International Conference - Detailed Program

Click here for a one-page overview of the conference program, including workshop scheduling.

The following are brief descriptions of the sessions to be held during the International Refugee Rights Conference, along with the names of some of the resource persons.

Wednesday, 6 June

Local Site Visits

In advance of the opening of the conference, the Local Organizing Committee is planning site visits to organizations in Toronto, for interested international participants. For more information, click here.


On Wednesday evening, there will be an Orientation session where international guests will get an opportunity to network with other delegates and learn more about the CCR and the international conference.

Thursday, 7 June

9am - 10am

Introductory meetings for NGOs, organized by issues

An opportunity for NGO representatives to connect with each other, around specific issue areas.

Closed to government and media.

10:30am - 12pm

Opening Plenary: Global Perspectives

With a welcome from Chief Stacey LaForme, Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation.


  • Ninette Kelley, Director of UNHCR New York office
  • Arash Bordbar, Global Youth Advisory Council
  • Claire Roque, CCR President

12pm - 1:30pm

Networking Lunch (cost of lunch is included in the registration fee)

1:30pm - 3:00pm

Applying Comprehensive Responses and the Global Compact on Refugees

The workshop focuses on the application of the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF) in various Eastern African countries. Participants engage in an inter-sectoral exploration of opportunities and challenges of the CRRF which aims at providing greater support to refugees and host countries. Participants will also reflect on the situation of Tanzania that recently withdrew from the CRRF as a pilot country.

Resource persons include:

  • Janemary Ruhundwa, Asylum Access, Tanzania
  • Mamadou Dian Balde, UNHCR, Switzerland
  • James Milner, Carleton University, Ottawa

Immigration Detention

A representative of the International Detention Coalition will speak to their global advocacy efforts to promote alternatives to immigration detention. Speakers from Mexico and Hungary will then provide country-specific experiences of advocating on immigration detention issues and the successes and challenges in their regions.

Resource persons include:

  • Patricia Eugenia Zamudio Grave, Scalabrinianas, Misión con Migrantes y Refugiados (SMR), Mexico
  • Grusa Matevzic, Hungarian Helsinki Committee, Hungary
  • Alice Nah, Centre for Applied Human Rights (Politics Department), University of York & International Detention Coalition, UK

Refugees and Migrants as Resilient Champions

This workshop will highlight the strengths and resiliency that refugees and vulnerable migrants bring to resettlement countries, and innovative and promising practices to welcome and support refugees and vulnerable migrants’ settlement and integration into the community. Priority discussion will focus on youth, foreign credential assessment, and civic engagement.

Trauma and Rehabilitation Process of Displaced People

This workshop will look into the root causes of trauma and its impacts, and share global best practices in the healing support and care. 

Resource persons include:

  • Mbalu Lumor, Canadian Centre for Victims of Torture, Toronto
  • Mira Dodig, Flemingdon Health Centre, Toronto

Security Vetting/Inadmissibility: Getting it Right

This panel will consider the need to 'get it right' in the security vetting of refugees; for resettlement and in the asylum process; and consider the human cost of vetting on refugees. The panel will review the international law and human rights framework which must be applied and reflect on best practices as well as examples of where and how unfair practices have been challenged.

Resource persons include:

  • Catherine Bruce, Refugee Law Office, Toronto
  • Julie Kornfeld, International Refugee Assistance Project, USA
  • Luis Alberto Mata, Colombian Writer, Toronto

This Place Means to Me: Displacement, Youth and Identities

This workshop will explore the complex relationship between identities and the state's institutional power, focusing on the effects of processes of marginalization of 'undesirable' identities on the lives of refugees and indigenous youth.

Resource persons include:

  • Ala'a Jarban, LGBTQ Academic and Activist, Montreal

3:30pm - 5:00pm

Finding Common Ground: Promoting Positive Public Opinion of Refugees Through Innovative Myth-busting and Community Collaboration

This interactive workshop will highlight examples of city-based myth-busting and public engagement campaigns from around the world. Participants will leave the workshop with tools to help inspire their own efforts to help boost positive public opinion of refugees and other newcomers with municipal partners.

Effective Protection: Comparison of State Responses

This workshop will examine different state responses to forced displacement in the Americas. We will compare the different protection statuses that host countries provide to the outflows of persons from Venezuela and the North of Central America, as well as the impact of different statuses on access to fundamental rights. We will encourage an exchange of advocacy strategies to promote ongoing and, in some cases, increased protection in the region.

