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Committed to make human rights effective -World Refugee Day 2013

Acting as UNHCRs Implementing partner for over a decade, Association „Vasa prava BiH“ with UNHCRs continuing support has played a key role in making asylum seekers and refugees, as well as other vulnerable people rights become effective.

The importance of NGOs’ role in protecting refugees was recognized by the UN General Assembly when, in adopting UNHCR’s Statute, it called on the High Commissioner to establish contact with “private organizations” (now known as NGOs) dealing with refugees issues and to help coordinate the efforts of those organizations.

The international community struggles with the challenge of repairing the harms that haunt post-conflict societies, including restoring the homes, property and other kinds of well-being of traumatized populations.  The work of Vasa prava BiH that has helped heal such wounds in Bosnia-Herzegovina by providing legal services to the vulnerable and disadvantaged constitutes case lessons of success in a difficult context. Yet, so much need to be done.

Given the enduring legacy of the war and the multitude of economic, social and political challenges ahead, what difference can a relatively small legal aid NGO make?  This article argues that Vasa prava BiH is a vital, and perhaps necessary, part of the solution to the country’s problems. Particularly considering the failure of political leadership, creating a culture of rights in which all citizens are treated equally by a responsive government can only come about through active involvement by citizens themselves. For poor and marginalized people, which in BiH includes a substantial portion of the population, active involvement is hard to achieve without assistance. Vasa prava BiH provides that assistance.


The Annual Consultations with NGOs, Geneva 2013

 The Annual Consultations with NGOs took place from 11 to 13 June 2013 at the International Conference Center, Geneva, Switzerland.

The Association Vasa prava BiH took part in this year’s annual consultations between UNHCR and its NGO partners.

Over 410 humanitarians participated in this year’s consultations, representing some 220 international and national NGOs from a broad range of operations around the globe. Every year, these consultations are an excellent opportunity to review and strengthen the association’s capacities, with the goal of better serving those in need of protection. Vasa prava BiH had a series of side meetings with senior UNHCR managers and various NGOs from all over the world to discuss issues of common concern and share information and ideas.

It has been reiterated that NGOs are vital operational and advocacy partners in many different contexts and contribute significant expertise and competencies in protection-based responses.

Throughout its history, UNHCR has worked in close partnership with NGOs to protect and assist refugees. One major manifestation of these partnerships is programs facilitated by UNHCR and implemented by NGO partners. In 2012, over a third of the $2.3 billion spent by UNHCR on protection and assistance was channeled through more than 760 NGOs across the globe. Of these, 600 were national or local NGOs and 160 were international.