Development Award: Interdisciplinary Network on Internal Displacement, Conflict and Protection

Lead Research Organisation: University of London
Department Name: School of Advanced Study

Abstract

The vast majority of the estimated 40 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) globally live in conflict-affected low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).

Like refugees, these IDPs have been forced to flee their homes. But, unlike refugees, IDPs remain within their own country, often at the mercy of the same armed groups that forced them to displace in the first place. The opportunities for IDPs to access 'protection' from dangers such as the risk of violence or other human rights violations can thus be quite limited.

Moreover, the 'stop-gap' humanitarian response often traps IDPs, who have left behind homes and belongings, in long-term cycles of poverty. In many LMICs, internal displacement due to conflict is not only a serious protection concern but also an entrenched development challenge.

There is an acute need to provide innovative evidence-based solutions to improve the protection of IDPs. However, new thinking on this topic remains elusive. In part, since the mid-2000s, this reflects a lack of robust and context-sensitive local research on IDP protection in situations of conflict.

To remedy this shortcoming, and squarely address this development challenge, we propose to create an Interdisciplinary Network on Internal Displacement, Conflict and Protection (INDCaP).

In the UK and in LMICs affected by conflict in Africa, Latin America and the Middle East, our shortlisted four-year Network+ project will aim to promote pioneering research, and develop the evidence base, on 'protection' in contexts of internal displacement.

To make an innovative research contribution, that project pursues three main objectives:

1. Creating a new global research community on this development challenge. Research around internal displacement is currently both disparate and fragmentary, despite the vast scale of such displacement globally and the acute protection challenges involved;

2. Capacity-building with researchers (academic, NGO, community-based etc.) in LMICs to enhance local knowledge production, impact and public engagement on the societal, legal and operational protection challenges of internal displacement during conflict;

3. Leading and promoting cutting-edge interdisciplinary research to showcase how arts and humanities disciplines, working with the social sciences and STEM subjects, can contribute to crafting context-sensitive solutions to protection challenges in conflict and displacement.

The present one-year Development Award (DA) project lays the groundwork for pursuing these three main objectives through an integrated programme of network-building activities by INDCaP partners.

These DA project activities are jointly-designed by project partners as a way to consolidate equitable and sustainable partnerships between UK and LMICs for research on protection, conflict and displacement. The planned activities focus on three main areas of work: (i) promoting cross-cutting research development; (ii) allowing development of the Network+ bid; and (iii) facilitating sustainable legacies for the resulting network.

The INDCaP DA project is an international collaboration between leading arts, humanities and social research centres: the 'IDP research programme' at the Refugee Law Initiative, School of Advanced Study, University of London (UK); Chair in Humanities and Human Rights of the University of Birmingham (UK); Centre for Human Rights of the University of Pretoria (South Africa); Centre for Socio-legal Research of University of the Andes (Colombia); and Qperspective social research consultancy (Jordan).

The expertise, contacts and networks of these specialised research centres underpin the success of this incipient network, which draws in researchers from universities, research institutions and civil society in the UK, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East, as well as key protection policy-makers from LMICs seriously affected by internal displacement.
 
Description 1. The project has established and supported three regional networks in Africa, Latin America and the Middle East, comprised of researchers (and some policy/practitioner actors) currently working on internal displacement in conflict contexts and those who are interested in doing so in the future and led by key experts in each region.

2. The project has provided research and thematic training to DAC-list country network members through a six-week online training programme 'Internal Displacement, Conflict and Protection' that was first developed in 2019 and piloted in 2020. This is to ensure a level of key knowledge on the subject amongst those participating in the networks. The feedback on the training has been positive.

3. The key investigators also conducted reviews of the research literature on internal displacement at the global level and in relation to pertinent regions, i.e. Africa, Latin America and the Middle East, as well as Asia and Europe. These reviews were published in the Internal Displacement Research Programme Working Paper Series in 2020 and are freely available to all online - they provide a key touchstone for DAC-list country network members developing their research on internal displacement in these regions and/or in relation to other global debates on internal displacement.

4. Despite the difficulties imposed by COVID (particularly to the face-to-face workshops planned), the regional networks have also begun to run series of Zoom-based online meetings and workshops for network members, as a way of building these intra-regional research communities and developing research agendas within each network. The public workshops also serve as a way to recruit new members to the networks, which are open to all researchers in relevant DAC-list countries interested in developing research on this theme. Other online workshops run by the PI to support network members have been on the practicalities researching and publishing on internal displacement.