Resource persons include:

  • Hugo Ramon Quintero Gomez, Universidad Cooperativa de Colombia, Colombia
  • Alejandra Macias Delgadillo, Asylum Access, Mexico
  • Carolina Carreño Nigenda,  Sin Fronteras, Mexico
  • Marco Formisano, Senior Regional Refugee Status Determination Officer (Regional Legal Unit), UNHCR, Costa Rica

Durable Solutions: Addressing the Challenge of Low Global Resettlement Numbers

This workshop is an opportunity for sharing new and innovative approaches in the area of resettlement as refugees and other vulnerable persons seek a pathway to safety. It will examine how traditional resettlement countries and emerging resettlement countries use various models such as family reunification, student scholarships, labour mobility, etc.

Resource persons include:

  • Elizabeth Foydel, International Refugee Assistance Project, USA
  • Mark Hetfield, HIAS, USA
  • Stephanie Cousins, Talent Beyond Borders, Australia

Pushing the Border Out: Challenging Refugee Interdiction and Containment Policies

This workshop will provide an overview of global and local interdiction policies and practices aimed at intercepting migrants en route to claim refugee status containment policies that trap them. Presenters and participants will share positive examples of pushback against interdiction and externalization of borders, encouraging collaborative advocacy efforts across borders.

Resource persons include:

  • Jeff Crisp, Refugee Studies Centre at Oxford and Chatham House, UK
  • Idil Atak, Ryerson University, Toronto
  • Linn Biorklund Belliveau, Medecins Sans Frontieres Canada, Toronto

Economic and Social Rights of Refugees and Vulnerable Migrants

This workshop will look at some current global initiatives to advance the economic and social rights of refugees and vulnerable migrants. It will consider how grassroot groups, NGOs and other actors can collaborate to advocate for protecting and strengthening such rights.

Resource persons include:

  • Jirim Kim, GongGam Human Rights Law Foundation, South Korea
  • Lizeth Danesa Lema Matehu, Asylum Access, Ecuador
  • Karl Flecker, KEYS Employment Services, Kingston

The Indispensability of Binding Faith Communities Across Borders

This workshop will look at how faith-based communities can leverage their unique advantage and learn from current models of success. It will also consider the question of 'faith versus advocacy': can they work in tandem or are they separate by necessity?

Resource persons include:

  • Samer Al Laham, Middle East Council of Churches, Lebanon

Friday, 8 June

9am - 10:30am 

Plenary: Regional Perspectives

Resource persons include:

  • The Honourable Lloyd Axworthy, World Refugee Council
  • Janemary Ruhundwa, Asylum Access, Tanzania
  • Karen Lizeth Valladares Rodriguez, Foro Nacional para las Migraciones en Honduras (FONAMIH)
  • Yiombi Thona, Asia-Pacific Refugee Rights Network


Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and Expression (SOGIE)

This workshop will explore aspects related to the protection of refugees fleeing persecution based on sexual orientation or gender identity and expression, with a focus on the recommendations from Yogyakarta+10. Participants will explore how refugee protection mechanisms and services within settlement organizations can better respond to individuals with diverse SOGIE, using a human rights lens. The workshop will also aim to enhance an international network around SOGIE.

Resource persons include:

  • Jirim Kim, GongGam Human Rights Law Foundation, South Korea
  • Franklin Alexander Morales, Asociación Lambda, Guatemala

Children's Rights

This workshop will look at a variety of issues concerning children refugees and refugee claimants, including topics such as detention of children; protection for unaccompanied children; the rights of children at different stages of the migration and determination processes.

Resource persons include:

  • Alejandra Macias Delgadillo, Asylum Access, Mexico
  • Muluken Girma Bayu, Innovative Humanitarian Solutions, Ethiopia
  • Emily Chan, Justice for Children and Youth, Toronto

Post-deportation Monitoring

This interactive workshop will provide an overview of some of the challenges faced by refugees upon deportation and by organizations assisting them on return. It will also explore how through global networking we can better monitor experiences post deportation.

Resource persons include:

  • Yiombi Thona, Asia-Pacific Refugee Rights Network, South Korea
  • Sandra Barancira, Alliance des Burundais du Canada, Ottawa
  • Dawit Demoz, Canadians Helping Asylum-seekers in Israel, Toronto

Speaking Out for Invisible People: Strategies for Ending Statelessness in Situations of Forced Displacement

This workshop will bring together different stakeholders involved in the fight to end statelessness in order to share experiences and knowledge. The workshop will determine some specific strategies that can be undertaken together in order to advocate more effectively for the right to nationality for all and, in particular, for forcibly displaced peoples.

Resource persons include:

  • Chris Lewa, The Arakan Project, Thailand
  • Phelix Lore, Haki Centre, Kenya
  • Nur Hasim, Canadian Burmese Rohingya Organization, Kitchener

Review of the Role of the UNHCR

This workshop aims to review the role of the UNHCR in global refugee protection and assistance. The workshop will focus on the appeal for a 'whole of society' approach also involving other humanitarian and development actors in global refugee issues.

