Forced Migration

Forced migration was ICVA’s first focus area in 1962, and remains just as critical today.

Our objective by 2021 is to improve protection, assistance and durable solutions for refugees, IDPs, stateless persons   and migrants in vulnerable situations.

ICVA will achieve this by supporting NGO understanding of, engagement with, and influence related to  UNHCR,  IOM and other key stakeholders (including states and regional actors).

There are many opportunities for NGOs to engage in ICVA’s portfolio on Forced Migration. These include:


1. ICVA's Forced Migration Working Group

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

ICVA has a Forced Migration Working Group (previously UNHCR Working Group) for its members to advise the ICVA Secretariat on its work related to the forced migration  focus areas as laid out in the 2019-2021 Strategy. Members who would like to join this group can contact for further information. This group meets on a monthly basis.


2. Global Compact on Refugees

The Global Compact on Refugees (GCR) was overwhelmingly endorsed by Member States in December 2018, at the UN General Assembly. The GCR primarily aims to establish a framework for responsibility-sharing on refugee issues, as a means to strengthen protection and expand durable solutions for refugees worldwide. It also provides a basis to catalyse multi-stakeholder partnerships and leverage humanitarian and development actions to promote refugee self-reliance. Through periodic reviews and stocktaking of progress against set objectives, the Global Compact on Refugees also lays the groundwork for an accountability framework.

As efforts to develop the GCR set in motion, ICVA’s briefing paper, the Global Compact on Refugees Explained, published in June 2017, explained the process leading to the adoption of the Compact. The overarching objective was to equip NGOs to engage in the Compact’s development. Along with the briefing paper, ICVA also strove to carve space for NGOs and connect different actors in the spirit of the whole-of-society approach. Over the course of the GCR’s development, ICVA brought together NGOs, UNHCR, Member States and other actors such as the World Bank to stimulate exchange and cross-pollination of ideas in order to feed the crafting of the Compact.

Over the course of the formal consultations, which took place in Geneva, Member States and other stakeholders including NGOs engaged in an iterative process to shape the Compact.  NGO’s were able to make collective statements under each agenda item. ICVA facilitated the coordination and delivery of 20 NGO statements (all NGO statements delivered at the formal consultations are available here).

In the lead up to the first Global Refugee Forum in 2019, ICVA will continue to support NGO engagement in the GCR. It will do so by coordinating NGO statements at preparatory meetings for the Global Refugee Forum; convening regular interactions between NGOs, UNHCR and other key; and organizing webinars and side events along the year geared to increase NGOs knowledge and understanding of the GCR Members interested in engaging can contact:


3. Global Compact for Migration

Endorsed by the UN member states in mid-December in an intergovernmental conference in Marrakesh, the Global Compact for Safe and Orderly Migration sets out a common, comprehensive approach to international migration. Negotiated in parallel with the GCR, this non-binding cooperative framework to improve migration flows at the international level involving countries of origin, transit and destination.

ICVA as co-convener with ICMC and the NGO Committee on Migration, of the Civil Society Action Committee followed and contributed to the development of this Compact. ICVA’s focus has been on how the migration compact bridges with the GRC, and how both will be implemented concurrently on the ground. The GCM has over 20 distinct objectives an over 180 actions to achieve these objectives.

With the Global Compacts, world leaders have reaffirmed the importance of a cooperative international system and the tangible benefits to all stakeholders. It is now crucial for civil society organisations to advocate for and support the implementation as the Compacts land at national level. 


4. NGOs and UNHCR

UNHCR’s Governing Board

UNHCR's Executive Committee (ExCom) comprised of 101 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 Commitee  meetings. ICVA also works with interested NGOs to follow the  negotiation of Conclusions and organises NGO side events at these meetings (further information available on demand).

UNHCR-NGO Annual Consulations

ICVA cooperates with UNHCR in the organization of the UNHCR-NGO Annual Consultations. It ensures NGOs are consulted and included in the process, from selecting the theme of the consultations, to shaping and convening a session. If you wish to get involved or ask for further details, please contact at

The High Commissioner's Dialogue on Protection Challenges

This event, launched in 2007 by the former 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.

NGO Partnership with UNHCR

Using an adapted methodology from the High Commissioner’s Structured Dialogue, ICVA has been working to support partnership efforts around the implementation of the CRRF as well as in contexts beyond the CRRF roll-out countries through ‘whole-of-society’ workshops. Thanks to funding received by the US Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, workshops have been organized in Costa Rica, Thailand and Kenya. In the first quarter of 2019, ICVA organized two workshops in Chad. Results from those workshops have also fed into discussions at global-level fora such as the UNHCR-NGO Annual Consultations. Each workshop/mission identifies recommendations on the CRRF application in a report.

Structured Dialogue

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.

Implementing Framework

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

The Nansen Refugee Awards

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. 


5. NGOs and IOM

IOM NGO Humanitarian Consultations

Since 2015, ICVA cooperates with IOM to organise the IOM-NGO Humanitarian Consultations. They have now grown into a regular (annual) format that serves as a platform for IOM and NGOs to engage in dialogue, discuss shared values and unity of purpose, identify respective strengths and limitations, reflect on current challenges facing the humanitarian sector, exchange best practices, develop key recommendations to further joint engagement, and examine the realities of the implementation of Principles of Partnership to better foster their application. The IOM-NGO Humanitarian Consultations are meant as a two-way discussion, beneficial to IOM, the NGO partners, and their joint work. If you wish to get further information on the topic, please contact Jérôme Elie at


6. Internally displaced persons

As the humanitarian community marked the 20th Anniversary of the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement (GP20) a number of initiatives reaffirmed the commitments to prevent, respond to and support solutions to internal displacement and improve protection of IDPs. With over 40 million IDPs worldwide, people can remain in limbo for years in IDP camps, urban slums or other areas of refuge. Christian Aid represents ICVA on the IDP Participation Workstream and the Steering Group of the GP20 Plan of Action, jointly convened by UNCHR and OCHA, which look at ways to address protection and solutions of internal displaced people.


7. Migrants in vulnerable situations