Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 May 2023, 15:20 GMT

UNHCR and Austrian Red Cross Partnership

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 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.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the main changes being implemented on Refworld?

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:

  1. Supporting quality decision-making on claims for international protection: Refworld’s main objective is, and will continue to be, to support quality decision-making on claims for international protection.
  2. A unique added-value: Refworld will focus on areas where it has a clear and defined added value in comparison to other platforms, formulated in accordance with UNHCR’s mandate. In particular, UNHCR will focus on creating a comprehensive refugee case law database with a global scope. Similarly, Refworld will strive to provide access to relevant national laws (including laws and regulations related to national asylum systems, as well as national laws that are relevant for the assessment of international protection needs). Finally, Refworld will provide access to UNHCR’s policy documents relating to refugee status determination.

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 Other document collections that are available elsewhere include the United Nations documents collection that can be accessed at

  1. Improved user-friendliness and search functionalities: Refworld’s search functionalities will be adapted and improved, taking into account specific user needs for accessing its specialized collections.

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.

Why will UNHCR discontinue the Country of Origin Information (COI) collection (and not the case law or legislation collections for example)?

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 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, 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.

Does this mean that UNHCR considers COI of less relevance than policy, legislation and jurisprudence in support of quality decision-making on claims for international protection?

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

What is the relationship between UNHCR and ACCORD’s

UNHCR has a longstanding relationship with ACCORD in the field of COI. UNHCR was involved in the inception of 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 until 2009. In 2018 a new version of 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 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:

About, 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. is committed to an impartial information policy and to the objective and neutral presentation of country of origin information. While focuses on human rights issues of relevance for procedures of international protection, it includes information regardless of its positive or negative character. 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.

More information about can be found on its website:

Funding & partnerships is run by the Austrian Red Cross (department ACCORD) in cooperation with Informationsverbund Asyl & Migration. is funded by the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (EU), the Austrian Ministry of the Interior and Caritas Austria. 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

As “ecoi” is an acronym for European Country of Origin Information, does this mean that the COI included in focuses only on COI relevant to European countries of asylum?

ACCORD uses annual asylum statistics in different parts of the world to determine the prioritization of all countries included in A comparison of the prioritization of the countries by 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

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 can be found here:

What will happen to the current COI collection on Refworld?

The COI published until 31 December 2018 will remain accessible on Refworld. The links will stay the same.

Where can I find which COI?

For your main COI search in English (and German) you can make use of

Furthermore, please note the following:

COI until 2018 (in English): Refworld

COI in Russian: Russian Refworld

COI in Spanish: Spanish Refworld

Country guidance documents issued by UNHCR: Refworld and

In which languages will COI be available?

The majority of the COI documents on 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.

What about UNHCR’s country guidance documents (eligibility guidelines, international protection considerations, and positions on return)?

Country guidance published by UNHCR will continue to be published on Refworld.

Weekly updates

You can sign up for weekly updates with here:

Are all current active COI Refworld Publishers also covered by 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, see here: 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, so as to ensure that no gaps in coverage are created.


Please contact us at [email protected]

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