Dear Refworld User,
We are pleased to announce that the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Austrian Centre for Country of Origin and Asylum Research and Documentation (ACCORD), a department of the Austrian Red Cross, have joined forces in providing protection information to asylum decision makers.
As of 1 January 2019, ACCORD’s ecoi.net will be endorsed by UNHCR as the main global platform for country of origin information. At the same time, UNHCR’s Refworld will reinforce its law and policy collections in the course of 2019, relaunching its protection information platform in 2020. Together these platforms will enable end-users to have easy and fast access to high-quality and up-to-date protection information.
Following a detailed review, UNHCR has concluded that a number of substantial changes are required to guarantee Refworld’s relevance and usefulness in a changing information environment. UNHCR’s conclusions in this regard can be summarized as follows:
Refworld will not duplicate document collections properly hosted and maintained elsewhere. This includes the Country of Origin Information (COI) documents collection, which overlaps to a large extent with the COI database hosted at ecoi.net. Other document collections that are available elsewhere include the United Nations documents collection that can be accessed at documents.un.org.
In implementing this strategy, one of the first steps UNHCR will take is to discontinue the COI collection in Refworld as of 1 January 2019.
UNHCR considers that all stakeholders in asylum systems all over the world need access to high quality COI, legislation, jurisprudence, and UNHCR policy documents. Refworld is the only publicly available database providing access to global and comprehensive collections of national legislation and jurisprudence relating to refugee law. In contrast, users currently have access to two COI databases, Refworld and ecoi.net. In order to avoid duplication and to free up resources for the case law and legislation database, UNHCR has decided to discontinue the COI collection on Refworld. Instead, UNHCR refers all stakeholders to ecoi.net, the COI database maintained by the Austrian Centre for Country of Origin and Asylum Research and Documentation (ACCORD), which is a department of the Austrian Red Cross and an acknowledged centre of expertise on COI.
No. Access to accurate, impartial and up-to-date COI from a variety of sources is indispensable for determining who is in need of international protection.
Discontinuation of the Refworld COI collection does not impede access to relevant and timely COI due to the availability of another comprehensive and high-quality COI database endorsed by UNHCR, namely ecoi.net.
UNHCR has a longstanding relationship with ACCORD in the field of COI. UNHCR was involved in the inception of ecoi.net starting in 2001 when it tasked a network of external organizations (ACCORD, Informationsverbund Asyl & Migration, and GEA 2000) to establish and manage an online COI system with the goal of improving and promoting access to high-quality COI. UNHCR financially supported ecoi.net until 2009. In 2018 a new version of ecoi.net was launched by ACCORD, including optimized and advanced search functionalities within a modernized and user-friendly interface. At present, a return to the initial strategy is envisaged, whereby ecoi.net will serve as the global go-to COI database, while Refworld will be redesigned with a unique focus on law and policy documents. Together these platforms will enable end-users to have easy and fast access to high-quality and up-to-date protection information.
ACCORD is the Austrian Centre for Country of Origin and Asylum Research and Documentation, a department of the Austrian Red Cross. ACCORD is co-funded by the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (EU), the Austrian Ministry of the Interior,UNHCR and various non-governmental organizations working in the field of asylum. More information about ACCORD can be found here: http://accord.redcross.at
ecoi.net, the country of origin information system of the Austrian Centre for Country of Origin and Asylum Research and Documentation (ACCORD) under the umbrella of the Austrian Red Cross, aims at contributing to fair and efficient refugee status determination procedures by securing easy and fast access to high-quality and up-to-date COI for all actors involved in asylum cases.
ecoi.net is committed to an impartial information policy and to the objective and neutral presentation of country of origin information. While ecoi.net focuses on human rights issues of relevance for procedures of international protection, it includes information regardless of its positive or negative character.
ecoi.net promotes the principle of public domain information as well as equal access to high-quality country of origin information for all persons involved in asylum cases or other forms of international protection.
ecoi.net is run by the Austrian Red Cross (department ACCORD) in cooperation with Informationsverbund Asyl & Migration. ecoi.net is funded by the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (EU), the Austrian Ministry of the Interior and Caritas Austria. ecoi.net is supported by ECRE & UNHCR. The funding agreement for ACCORD gives neither the Austrian ministry nor the EU a formal say in the prioritization of countries on ecoi.net.
ACCORD uses annual asylum statistics in different parts of the world to determine the prioritization of all countries included in ecoi.net. A comparison of the prioritization of the countries by ecoi.net and the latest global asylum statistics available (end 2017) shows that the 50 most important countries of origin all fall in priority categories A to C by ecoi.net.
In situations where UNHCR observes, on the basis of its global monitoring, a sudden increase in asylum applications from a particular country of origin, UNHCR will share this information with ACCORD, for the purposes of moving the country in question to a higher priority category if necessary.
More information on the prioritization of countries by ecoi.net can be found here:
The COI published until 31 December 2018 will remain accessible on Refworld. The links will stay the same.
For your main COI search in English (and German) you can make use of ecoi.net
Furthermore, please note the following:
COI until 2018 (in English): Refworld
COI in Russian: Russian Refworld
COI in Spanish: Spanish Refworld
The majority of the COI documents on ecoi.net are in English and German. It furthermore provides a selection of COI documents in the following languages: Arabic, Chinese, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, Italian, Norwegian, Russian, Spanish and Swedish as well as other languages.
The Russian and Spanish Refworld platforms will continue to provide relevant and current COI in their respective languages.
Country guidance published by UNHCR will continue to be published on Refworld.
ecoi.net has more than 160 regular sources and in addition it covers further sources on an ad-hoc basis. For more information about the regular sources covered by ecoi.net, see here: https://www.ecoi.net/en/about/our-sources/.
ecoi.net covers almost all COI publishers currently active on Refworld. With a view to the discontinuation of the COI collection on Refworld, ACCORD will add further sources to ecoi.net, so as to ensure that no gaps in coverage are created.
Please contact us at [email protected]