Skip to main content

Research chairs will anchor knowledge on forced displacement in the Global South

December 13, 2021

More than 80 million people around the world have been forced to flee their homes, reported the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in 2020. They have left because of persecution, conflict, violence, human rights violations, economic hardship, climate change and prolonged instances of political instability. The women and children among them bear the brunt of the difficulties associated with their often precarious conditions.  

Although developing countries host 80% percent of the world’s forcibly displaced, the policies and practices governing the lives of these populations have had to draw on available research that mostly comes from developed countries. National and local knowledge about forced displacement, grounded in the experiences of those who have fled and of their host communities, remains largely untapped. This localized knowledge is crucial for the development of long-lasting solutions to the challenges of forced displacement.  

IDRC is investing CAD4.4 million, in 2021 alone, to establish research chairs on forced displacement in Global South universities. Open, competitive calls for proposals in the Middle East and East Africa and in South and Southeast Asia and Central and South America have led to the selection of eight universities that will create research chairs based on the objectives they have identified. 

Each university will receive up to CAD600,000 over five years to carry out interdisciplinary and multi-sectoral research, while integrating approaches to transform discriminatory gender norms. Their efforts to select the chairholders are underway. 

Together, they will contribute significantly to the field of study on forced displacement from a Global South perspective, committing to excellence in research and teaching and to mentoring young scholars. The chairs will also focus on promoting strong linkages to community-level research and initiatives as well as to national and global policy processes.  

Here are the first eight universities selected in 2021 and their research chair plans:  

In addition to these eight universities, IDRC plans to support an additional four research chairs in West and North Africa, as part of longer-term engagement on forced-displacement issues. 

Durable solutions for the forcibly displaced 

A crucial component of this initiative is the support for networking, coordination and mutual learning among the research chairs. The Local Engagement Refugee Research Network at Carleton University in Canada (https://carleton.ca/lerrn/) will facilitate engagement and collaboration among the chairs, as well as the synthesis of findings and learning from the different regions.  

Research and evidence that connects the lived realities of displaced people with policymakers at local, national and global levels is essential for the achievement of durable solutions. This initiative will create critical knowledge and research, led by institutions in the Global South, that can help inform not only local and national policies, but also global discourse and actions.