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Emily E. Arnold-Fernandez

Emily E. Arnold-Fernandez

Emily Arnold-Fernandez is the founder and executive director of Asylum Access, an innovative international organization dedicated to making refugee rights a reality at a global level.

A graduate of Georgetown Law Center, Arnold-Fernandez’ interest in refugee issues began in 2002, representing refugees in United Nations proceedings as a volunteer legal advocate with AMERA in Egypt. Her experience working on the ground with refugees planted the seeds for Asylum Access and, only three years later, Emily used her life-long experience as a human rights advocate to develop the Asylum Access model to help refugees assert their fundamental rights.

Emily leads an international team of legal advocates to implement four integrated strategies that have proven effective in transforming refugee rights into reality: individualized legal assistance, community legal empowerment, policy advocacy, and strategic litigation. With these tools, Asylum Access empowers refugees to assert their rights, giving them the tools to provide for themselves and make choices about their own lives.

Since opening its doors in 2005, Asylum Access has provided individualized legal assistance to over 7,000 refugees, reaching 700,000 through policy advocacy and strategic litigation. To scale its successes, Emily and her team have developed a Refugee Rights Toolkit to help advocates across the global south replicate Asylum Access’ successes without reinventing the wheel. As the Chair of the Steering Committee of the Southern Refugee Legal Aid Network (SRLAN), Asylum Access is also leading regional efforts to advance refugee rights across borders.

Asylum Access is not only implementing an innovative and sustainable method to create long-lasting change for over 16 million refugees in the world; but also developing a template for changing all of the world’s human rights conventions from mere paper promises into real rights in individuals’ daily lives.


(update 2013-01-29)