UNHCR launches Advisory group on Gender, Forced Displacement and Protection

Group draws together social visionaries, change-makers, and civil society leaders from around the world to invigorate UNHCR's protection work with forcibly displaced communities.

Advisory Group members meet with the High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, Assistant High Commissioner for Protection, Volker Türk, and US Ambassador Pamela Hamamoto on the eve of the group's inaugural meeting.  © UNHCR/M.Henley

GENEVA, March 7 (UNHCR) - UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, has established a 21-member Advisory Group on Gender, Forced Displacement, and Protection. This distinguished group ranges from the mayor of a Polish city to someone who spent his formative years in a camp for internally displaced people and mobilized his community for peace. It brings with it a wealth of knowledge and experience in working alongside communities to address critical issues such as accountability, xenophobia, sexual violence in conflict, and the marginalization of women.

The Advisory Group has been established by UNHCR to bring new perspectives to our understanding of the forces rapidly changing our global environment and the challenges they pose for UNHCR's protection work, including the continuing prevalence of sexual violence in conflict and displacement, and the critical need for meaningful and accountable engagement with displaced communities.

The Advisory Group held its inaugural meeting on 12 February 2016. The full day of discussion was preceded by an evening gathering during which the members of the group met the High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, and staff from across the organization.

Participants at the inaugural meeting acknowledged the increasingly challenging environment in which UNHCR operates - characterized by both new emergencies as well as on-going crises - and stressed the importance of critical analysis, humility, and continuous community engagement to identify solutions that uphold the dignity of displaced people and build progressive societies.

"The act of listening to communities is life-saving," said Volker Türk, UNHCR's Assistant High Commissioner for Protection. "Analysis comes from sitting down and talking with people. Simplistic analysis does not do justice to the work that we do…[a deeper analysis] is important for our response and for solutions," he added.

The group also delved into a range of issues critical to UNHCR and displaced people of concern. These included exploring opportunities for community engagement, specifically around issues of protection; defining what it means to be accountable to the communities with whom UNCHR works; emphasizing the UN's duty to involve communities in key decisions and processes that affect them; and identifying ways to ensure transparency in our work. The discussion also explored how to support refugee women in taking on leadership roles in their communities.

Advisory Group members will support UNHCR through their respective areas of expertise and action to further UNHCR's work to protect the rights of people who are forcibly displaced, as well as to mobilize action to identify solutions.

The full list of Advisory Group members, as well as more information on the work of the Advisory Group, can be found at http://www.unhcr.org/pages/56d456f26.html. Please write to advisorygroup@unhcr.org to learn more.