The Academy for the participation of refugees
The project in brief
The project is implemented by The Interministerial Delegation for the Reception and Integration of Refugees (Diair) in France . The program started in January 2021 and is designed to last over time. Each cohort receives two years of support.
The Academy for the participation of refugees is a program run by the Interministerial Delegation for the Reception and Integration of Refugees (Diair) in partnership with UNHCR France since 2021. The program aims to enhance refugees' participation in policies and programs that impact their lives by familiarizing them with the French landscape in the field of asylum and integration and facilitating their participation in decision-making bodies whether they be associative, philanthropic or state-run. The long-term objective is to ensure that refugee participation becomes structural and formalized in the programs and policies that concern them.
The fact that the program is embodied by the State is central, both in terms of political support and financial backing. It enables mobilization of public authorities at various levels, both at the national and local levels, to create opportunities for participation in the formulation of public policies for the Academy members. The partnership with UNHCR France opens up opportunities for participation within international organizations, as well as among associative actors and foundations in France.
Main activities of the Good Practice
Since its creation, 22 refugees, consisting of 11 women and 11 men with diverse profiles, migratory backgrounds, and professional experiences, were selected for the program after an online selection process that received over 400 applications. The main criterion is that all of them are actively engaged, either professionally or as volunteers, in associations and programs related to refugee reception and integration in France.
The program lasts two years per cohort: after being selected, the laureates go through a training phase before joining decision-making bodies during the second year. The laureates receive training on both form and content, with workshops dedicated to public speaking, meeting preparation and facilitation, along with sessions on three main topics: the associative landscape in France in the asylum and refugee integration sector; project selection committees at the state and foundation levels; the role of the state in refugee reception and integration in France. The main sessions are designed around expert interventions, where professionals from the field meet the laureates to explain their roles, how decisions are taken in their organizations and how refugees could be involved in their decision-making bodies. These sessions are co-designed with the Academy laureates who are actively involved in preparing and facilitating the sessions in collaboration with the coordination team from DIAIR and UNHCR. The coordination team manages the training phase and establishes partnerships to create participation opportunities for the laureates. Subsequently, they provide support to the laureates as they integrate into decision-making bodies.
What challenges were encountered in delivering the project and how were they overcome?
The greatest challenge is to persuade news partners of the necessity to integrate refugees into their decision-making bodies in a meaningful and substantial manner. We engage in advocacy efforts, emphasizing the crucial role of refugees' professional expertise and experiential knowledge in shaping and implementing policies concerning them. It is essential for refugee participation to become a structural aspect, formally integrated within organizations at all levels of decision-making.
How they were overcome
Academy laureates have had numerous participation opportunities at the state, foundation, and associative levels. Our strategy to institutionalize this participation is to continue advocating with stakeholders in the asylum and integration field, focusing on actors at the territorial level and supporting them in establishing participation mechanisms.
Results of the Good Practice
- Refugee participation in decisions that concern them becomes an important topic, supported by the State.
- Laureates have an impact by improving programs and policies concerning refugees through their participation in project selection committees, boards of directors, project steering committees and evaluation committees.
- Laureates speak at conferences and roundtables to emphasize the importance of refugee participation and to present the program.
- Laureates develop skills and knowledge, refining their expertise.
- Laureates have the opportunity to expand their professional network and gain access to new participation opportunities.
In what way does the good practice meet one or more of the four objectives of the Global Compact on Refugees?
Objective 2: Enhance refugee self-reliance
Advocating for refugee participation in policies that concern them is a central element in improving refugee self-reliance. By becoming active participants in these policies and programs, refugees gain autonomy and the ability to influence their situations.
The objective is to ensure the continuous development and sustainability of refugee participation over time. To achieve this, it is crucial for stakeholders in the asylum and integration sector to embrace and take ownership of participation mechanisms, which requires ongoing advocacy and support efforts that we intend to pursue in the long term.
To purse this advocacy at the international level, two laureates from the first cohort will be taking part in the Refugee Forum organized in Geneva in December, as well as in the preparations for the event. This will shed a light on refugee participation at the global level.
Are there areas in which support would be required to continue and/or scale up your good practice?
The Academy focuses on refugee participation at the French local level, but it also takes an interest in existing political participation initiatives by refugees at the regional and international levels. It aims to connect with these initiatives to facilitate knowledge-sharing and create new opportunities on those scales.