5. The PI has also established two open access platforms at the Internal Displacement Research Programme for sharing research carried out by this project and promoting new research and debate in this field. The first, established in 2020, is a Working Paper Series (where the project reviews were published, and new research by others also appears there) and the second, established in 2021, is a special section on 'internal displacement' on the popular Refugee Law Initiative blog. The PI published the inaugural blog piece on the latter platform and other new contributions are published there too (and the regional networks have plans to publish there soon).

6. The project has also engaged with the UN Secretary General's High Level Panel on Internal Displacement (HLP), one of the most significant channels for promoting interest and change on internal displacement in the past two decades. Firstly, following coordinated submissions to the HLP by the project regional networks, the project was involved in a formal research collaboration with the HLP. The HLP identified nine issues on which it particularly needed to be informed and research papers and briefings were then produced on each issue by members of the network (and, in some cases, in collaboration with others). These were published on the HLP website and inform its discussions. Secondly, the project PI and HLP staff developed a Special Issue of the Refugee Survey Quarterly. The Call for Papers identified a range of further themes on which input from researchers was required and the resulting 21 selected papers (including a number from project network researchers and other DAC-list country researchers) addressed many of those topics. The Special Issue was published in volume 39(4) in December 2020 and was made open access until March 2021. Through its prestige and a dedicated launch event and discussion organised through the project (available as a podcast subsequently), the Special Issue has been widely read and well-received by both researchers and policymakers.

7. Towards the end of 2020, the project PI developed a formal collaboration with the prestigious Academy of Medical Sciences to organise an expert roundtable on internal displacement and health. This took place in 2021 and gathered around 40 leading medical/health experts, particularly from DAC-list countries. A discussion paper was drafted by the PI in collaboration with two medical/health colleagues and the roundtable resulted in various outputs, including a network on health and internal displacement closely linked to those supported by this project.
Exploitation Route 1. Training programme, publications and other material outputs as key points of reference for capacity-building work in this field in DAC-list countries
2. Networks as key points of reference for regional expertise and ongoing capacity-building in DAC-list countries
Sectors Government, Democracy and Justice,Other

 
Description 1. The training programme and research reviews have been used to build research capacity and knowledge among researchers (and some practitioners/policymakers) in DAC-list countries affected by internal displacement in Africa, the Middle East and Latin America. 2. The nine research papers and research briefings prepared by network members, and the articles published in the RSQ Special Issue, have fed directly into the deliberations of the UN Secretary-General's High Level Panel on Internal Displacement. As public documents, they have also been taken up with interest by practitioners and policymakers from a range of institutions working in contexts of internal displacement in DAC-list countries. 3. These outputs and the online workshops and seminars have not only served to start building a research community around internal displacement in each of the three project regions but also to raise the profile of these issues in those contexts.
First Year Of Impact 2020
Sector Government, Democracy and Justice,Other
Impact Types Societal,Policy & public services

 
Description Invited to join the Global Protection Cluster (GPC) Task Team on IDP Law and Policy
Geographic Reach Multiple continents/international 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a advisory committee
URL https://www.globalprotectioncluster.org/themes/law-and-policy-on-internal-displacement/#:~:text=The%...
 
Description Developed collaboration with UK Academy of Medical Sciences on Health and Internal Displacement 
Organisation Academy of Medical Sciences (AMS)
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Approaching the Academy through its Fellowship and proposing joint work on internal displacement and health, jointly developing the concept for an expert roundtable, identifying the participants, developing materials for the roundtable, leading the discussions and following up
Collaborator Contribution Jointly developing the concept for an expert roundtable, identifying and inviting the participants, organising and hosting the roundtable, recording the discussions and following up
Impact - Discussion paper (Cantor, Swartz, Roberts - January 2020) - Expert roundtable (February 2021) - Network development (February 2021-) - Policy outputs (March 2021-)
Start Year 2020
 
Description Developed foundations of network on internal displacement, protection and conflict 
Organisation Birkbeck, University of London
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution I lead this collaboration, which regional hubs co-led by colleagues in sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and the Middle East
Collaborator Contribution They are developing intra-regional networks to build capacity among researcher in academia, policy and practice on this issue
Impact We are currently working on producing a range of impacts, which will be completed and reported during next reporting period. This involves collaboration between a range of disciplines from the arts, humanities, health and social sciences, including literature, law, public health, politics, sociology and anthropology.
Start Year 2019
 
