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.
UNHCR's Policy Development and Evaluation Service (PDES) is committed to the systematic analysis and assessment of UNHCR policies, programmes, projects, practices and partnerships. PDES is housed in the High Commissioner'Âs Executive Office and its work is carried out in accordance with the UNHCR Evaluation Policy adopted in 2010 which commits UNHCR to the UNEG Norms and Standards for Evaluation in the UN System.
In addition to its policy development and evaluation activities, PDES 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.
In 2014, there were seven staff members in PDES and an evaluation expenditure of USD 1.1 million. The self-identified focus areas/priorities for the evaluation function include: training (designing, conducting courses); developing evaluation capacities (in UNHCR); and policy/strategy development.
Promoting a culture of evaluation in-house
PDES 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.
- The existing evaluation policy: UNHCR Evaluation Policy, 2010 is currently under review. A revised evaluation policy based on UNEG Norms and Standards is expected to be presented at the ExCom 2015 fall session.
- 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.
- Unit Head: M
- Evaluators: Total 6; F= 4 and M = 2
- Support staff: Total 1 (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 PDES 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 PDES 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'Âs 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'Âs 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.
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
PDES has revised its ToR template. It now contains inter alia more en-depth analysis of the operation or policy to be evaluated.
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.
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, PDES 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.
Senior Policy and Evaluation Officer, UNHCR
Principal Policy Development and Evaluation Officer, UNHCR