Civil society actors have historically played an important role in determining outcomes for refugees, and have been at the forefront of developing innovative solutions to refugee situations. LERRN’s goal is to understand and enhance the role of civil society in responding to the needs of refugees, primarily those living in the Global South. By responding to the needs and opportunities identified by our partners, LERRN works to achieve our goal through four main areas of activity:
Supporting and enabling partnered, collaborative research that responds to priorities identified by our working groups, especially our Geographic Working Groups in major refugee-hosting countries. Through this research, LERRN partners are co-creating new knowledge about the role of civil society in the functioning of the global refugee regime. We also support research by our Thematic Working Groups to critically engage with emerging issues that relate to diversity and intersectionality, protection and solutions.
In addition to sub-projects led by specific working groups, LERRN also supports annual research placements undertaken by a graduate student from one of our partner Canadian universities and a student selected by our Geographic Working Groups. This research is an integral part of our combined effort to understand and enhance the role of civil society in responding to the needs of refugees in the Global South.
Developing and advancing capacity-building, training and mentoring activities for graduate students and emerging scholars in the Global North and South, NGO workers and refugee leaders. Through these activities, LERRN is working to enhance the impact of a community of actors committed to partnered approaches to realize positive change in the functioning of the global refugee regime. Our activities to support this priority include, regional summer institutes, a range of local workshops, participation in the Summer course on Refugees and Forced Migration at York University’s Centre for Refugee Studies, and through the LERRN speaker series.
Amplifying our results and partners’ voices through traditional and innovative knowledge-mobilization tools, with a particular emphasis on social impact. We seek to address the political economy of knowledge production that has tended to disadvantage the perspective of scholars and other voices in the Global South and to influence policy and public debates. These mechanisms include: working papers, specialized blog series, active social media platforms, and by hosting workshops.
Promoting the value of refugee participation and inclusion in the design, implementation, and evaluation of refugee research and policy. In September 2019, LERRN and the Refugee Hub convened researchers, practitioners and policymakers for a Policy Dialogue to explore how Canada can support meaningful refugee participation. Participants outlined several concrete proposals for achieving meaningful refugee participation, including a Mentorship Program for Refugee Leaders in Canada. This Mentorship Program would aim to train 10 refugee leaders per cycle. The initiative would be managed by a Steering Committee that includes refugee leaders and members of Canadian civil society from academic, NGO, and community sectors.
LERRN is also working to promote refugee participation and leadership in global policy processes. Thanks to the hard work of our partners and allies, history was made by Canada at the UN Global Refugee Forum in December 2019 when Mustafa Alio was included as refugee advisor to the Canadian Delegation. This has led to discussions on how this practice can be continued and replicated by other countries. LERRN is at the forefront of these conversations to discuss the importance of embracing and supporting refugee leadership and delivering on the promise of refugee participation.
LERRN also acts on this principle through the inclusion of refugee leaders in our own governance structure. LERRN is thrilled to have an advisory committee which includes Mustafa Alio, a Syrian refugee and co-founder of Jumpstart Refugee Talent and Muzna Duried, also a Syrian refugee and government liaison officer with the Syrian White Helmets, in order to ensure that refugees are included in all stages of research, policy and practice.