SAS refugee expert made senior adviser to United Nations

Tuesday 10 January 2017

Director and founder of the Refugee Law Initiative at the University of London’s School of Advanced Study Dr David James Cantor (left) has been appointed senior adviser to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). He will work part-time with the UNHCR’s Americas bureau from November 2016.

Over the past 12 months, Dr Cantor’s research has helped shape UNHCR’s policy for Latin America. His appointment to this prestigious position follows the completion of a three-year Economic and Social Research Council-funded project, which looked at refugee protection in Latin America.

Dr Cantor is also a reader in international human rights law at SAS where he oversees the successful distance-learning MA in Refugee Protection and Forced Migration Studies. He said it is a privilege to be asked to work with UNHCR:  ‘I am very excited at this new opportunity to translate the insights gleaned from working as an academic into assisting UNHCR to develop its policy and strategy for the protection of refugees and displaced persons in this fast-moving regional context.’

His recent research project addressed new dynamics of forced migration in the Americas and the challenges that this poses for governments and regional organisations.

He explains that ‘These new waves of displacement include people fleeing from organised criminal violence in Central American countries such as El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, as well as the cross-border movement of people caused by natural disasters such as floods, tropical storms and earthquakes.’

Dr Cantor will continue with his academic responsibilities at the School on a part-time basis, and carry on overseeing the MA in Refugee Protection and Forced Migration Studies, a unique distance and flexible learning programme offered through the University of London International Programmes. The course, which was launched in 2014, addresses the problems caused by the escalating global refugee crisis, and enable students to think constructively about related policy and law, and develop policy recommendations.


Notes to Editors:

  1. For all enquiries, please contact: Maureen McTaggart, Media and Public Relations Officer, School of Advanced Study, University of London +44 (0)20 7862 8859 /
  2. The School of Advanced Study (SAS), University of London is the UK’s national centre for the promotion and support of research in the humanities. SAS and its member institutes offer unparalleled academic opportunities, facilities and stimulation across a wide range of subject areas for the benefit of the national and international scholarly community. In 2015-16, SAS: welcomed 786 research fellows and associates; held 2,007 research dissemination events; received 24.4 million visits to its digital research resources and platforms; and received 194,145 visits to its specialist libraries and collections. The School also leads the UK’s only nationwide festival of the humanities: Being Human. Find out more at or follow SAS on Twitter at @SASNews.
  3. The Refugee Law Initiative, based at the Human Rights Consortium of the School of Advanced Study, 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. Find out more at
  4. The University of London is a federal University and is one of the oldest, largest and most diverse universities in the UK. Established by Royal Charter in 1836, the University is recognised globally as a world leader in Higher Education. Its members are 18 self-governing member institutions of outstanding reputation, and nine research institutes. Learn more about the University of London at