Dr David James Cantor, Director and founder of the Refugee Law Initiative based at the Human Rights Consortium has been appointed senior adviser to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). He will work part-time with the UNHCR’s Americas bureau from November 2016.
Over the past 12 months, Dr Cantor’s research has helped shape UNHCR’s policy for Latin America. His appointment to this prestigious position follows the completion of a three-year Economic and Social Research Council-funded project, which looked at refugee protection in Latin America.
Dr Cantor is also a reader in international human rights law at SAS where he oversees the successful distance-learning MA in Refugee Protection and Forced Migration Studies. He said it is a privilege to be asked to work with UNHCR: ‘I am very excited at this new opportunity to translate the insights gleaned from working as an academic into assisting UNHCR to develop its policy and strategy for the protection of refugees and displaced persons in this fast-moving regional context.’
His recent research project addressed new dynamics of forced migration in the Americas and the challenges that this poses for governments and regional organisations.
He explains that ‘These new waves of displacement include people fleeing from organised criminal violence in Central American countries such as El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, as well as the cross-border movement of people caused by natural disasters such as floods, tropical storms and earthquakes.’
Dr Cantor will continue with his academic responsibilities at the School on a part-time basis, and carry on overseeing the MA in Refugee Protection and Forced Migration Studies, a unique distance and flexible learning programme offered through the University of London International Programmes. The course, which was launched in 2014, addresses the problems caused by the escalating global refugee crisis, and enable students to think constructively about related policy and law, and develop policy recommendations.