Refugee Law Initiative holds workshop on refugee law and policy for high-level officials of Commonwealth governments

Tuesday 21 February 2012

Refugee Law Initiative Activities brochure 2011-12The Refugee Law Initiative (RLI) at the School of Advanced Study, University of London, has just held the first-ever inter-governmental workshop on refugee law and policy aimed specifically at Commonwealth governments.

The workshop was held at the RLI on 14-16 February 2012 and was attended by heads of refugee services and other high-level officials of fifteen Commonwealth governments from Asia, the Caribbean, the Pacific, southern Africa and West Africa.

The workshop aimed to strengthen the capacity of selected Commonwealth states to protect refugees and implement priority Universal Periodic Review recommendations on refugee protection by acting as a forum for:

  • Strengthening refugee protection systems, especially in preparation for States’ participation in the Universal Periodic Review;
  • Exchanging knowledge and views between academic and practitioners;
  • Facilitating discussions between Commonwealth states on refugee protection.

Structured as a targeted training programme, the workshop was delivered by academic experts and leading practitioners. It enabled leading government officials charged with designing and implementing refugee policies in the fifteen Commonwealth countries to exchange knowledge and perspectives, and engage with important new research and thinking in the field. Follow-up activities are now in process.

The Director of the RLI, Dr David James Cantor, said: “We are delighted with the high degree of interest by the governments concerned, and the very active participation of all those involved. The workshop provided an excellent platform for using the links and common traditions of the Commonwealth as a basis for improved refugee protection”.

Participating delegates strongly endorsed the utility of the workshop as a basis for their ongoing work with refugees. Comments made by delegates about the workshop during the following evaluation process included:

‘The content and speakers involved are excellent’
‘Everything was excellent!!’
‘The presentations are all most relevant [to my work with refugees]’
‘Practical and related to my current issues with refugees. Also interactive’
‘All of the presentations will be useful, most especially refugee law and policy’
‘The workshop was well informative and organised, and could not be put together better as it was well organised’

The workshop was generously supported by a Human Rights and Democracy Grant from the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

For further information about the workshop please contact the RLI Director (Dr David Cantor) or Research Coordinator (Ms Margherita Blandini) at or +44 (0)20 7862 8871/8570.

Notes for Editors:

  1. For further information please contact the RLI Director (Dr David Cantor) or Research Coordinator (Ms Margherita Blandini) at or +44 (0)20 7862 8871/8570.
  2. The Refugee Law Initiative at the Human Rights Consortium of the School of Advanced Study, University of London is the only academic centre in the UK to concentrate specifically on international refugee law. As a national focal point for leading and promoting research in this field, it works to integrate the shared interests of refugee law scholars and practitioners, stimulate collaboration between academics and non-academics, and achieve policy impact at the national and international level. The Refugee Law Initiative hosts seminars, workshops, short courses and other events to promote and facilitate cutting-edge research on the protection of refugees and other displaced persons. It leads and manages high-impact research, policy and training projects, and carries out consultancy work on refugee law and protection.
  3. The School of Advanced Study at the University of London is the UK’s national centre for the facilitation and promotion of research in the humanities and social sciences. The School brings together the specialised scholarship and resources of ten prestigious research institutes to offer academic opportunities, facilities and stimulation across a wide range of subject areas for the benefit of the national and international scholarly community. The member institutes of the School are the Institutes of Advanced Legal Studies, Classical Studies, Commonwealth Studies, English Studies, Germanic & Romance Studies, Historical Research, Musical Research, Philosophy, Study of the Americas, and the Warburg Institute.
  4. The Human Rights Consortium, founded in 2009, brings together the multidisciplinary expertise in human rights found in several institutes of the School of Advanced Study, as well as collaborating with individuals and organisations with an interest in the subject. The main aim of the Consortium is to facilitate, promote and disseminate academic and policy work on human rights by holding conferences and seminars, hosting visiting fellows, coordinating the publication of high quality work in the field, and establishing a network of human rights researchers, policy-makers and practitioners across the UK and internationally, with a view to collaborating on a range of activities.