The legal community comes together for refugees and surpasses expectations

Objectives for 2020 exceeded
Asylum & legal protection

The legal community comes together for refugees and surpasses expectations

Objectives for 2020 exceeded
10 June 2021
PILnet pledge

Julia Mayerhofer, interim co-director of the Global Network for Public Interest Law (PILnet), addresses the Global Refugee Forum.

During the Global Refugee Forum (GRF) in 2019, the members of the global legal community pledged to protect and find solutions for people forced to flee and to work collectively to increase the number of displaced people who have equal access to justice in line with the Sustainable Development Goal 16.

“Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels”

- SDG 16

Among the commitments made, the private sector signatories to the pledge committed to provide over 127,000 pro bono hours per year towards these efforts. The community also pledged to raise awareness of refugee and statelessness issues in the legal community and among clients. The legal community also pledged to leverage other resources to address the unmet legal needs of those forcibly displaced, while contributing to State capacity and more effective laws, policies, and practices.

In advance of World Refugee Day on 20 June 2021 and in the lead up to the High-Level Officials Meeting, a report was jointly published by the signatories to the pledge. The report outlines and highlights the impressive progress made in the first year of implementation of the pledge.

In 2020, the private sector of the legal community reported providing over 164,394 pro bono hours, surpassing the number of hours pledged at the Forum by 30 per cent. Mentioned numerous times in the Global Compact on Refugees as essential to the whole-of-society approach needed to attain the compact's four objectives, the private sector has once again demonstrated its importance to finding solutions for refugees.

Undeterred by difficulties brought by a year marked by turmoil and uncertainty due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the community delivered on a broad range of activities to improve access to justice for refugees and others forcibly displaced around the world. Pledgers developed new methods of delivering essential legal services, including establishing and scaling online or telephone-based remote legal counselling sessions, thereby enabling people forced to flee to access their rights while staying safe.

This joint pledge is an opportunity for individuals, NGOs, refugee-led organisations, and the private sector to be united. Here is how you can get involved:


  • Learn more about the pledge here.
  • Consider signing the pledge here.
  • Get in touch with Jasmine Simperingham, Global Project Coordination (Forced Displacement), to learn more about the pledge, how to access the pro bono resources currently available through the pledge, or how to contribute, such as by committing pro bono hours and others resources to support greater access to justice for refugees at [email protected].