James Milner

Current affiliation:
Carleton University

Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, Carleton University

Global refugee issues are the primary focus of James Milner’s work. Building from his experience as a practitioner with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and other policy actors, his research examines responses to refugee movements, the work of the global refugee regime, the work of the United Nations with refugees and how refugee issues relate to broader issues of peacebuilding, conflict resolution, development and security. Milner’s work examines if and how global policy processes can more effectively ensure the protection of refugees and help find a solution to their plight. He has worked in Burundi, Guinea, Kenya, India, Tanzania and Thailand, and presented research to stakeholders in New York, Geneva, London, Ottawa, Bangkok, Nairobi, Dar es Salaam and elsewhere.

When first awarded a Trudeau Scholarship, I commented that the award represented an affirmation of my research on refugee movements in Africa and the response of host states. Before receiving the scholarship, I felt isolated on my research and was frustrated by an apparent lack of interest on the part of Canadian institutions in my area of work and research. Receiving the Trudeau Scholarship not only made me feel connected to Canada's long and proud humanitarian tradition, but also facilitated opportunities for me to directly engage with Canadian policy-makers and explain the relevance of my research. As a result of being a Trudeau Scholar and as a result of the involvement of members of the Trudeau community, I have been afforded a number of very useful occasions to present research to policy-makers in Ottawa. These opportunities have subsequently resulted in a constructive working relationship between myself and a number of key decision-makers.

In this way, the Trudeau Scholarship has primarily meant two things for me: first, an affirmation to me that my research is important to Canada and Canadians; and second, an affirmation to others, especially policy-makers, of the relevance of my research.

The Foundation's support also allowed me to undertake more ambitious and comprehensive field research than I had initially planned. With the support of the ATA, I was able to undertake a three-case comparative study of asylum policies in Africa, and conduct interviews in Kenya, Tanzania and Guinea. These interviews were conducted both in capital cities and border areas where the refugee camps were located. Such comparative research and lengthy field research has significant resource implications. Very limited financial support for field research from my university, department and college would have made it very difficult to conduct this kind of project without the support of the ATA.

The ATA also enabled me to develop and maintain an active network with policy-makers in both UN agencies and donor governments, through visits to Geneva, London, New York and Ottawa. In particular, the ATA supported more than five visits to Geneva in the past three years. During these visits, I was able to present research findings to Senior Managers at the UN?s refugee agency, UNHCR, to key donor missions, and the representatives of the African Union. These dissemination activities have allowed me to test the findings of my research over the course of my project, feed my findings into the formulation of international refugee policy, and ensure that my research was responsive to the needs and concerns of policy-makers and practitioners.

The Trudeau Scholarship has been so much more than just a Scholarship; it has been a source of encouragement and support that has so often gone beyond what I would consider the call of duty. It has been a tremendous honour, privilege and joy to be supported by the Scholarship and to be a part of the Trudeau community. It has made every difference to my doctoral research, my ability to communicate my research to policy-makers, and to my transition back to Canada. All I can say is thank you.