Description Developed foundations of network on internal displacement, protection and conflict 
Organisation Parallel Perspective Consulting
Country Jordan 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution I lead this collaboration, which regional hubs co-led by colleagues in sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and the Middle East
Collaborator Contribution They are developing intra-regional networks to build capacity among researcher in academia, policy and practice on this issue
Impact We are currently working on producing a range of impacts, which will be completed and reported during next reporting period. This involves collaboration between a range of disciplines from the arts, humanities, health and social sciences, including literature, law, public health, politics, sociology and anthropology.
Start Year 2019
 
Description Developed foundations of network on internal displacement, protection and conflict 
Organisation University of London
Department School of Advanced Study
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution I lead this collaboration, which regional hubs co-led by colleagues in sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and the Middle East
Collaborator Contribution They are developing intra-regional networks to build capacity among researcher in academia, policy and practice on this issue
Impact We are currently working on producing a range of impacts, which will be completed and reported during next reporting period. This involves collaboration between a range of disciplines from the arts, humanities, health and social sciences, including literature, law, public health, politics, sociology and anthropology.
Start Year 2019
 
Description Developed foundations of network on internal displacement, protection and conflict 
Organisation University of Pretoria
Country South Africa 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution I lead this collaboration, which regional hubs co-led by colleagues in sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and the Middle East
Collaborator Contribution They are developing intra-regional networks to build capacity among researcher in academia, policy and practice on this issue
Impact We are currently working on producing a range of impacts, which will be completed and reported during next reporting period. This involves collaboration between a range of disciplines from the arts, humanities, health and social sciences, including literature, law, public health, politics, sociology and anthropology.
Start Year 2019
 
Description Developed foundations of network on internal displacement, protection and conflict 
Organisation University of the Andes
Country Colombia 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution I lead this collaboration, which regional hubs co-led by colleagues in sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and the Middle East
Collaborator Contribution They are developing intra-regional networks to build capacity among researcher in academia, policy and practice on this issue
Impact We are currently working on producing a range of impacts, which will be completed and reported during next reporting period. This involves collaboration between a range of disciplines from the arts, humanities, health and social sciences, including literature, law, public health, politics, sociology and anthropology.
Start Year 2019
 
Description Research Partnership with the UN Secretary-General's High-Level Panel on Internal Displacement 
Organisation United Nations (UN)
Country United States 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution The Internal Displacement Research Programme (IDRP)External link at the Refugee Law Initiative entered into a partnership with the Secretariat of the UN Secretary-General's High Level Panel on Internal Displacement to provide research input on certain topics of interest to the panel. This work was carried out by IDRP on a pro bono basis by drawing on the research networks at the IDRP, including those created by the Interdisciplinary Network on Displacement, Conflict and Protection (INDCaP) and the Global Engagement Network on Internal Displacement in Africa (GENIDA) projects and among recent graduates of the RLI's MA in Refugee Protection and Forced Migration Studies.
Collaborator Contribution The Internal Displacement Research Programme (IDRP)External link at the Refugee Law Initiative entered into a partnership with the Secretariat of the UN Secretary-General's High Level Panel on Internal Displacement to provide research input on certain topics of interest to the panel. This work was carried out by IDRP on a pro bono basis by drawing on the research networks at the IDRP, including those created by the Interdisciplinary Network on Displacement, Conflict and Protection (INDCaP) and the Global Engagement Network on Internal Displacement in Africa (GENIDA) projects and among recent graduates of the RLI's MA in Refugee Protection and Forced Migration Studies.
Impact A Special Issue of the Refugee Survey Quarterly journal on internal displacement, jointly edited by DJ Cantor (PI) and Greta Zeender and Mark Yarnell (UNSG HLP), and containing 21 new research articles (open access for three months). Nine research papers and nine accompanying research briefs on the topics requested by the UNSG HLP produced by network-affiliated researchers through a process coordinated by David Cantor (PI). The papers/briefs are listed elsewhere in this form. Some were later published in an updated form in the RSQ Special Issue (see above). Continued engagement by UNSG HLP with research activities undertaken by the network, such as its Expert Roundtable on Health and Internal Displacement (2021).
Start Year 2020
 
