Governments normally guarantee the basic human rights and physical security of citizens. But when civilians become refugees this safety net disappears. UNHCR’s main role in pursuing international protection is to ensure that states are aware of and act on, their obligations to protect refugees and persons seeking asylum. However, it is not a supranational organization and cannot be considered as a substitute for government responsibility.
Countries may not forcibly return (refoulement) refugees to a territory where they face danger or discriminate between groups of refugees. They should ensure that refugees benefit from economic and social rights, at least to the same degree as other foreign residents of the country of asylum. For humanitarian reasons, states should allow a spouse or dependent children to join persons to whom temporary refuge or asylum has been granted. Finally, states have an obligation to cooperate with UNHCR.