Global Academic Interdisciplinary Network

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A Network established by the Global Compact on Refugees (GCR), which was affirmed by the UN General Assembly in December 2018:

"A global academic network on refugee, other forced displacement, and statelessness issues will be established, involving universities, academic alliances, and research institutions, together with UNHCR and other relevant stakeholders, to facilitate research, training and scholarship opportunities which result in specific deliverables in support of the objectives of the Global Compact. Efforts will be made to ensure regional diversity and expertise from a broad range of relevant subject areas."

- Paragraph 43, GCR

Why another network?

GAIN is the first network co-organized by academics and UNHCR to promote academic engagement in the implementation of its four objectives through teaching, research and solidarity with forcibly displaced and stateless persons. By bringing together academics from around the world and policymakers and practitioners working with UNHCR, GAIN creates a unique hub for evidence-based policymaking, actionable research, as well as refugee inclusion in tertiary education and academic professions in countries of asylum.

About GAIN
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Promote actionable research in support of the four objectives1 of the Global Compact on Refugees

Assumption: Fit-for-purpose research that is led by forcibly displaced and host communities can strengthen evidence-based policymaking and help practitioners to better understand and respond to complex forced displacement situations.

Strengthen teaching and knowledge sharing on forced displacement and statelessness issues

Assumption: High quality training and knowledge sharing have the potential to shape more capable professionals, combat xenophobia (accurate facts and figures) and enhance societies’ awareness of displacement and statelessness situations.

Enhance academic solidarity with and outreach to forcibly displaced and stateless scholars and students

Assumption: Academic institutions are uniquely positioned to create scholarships, validate diplomas, employ exiled researchers and professors, and open their services to forcibly displaced persons (e.g. law clinics, university hospitals, housing, etc).

1i) ease the pressures on host countries; ii) enhance refugee self-reliance; iii) expand access to third-country solutions; iv) support conditions in countries of origin for return in safety and dignity


Interdisciplinarity: The complexity of forced displacement requires contributions from experts in many different fields. To advance burden and responsibility sharing, GAIN works with universities, academic alliances, research institutions and individual academics from a variety of disciplines.

Evidence-based Policymaking: anchored in the whole-of-society approach envisaged in the Global Compact Refugees, GAIN seeks to ensure that academic contributions are shared in an accessible manner with policy makers and civil society actors at the global level.

Diversity: GAIN is a global network committed to promote all voices from academics, students and researchers worldwide without discrimination. GAIN particularly strives to promote equal South-South and North-South collaborations, generate more gender-sensitive academic opportunities (teaching, research and solidarity), and highlight contributions from those with lived experience of forced displacement and those based in low- and middle-income countries hosting 75% of forcibly displaced persons.

Ethics: In achieving its objectives, GAIN will work to help junior academics connect to global networks and to remove structural barriers for refugees to engage with the Academy. In particular, GAIN will disseminate resources on ethical research with its members and strongly encourage them to familiarize themselves and abide with the IASFM Code of Ethics and the Guidelines for Co-Produced Research with Refugees and Other People with Lived Experience of Displacement.

Meaningful Participation and Leadership: Refugees themselves are key contributors to the GCR. In carrying out its work, GAIN will highlight contributions made by persons with lived experience of displacement, support their participation in global fora and empower them to co-lead projects, programmes, research and policymaking.

Independence: GAIN closely collaborates with but is not dependent on UNHCR. While UNHCR may be consulted on research themes and data, the views of GAIN members and their research agendas are not attributed to nor imposed by UNHCR.


Academics have been longstanding partners of UNHCR. While this engagement has historically been ad hoc and informal, the multi-stakeholder consultative process leading to the adoption of the GCR demonstrated the important role and impact of the work of academia through research, teaching and solidarity (scholarships, community engagement, social cohesion, etc). In advance of the first Global Refugee Forum (December 2019), academics met in Geneva to discuss how a Global Academic Interdisciplinary Network (GAIN) would look like. This build the foundation for the launch of GAIN during the Forum, when the University of Essex announced its pledge to host the GAIN secretariat in its inception.

In June 2020, Professor Geoff Gilbert was then nominated by the University as the first GAIN Chair and led the Network to ensure progress against GAIN objectives listed in the Compact and agreed by academics present at the launch.

In December 2022, Professor Liliana Lyra Jubilut joined Professor Gilbert as the second GAIN Chair, with a view to support the expansion of the Sergio Vieira de Mello Chairs framework and strengthen the engagement of universities based in low- and middle-income countries hosting most refugees.

While the secretariat of GAIN has been Chaired based on voluntary commitments and solidarity from the University of Essex and the Catholic University of Santos, the Co-Chairs aim to develop – in collaboration with all GAIN members – a GAIN Statute with clear Terms of Reference and the Chairmanship Procedures.


GAIN aims to support, give visibility, connect and amplify its members’ initiatives linked to research, teaching and solidarity. Key GAIN activities include but are not limited to:


  • Co-host and participating in academic conferences where research on forced displacement is presented, particularly those led by forcibly displaced and stateless persons.
  • Link universities in different low- and middle-income countries among themselves and with universities in high-income countries.
  • Facilitate dissemination of research findings among UN practitioners (as appropriate and as possible)

Examples from GAIN members: LERRN/IDRC Research Chairs; Refugee-led Research Hub.


  • Link professors to exchange on forced displacement and statelessness curricula, as well as mainstreaming topics across disciplines (e.g. human rights, humanitarian law), as relevant.
  • Support initiatives training government officials on the right to asylum, the Global Compact on Refugees and inclusion.
  • Encourage universities and academic institutions to employ exiled professors and researchers in countries of asylum or in third countries of admission

Example from GAIN members: Sanremo IIHL.


  • Advocate for the 15by30 campaign goals.
  • Collaborate with universities to ensure more refugees have access to tertiary education (facilitated admission processes, diploma validation, university preparatory course – “year zero”, etc).
  • Support universities in opening up their services to refugees by tailoring services to refugee needs, such as translation and cultural staff awareness. Services include accommodation, legal clinics, university hospitals, psychosocial support, among others.

Examples from GAIN members: 15by30 pledgeTrauma Informed Health Education Screening.

The Sergio Vieira de Mello Chairs

The flagship initiative for expansion across GAIN's three axes of work.


Professor Liliana Lyra Jubilut, GAIN Chair, Universidade Católica de Santos (Catholic University of Santos), Brazil

Professor Geoff Gilbert, GAIN Chair, University of Essex, United Kingdom

Ana Carolina Pinto Dantas, Associate Protection Officer, UNHCR Headquarters

Contact: [email protected]

GAIN aims to promote:

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Solidarity with forcibly displaced and stateless scholars and students

News & good practices