the need for a lead agency to co-ordinate UN operations has considerable rationale, extension of this role to the UNHCR in former Yugoslavia has confronted the UNHCR with problems of politicization. As has already been noted, the Commission’s experience and expertise in providing assistance to refugees who have crossed international boundaries does not automatically translate to co-ordinating UN humanitarian operations in an environment which also demands a military response by the international community. UN operations in the conflict within former Yugoslavia have highlighted the difficulties of humanitarian-military operations in general. In particular, they have placed a focus upon the role and utility of the UNHCR as a lead organisation to co-ordinate humanitarian operations whilst representing the interests of refugees and people threatened with displacement in the context of a military conflict. As Mrs Ogata noted:

The fundamental issue in former Yugoslaviais the following: how long and how far can a humanitarian mission go in assisting and, to some extent, saving the victims,without damaging its image, credibility and principles and the self-respect of its staff in the face of manipulation, blackmail, abuse, humiliation and murder?[69]

Third, the Yugoslav experience has highlighted the continuing financial and political pressures facing the UNHCR. The Commission had previously been accused of responding to the financial and institutional pressures imposed by donor governments, rather than representing the interests of refugees in South East Asia and Africa. In former Yugoslavia, the UNHCR’s policy of preventive protection as a response to ethnic cleansing has placed it in a particularly controversial position. Of course, the UNHCR does not operate in a political vacuum. Personnel must be aware of the reticence of many industrialised states to implement comprehensive resettlement programmes for refugees. Nevertheless, if the UNHCR is to counter criticisms that it is primarily the agent of donor governments who control the UNHCR’s budget, it must concentrate on its humanitarian responsibilities to refugees and proselytise the three durable solutions for refugees enshrined within its historical mandate.

Third, the UNHCR could be more explicit and forthright inits responsibility for facilitating claims for political asylum. Whilst recognising the UNHCR’s discomfort in being unfairly perceived as an accessory to ethnic cleansing, the priority for humanitarian action must remain. The UNHCR is not necessarily the most appropriate organisation to determine and implement decisions on the relative safety of people whose lives may be at risk in their own homes. In the absence of a comprehensive increase in personnel and resources with an experience in providing protection, the UNHCR should not attempt to limit the numbers of people fleeing life threatening situations and seeking political asylum.


1. See, for example, A.B. Fetherstone, O. Ramsbotham and T. Woodhouse, ‘UNPROFOR: Some Observations from a Conflict Resolution Perspective’, International Peacekeeping, Vol.1, No.2, summer 1994, pp.179-203; Alan James, ‘The UN in Croatia: an exercise in futlity’, The World Today, Vol.49, No.5, 1993, pp.93-6; J. Gow and J.D.D. Smith, ‘Peacemaking, Peacekeeping: European Security and the Yugoslav Wars’, London Defence Studies, No.11, Brassey’s Centre for Defence Studies, London, 1992; J. Gow and L. Freedman, ‘Intervention in a Fragmenting State: the case of Yugoslavia’, in Nigel S. Rodley ed., To Loose the Bands of Wickedness (London: Brassey’s/Centre for Defence Studies, 1992), pp.93-132; S. Power, Breakdown in the Balkans: a Chronology of Events (Washington DC: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 1993).

2. See Secretary-General’s Report, S/23900, 12 May 1992, para.16.

3. Larry Minear et al. (eds., Humanitarian Action in the Former Yugoslavia: the U.N.’s Role 1991-93, Occasional Paper No.18, Thomas J. Watson Jr. Institute for International Studies and Refugee Policy Group, 1994. This report is also somewhat vague about the process by which the UNHCR was designated ‘lead agency’, p.26.

4. James Ingram, ‘The Future Architecture for International Humanitarian Assistance’, in Thomas G. Weiss and Larry Minear (eds), Humanitarianism Across Borders; Sustaining Civilians in Times of War, Lynne Rienner, Boulder Col., 1993, pp.181-3.

