RSDWatch was launched in February 2005, part of a widening effort by grassroots refugee rights organizations to promote reform of the way UNHCR conducts refugee status determination. It has since become a primary portal for discussing the challenges involved in UNHCR RSD, and in collecting basic data about where and how UNHCR does so.
Michael Kagan, who founded and manages the website, teaches at the University of Nevada Las Vegas, William S. Boyd School of Law. He was previously a founding board member and later policy director of Asylum Access. He also served as a director of Africa Middle East Refugee Assistance (AMERA) in Egypt, and has helped set up refugee legal aid programs throughout Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. Until December 2012, RSDWatch had been a project of Asylum Access but it is now an independent project of Michael Kagan and reflects his views alone.
Accuracy, Completeness and Fairness
The aim of this website is to disseminate accurate and credible information about the way the UN refugee agency conducts refugee status determination. But that does not mean RSDWatch aims for neutrality on key issues. It is common sense, not to mention a matter of right and law, that when an asylum-seeker who might be in danger of persecution pleads for protection, her fate should be decided in a procedure that is fair, transparent and accountable.
UNHCR’s refugee status determination procedures should meet minimum standards of due process. UNHCR should live up to, and if possible exceed, the standards of fairness it promotes for governments. UNHCR’s RSD operations are critical because lives depend on them, and because UNHCR sets an example for states, especially for governments in the geopolitical south. UNHCR has promised progressive reform of its RSD procedures, and this blog aims to support this effort. That means that it will try to be fair; when UNHCR does well, we say so. When reform bogs down, we say so.
Contact Us: Above all, we want to be factual and reliable. Unless we can confirm our information, we don’t say anything at all. We can make mistakes, because we are human, but we will try to correct them. And we ask our readers: If you think you’ve caught a mistake on our site, if you have documents or information that should be part of this site, or if you believe something on the site to be in error or incomplete, please write to us.
Please note that RSDWatch does not offer legal aid or legal advice, and requests for legal services will not be answered.
Using RSDWatch material: We encourage others to publicly discuss UNHCR RSD issues. RSDWatch is a free site, and so we encourage others to use our material free of charge, so long as the source is cited clearly. We request that other internet sites provide a link to RSDWatch when they use our material, as we do when RSDWatch refers its readers to other sites on the Internet.