Postmillenial UNHCR refugee resettlement: New developments and old challenges

Resettlement under the auspices of the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is a tool of protection and a durable solution for refugees. This paper contributes to the study of refugee resettlement by analyzing the policy development and challenges of the UNHCR resettlement after the turn of the millennium (the 2000s). While

UNHCR has developed guidelines, tools and concepts to better manage the resettlement process, resulting in an increase of resettlement submissions, the admission criteria of resettlement countries have not fully adopted the protection based resettlement priorities developed by UNHCR. This disjuncture reveals two contentious issues: the double-screening of refugee claims and immigration-related restrictive or discriminatory selection criteria. Resettlement is highly dependent on the humanitarian and political will of resettlement countries in the vacuum of legal obligations. The resettlement of a refugee to a third country from the country in which he or she first sought asylum is one of the three durable solutions (voluntary repatriation, local integration, and resettlement) that the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is mandated to seek, in tandem with its core function of providing international protection. Academic studies on refugee resettlement under the auspices  f UNHCR are largely classified into three disciplinary approaches. One is a historical approach that examines the evolution of UNHCR resettlement in the macro-political landscape. Existing literature covers the development of UNHCR resettlement before and until 1990s.  The second approach is anthropological and reveals the micro-politics most specifically related to the identification of refugees for resettlement.  The third approach is to examine resettlement from a legal viewpoint.

The current paper contributes to the study of UNHCR resettlement by analyzing the development and challenges of the UNHCR resettlement programme after the turn of the millennium (the 2000s) to answer one particular question: in what ways has the development of resettlement impacted international protection and what are the areas that may require further development?