UNHCR Reforms Revisited: Rights-based versus Results-based

Conference Paper

Sandvik, Kristin Bergtora (2013) UNHCR Reforms Revisited: Rights-based versus Results-based, presented at The World Conference on Humanitarian Studies, Istanbul, 24/10/13 – 27/10/13.

​​UNCHR and the Struggle for Accountability: an examination of parallel regimes

​​Since the mid-1990s, UNHCR has focused on standardization, legalization and human rights to improve institutional accountability and increase transparency. UNHCR began to call itself a ‘human rights organization’ and to describe its activities as the promotion of human rights around 1993. The organization adopted Results-based Management (RBM) in 1998, which emphasizes the achievement of results in as effective and efficient manner as possible. UNHCR’s Standards and Indicators Initiative, a key component of RBM, was initiated in 2002. Today, there is little talk of rights, while talk of results has increasingly been transformed into a technical- and technology oriented- discourse. This paper traces the relationship between rights-based and results-based practices within UNHCR. By taking standardization-techniques, including indicators, soft law frameworks and human rights-based approaches to represent different and sometimes contradictory ways of interpreting and structuring information and interaction, it hopes to illuminate the current state of UNHCR reform in light of its erstwhile objectives of accountability and transparency.

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Kristin Bergtora Sandvik

Kristin Bergtora Sandvik

Research Professor