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International Association for the Study of Forced Migration

The International Association for the Study of Forced Migration is an international forum of academics and practitioners working in the area of forced migration. This international association was established at the beginning of the 1990s; its predecessor was the International Research and Advisory Panel on Refugees and Other Displaced Persons (IRAP), which was founded to provide academic support to the Refugee Studies Programme at Oxford University and the Journal of Refugee Studies. Participants in the first IRAP Meeting in January 1990 worked on a research agenda for Refugee Studies and discussed the foundation of an "independent international think tank on refugee policy and practice", which could use and interconnect the experiences of academics as well as migration practitioners. At the following IRAP conferences 1991, 1992 and 1994, fundamental analyses and state-of-the-art papers as well as practical reports on current developments worldwide were presented and discussed.

Over the years, these working conferences experienced a constant growth as regards the number of participants and presentations, to turn more and more into a large international expert conference; the range of topics was extended from refugee studies to comprise also the field Forced Migration. In 1994, a core group of academics and practitioners who had actively participated in the IRAP conferences decided to establish an international association that should organise the conference independently of the previous host Oxford and could develop additional activities.

Die International Association for the Study of Forced Migration was founded on the occasion of a conference held in Oxford in January 1994. The association wants to initiate and promote international and interdisciplinary networks of academics and practitioners that are committed to questions of Forced Migration. The IASFM is in fact internationally structured as regards its working area, its members and its executive committee. The IASFM is not a merely academic organization; it also wants to contribute to the worldwide debates on Forced Migration and tries to influence policies and programmes in this area by offering counselling and by providing information.

When deciding about the venues of the conferences - organised every two years - the aim is to hold them at locations that are considered focal points of the problem of forced migration and to co-operate with local organisations there. This strategy intends to strengthen the local organisations, to allow local academics to participate and to provide international participants with first-hand information. The first IRAP conference, which was organised and financed by the IASFM, took place in Kenya in 1996, the second in Jerusalem in December 1998, and the third conference was held in Johannesburg / South Africa. The most recent international IASFM conference took place in Chiang Mai / Thailand in 2003. The 9th International Conference on Forced Migration was held in São Paulo/ Brazil in 2005.

Being represented by Wolfgang Bosswick (Secretary of IASFM, re-elected in 1998 in Jerusalem and 2001 in Johannesburg), the efms has been participating in the IASFM activities since 1996 Until the end of 2003, the efms has been in charge of running the IASFM website www.iasfm.org.

Since summer 2003 the IASFM has its own International Secretariat at the Refugee Studies Centre in Oxford. After three terms Wolfgang Bosswick resigned as secretary, in accordance with the statutes, and transferred all responsibilities to the new secretariat.

Funding: IASFM members, conference funds by various organisations
Local Researcher: Wolfgang Bosswick
Publication: Khalid Koser: Changing Agendas in the Study of Forced Migration: A Report on the Fifth International Research and Advisory Panel Meeting, April 1996. In: Journal of Refugee Studies, Vol. 9, No. 4, Oxford 1996.

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