Published online by Cambridge University Press: 28 February 2019
In a statement to the 52nd session of the Commission on Human Rights, then UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali characterized Geneva as the “city of human rights.” Interestingly, the first organization he used to illustrate his point was the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. While others may share this view of UNHCR as a “human rights organization,” UNHCR–at least on the policy level-has been slower to adopt this self-image. At the same time, it is easy to categorize UNHCR's Centre for Documentation and Research (CDR) as a “refugee and human rights” information centre because it sets out specifically to collect materials which fall within the human rights domain. To give you a better sense of the context in which CDR develops its collections, I would like to first review UNHCR's activities as they relate to refugees and human rights, then conduct a brief demonstration of a database which provides access to a significant repository of human rights documentation. Then you can decide for yourselves whether or not UNHCR indeed qualifies as a “human rights organization”!