UNHCR and IOM endorse and incorporate DSSH model in global training

Mon, 04 Jan 2016

The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) have launched a trailblazing “training package for the protection of LGBTI persons in forced displacement”, funded by the United States Bureau for Population, Refugees and Migration (BPRM).This package will be used by all officers of the UNHCR and IOM when determining asylum claims based on sexual or gender identity.  Within the training, No5 Chambers’ Barrister S Chelvan’s Difference, Stigma, Shame and Harm model (‘the DSSH model’) is specifically endorsed and incorporated as a determination tool (Module 2 – Conducting Interviews), providing the model with international impact.  The training states: (click here to view or download):

“Participants are taught the Difference, Stigma, Shame, Harm (DSSH) model. The premise of the DSSH model is that there are several characteristics that are nearly universal among LGBTI people, and that the vast majority of individuals we interview will be able to discuss them in some capacity. Those characteristics are difference and stigma. Many people will additionally have experienced shame and harm. 

The reason this model is so useful is that it allows participants to conduct interviews in a way that is non-judgmental and employs non-intrusive and non-sexual questions.  For RSD interviews, it is also an alternative means of assessing credibility for individuals who are not “out” or have not engaged in same-sex partnerships.  The DSSH model is based upon open-ended questions and employs a non-adversarial approach.”

The UNHCR originally endorsed the model in the October 2012 International Protection Guidelines No 9 (para 62).  However, this is the first time the UNHCR has specifically provided  step-by-step training on the model as part of their global training programme.  Chelvan provides training on the model both domestically and internationally.  In March 2016, Chelvan will be providing the Swiss authorities training on the DSSH model, as part of their Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity programme.  The governments of the UK, Sweden, New Zealand, Finland and NGOs in Australia and Eire already incorporate the DSSH model in determining asylum claims, and detailed guidance is published in the CREDO Volume 2 “Credibility Assessment in Asylum Procedures”  (published May 2015) (Chapter XI co-authored with Gabor Gyuali).

S Chelvan is part of the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality group at No5 Chambers. Click here to view S Chelvan's profile.

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