On March 20, 2024, a thought-provoking panel discussion titled “People Forced to Flee” took place at Carleton University. The event, hosted by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and supported by LERRN: The Local Engagement Refugee Research Network and the Migration and Diaspora Studies program at Carleton University, featured distinguished speakers Ninette Kelley and Dr. James Milner. The discussion delved into the complexities surrounding forced displacement, drawing upon historical perspectives and contemporary challenges.

Ninette Kelley, with over 19 years of experience at UNHCR and significant contributions to refugee policy, shared insights from her recent work, “People Forced to Flee: History, Change, and Challenge.” Dr. James Milner, an Associate Professor of Political Science at Carleton University, brought his expertise in global refugee policy and his involvement with LERRN.

The panelists illuminated the evolving concept of asylum, tracing its roots from ancient times to the modern era. They discussed the landmark 1951 Refugee Convention and the subsequent expansion of protection frameworks. Moreover, they emphasized the critical role of data, evidence, and analysis in shaping effective responses to forced displacement. Kelley and Milner explored innovative financing mechanisms and highlighted the shift towards a development approach in supporting refugees. They also addressed challenges such as interagency competition and the need for greater collaboration. The event underscored the importance of holistic solutions and meaningful engagement with local communities.

Overall, the panel discussion provided a platform for insightful dialogue on the pressing issues surrounding forced displacement, offering valuable perspectives for policymakers, academics, and practitioners alike.

This report was prepared by Georgiana Ghitau, LERRN Knowledge Mobilization and Translation Officer.