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Le guichet du HCR, entre standardisation bureaucratique et ethos humanitaire : Le cas du HCR-Caire

Abstract : In recent years, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has become one of the most important actors in the field of refugee status determination (RSD). Faced with the resurgence of such a categorization function, the organization tries to harmonize the practices of its agents in its 70 offices involved in RSD activities. Despite these maneuvers of systemizing administrative procedures— organized from Geneva in cooperation with local offices, the RSD practices, as observed from the UNHCR-Cairo RSD structure, are characterized by their impossible standardization. On the one hand, the political, economic, and social contexts, in which they take place, and in which the policies of the host countries’ governments play a significant role, force to amend the rules coming from Geneva in a direction politically consistent with local configurations. On the other hand, UNHCR’s eligibility officers—theoretically engaged in a humanitarian mission but subject to actual administrative work—often use their discretionary power to make their RSD work more consistent with their particular commitment. Thus, after highlighting the issues specific to the ethnography of an administrative practice within a transnational bureaucracy, the articles analyzes the means used by the UNHCR to standardize its administrative procedures, with the goal of improving both the efficiency and speed of the asylum application process. Finally, these rationalization attempts come up against the discretionary power inherent in the “asylum window,” related to the global and local challenges that the UNHCR has to tackle simultaneously, and to the humanitarian engagement of its agents.
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Submitted on : Wednesday, November 3, 2021 - 7:35:55 PM
Last modification on : Thursday, November 4, 2021 - 4:07:58 AM

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Pauline Brücker. Le guichet du HCR, entre standardisation bureaucratique et ethos humanitaire : Le cas du HCR-Caire. Politique et Sociétés, Société Québécoise de Science Politique, 2019, 38 (1), pp.129 - 155. ⟨10.7202/1058293ar⟩. ⟨hal-03413568⟩

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