UNHCR NGO Consultations

The Annual Consultations between UNHCR and NGOs have been held for approximately 30 years, and have grown significantly over time. They started as a half-day meeting for NGOs but they have now developed into a busy three-day forum. The Annual Consultations provide an important opportunity for NGOs to raise issues, to network, and to exchange views with UNHCR and other NGOs. UNHCR’s Partnership Section and the International Council of Voluntary Agencies (ICVA) are responsible for organizing the Annual Consultations. In the past several years, the NGO CoM has helped to organize the workshop portion of the consultations by making preliminary recommendations for discussion topics and panelists.

The 2016 UNHCR’s Annual Consultation with Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) took place in Geneva, Switzerland during a time when more that 65 million people are forcibly displaced. Refugee, stateless and internally displaced youth  represent an underserved group in humanitarian operations. To examine these issues more closely, 30 youth delegates met with 520 representatives from 300 organizations in 87 countries to discuss this year’s theme: ”Youth-the future is now”.

Refugee and stateless young people participated as speakers and moderators in the regional [1] and thematic sessions.

Across all of the sessions, four main themes and many recommendations emerged:

1. Opportunity for youth engagement and participation

Youth do not feel engaged in decision-making process at local, national and global levels. UNHCR, civil society, States and communities are called to engage in a genuine consultative dialogue with young people, supporting initiatives by youth, for youth, collecting age and sex disaggregated data, considering making refugee youth participation in annual consultations a regular practice.

2. Learning and employment opportunities

Access to education and training, skills development and employment is critical for displaced youth ‘s self-reliance in host communities and for stateless youth.

UNHCR, civil society, States and communities are called to work together with national ministries of education in transit and destination countries to ensure the integration of youth into local system; to facilitate access to employment for refugee youth; to increase funding for academic scholarship; to support learning initiatives led by youth for youth; to show flexibility in the recognition of the certificates.

3. Psychological support and mental health services

Displaced and stateless youth are under completely different daily stressors from those of their own age group in host populations. UNHCR, civil society, States and communities are called to ensure the provision of psychosocial support and mental health services, to create youth-specific space in refugee camps and receptions centers and to advocate for alternative to detention; to encourage more investment in one-stop center for the survivors of sexual and gender-based violence.

4. Documentation

Official identification documentation is critical to access education, employment and healthcare in host communities. UNHCR, civil society, States and communities NGOs, are called to lobby governments to issue official ID to refugees in a timely and systematic manner; to work with governments of transit and destination countries to fill legislative gaps regarding the issuance of work permits for refugees; to facilitate documentation for stateless persons.


The first day of the Consultations was dedicated to hearing from youth themselves, regarding the main challenges they are facing in different regions of the world. The second day focused on vulnerabilities and resilience, stressing that the resilience is not an attribute of an individual, but the result of  an interaction between people and their social and physical environment. Consequently, strengthening resilience is about creating facilitative environment that help people thrive. Youth and adolescents are important contributors to the ability of community to recover from crisis. The final day focused on solutions and opportunities, including discussions on the transition from school to workplace, on youth employment and entrepreneurship, on youth and integration.


In the follow up of the World Humanitarian Summit (Istanbul, 23-25 May 2016), the Consultations proposed that humanitarian action should be transformed with and for young people, favoring joint actions between various actors in the humanitarian  sector and increasing humanitarian aid and programming, mainly for local-first responder organizations.


The 2015-2016 Global Refugee Youth Consultation (GRYC)[2], the UN Security Council Resolution 2250[3], the Global Compact for Young People in Humanitarian  Action, launched at the World Humanitarian Summit, the UNHCR Annual Consultations with NGOs (2016) represent important steps  in the protection of refugee, stateless and IDP youth. UNHCR has already shown its commitment to partnership with and for young people by signing the  Global Compact on Young People in Humanitarian Action at the High Level Special Session at the World Humanitarian Summit.


Further Information:


[1] Africa, Americas, Asia and the Pacific, Europe, Middle East and North Africa

[2] The Global Refugee Youth Consultation (GRYC) started on October 2015 in many countries of the world. By June 2016 the GRYC had heard from nearly 1.000 youth from 30 different countries

[3] Security Council, Unanimously Adopting Resolution 2250 (2015), Urges Member States to Increase Representation of Youth in Decision-Making at All Levels , Security Council, 7573 meeting, 9 December, 2015. The Resolution defined youth as persons aged 18 through 29.