Professor David James Cantor is the founding Director of the Refugee Law Initiative (RLI) and its Internal Displacement Research Programme at the School of Advanced Study, University of London, where he is Professor of Refugee Protection and Forced Migration Studies.
Trained originally as a social anthropologist, David worked as a practitioner in the legal field during the 2000s for organisations such as the Refugee Legal Centre, a London-based public law centre where he litigated refugee and human rights cases until 2007, and UNHCR. In a consultancy capacity, he has advised, trained and undertaken research for over fifteen governments mostly from the global south, as well as numerous INGOs and northern and southern NGOs. During 2016-17, David was seconded as a Principal Advisor to the UNHCR Americas Bureau.
David’s research has a strong legal and policy focus that covers the protection of refugees and internally displaced persons. He has a long-standing fascination with Latin America, where he has carried out fieldwork since 1998 in Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Panama, Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Uruguay and Mexico. Since 2010, he has published five books, five special issues and 40 journal articles and book chapters. His work won the Times Higher Education Research Project of the Year 2017-18.
David has led international collaborations and secured competitive research funding totalling almost £9 million across around 15 projects as PI or Co-I (including AHRC, ESRC, GCRF, Leverhulme Trust) and organised over 150 conferences, workshops and seminars through the RLI. Alongside setting up the RLI and its Internal Displacement Research Programme, he co-founded the International Refugee Law book series (where he remains editor-in-chief), the distance-learning MA in Refugee Protection and Forced Migration Studies, the University of London Refugee Law Clinic and the Researching Internal Displacement platform, as well as Coursera massive online open courses on refugees and internal displacement. He is Editor-in-Chief of the OUP Refugee Survey Quarterly journal.
Selected recent publications:
- Contemporary Perspectives on Internal Displacement in Africa Special Collection, 40(2) Refugee Survey Quarterly, with N. Maple (2021)
- ‘Environment, Mobility and International Law: A New Approach in the Americas’, 21(2) Chicago Journal of International Law 263 (2021)
- ‘Understanding the Health Needs of Internally Displaced Persons: A Scoping Review’, Journal of Migration and Health 100071, with J. Swartz, B. Roberts et al (2021)
- ‘Internal Displacement, Internal Migration and Refugee Flows: Connecting the Dots’, 39(4) Refugee Survey Quarterly 647, with J. Apollo Ochieng (2020)
- ‘Reconsidering African Refugee Law’, 31(2-3) International Journal of Refugee Law 182, with F. Chikhwana (2019)
- Returns of Internally Displaced Persons during Armed Conflict: International Law and its Application in Colombia (Brill, 2018)
- ‘Fairness, Failure, and Future in the Refugee Regime’, 30(4) International Journal of Refugee Law 627 (2018)