5. See, for example, David Rieff, Slaughterhouse: Bosnia and the Failure of the West (London: Vintage Books, 1995), p.195.

6. For example, Refugees at a Glance: The Monthly Digest of UNHCR Activities of February 1995 reported that more than 140,000 tons of supplies had been flown in to Sarajevo, the longest humanitarian airlift in history.See also, the Secretary-General’s Report on UNPROFOR, S/1995/444, 30 May 1995, para.28.

7. See, for example, Stephen Green, International Disaster Relief: Toward a Responsive System (New York: MacGraw-Hill/Council on Foreign Relations, 1977); B.E. Harrell-Bond, Imposing Aid: Emergency Assistance to Refugees (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1986); Randolph C. Kent, Anatomy of Disaster Relief The International Network in Action (London: Pinter, 1987); Graham Hancock, Lords of Poverty (London: Macmillan, 1989).

8. Subsequently, DHA pressed for the country-level humanitarian co-ordinator to be open to candidates from outside UNDP. In Somalia a UNICEF official replaced the UNDP resident as co-ordinator, and the humanitarian co-ordinator in Rwanda is a DHA officer.

9. UN Office at Geneva, ‘Regional Humanitarian Plan of Action Relating to the Crisis Between Iraq and Kuwait’, final version, 11 January 1991.

10. See Rieff (n.5 above), p.199.

11. Interview by Michael Pugh with Stephen Green, DHA, New York, 9 March 1995.

12. Interview by Michael Pugh with Irene Khan, Senior Executive Assistant to the High Commissioner, UNHCR, Geneva, 31 May 1995, and unattributable discussion at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, London, 12 June 1995. See also, Jeurgen Dedring, ‘Humanitarian Coordination’, in Jim Whitman and David Pocock, After Rwanda: the Coordination of United Nations Humanitarian Assistance, Basingstoke: Macmillan, forthcoming.

13. Jeurgen Dedring, in Whitman and Pocock, forthcoming. This contrasts with the job specification for the Disaster Relief Co-ordinator, as given in General Assembly Resolution 2816 XXVI of 14 December 1971, who was expected ‘to mobilize, direct and co-ordinate the relief activities of the various organizations of the United Nations system’.

14. Ingram (n.4 above), pp.176-7.

15. Ibid., p.181. See also, Neill Wright, ‘The Hidden Costs of Better Coordination’, in Whitman and Pocock, forthcoming. An example of DHA co-ordination in the field has been the UN Rwanda Emergency Operation (UNREO); Report of 24th Meeting of the Sub-committee on Whole of International Protection, 18-19 May 1994, UNHCR, Geneva, para.33; comments on the Office of Humanitarian Assistance Co-ordination in Mozambique by Felix-Downes Thomas, in Winrich Kühne (ed.), International Workshop on the Successful Conclusion of the UN Operation in Mozambique, New York, 27 March 1995, pp.24-5.

16. OAU Convention Governing the Specific Aspects of Refugee Problems in Africa, art. 1(2), 1969.

17. Lawyer’s Committee for Human Rights, The UNHCR at 40: Refugee Protection at the Crossroads, Lawyers Committee for Human Rights, New York, 1991, pp.32-33; B.G. Ramcharan, Humanitarian Good Offices in International Law, Martinus Nijhoff, Dordrecht, 1983, p.94.

18. This was reiterated by General Assembly resolution 48/116, 20 Dec. 1993. which also added the proviso ‘and taking into account the complementarities of the mandates and expertise of other relevant organizations, to provide humanitarian assistance and protection to persons displaced within their own country’, para. 12.

19. See, for example, Gil Loescher, Beyond Charity: International Cooperation and the Global Refugee Crisis, Oxford University Press, 1993, p.146; Barbara Harrell-Bond, ‘Repatriation: Under What Conditions is it the Most Desirable Solution for Refugees? An Agenda for Research’, African Studies Review, Vol.32, No.1, 1989, pp.41-68.

