Who we are

The International Refugee Rights Initiative (IRRI) strives for a peaceful world where every person enjoys rights, security and dignity. We work towards promoting and protecting human rights in conflict and displacement. IRRI, founded in 2004, has vast experience and has distinguished itself in research in refugee and migration spaces across Africa; in advocacy  at national, regional and international levels; in capacitation of marginalised communities enabling agency, and amplifying voices; and in management of consortiums and building of meaningful partnerships.

IRRI is a well-respected, not-for-profit organisation in the human rights sphere with a proud history of advocacy for the displaced in Africa and for refugees beyond. Over the last 18 years, IRRI has developed a holistic approach to the protection of human rights in displacement by focussing on, identifying and responding to situations which result in displacement; protecting the rights of those who find themselves displaced; and, ensuring durable solutions that are safe, timely and respect human rights. We seek to ensure that voices of displaced and conflict-affected communities are not only heard, but also heeded, at the national, regional and international level, through our evidence-based advocacy that is built on solid field-based research and analysis. Our holistic approach is reflected in this diagram.

IRRI was founded in 2004 to inform and improve responses to the cycles of violence and displacement that are at the heart of large-scale human rights violations. Not only have the displaced been forced to leave their homes due to conflict , unrest or persecution, they can be vulnerable to abuse – both during their journey and when they arrive at a place of “safety”. Often responses to their arrival assume that they will be a burden, they are forced to live in unacceptable conditions, isolated and marginalised for long periods of time and with little genuine effort to offer real solutions. IRRI works to address causes of conflict-related displacement; to ensure that the rights of those forced to leave their homes are respected; and to promote appropriate and sustainable solutions to their displacement.

Our Vision at IRRI is of a peaceful world where every person enjoys rights, security and dignity.

While our Mission requires us to promote and protect human rights in conflict and displacement, through research, advocacy and meaningful partnerships.

The Values which underpin our work and engagements, include:

  1. Courage

At IRRI, we are courageous, willing to take leadership and calculated risks with our programming, in order to be innovative, to grow new areas of work, and to be outstanding.

  1. Collaboration

We cherish meaningful partnerships, stand in solidarity with our constituencies, allies and associates, and excel at building alliances that entrench a unity of purpose.

  1. Participation

We believe that every person is important, and should effectively contribute to decision-making. We believe in inclusivity, and in the effective consultation and participation of our constituencies. We are present to the power dynamics and relations in our interactions, and actively exercise humility, patience and understanding.

  1. Professionalism

At IRRI, we are committed to personal and institutional excellence, ensuring quality, reliability, accuracy and timeliness in the delivery of our programmes. We are an effective institution that fortifies our growth with continuous learning.

  1. Accountability and transparency

We are responsible and accountable for our work and outputs, to our constituencies, and towards meeting our vision and mission. We maintain the highest levels of integrity, trustworthiness and authenticity, and are committed to the efficient and honest use of resources. We walk the talk and deliver on what we commit to doing.

  1. Equity

We believe in treating people equally and fairly. We are committed to non-discrimination, to levelling the playing field, and to the provision of equal opportunities for all.


Why we do this work

Not only have displaced persons been forced to leave their homes due to conflict, unrest or persecution, they are particularly vulnerable to abuse in conflict situations, during their journey and when they arrive at a place of  supposed safety. Often treated as a burden by the hosting entities, they are forced to live in dire conditions, and in remote locations with scarce resources, often putting them in competition against host communities. At IRRI we believe in people. We believe in agency and voice. Hence as we do this work, we do it with courage, professionalism and accountability for our work outputs and to our constituencies, as reflected in our values.


How we envision change

IRRI recognises that displacement is highly complex and multi-faceted, and if not managed correctly, can lead to repeat displacement, especially where reintegration has failed. IRRI also recognises that just as the causes of displacement are multifarious, so are the consequences. Therefore, we do not have a “one size fits all” approach, but instead take a context-specific model that is both comprehensive and cognisant of the commonalties in the way that issues of displacement are treated at governmental and multilateral levels. Taking this comprehensive approach and recognising the interconnectedness of these issues, allows IRRI to formulate more nuanced, human rights based and gendered, hence, more effective strategies of response.

We believe that there are opportunities to pre-empt, or at a minimum mitigate the human cost and impact of displacement. Through an integrated framework of, situational and comparative research; international advocacy and the amplification of voice; and our expertise in protecting human rights in situations of ongoing conflict and displacement, mass atrocity prevention, peace-building, sustainable integration, curating policy platforms, capacitation and partnership, IRRI is uniquely effective in having a tangible impact for those whose lives and livelihoods are severely threatened.


With our base in the Great Lakes Region, IRRI is well placed to build coalitions with local civil society organisations and conduct rigorous, context-based research for external distribution as well as provide strategic direct interventions to further our overall mission. IRRI’s offices in both Kampala and Dakar permit case-specific legal assistance for asylum claims, resettlement, and other displaced-person matters. Visibility in Addis, New York, Europe and the UK, connects IRRI to key nodes in the international human rights community, increasing reach and impact. An online presence curates an international legal resource for displaced persons rights. Together, these render IRRI a model organisation for collaboration between developed and developing countries to improve situations of displacement.

We are registered as a non-profit organisation in the US and in Uganda, and have a multinational board ably led by our Chair, Dr Chidi Odinkalu.