Skip to main content Skip to local navigation

The Orthodox Legal and Policy Framework Governing the Harm of Displacement and NATO’s Policy for the Protection of Civilians 2016, with Sarah Khan

In 2022, the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) estimated that 59.1 million persons remain internally displaced (53.2 million due to conflict), and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) estimates that 27.1 million are displaced across international borders as refugees. The highest figure of displacement on record since record keeping began.  

This research examines the existing orthodox International Legal and Policy Framework regulating the harm of displacement in contemporary crisis situations. It queries whether the “harm of displacement”, as envisaged in this orthodox framework sufficiently captures the scale, gravity, and multi-faceted nature of this harm. The research hypothesizes that the failure to specifically reference the “harm of displacement” in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s landmark Policy for the Protection of Civilians 2016 is emblematic of the limitations of this orthodox International Legal and Policy framework.

In this seminar, Sarah will present her year-long research for the LLM Research Program at Osgoode Hall Law School. Her findings encompass: (i) trends and pattens of displacement in significant contemporary crisis; (ii) the legal, policy and practice response undertaken by key actors such as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the United Nations (UN), the African Union (AU) and the Red Cross; and (iii) an analysis of the rhetoric and reality in the legal, policy and practise response to the “harm of displacement”. Her findings are based on extensive desk-based research and empirical data collection via interviews with subject matter experts.

Speaker profile

Sarah Khan is a lawyer by training, with a BA LLB Hons. degree from the National Law School at India University and a master of arts in international relations from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. Sarah is excited to apply her extensive field operations practice to research as an LLM research student at Osgoode Hall Law School and as a Dahdaleh Global Health Graduate Scholar at the Dahdaleh Institute. Prior to this, she has worked for over 12 years with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) as a senior protection officer and senior cluster coordinator. She has worked in areas of human rights, refugee, and international humanitarian law. In her work she supported the development of protection policies for UN/NGO humanitarian country teams; assisted governments with the development of legislation and policy related to internally displaced persons (IDP); designed capacity-building programs on international protection and displacement for armed actors and civil society; developed protection monitoring systems for response and advocacy; and coordinated UN/NGO actors on inter-agency protection platforms.

Her last position was as head of office in Northern Somalia, managing a multifaceted program covering refugees, IDPs, and persons in mixed flows (refugees/migrants). She has also worked with Oxfam, CAFOD UK, and the Pearson Peacekeeping Centre. At Pearson, she facilitated integrated training courses for NATO/ISAF and UN Mission senior commanders. 

Sarah has lived and worked in Asia, Africa, Europe, and the Middle East, covering various displacement situations, including in Afghanistan, Libya, Myanmar, Somalia, Sudan, and Syria. She has also worked at UNHCR Headquarters at the Global Protection Cluster covering various internal displacement situations, such as those in the Central African Republic, Colombia, Iraq, and the Philippines.

Register below and join us on Wednesday, February 22, at 1 p.m.


Registration for this event has closed.

The event is finished.


Wednesday, February 22, 2023


1:00 pm - 2:00 pm

Local Time

  • Timezone: America/New_York
  • Date: Wednesday, February 22, 2023
  • Time: 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm


QR Code