20. See, J. Vernant, Refugees in the Post-War World, Allen & Unwin, London, 1953; UNHCR, The State of the World’s Refugees: The Challenge of Protection, London: Penguin, pp.153, 177.

21. Larry Minear et al. (eds) (see n.3 above).

22. Cited in ibid., p. 8.

23. SC Res. 743, 21 Feb. 1992.

24. See Fetherston, Ramsbotham and Woodhouse, (n.1 above), p.183.

25. Cited in Rieff (n.5 above), p.200.

26. See UN Docs: S/24333, 21 July 1992; SC Res. 762, 30 June 1992 based on S/24188, 26 June 1992; SC Res. 769, 7 Aug. 1992 based on S/24353, 27 July 1992.

27. José-Maria Mendiluce, cited in Conflict & Humanitarian Action, Report of a Conference at Princeton University, 22-23 Oct. 1993, p. 18.

28. Minear et al., (n.3 above). p.64.

29. The Financial Times, 29 July 1992. Resistance to resettlement as a durable solution to refugee movements has been expressed by a number of donor governments, and has been evident in Washington’s policy towards Cuban asylum seekers in 1994 and the general decline in the resettlement of Vietnamese refugees based in Hong Kong.

30. UNHCR Executive Committee No.74 (XLV) 1994, Conclusion on International Protection, para.(r).

31. Refugees at a Glance, Feb. 1995.

32. Sadako Ogata, ‘Concluding Remarks’, Conflict & Humanitarian Action, (n.28), p.49. See also, Rosalyn Higgins, ‘The New United Nations and the Former Yugoslavia’, International Affairs, Vol.69, No.3, pp.465-83; Alain Destexhe in Jean François (ed.), Populations in Danger 1995: A Médecins Sans Frontières Report(London: MSF, 1995), pp.13-15.

33. Statute of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, HCR/INF/Rev.3, United Nations, GA Res., 428 (V), 14 December 1950.

34. See, for example, Barbara Harrell-Bond (n.19 above), pp.41-68; S. Alex Cunliffe, ‘Vietnamese Boat People in Hong Kong: Policies and Prescriptions’, The PacificReview, Vol.4, No.3, pp.272-77; Kofi N. Awoonor, ‘The Concerns of Recipient Nations’, in Kevin M. Cahill (ed.), A Framework for Survival: Health, Human Rights, and Humanitarian Assistance in Conflicts and Disasters, Basic Books and Council on Foreign Relations, New York, 1993, pp.75-6.

35. J. Carvel, ‘EU Moves to Tighten Frontiers’, The Guardian, 14 Feb. 1995. For an insight into increasing donor intransigience towards resettlement programmes, see, The UNHCR at 40 (n.17 above).

36. For more information on European legislation, see Johan Cels, ‘Responses of European States to De Facto Refugees’, in G. Loescher and L. Monahan (eds), Refugees and International Relations, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1989, pp.187-216; Ole Waever et al., Identity, Migration and the New Security Agenda in Europe, London: Pinter, 1993.

37. The State of the World’s Refugees, 1993, p.38; see Loescher (n.19 above), p.138.

38. Historically, the major donors have included the United States, Western European states, Japan, Canada and Australia. During the 1980s, a number of donors, including the United States, became increasingly unwilling to provide support. For the effects of budgetary crises within the UNHCR, see Nicholas Morris, ‘Refugees: Facing Crisis in the 1990s – A Personal View from within the UNHCR’, International Journal of Refugee Law, Special Issue, Oxford University Press, 1990. For an analysis of the UNHCR’s budgetary allocations, see the annual reports of The World Refugee Survey, US Committee for Refugees, Washington.

39. The State of the World’s Refugees, 1993, p.40.

40. The Guardian, 31 July 1995.

41. The Guardian, 8 Aug. 1995.

42. Minear (n.3 above), p.75.

43. This is not an unusual budgetary allocation for UN miltary/humanitarian operations. The UN humanitarian program in Somalia cost $165m., whilst UN military operations in the same conflict cost $1.5b. Jan Eliasson, ‘Eyewitness: Peacemaking into the 21st Century’, International Peacekeeping, Vol.2, No.1, spring 1995, p.103.

