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 (English, French, Spanish, Russian and Arabic) 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 and durable solutions. Additional refugee-related issues, such as the challenges faced by people displaced due to the effects of environmental changes, are further analysed in the context of the Thematic Course on Climate Change and Forced Displacement (English). The courses on Teaching Refugee Law (English), instead, explore the latest learning methodologies, with a focus in particular on the design and delivery of online training on Refugee Law. 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 (English) 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 (English, French and Spanish) 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, and the protection risks faced by individuals throughout their displacement cycle. Cross-cutting issues, such as housing, land and property, data collection, and the international community coordination mechanisms are also addressed. The trainings ultimately explore the search for and implementation of durable solutions for IDPs and promote the recommendations of the UN Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on Internal Displacement and Action Agenda on Internal Displacement. The delivery methodology of the courses is highly participatory. 


The courses on International Migration Law (English, French and Spanish) 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.

Advocacy for Protection

The recently developed courses on Advocacy for Protection (English) present the key elements for supporting the transformation of policies, services and public perceptions of refugees, internally displaced persons (IDPs), stateless people and migrants. To make sure that advocacy efforts are effective and sustainable, sessions focus on cross-cutting issues, such as awareness raising, media and journalism. Concurrently, the Course on Refugee Law for Journalists (English) highlights strategies and recommendations for inclusive media policies, which respect uprooted persons and impartially expose events to governments and publics at large, and also focuses on the correct terminology to employ when referring to refugees, and the situations they are confronted with. The delivery methodology of the courses is highly participatory.

Annual Thematic Course on International Protection

The 2nd Annual Thematic Course on International Protection: Climate Change and Forced Displacement will lay the fundamentals of the available legal framework and the roles and responsibilities of the international community, states, civil society, and the private sector in addressing climate change and environmental-induced displacement, both internal as well as cross-border. Participants will be provided with key insights into the latest research on the multidimensional linkages between climate vulnerabilities, conflict, insecurity, and displacement. The training will also focus on key skills and best practices related to disaster prevention and management as well as on the integration of climate risks into legislation, protection operations, and durable solutions for the displaced.

International Forum on Complementary Pathways for Admission to Third Countries

The International Forum will raise awareness and advocate for the expansion of complementary pathways for safe admission of refugees to third countries as a complementary channel of protection to the traditional durable solutions for refugees. These complementary routes directly contribute to equal responsibility-sharing and help meet three of the Global Compact on Refugees’ (GCR) objectives.
While focusing mainly on third country education and labour mobility pathways, the Forum gives participants the opportunity to identify and discuss the international institutional framework and the stakeholders involved in all forms of complementary pathways for admission.

"I commend the International Institute of Humanitarian Law for its efforts to provide training on international humanitarian law, as well as on international refugee law for a variety of audiences."
Mr António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations
Extract from the message delivered on the occasion of the concluding virtual event
in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the International Institute of Humanitarian Law

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

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