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Centre for Commercial Law Studies

UNHCR at Work, and as a Workplace: A view from the Inside - Jean-François Durieux

26 November 2015

Time: 4:00 - 5:30pm
Venue: Room 3.1, Centre for Commercial Law Studies, Queen Mary University of London, 67-69 Lincoln's Inn Fields, London WC2A 3JB

Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) has the pleasure to welcome former Director of Programme Support and Management, Jean-François Durieux, to present the work of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and his own experience within the organisation over more than three decades.  The session will provide an overview of the past and current challenges confronting UNHCR, a fairly unique UN agency combining a protection mandate with an expanding role as a humanitarian relief provider in times of emergency and crisis. Building on this introduction, the second part of the event will be devoted to a reflection on what it means, and what it takes, to work in UNHCR and to make (or not) a career in the humanitarian field. Jean-François will draw on his own experience in this respect, providing a first-hand account of a life-long career and reviewing some of the internship and other employment opportunities within UNHCR. An informal discussion with attendees, offering a unique opportunity to students to ask questions and engage in a debate, will close the final part of the event.

About the speaker

Jean-François Durieux is a graduate of Facultés Universitaires St-Louis in Brussels, Belgium, and obtained a Law Degree from the Catholic University of Louvain. He has taught international law at the Refugee Studies Centre (Oxford) 2007-2009, and again 2011-2012. In 2011, Mr Durieux completed a 30-year career with UNHCR, during which he served in Africa, Asia, North America and Latin America, as well as at UNHCR Headquarters in Geneva, notably in the Division of International Protection and in the Regional Bureau for Europe. His last position in the organisation was that of Director in the Division of Programme Support and Management. Mr Durieux’s research in the 1990's was mainly policy-oriented and “operational”, addressing the protection challenges faced by UNHCR in the regions in which he worked, and at the global level. In recent years, his research interest has focused on legal responses to mass influxes of refugees, including a comparison of African and European regimes and a reflection on the legal implications of refugee emergencies and protracted refugee situations. He has recently co-edited, with Dr David Cantor, a book based on the presentations and discussions in the February 2013 conference ‘Refuge from Inhumanity’, which he co-hosted in Oxford. He is currently Director of the International Refugee Law and Migration Law programme of the International Institute of Humanitarian Law, based in Sanremo (Italy). He is also contributing, both as a module convenor and as a tutor, to the distance-taught MA in Refugee Protection and Forced Migration Studies of the University of London, under the auspices of the Refugee Law Initiative.


For directions to the venue, please refer to the map.

How to book

This event is free but prior booking is required. Register online via Eventbrite.


For more information on this event, please email

Photography, video and audio recording

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