This discourse of repatriation, therefore, generates power inequalities between UNHCR and refugees. The central question is: whose voice matters? UNHCR’s discourse of voluntary repatriation combined with its growing authority to assess the human rights and political situation in the refugee-producing country means that it arrogates for itself a privileged position to judge whether the conditions warrant a repatriation exercise. In short, the knowledge claims of UNHCR overshadow the knowledge claims of the refugees. Although UNHCR has attempted to democratize its decision making process by providing linkages between refugees and the agency, such linkages might not have a decisive influence if they are embedded with an organizational culture that privileges the views and understandings of UNHCR officials. Although this culture will not necessarily trammel refugee rights and leave then in harm’s way, the possibility is ever present.
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