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An aerial view of one of the camps at Dadaab, Kenya UNHCR / B Bannon
An aerial view of one of the camps at Dadaab, Kenya

The term ‘refugee’ bears many different meanings, even in law. While the definition in the 1951 Refugee Convention often dominates, that definition has evolved, and been supplemented in some regions by protections for those fleeing not only persecution, but also conflict and other unrest. Studying ‘forced migration’ opens up debate about the purposes and scope of international protection, and allows us to gain critical distance from entrenched legal and political concepts. It allows us to question the centrality of the state and to consider those internally displaced, as well as other vulnerable migrants on the move due to a complex set of drivers – political, economic and environmental. The term ‘forced migration’ is deliberately open, and allows us also to question the false binary between ‘refugee’ and ‘economic migrant.’

The RSC’s International Summer School fosters dialogue between academics, practitioners and policymakers working to improve the situation of refugees and other forced migrants. It provides the time and space for them to reflect on their experiences and to think critically about some of the aims and assumptions underlying their work.