Forced Migration

5 February-16 March 2020 (E07220) | Register for this course (page opens in new window)
Instructor: Frank Elbers

Forced migration is one of today’s major international challenges and lies at the heart of the fundamental concepts of humanity and equality. War, conflict, environmental and human catastrophes, as well as the effects of globalisation and economic polarisation, compels individuals to move in search of safety and stability. This e-learning course introduces participants to the international and regional systems and standards of refugee protection from historical, legal, theoretical and practical perspectives. It also analyses special protection mechanisms such as complementary or temporary protection. The mounting challenges to refugee protection resulting from a growth in mixed migration, and rising xenophobia will also be examined. The linkages between human rights law, humanitarian law and refugee law are analysed in views of states’ compliance with legal and ethical obligations. Special attention is given to the three durable solutions for refugees (repatriation, local integration and resettlement) and reflects on some of the key challenges presented by each of them.

The particular challenges presented by complex emergencies and mass influxes are discussed as are the responses developed by the international community to effective humanitarian aid delivery, such as the “cluster approach”. The critical importance of approaching refugee populations as heterogeneous groups with differing needs and resources is explained, and approaches to the identification of and response to special protection needs of vulnerable individuals within the community discussed.

Course structure

This certificate course involves approximately 30 hours of reading, on-line working groups, interaction among students and instructor, webinars, quizzes and a writing assignment, and is offered over a six-week period. The course will integrate active and participatory learning approaches within activities and assignments, with an emphasis on reflective and collaborative learning. The maximum number of course participants is 25. Students who successfully complete the course will receive a Certificate of Participation. It is also possible to audit the course.

Course outline

Week 1. Introduction to forced migration – history of population movements, evolution of refugee regime and basic concepts
Week 2. International and regional frameworks for refugee protection – Geneva Convention of 1951 and 1967 Protocol, Cartagena Declaration and OAU Convention
Week 3. Contemporary challenges of forced migration: mixed migration, human trafficking, complex emergencies and mass influxes
Week 4. Division of roles and responsibilities: governments (host/donor), UNHCR, NGOs; inter-agency co-operation and the Cluster Approach
Week 5. The search for durable solutions as an integral part of protecting refugees: key challenges in a shrinking world
Week 6. Participatory needs assessment of refugee populations; identification of and response to individuals with special protection needs

About the instructor: Frank Elbers

Frank ElbersFrank Elbers is a Visiting Fellow at the Institute for Women’s Studies in the Arab World at Lebanese American University in Beirut. He teaches professional development courses for humanitarian workers and NGOs who are part of the Syria Crisis Response and conducts research on refugees and changing gender dynamics in urban contexts. He has more than 25 years of experience in development and human rights in post-communist Eastern Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, and West Africa. Before moving to Lebanon Frank was Executive Director of Human Rights Education Associates (HREA) for seven years. He joined HREA in 1998 and have been an instructor and trainer for courses and workshops on human rights-based programming, monitoring women’s human rights, gender mainstreaming, and the human rights of (forced) migrants for many years. Frank has published on anti-immigrant political parties, migration and citizenship, migrant politics and integration policies in the Netherlands, the United States, West Africa and the Middle East/North Africa.

Who should apply

The course is aimed at practitioners and professionals who want to gain knowledge in the field of forced migration, government officials (local and national level) dealing with forced migration and refugee-related issues; staff of inter-governmental organisations such as the IOM and UNHCR; NGO staff members and service providers; and students of law, international relations, politics and social science. Participants should have a good written command of English and have high competence and comfort with computer and Internet use. HREA aims to ensure equal gender and geographical distribution across the selected participants.


Tuition fee for participants:€ 345 (€ 405 after 1 December 2019); tuition for auditors€ 135 (€ 165 after 1 December 2019). Payments can be made online with major credit cards (American Express, Discover, MasterCard, Visa), PayPal and bank transfer. Bulk rates are available. Payments are due upon registration.

How to register

Register for this course (page opens in new window).

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