Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees


The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is mandated to lead and co-ordinate international action to protect refugees and resolve refugee problems worldwide. It strives to ensure that everyone can exercise the right to seek asylum and find safe refuge in another State, with the option to return home voluntarily, integrate locally or resettle in a third country. It also has a mandate to protect stateless people and has been authorized to work with internally displaced populations and former refugees in their countries of origin. In 2014, UNHCR had 10.980 staff members and a total expenditure of USD 3.1 billion. UNHCR headquarters is in Geneva, Switzerland.






Evaluation Function Snapshot Independence Agenda Setting & Evaluation Planning Quality Assurance Use of Evaluation Joint Evaluation

Evaluation Function


UNHCR's Evaluation Service (ES) is committed to the systematic analysis and assessment of UNHCR policies, programmes, projects, practices and partnerships. The Evaluation Service is housed in the High Commissioner'™s Executive Office and its work is carried out in accordance with the UNHCR Evaluation Policy adopted in 2016 which commits UNHCR to the UNEG Norms and Standards for Evaluation in the UN System.

In addition to its policy development and evaluation activities, ES promotes research on refugee, humanitarian and migration issues and encourages an active exchange of ideas and information between humanitarian practitioners, policymakers and the academic community.

Promoting a culture of evaluation in-house

The Evalauation Service encourages a culture of evaluation within UNHCR by (a) functioning in a fully consultative and participatory manner, (b) holding regular briefings and seminars for UNHCR staff; (c) disseminating its outputs widely throughout the organization, and (d) providing training to non-PDES staff in evaluation objectives and methods. 











  • Priorities
    • Revise current evaluation policy in line with OIOS/JIU recommendations made and UNEG N & S.
    • Establish a decentralised evaluation function.
    • Further refine the management response matrix system.
    • Expand the number of expert evaluation positions with-in PDES.
    • Increase the annual budget of PDES.
    • Focus on evaluations of L-3 emergencies.

Human Resources:

  • Unit Head: F
  • Evaluators: Total 6; F= 4 and M = 2
  • Support staff: Total 2 (F)
  • Decentralised evaluation staff: None. 


  • Evaluations produced per year by central unit and by decentralized units
    • Twelve evaluations and research papers  at the centralized level in 2014. 






The Head of the Evaluation Service reports directly to the High Commissioner and briefs the Executive Committee once a year on evaluation achievements and work plan.

Agenda Setting & Evaluation Planning

Agenda setting and evaluation planning

The Evaluation Service work programme is established on the basis of regular consultations with the Executive Office and UNHCR Executive Committee, as well as UN, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), civil society and academic partners.

Stakeholder involvement and promoting national evaluation capacity development

UNHCR'™s stakeholders participate in the identification, planning, implementation and utilization of evaluation projects. Relevant stakeholders are always consulted before evaluation findings and recommendations are placed in the public domain. At the outset of any evaluation project, a stakeholder analysis is undertaken to identify the intended users of the project and to ensure their active participation in it. To facilitate this approach, a Steering Committee is established for each major evaluation project, involving key internal and external stakeholders. The functions of the Steering Committee are to assist in the following areas: establishing Terms of Reference (ToR) for the project; selecting external evaluators; reviewing preliminary findings and recommendations; and establishing a dissemination and utilization strategy. 

UNHCR expects an extensive process of consultation to take place before the findings and recommendations of an evaluation project are placed in the public domain. UNHCR particularly encourages the use of mid-term workshops and consultations, enabling Steering Committee members and other stakeholders to review an evaluation team's interim conclusions. The organization also expects draft evaluation reports and other preliminary outputs to be shared for comments with key stakeholders.

From the beginning of 2014, all evaluation reports will contain a separate management response matrix with recommendations and time lines for action. A review of the follow-up process is undertaken six months after the publication of each evaluation report.  




Quality Assurance


To achieve the highest possible evaluation standards, the organization encourages internal and external stakeholders to comment on the findings, recommendations and general quality of its evaluation projects. At the conclusion of each major evaluation project, a lessons learned exercise on the conduct of the project is undertaken to ensure UNHCR's evaluation principles, procedures and methods are both appropriate and effective.




Use of Evaluation

The ToR of each evaluation project specify the ways in which the findings and recommendations of the project are to be utilized. Once an evaluation project is completed, the Executive Office may issue a directive to senior managers in relation to the implementation of specific evaluation recommendations, for which they are to be held accountable.

The findings and recommendations of all major evaluation projects are presented to members of the Executive Office and Senior Management Committee. Where appropriate, briefings are also provided to other internal and external stakeholders. All evaluation reports and other outputs are posted on the UNHCR website , published in hard copy and disseminated to a broad range of interested parties within and outside the organization.




Joint Evaluation


UNHCR regularly undertakes and supports joint evaluations with other members of the Inter-Agency Standing Committee and, less frequently, with member states of the Executive Committee and with NGOs. From 2012 to 2015, The Evaluation Service participated in four joint evaluations with WFP and was member of the Management Team of two IAHE evaluations led by OCHA.

UNHCR is committed to an active engagement with international evaluation fora, particularly  the Active Learning Network for Accountability and Performance in Humanitarian Action (ALNAP). All UNHCR evaluations are made available to ALNAP so they can be incorporated in their database and its annual review of humanitarian evaluations.




UNEG Members

Alessandra Faustino

Senior Admin Assistant, UNHCR

Christine Fu

Senior Evaluation Officer, UNHCR

Emilie Wiinblad Mathez

Senior Evaluation Advisor, UNHCR

Joel Kinahan


Marcel Maastrig

Senior Evaluation Officer, UNHCR

Nabila Hameed

Senior Evaluation Officer, UNHCR

Ritu Shroff


Selam Araya Soum

Admin/ Finance Assistant, UNHCR

Fact Sheet