Department of International Refugee Law and Migration Law


The International Institute of Humanitarian Law, through its Department of International Refugee Law and Migration Law, aims at enhancing the knowledge and skills of government and civil society officials engaged in work with people in need of protection. Through its training, capacity-building, and horizontal sharing of experiences, the Department advocates for the safeguarding of human rights in a way that complements and adds to the efforts of donors in the field of protection of refugees, internally displaced persons (IDPs), stateless people and migrants.

As a result of the COVID-19 related travel restrictions, the Department’s training programme has been redesigned into an innovative digital format. The online courses are now hosted in the Institute’s Online Learning Platform, customized according to the needs of our participants, to ensure a quality training experience.

The Online Courses are structured into different content-related modules, with the objective to provide an in-depth analysis of the subjects of the workshops, including cross-cutting issues. The Online Courses are delivered through a mix of theory and practice, aimed at facilitating the learning process and implementing the knowledge gained throughout the workshop.

Modules are composed by live sessions (90 – 120 mins) and self-paced sessions. Each class is complemented by case studies and online exercises, which allows the expansion of the learning cycle beyond session hours. The high-level of interaction between facilitators and lecturers, and participants from different professional and geographical backgrounds – the very well-known distinctive mark of the Sanremo training programmes – is maintained through individual feedback that learners receive to their submissions and through Q&A live and online sections, as well as dedicated activities.  

Participants who attend the online courses are supported by an extensive Online Resource Library including international legal instruments, position papers, documents, and other background materials organized by topics covered during the different courses.

Official certificates of completion of Online Courses are awarded by the Institute and have the same validity as the courses organized in our headquarters in Sanremo. 

International Refugee Law

The courses on International Refugee Law present the key aspects of the international protection of refugees. The topics covered range from the analysis of International Refugee Law and its complementarity with other bodies of law to the different displacement phases. The causes that force people to flee, the protection risks encountered through the displacement cycle, and the search and implementation of durable and sustainable solutions are also examined. Additional refugee-related issues are further analysed through a cross-cutting approach, and in light with the developments generated by the Global Compact on Refugees. The delivery methodology of the courses includes a mix of theory and practice, including case studies based on real life situations.


The courses on Statelessness respond to the need of increased knowledge and capacity to prevent, reduce and resolve statelessness and to protect stateless persons worldwide. The curricula of the courses range from the adoption of the Statelessness international conventions and development of national legislation, to the work with stateless persons in the field. Besides the international legal framework related to nationality, the courses’ sessions analyse the causes and impacts of statelessness, the overview of stateless populations around the world, including stateless children, and the interrelation between statelessness and forced displacement. The courses also aims at promoting the use and the implementation of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Global Action Plan to End Statelessness as part of the #IBelong Campaign.

Internal Displacement

The courses on Internal Displacement cover the key components of the protection of internally displaced persons (IDPs) throughout their displacement cycle.  International norms underpinning the protection of IDPs, including the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement and the Kampala Convention are analysed in the perspective of better understanding the causes and consequences of internal displacement, its current global trends, the protection risks faced, and the search and implementation of durable and sustainable solutions for IDPs.  Cross-cutting issues, such as housing, land and property, data collection, and the international community coordination mechanisms are also addressed. The delivery methodology of the courses is highly participatory.


The courses on International Migration Law present the most relevant aspects of the migration phenomenon from different angles, including the obligations and concerns of States and the rights and responsibilities of migrants. The courses include an analysis of the international legal instruments that relate to migration, as well as the legal framework concerning other categories of persons in need of protection. The complex nature of today’s migratory phenomenon is analysed, including trends, causes, journeys and associated risks, integration in the country of destination, and return and reintegration in the country of origin. Key components of migration management and governance are highlighted, within the framework generated by the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration.

Global Compact on Refugees

The Institute is committed to the principles of the Global Compact on Refugees (GCR) to which it has made pledges related to the “Protection Capacities” of Governments and relevant stakeholders. To this aim, two type of courses will be implemented in 2021. The first type of course is dedicated to members of governmental training institutions and academics experienced in International Refugee Law. The course aims at enhancing their skills for the design and delivery of sessions, courses or programs using the latest learning methodologies, in particular online training. The second type of courses is dedicated to one of the most important topics in today´s refugee situations: protection of refugees in urban settings. The course will bring together municipal government officials, local and grass root NGOs, refugees and other relevant stakeholders at the city level to analyse and exchange best practices on protection mechanisms, roles and responsibilities of all involved stakeholders, and the interaction with the receiving community.

Advocacy for Protection

The recently developed courses on Advocacy for Protection present the key elements for supporting the transformation of policies, services and public perceptions of refugees, internally displaced persons (IDPs), stateless people and migrants. Based on the main protection principles deriving from International Refugee Law, Human Rights Law and Humanitarian Law, the courses assess challenges and opportunities related to given protection situations and identify relevant stakeholders towards which advocacy interventions can be addressed. To make sure that advocacy efforts are effective and sustainable, sessions focus on cross-cutting issues, such as awareness raising, media and journalism. The delivery methodology of the courses is highly participatory. In 2021 the Department will offer courses on Advocacy for Protection dedicated to both NGOs and journalists.

Our donors

The Department’s activities are possible thanks to the contribution and support of the following donors:

  • United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
  • Swiss State Secretariat for Migration
  • Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs
  • United States Department of State (Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration)
  • International Organization for Migration
  • Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie
  • United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons
  • Institut de Droit de la Paix et du Développement of University of Nice