June 20, 2020—Ottawa – On World Refugee Day 2020, the Local Engagement Refugee Research Network (LERRN) is excited to announce plans to launch a Refugee Advisory Network to enhance the role of civil society—and refugees themselves—in the global refugee system.

This initiative is a result of sustained collaboration between LERRN, refugee leaders and civil society partners. It builds on the pivotal experience of LERRN Advisor Mustafa Alio, who was named as the first ever official Refugee Advisor to the Canadian Delegation, headed by the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Marco Mendicino, at the inaugural Global Refugee Forum in Geneva in December 2019.

The launch of the Refugee Advisory Network, which has been endorsed by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, represents an important step forward in ensuring that refugees can engage in a direct and meaningful way in global policy discussions. LERRN believes that policy partners stand to benefit from the expertise offered by former refugees, whose ideas for solutions are rooted in their experience of the realities of forced displacement.

The Refugee Advisory Network will be comprised of a group of refugee leaders in Canada who are actively engaged in diverse aspects of global refugee policy discussions and connected to global refugee networks. Members of the Network will be selected through an open and competitive process supported by a Selection Committee that includes representatives from civil society, academia and prominent former refugees. During their two-year term, Members will benefit from mentorship and capacity-building opportunities to enhance their ability to constructively engage with the global refugee policy process.

The Network will be a resource that the Government of Canada can draw on for including refugee participants and advisors to future delegations to international meetings on the refugee system.

In endorsing the launch of the Refugee Advisory Network, Minister Mendicino stated: “We are proud to build on Canada’s leadership demonstrated at the Global Refugee Forum in Geneva to support this new initiative by The Local Engagement Refugee Research Network (LERRN). The initiative will amplify the voices of refugees so that they can better shape the policies that affect them. Having the experiences and insights of refugees at the table will strengthen Canada’s contributions to the international refugee system.”

Additional details on the Refugee Advisory Network will be posted on the LERRN website in the coming weeks.