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UNHCR Research Essay Contest 2019 for African University Students (US$1,000 Prize)

UNHCR and Addis Ababa University’s Centre for Human Rights (CHR-AAU) invite African university students at the graduate (Masters or Doctoral)level to submit research essays on the topic of forced displacement in Africa to an essay competition being held in connection with the African Union’s(AU)theme of 2019:

‘The Year of Refugees, Returnees and Internally Displaced Persons: Towards Durable Solutions for Forced Displacement in Africa’ and to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the Organization of African Unity Convention Governing the Specific Aspects of Refugee Problems in Africa and the 10th anniversary of the adoption of the AU Convention for the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons in Africa (Kampala Convention).

UNHCR Research Essay Contest Topic.

Any research essay of no more than 3,000 words (including any cover page, table of contents, footnotes, bibliography,etc…) that offers a clear contribution on the topic of refugees and/or IDPs in Africa. Research may come from any relevant discipline(including but not limited to economics, geography, history, law, philosophy, politics or sociology), or may be inter-disciplinary. The research may be theoretical, or it may incorporate empirical/field research findings.

UNHCR Research Essay Contest Eligibility.

  • Applicants should be aged 18 or over;
  • Be a national of, or ordinarily resident in, an AU member state; and
  • Registered at the graduate (Masters or Doctoral) level at a recognised university in an AU member state.
  • Additionally, your essay:
    • Must be written in English;
    • Must be endorsed by a faculty member from your university; and
    • May have been submitted for course credit or prepared exclusively for this competition.

UNHCR Research Essay Contest Prizes.

  • The winning essay will be published online by UNHCR and CHR-AAU and the winner will receive a prize of US$1,000. Winners will be announced in May 2020.

UNHCR Research Essay Contest Selection Criteria.

The internal and expert juries will judge entries by the following criteria:

  • Quality of writing;
  • Quality of research;
  • Timeliness and importance of topic; and
  • Contribution to increasing understanding of forced displacement in Africa.

How to Submit Entries for the UNHCR Essay Contest.

Submit your essay in PDF format to and before 17:00 Addis Ababa time on December 31, 2019. Make sure to include:

  • Your full name;
  • Your date of birth;
  • Your phone number and email address;
  • Your nationality or country of habitual residence;
  • The name of the university where you are registered;
  • Proof of registration; and
  • An endorsement in PDF format of no more than 200 words written by a faculty member from your university.


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