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Developing New Approaches to Citizenship and Belonging in Africa

Recent publications of the International Refugee Rights Initiative related to Citizenship:

Lucy Hovil, Can better access to citizenship help resolve conflict and refugee crises in Africa’s Great Lakes Region? 24 July, 2014

Lucy Hovil, The Role of Citizenship in Addressing Refugee Crises in Africa's Great Lakes Region, 15 July, 2014

The Role of Citizenship in Addressing Refugee Crises in Africa’s Great Lakes Region, 20 June 2014

African Civil Society Calls for Action on the Right to a Nationality, October 2013 (En français)

For the full list of related publications, click here.


Our Approach

Disputes over national and local belonging and differing conceptions of citizenship are at the heart of many of the most intractable conflicts in Africa. IRRI is currently working to find ways to address this complex issue through research and advocacy.

Citizenship Rights in Africa (CRAI)

In the CRAI initiative, IRRI partners with the Open Society Justice Initiative (OSJI) and the Pan-African Movement in a high level advocacy campaign challenging the conception and practice of citizenship on the continent. Through research, awareness raising and political advocacy, CRAI is designed to persuade leaders on the continent to recognize that unequal access to and arbitrary deprivation of citizenship is a major human rights problem and one of the principle causes of displacement and unrest. In the wake of xenophobic violence in South Africa in 2008, for example, CRAI led an assessment mission resulting in the publication of the report, Tolerating Intolerance. This and other resources are available on the CRAI website. With our partners series of advocacy activities are being conducted to build support for the creation of new standards – including a new protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

Citizenship and Forced Migration Working Paper Series

Since 2008, the International Refugee Rights Initiative, in partnership with the Social Science Research Council, have carried out a research and advocacy project to generate better understandings of the lived experience of unequal access to belonging and citizenship, and its relationship to displacement in the Great Lakes region. The project brings together social scientists, NGO advocates, lawyers and displaced communities to conduct a series of case studies and to suggest policy changes which will contribute to finding solutions to conflict. The focus of the work is on those aspects of policy over which there is greatest contestation: questions of multiple citizenships, local identities, border communities, and the impact of emerging regional forms of citizenship. The Working Papers in the series are: