How to Apply for ExCom Membership

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Step-by-step Guide to Joining UNHCR's Executive Committee

The three explicit criteria for membership to be found in the General Assembly and ECOSOC resolutions that established the Executive Committee are:

  • demonstrated interest in and devotion to the solution of refugee problems;
  • widest possible geographical representation;
  • membership of the United Nations or its specialized agencies.

At the time of its establishment the Executive Committee consisted of 25 members. With the increase in the volume and geographical spread of the activities of the Office to cover almost all regions of the world, ExCom membership has grown with successive resolutions of the General Assembly and ECOSOC.

Step 1

A state makes an application for admission to the Executive Committee of the High Commissioner's Programme in writing, usually by Note Verbale, to the Secretary-General of the United Nations. In this Note Verbale, the state outlines its credentials for becoming a member of the Executive Committee in accordance with the criteria for membership to be found in the General Assembly and Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) resolutions that established the Executive Committee, notably (a) demonstrated interest in and devotion to the solution of refugee problems (for example, adherence to the 1951 Convention and 1967 Protocol as well as to any applicable regional instruments); (b) widest possible geographical representation; and, (c) membership of the United Nations or its specialized agencies.

Step 2

This request is passed by the Secretary-General to ECOSOC.

Step 3

The requesting state submits a draft decision to the Secretary of ECOSOC, usually in July so it can be considered during the General Segment at ECOSOC's substantive session under UNHCR's agenda item.

Step 4

ECOSOC refers the matter to the General Assembly, requesting the Assembly to enlarge the number of Executive Committee members.

Step 5

The requesting state then submits a draft resolution to the Secretary of the Third Committee of the General Assembly (by early November at the latest).

Step 6

The General Assembly would then resolve to increase the number of slots available for membership in the Executive Committee. The Assembly then refers the matter back to ECOSOC requesting it to elect the members to fill the newly created slots.

Step 7

ECOSOC elects the state which has applied for membership to the Executive Committee.

Note: The process normally takes at least one year.

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