Description Closed working groups and open webinar meetings organised and held by the regional research networks in Africa, Latin America and the Middle East 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Closed working groups and open webinar meetings organised and held by the regional research networks in Africa, Latin America and the Middle East
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020,2021
 
Description Coordinated Submissions to UN Secretary's General's High Level Panel on Internal Displacement by the GENIDA/INDCaP Africa, Middle East and Latin America researcher networks on critical issues and solutions 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact The project coordinated submissions to UN Secretary's General's High Level Panel on Internal Displacement by the GENIDA/INDCaP Africa, Middle East and Latin America researcher networks on critical issues and solutions, which can be found on the HLP website (see three GENIDA and INDCAP submissions) and were positively endorsed by the HLP through tweets
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://www.un.org/internal-displacement-panel/content/Inputs-from-Stakeholders
 
Description Creation by network of online training: Internal Displacement, Conflict and Protection 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Third sector organisations
Results and Impact This course provides multi-disciplinary insight into internal displacement and protection during conflict. Taking a global perspective, it outlines the fundamentals of who internally displaced persons (IDPs) are and where they come from, as well as delving into the features of the global IDP protection response and potential 'solutions' for those who have been internally displaced. It places the participants at the centre of the learning experience through engagement with a range of robust and challenging activities, materials and online peer engagement.

The course runs regularly throughout the year and is entirely online. Members and prospective members of the IDRP-supported regional networks in Africa, Latin America and the Middle East are prioritised for registration on the course.

Two iterations of the programme have been run thus far with members of the INDCaP regional networks, led with real-time sessions by the network leads in English, Spanish and Arabic.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020,2021
URL https://rli.sas.ac.uk/idp-research-programme/idp-resources/idrp-online-training
 
Description Creation of a new blog space on 'Internal Displacement' 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact This forum publishes blog posts on internal displacement and internally displaced persons (IDPs). The forum is run by the Internal Displacement Research Programme at the Refugee Law Initiative, its affiliate networks and linked regional research networks: Global Engagement Network on Internal Displacement in Africa, Latin American Network on Internal Displacement and Middle East Network. It is intended to promote further interest in the theme of internal displacement in an accessible way, particularly for the regional research networks supported under the INDCaP project.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://rli.blogs.sas.ac.uk/themed-content/internal-displacement/
 
Description Creation of a new open access Working Paper Series on internal displacement 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact The IDRP Working Paper Series, at the Internal Displacement Research Programme, publishes research on internal displacement from pertinent disciplinary perspectives in an open access format, as a way to promote research engagement with the issue, particularly among the participants in the INDCAP-supported regional networks.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020,2021
URL https://rli.sas.ac.uk/resources/working-paper-series/internal-displacement-research-programme-workin...
 
Description Global Expert Workshop on Internal Displacement and Health, hosted by Academy of Medical Sciences and Internal Displacement Research Programme 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Convening global expert researchers and policy actors from the medical and health sciences, this workshop took a first step toward building an integrated research community to engage this challenge by
-Identifying key research findings and knowledge gaps on health and internal
displacement;
-Stimulating renewed research interest and collaborations in this field through
networking;
-Publishing findings on the state of the art and future directions for research;
-Producing targeted briefs to feed into practice/policy processes, including the
UNSG HLP;
Disseminating materials to raise public awareness, including via social media
platforms.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
 
Description Invited presentation on 'Academia in the Response to Forced Displacement in Central America', presentation to UN General Assembly high-level event on The Global Compact on Refugees and Forced Displacement in Central America: Regional Cooperation and the MIRPS as a Solution, New York, USA 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Invited presentation to UN General Assembly high-level event on The Global Compact on Refugees and Forced Displacement in Central America: Regional Cooperation and the MIRPS as a Solution, New York, USA - which elicited positive dialogue in responses
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description Roundtable: 'Why Do We Need New Research on Internal Displacement?' 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Refugee Survey Quarterly Special Issue on Internal Displacement launch event, hosted by IDRP online, January 2021, which sparked questions and discussion afterwards and email approaches expressing interest by way of follow-up
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://rli.sas.ac.uk/events/event/23574
 
Description Workshop on 'Researching and Publishing on Internal Displacement' 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Research training and promotion with members of the regional research networks.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021