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UN High Commissioner for Refugees Essay Competition 2019 / How To Apply

Research essayists at the graduate (Masters or Doctoral) level are invited to enter for the ongoing UN High Commissioner Refugee Essay Competition 2019. All essays must reflect the 2019 African Union’s Theme: ‘The Year of Refugees, Returnees and Internally Displaced Persons: Towards Durable Solutions for Forced Displacement in Africa’.

This competition is being organized by UNHCR and Addis Ababa University’s Centre for Human Rights (CHR-AAU).

According to the press release, the essay contest has been organized 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).

Deadline for submissions is 17:00 Addis Ababa time on 31 December 2019.


  • Only graduate students in African Universities are eligible
  • Writer must be knowledgeable in writing research essays
  • Only one essay per entrant will be permitted.
  • Entrant must be aged 18 or over;
  • A national of, or ordinarily resident in, an AU member state
  • Essay must be written in English
  • Essay must be endorsed by a faculty member in your university.

Submissions Guidelines:

  • Submission must be a research essay
  • Word count:  3,000 words max (this includes any cover page, table of contents, footnotes, bibliography, etc…) t
  • Essays must do justice to 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 interdisciplinary. The research may be theoretical, or it may incorporate empirical/field research findings.

An internal jury composed of UNHCR experts and CHR-AAU faculty will screen all entries. The most accomplished works will be forwarded to an expert jury composed of international experts.

How to apply for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees Essay Competition 2019

  • Ensure that your essay is in PDF format
  • Send your submission as an email attachment to
  1. birhane.azaghe@aau.edu.et,
  2. wondemagegn.tadesse@aau.edu.et
  3. and ethadrau@unhcr.org
  • All submissions must be emailed before the before 17:00 Addis Ababa time on 31 December 2019 deadline .

Other materials to include in your submission (both in the body of the email and in the PDF doc)

• 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.

Entries will be judged based on the following criteria:

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

Winners will receive:

  • A cash award of of $1,000 USD
  • An opportunity to be published by UNHCR and CHR-AAU

Winners will be announced in May 2020.

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