44. The State of the World’s Refugees, 1993, pp.9-10.

45. Address by Sadako Ogata, 51st Session of the UN Commission on Human Rights, 7 Feb. 1995.

46. See Trevor Findlay, Cambodia: The Legacy and Lessons of UNTAC, SIPRI Research Report, No. 9, Oxford: OUP/SIPRI, 1995, p.98.

47. The State of the World’s Refugees, 1993, pp.28-9.

48. Steven Wolfson and Neill Wright, A UNHCR Handbook for the Military on Humanitarian Operations, UNHCR, Geneva, 1994, p.24.

49. UNHCR Office of the Special Envoy for Former Yugoslavia, External Relations Unit, ‘Information Notes on former Yugoslavia, no. 1/95, Jan. 1995.

50. Statement by Mrs Sadako Ogata to the Humanitarian Issues Working Group of the ICFY, Geneva, 18 March 1994.

51. Cited in International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, World Disasters Report: Under the Volcanoes. Special Focus on the Rwandan Refugee Crisis, IFRC, Geneva, 1994, p.21.

52. Wolfson and Wright (n.48 above), p.24.

53. 24th Meeting of the Sub-committee on Whole of International Protection, UNHCR, 18-19 May 1994, para 33.

54. Partnership in Action, Oslo Declaration and Plan of Action, UNHCR and International Committee of Voluntary Organisations, June 1994, p.17. The participants agreed to advocate a broader refugee definition and a flexible definition of internally displaced persons which should be based on practical and empirical analysis of the root causes of displacement.

55. Interview by Michael Pugh with Irene Khan, UNHCR Geneva, 31 May 1995.

56. Sadako Ogata, ‘Role of Humanitarian Action in Peacekeeping Operations’, keynote address at 24th Annual Vienna Seminar, 5 July 1994, UNHCR text.

57. Minear (n.3 above), pp.83-5.

58. The State of the World’s Refugees, pp.78-9.

59. Ogata (n.56 above).

60. Sadako Ogata, ‘Humanitarianism in the Midst of Armed Conflict’, Address at Brookings Institution, Washington DC, 12 May 1994; Rieff (n.5 above), p.205.

61. Cited in Minear (n.3 above), pp.92-3.

62. Wolfson and Wright (n.58 above). See also, IISS, Military Support for Humanitarian Aid Operations, Strategic Comments, London: IISS, 22 Feb. 1995; Thomas G. Weiss, ‘Military-Civilian Humanitarianism: The “Age of Innocence”: is Over’, International Peacekeeping, vol.2, no.2, summer 1995, pp.157-74; Michael Pugh, ‘Humanitarian Peacekeeping’, paper at ECPR 2nd pan-European Conference in International Relations, Paris, 13-16 Sept. 1995.

63. International Herald Tribune, 21-22 November 1992.

64. See IISS, Military Support for Humanitarian Aid Operations, Strategic Comments, London: IISS, 22 Feb 1995; also Thomas Weiss, Military-Civilian Humanitarianism: The Age of Innocence is Over, International Peacekeeping, Vol 2, no 2, Summer 1995.

65. Interview by Michael Pugh with Stephen Green, DHA, New York, 9 March 1995.

66. Ingram (n.4 above), p.182.

67. Interview by Michael Pugh with Irene Khan, UNHCR, Geneva, 31 May 1995.

68. For a discussion of the organisational dilemmas created by UN peacekeeping operations with a political-miltary interface, see C. Brady and S. Daws, ‘UN Operations: the Political-Military Interface’, International Peacekeeping, Vol.1, No.1, Spring 1994, pp.59-79.

69. Ogata, ‘Opening Address, Conflict & Humanitarian Action (n.28 above), p. 7.


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