Getting started

Think global, act local

Human displacement is a problem without a passport. The causes are too big and complex for any one nation to address alone, and the consequences are too interconnected for any nation to consider themselves immune.

We can all do something to strengthen the organisations advancing a global response. Our local action helps shape the political climate of what is politically possible.

No matter what your field of practice,  you can help right now by:

Importance of global organisations

Human displacement is a symptom of war, persecution, and conflict. It is a failure of the nation state to secure people’s human rights; a political problem.

The United Nations (UN) leads international political, development, humanitarian responses by creating the space for nations to come together, invest in goals, and coordinate action plans. Its members are nation states.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)is the UN refugee agency with the mandate support member states to protect displaced people. It relies on donations from states, organisations and citizens.

The World Federation of United Nations Associations (WFUNA) represents the people’s movement supporting their nation’s responsible participation in the United Nations. In democracies an informed population can hold it’s polity to account through domestic elections. Its members are citizens.

Understand the agenda

The New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants (UN, 2016) represents the international political will and commitment to respond to people on the move.

The Global Compact for Refugees has been in development and is expected to be presented to the 73rd session of the General Assembly, September 2018.

The Global Compact for Migration (GCM) is expected to be formally adopted by nations as they present their program to implement the GCM at the conference, December 2018.

Get involved locally

Explore at your ‘why’ and where you are at now:

  • what you can invest right now,
  • what are you are hoping to gain,
  • what type of contribution you want to make, and why?

Look nationally to find out:

  • what your nation has agreed to do,
  • what they officially say they do, and
  • what they actually do.

Listen locally to find out:

  • who are the displaced people closest to you,
  • who is already responding to displaced people, and
  • what do they need?

Decide where to start:

  • contribute as a citizen to learn,
  • contribute as a professional where there’s alignment, and
  • consider how to leverage your contribution.

Get connected locally

Find local colleagues that stimulate and nourish you. How? You are the expert of your local context. Some ideas are:

  • let your interest in networking on this topic be known,
  • write to mark a relevant United Nations Day in a relevant professional space,
  • be bold and plan to involve other local practitioners in the next Global Day of Service

Are you already working in with displaced people? Be a part of the inaugural ‘Who’s Working Where’!

Have you seen the profession take a step forward in its response to displaced people? Tell us about it so that it can be included in the Status Report!

Could this page be more helpful? Feedback welcome!


United Nations (UN). (2016). The New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants. General Assembly Resolution 71/1. Retrieved from:

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). (2018). Towards a Global Compact on Refugees. Retrieved from:

Global Compact for Migration (2018). Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration; Intergovernmentally Negotiated and Agreed Outcome. Retrieved from: