Forced Displacement

Forced displacement was ICVA's first focus area in 1962 and remains highly relevant today as the ICVA network responds to the overwhelming number of displaced persons.  In line with the 2015-2018 Strategy, ICVA promotes improved protection, assistance and durable solutions for refugees, internally displaced persons, stateless persons and vulnerable migrants.

The focus is on the three key areas:


1. Support collective NGO advocacy

ICVA supports collective NGO advocacy by facilitating statements, position and action on critical issues pertaining to forced displacement.

ICVA's forced displacement working group

ICVA has a Forced Displacement Working Group (previously UNHCR Working Group) for its members to advise the ICVA Secretariat on its work related to the forced displacement focus areas as laid out in the 2015-2018 Strategy. Members who would like to join this group can contact for further information. This group held its first meeting in April 2013 and now meets on an ad hoc basis (usually monthly).



Advocating together: joint NGO statements

UNHCR's Executive Committee (ExCom) comprised of 98 UN Member States, meets in Geneva annually to review and approve the agency's programme and budget, and discuss protection and operational issues.  ExCom's Standing Committee meets several times a year to carry on the body's work between plenary sessions. ICVA coordinates the development of the joint NGO statements delivered at UNHCR's Executive Committee and Standing Committee meetings. ICVA also works with interested NGOs to follow the  negotiation of Conclusions and organise NGO side events at these meetings.


The UN High-Level Summit on Addressing large movements of refugees and migrants:

As large forced displacement of populations has reached unprecedented numbers, the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is calling on UN Member States to work together towards a collective response to the global crisis. While a number of global events are taking place over the year around the issue, 19 September is the opportunity for  UN Member States to face this crisis of solidarity and take actions for closer collaboration and better shared responsibility.
In this regard, UN Member States have been negotiating an outcome document, the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants. It was presented to Member States at the UN General Assembly Summit for Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants on 19 September for signature.

In order to be part of the process, civil society actors self-organized and created the High-Level Summit Civil Society Action Committee, comprised of 22 NGOs with longstanding expertise on refugee, migrant and human rights issues. Co-convened by ICMC, ICVA and the NGO Committee on Migration, the Action Committee includes broader civil society actors through regular newsletters, joint statements for sign-on, and webinars.

More information below:  

  • The Action Committee’s website – It includes possibilities for engagement, as well as available resources
  • On September 1st, ICVA organised in Geneva a NGO Briefing to Member States. Notes from this briefing are available here.
  • A civil society joint statement and ‘scorecard’ has been developed in consultation with the 22 members of the self-organized civil society Action-Committee. It laments governments’ uneven commitments and lack of urgency to deliver a real new deal for refugees and migrants at the UN Summit.
  • The Action Committee submitted a letter to the President of the General Assembly to raise concerns about the lack of transparency of the process used by Member States to block particular NGOs from participating in the Summit.


High Commissioner’s Dialogue on Protection Challenges

This annual event, launched in 2007 by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres, is a unique forum for free and open exchange of views between states, NGOs and other stakeholders. Over the years participants in the Dialogues have addressed a range of protection issues  from protracted refugee situations; durable solutions and international migration; protection at sea; understanding and addressing root causes of displacement.

Prior to each Protection Dialogue ICVA forms a “Friends of the Dialogue” group of NGOs who brainstorm ideas of participation and key advocacy messages.



2. Improve institutional engagement between NGOs and organisations

ICVA facilitates partnership initiatives and consultations , in particular with UNHCR; to better serve displaced persons.


UNHCR-NGO Annual Consultations

ICVA helps UNHCR organise its annual consultation with NGOs held in Geneva every summer.

The 2016 UNHCR Annual Consultations with NGOs took place at the International Conference Centre  (CICG) in Geneva, Switzerland, from 15-17 June 2016.  The meeting provided an excellent opportunity to engage with senior level UNHCR staff on issues of common concern, and to share experience and develop contacts with NGOs from different parts of the globe.

The overall theme of the 2016 Annual Consultations was “Youth”, and was an opportunity for young refugees and IDPs to bring their voices and concerns to the debate.

This year the NGO rapportuer was Musarait Kashmiri from AIRD International.  The Rapporteur's Report is now available -  download here.  Her closing remaks at the UNHCR 2016 Annual Consultations can be read here.

A Guide for NGOs Participating in UNHCR's Annual Consultations with NGOs - This guide has been updated in 2016 and is available in English and French.  This guide aims at providing information and useful tips to enhance your participation and opportunities for engagement in this and other key events you might directly or indirectly attend, such as the ExCom, the High Commissioner’s Dialogue on Protection Challenges and the Annual Tripartite Consultations on Resettlement.   All documentation relating to the Consulttions is available on the UNHCR website at


International Organization for Migration (IOM)- NGO Consultations

On 13 June 2016 IOM and ICVA organized the second annual consultations focusing specifically on NGOs working in the humanitarian domain.

The Consultations looked at

  1. enhancing cooperation, collaboration and dialogue between IOM and humanitarian NGOs,
  2. the various dimensions of the large scale movements of migration and refugees, and
  3. changing the public narrative and negative perception of refugees and other migrants  

For more information, see the Final Report,  and the Agenda.

This meeting follows the first IOM-NGO Humanitarian Consultations held in June 2015 in Geneva, Switzerland, at which 76 participants from 32 NGOs attended. The 2015 consultations discussed IOM's draft humanitarian policy, and identified possible ways forward in partnership. See the report from the 2015 Consultations.


The High Commissioner’s Structured Dialogue on NGO-IFRC-UNHCR Partnership 

At the end of 2011 the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres, called for a review of the quality of partnership between UNHCR, IFRC and NGOs and launched a process known as the “High Commissioner’s Structured Dialogue.” The goal of the Dialogue is to achieve mutual respect and trust demonstrated by open communication, transparency in decision making, and clear accountabilities between UNHCR and respective partners. 

The link below provides information on the Dialogue's background, guidance, reports and ongoing initiatives.

Nansen Refugee Award

ICVA received the Nansen Award in 1962.  ICVA's Executive Director serves on the Nansen Refugee Award Committee.  Civil society organisations are encouraged to nominate individuals or organisations who spend an extraordinary amount of time and effort to help the forcibly displaced.  Their work goes beyond the call of duty and outside of normal activities; demonstrates courage; and has a direct positive impact on the lives of forcibly displaced or stateless people. 





3. Influence practice on the ground 

To influence practice on the ground ICVA promotes improved understanding of and synergy between global policies and operational realities.


UNHCR's Framework for Implementing with partners

UNHCR's Implementing Framework provides governing instruments, policies and procedures for establishing and managing partnerships. UNHCR is currently working with NGOs to update the Framework's policies and procedures as they relate to:

  1. partner selection and retention.
  2. project agreement, design and termination.
  3. project monitoring.


Refugee Coordination Model

UNHCR’s refugee coordination model (RCM) and the interface with broader humanitarian coordination structures and the IASC cluster system. It draws on current UNHCR practice and the Transformative Agenda’s focus on leadership, accountability and coordination, while seeking to ensure complementarity and flexibility.

ICVA is engaged at strategic points throughout the RCM roll-out process, supporting NGO engagement in RCM missions and feedback.