Essex Professor takes lead in encouraging more collaboration on refugee research

  • Date

    Tue 30 Aug 22

Image of refugee camp in the Sahara

Professor of International Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, Geoff Gilbert, is supporting the move to encourage more universities to work together on refugee research.

Professor Gilbert, chair of the Global Academic Interdisciplinary Network (GAIN), based at the University of Essex, said more universities getting involved would help to create networks that “promote relevant and impactful research”.

As part of its pledge at the Global Refugee Forum (GRF), Essex agreed to chair GAIN until the next GRF in 2023. GAIN was launched in 2019 as part of the implementation of the Global Compact on Refugees (GCR) – adopted by the UN General Assembly in December 2018 – through research, teaching and solidarity with displaced scholars and students.

GAIN aims to be a global network researching about, offering education on, and providing support to refugees, other forcibly displaced persons, and statelessness issues. It involves universities, academic alliances, and research institutions, together with United Nation High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and other relevant stakeholders.

To deliver on its objectives of research, teaching and solidarity, GAIN has announced that it is committed to expanding the Sergio Vieria de Mello Academic Chairs model (De Mello Chairs), a good practice developed by UNHCR’s Office in Brazil with Brazilian Universities.

The De Mello Chairs allow higher education institutions to coordinate efforts to protect refugees by sharing and fostering good practices.

By expanding the De Mello Chairs, GAIN aims to promote, strengthen and give visibility to research, teaching and community outreach carried out by universities in low- and middle-income countries and refugee researchers, scholars and students.

Universities in high-income countries are also encouraged to join the De Mello Chairs by committing to establish equal collaboration and promote partnerships with, and funding towards, academic institutions in lower income countries, as well as with refugees themselves.

Professor Gilbert said: “Over 80% of persons who are forcibly displaced or stateless are hosted in low- or middle-income countries, yet most of the research and teaching regarding these issues takes place in the Global North.

“GAIN works to ensure that the design, development and eventual dissemination of research includes academics and those with lived experience of forced displacement from the countries hosting the vast majority of refugees, asylum seekers, internally displaced people and stateless people.

“The De Mello Chairs help to build the South-South networks that promote relevant and impactful research.”