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Guiding Principles

Livelihoods guiding principles are based on global best practices, experiences emerging from UNHCR operations, and sector research and guidelines. They set forth the core standards behind all livelihoods programming. The following is an abbreviated list. For the full list, refer to the Global Strategy for Livelihoods.

  • 1. Protection: Livelihoods programmes will aim to further respect for human rights as outlined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees.

  • 2. Age, Gender and Diversity (AGD): Livelihoods programmes will seek to advance UNHCR's AGD approach by ensuring the active participation of diverse and representative groups of refugees.

  • 3. Equity: UNHCR will ensure that refugees have equal opportunity to participate in livelihoods interventions. The refugee agency will prioritize vulnerable people where possible, particularly where they face obstacles not encountered by the majority of the displaced population.

  • 4. Access: UNHCR will support refugee access to local services and programmes in parity with the host community. The agency will invest in national programmes to extend existing services or create services where they do not exist, benefitting refugees and host communities alike.

  • 5. Sustainability: Livelihoods programmes are planned for long-term self-reliance. Beyond the initial emergency phase where intensive support may be necessary, initiatives must help people build the knowledge and skills pertinent to their mid-term and long-term goals.

  • 6. Community empowerment: Refugees and host communities should participate in all stages of planning, needs assessment, implementation, monitoring and evaluation in order to design appropriate and sustainable programmes.

  • 7. Appropriateness and reliability: Livelihoods programmes should be appropriate and tailored to context. They should be targeted to people best able to achieve self-reliance goals, be consistent in their approach and delivery, and take into consideration the economic status and interests of the local population.

  • 8. Enhance local markets: Livelihoods programmes will strive to strengthen the local market providing an injection of labour, consumers, and traders. UNHCR will work with local governments, businesses, trade and labour associations to build on existing market opportunities, benefitting both refugees and host communities.