The Eligibility Guidelines examined: The use of country of origin information by UNHCR

Femke Vogelaar*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


This article focuses on the use of Country of Origin Information (COI) by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in the Eligibility Guidelines, which assess the protection needs of specific groups of asylum seekers. The article assesses the standards set by UNHCR regarding the use of COI and whether, and how, UNHCR applies these standards in the Guidelines. The analysis is based on a study of the Eligibility Guidelines assessing the protection needs of asylum seekers from Afghanistan, Somalia, and Sri Lanka. Analysis of these Guidelines shows that UNHCR does not adhere to its own standards for the cross-checking of information and that this process lacks transparency. UNHCR statements are not consistently based on a variety of sources, and it appears that UNHCR does not consistently verify the COI it relies on. UNHCR's assessment of the reliability of sources, and the way it balances supporting and contradictory information, also lacks transparency. Moreover, the extent to which UNHCR field offices contribute to the Guidelines is not clear. Due to this lack of transparency, the reliability of UNHCR Eligibility Guidelines cannot always be presumed to be beyond doubt. As a result, each set of Guidelines should be assessed on its own merits and accorded appropriate weight in the process of balancing all available evidence during the assessment of a need for international protection.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)617-640
Number of pages24
JournalInternational Journal of Refugee law
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 22 Feb 2018

Bibliographical note

Volume 29, Issue 4, publication date 30 December 2017


Dive into the research topics of 'The Eligibility Guidelines examined: The use of country of origin information by UNHCR'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this