PILnet connected the Asia Pacific Network of Refugees with pro bono legal assistance to support an innovative fund for refugee-led organizations in Asia.

Those with lived experience of displacement have a vital role in responding to the challenges faced by their communities. Refugee-led organizations (RLOs) have first-hand knowledge, specialized skills, and singular motivation to find their own solutions. Yet, they often experience legal barriers and are excluded from partnerships and funding opportunities, limiting their impact. 

PILnet seeks to connect RLOs with free legal assistance to address these challenges.

Among our RLO partners is the Asia Pacific Network of Refuges (APNOR), an Australia-based network of RLOs in the Asia Pacific region working to set a regional agenda for refugee policy that draws on the collective voice of lived experience. Building on their background connecting RLOs helping displaced people access their rights and express their full potential across the region, APNOR recognized a critical gap in funding availability for these groups. In 2023, they created the Refugee Leadership Alliance Empowerment Fund, an opportunity for RLOs from the region to apply for flexible core funding to help fuel their important work.

To improve the legal resilience of this innovative funding mechanism, PILnet connected APNOR with international law firm Hogan Lovells, which engaged several of its offices in the region to review and revise documents needed to establish and manage the fund, including grant guidelines, application forms, reporting templates, assessment criteria, code of conduct, and a grants agreement. The firms worked with APNOR to ensure they were meeting all of the legal requirements and obligations inherent in this type of grant program.

“It made a huge difference in our confidence,” said a representative of APNOR. “The opportunity to work with a pro bono lawyer was fantastic. It helped us achieve what we wanted. Lot’s of other RLOs could benefit from this type of support.”

Are you part of a refugee-led organization with legal needs? Apply for pro bono legal assistance through our intake form. Non refugee-led organizations assisting displaced people are also welcome to apply.

Are you a legal professional looking for an opportunity to help refugee-led organizations or otherwise engage in refugee rights pro bono? Learn how you can get involved