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UNHCR leads major asylum systems with 83 percent recognition rate in 2011

December 17, 2012

2011 Rec Rates

It’s getting to be old news: UNHCR recognizes asylum-seekers at a far more favorable rate than other major refugee status decision-makers.

The global average recognition rate (for government and UNHCR RSD), including grants of complimentary protection as well as refugee status, is 38 percent, according to UNHCR’s Global Trends 2011 report. But according to RSDWatch’s analysis of the data, the recognition rate for UNHCR RSD operations was 83 percent, with 36,301 cases recognized out of 43,750 RSD decisions reached.

UNHCR’s rate is especially favorable compared to other large asylum systems . The recognition rate in the U.S. asylum system was 66 percent, in France 19 percent, in Germany 28 percent, the United Kingdom 33 percent, and Canada 45 percent. UNHCR’s recognition rate has consistently remained over 75 percent since 2005.

Among countries with more than 1000 RSD decisions in 2011, the report indicates just four with a higher recognition rate than UNHCR RSD: Burundi, Gabon, Ghana and Chad. All four reported recognizing either 100 percent or 99.9 percent, suggesting a process that is likely a form of group-based status determination rather than truly individual RSD. And, for what it’s worth, Ghana and Chad were actually joint UNHCR-Government RSD systems.

While it is hard to find a large, individualized RSD system more favorable to asylum-seekers than UNHCR, it’s easy to find some some that are much more hostile. The largest RSD system in the world, South Africa, recognized just 15.5 percent of the applications it decided in 2011. Greece recognized less than two percent. Israel accepted just three refugee claims out of 3,725 decided, or 0.0008 percent.

A decade ago, UNHCR’s RSD recognition rate was around 46 percent. But this began to rise when UNHCR issued new RSD procedures and initiated new training programs for RSD staff.

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