Resource persons include:

  • Mark Hetfield, HIAS, USA
  • Chen Brill-Egri, Amnesty International, Israel
  • Lizeth Danesa Lema Matehu, Asylum Access, Ecuador

Labour Trafficking: Legal Frameworks and Approaches Across Borders

This workshop will explore ways labour trafficking is framed in different countries and how that contributes to vulnerability or protection of rights. It will also look at promising approaches across borders in relation to advocacy and protection.

Resource persons include:

  • Sue Wilson, Sisters of St. Joseph in Canada, London
  • Cathleen Caron, Justice in Motion, USA

2pm - 3pm

Caucus Sessions

Participants will choose between a range of interactive sessions designed for information-sharing, networking and strategizing. (Topics to be determined).

3:30pm - 5pm

CCR Working Group meetings on Immigration & Settlement, Overseas Protection & Resettlement, and Inland Protection.

Closed to government and media.

5:30pm - 6pm

CCR General Meeting

This short General Meeting will allow CCR members to advance necessary organizational business.

The meeting is open to non-members.

Evening (from 7pm):

Dinner and dancing at a location on campus. Dinner will be served close to sunset (around 9pm) to coincide with those observing Ramadan. (Tickets must be purchased in advance through the registration form.)

Saturday, 9 June


'As Far As Possible?': Access to Secure Citizenship for Refugees

Article 34 of the Refugee Convention commits States to facilitate the naturalization of refugees. This workshop will take a critical look at the application in practice, looking at commendable steps to naturalize refugees and arbitrary barriers that impede naturalization. Participants will explore implications and best practices that should inform citizenship advocacy.

Resource persons include:

  • Janemary Ruhundwa, Asylum Access, Tanzania
  • Valeria Llamas, Red Latinoamericana e Interdisciplinaria de Derechos Humanos (REDLAIDH), Argentina
  • Phelix Lore, Haki Centre, Kenya

Overcoming Barriers to Family Reunification: International Standards and Comparative Perspectives

This workshop aims to discuss international standards on family reunification and present examples of how other countries are successful in addressing their own barriers and obstacles, with a special focus on Latin America. It will consist of a roundtable with two speakers, including one refugee who has gone through the process of family reunification in Canada. This will be followed by a discussion among all participants with the objective of sharing good practices and advocacy strategies to contribute to successful family reunification. 

Resource persons include:

  • Kathya Araya, HIAS, Costa Rica

Creating Welcoming Communities

Welcoming communities realize economic, social and cultural benefits when refugees are allowed to contribute and participate fully in their host communities. This workshop will explore how communities can effectively welcome refugees. What does creating welcoming communities mean in your community? What are the characteristics of a welcoming community?

Resource persons include:

  • Meredith Owen, Church World Service, USA
  • Paulina Grainger, Inter-cultural Association of Greater Victoria, Victoria

Sharing Refugee Sponsorship Experiences

Participants at this workshop will share across borders the ways refugee sponsorship by civil society contributes to the resettlement landscape, the challenges in refugee sponsorship, and strategies to increase its capacity to support States' efforts.

Resource persons include:

  • Petra Hueck, International Catholic Migration Commission Europe, Belgium
  • Brian Dyck, Mennonite Central Commitee Canada, Winnipeg
  • Jonathan Cox, Citizens UK, UK

Addressing Gender-based Violence: The Role of Local Women's Leadership

Gender-based violence increases during displacement. Local women's networks and organizations are embedded in communities. They understand and respond to root causes. Come learn about their important work, the challenges they face being recognized as legitimate actors in humanitarian responses and about new research and toolkits on the topic.

Resource persons include:

  • Ritah Nansereko, African Women and Youth Action for Development, Uganda

Creating an 'Ideal Global Framework' for Refugee Status Determination

Bringing together elements of the 'best of the best' models of Refugee Status Determination (RSD) globally, this workshop will present an ideal framework for discussion and consideration as a new international standard.

For advance reading, consult these documents

Resource persons include:

  • Marco Formisano, UNHCR, Costa Rica
  • Hilary Evans Cameron, Osgoode Hall Law School, Toronto
  • Peter Showler, University of Ottawa, Ottawa

11am - 12:30pm

Plenary on Canadian Perspectives

Resource persons include:

  • The Honourable Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship (to be confirmed)
  • Loly Rico, CCR Past President

2pm - 5pm

NGO Networking and Strategizing Sessions

There will be sessions on a number of topics including:

  • US-Canada-Mexico border and refugee claimant issues
  • Communication Issues: Strategies to protect refugees and build welcoming communities
  • Youth and their migration process
  • LGBT issues
  • Resettlement issues (including private/collective sponsorship)
  • Trafficking in persons

These sessions are closed to government and media.