Building a Movement, Growing a Community

Hosting a Refugee Rights Leadership Training in Geneva

As part of a growing global refugee rights movement, opportunities to meet our colleagues in person are rare and few. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugee’s (UNHCR) Annual Consultations, held every summer, is perhaps the only chance to meet our fellow advocates annually. This year, we decided to use this opportunity to host a three-day Refugee Rights Leadership Training right before the Consultations, with support from The Transatlantic Forum on Migration Fellows of the German Marshall Fund.

From June 29th to July 1st, refugee rights advocates working in 14 countries and five continents convened in Geneva to build practical skills, gain insights, and share best practices. Together, 30 participants built transcontinental connections and learned from the diverse experiences represented within the group.

Workshops led by external specialists covered topics such as how to secure a client’s right to legal representation, outreach to particularly vulnerable refugee groups, policy advocacy strategies, and country specific case studies such as Korea’s new refugee law and Iran’s challenging advocacy environment. An “unconference” session was also organized so that participants could select topics of particular interest to explore them through brainstorming and sharing experiences, benefiting from the diversity of country contexts and organizational experiences.

At the end of the training, many spoke appreciatively about the practical tools and strategies they learned, while others were grateful for the opportunity to step back and reflect on the larger issues underlying their work. Participants found it useful to leverage on new connections made to strengthen their efforts at the upcoming consultation. The leadership training also led to some practical initiatives, including a commitment by the participants to continue to share best practices and tools going forward.

On our part, Asylum Access left inspired by the work of our staff on the frontlines and of our colleagues around the world. We look forward to implementing new best practices, mitigate challenges from the shared lessons learned, and continuing to strengthen our movement through its main element – the refugee rights advocates that move it forward with their daily work.

The Refugee Rights Leadership Training is one of our many efforts to catalyze the global movement through offering opportunities for joint learning and collaboration. We were among the founding members of the Southern Refugee Legal Aid Network (SRLAN), helped draft the Nairobi Code of Ethics for refugee legal aid providers, and launched the first prototype of the Refugee Rights Toolkit currently being tested by selected advocates. We hope to build on these initiatives to create more opportunities for engagement within the global refugee rights community. Stay tuned for more!

Click here to see more photos from the Refugee Rights Leadership Training. This project is part of the “Transatlantic Forum on Migration and Integration” (TFMI) and was made possible by support from the Robert Bosch Stiftung and the German Marshall Fund of the United States.

By Asylum Access Overseas Operations Director Michelle Arévalo-Carpenter