Asylum Research Consultancy (ARC) was set up by Liz Williams and Stephanie Huber in 2010 in order to raise standards in the refugee status determination (RSD) process, improve the realisation of asylum seekers’ and refugees’ rights and entitlements and to ensure that those in need of protection are recognised as such. It is staffed by human rights researchers and COI specialists.
Accurate, reliable and relevant Country of Origin Information (COI) is central to RSD in order to inform decision makers about conditions in the countries of origin of asylum applicants and to assist them in establishing objective criteria as to whether an asylum claim is well founded. Whilst the Home Office has a dedicated Country of Origin Information Service, in the current legal aid climate, asylum seekers and their legal representatives may lack time and resources to research the political, legal, human rights and humanitarian situations that force people to flee their countries of origin and to seek international protection.
ARC’s COI research services are designed to redress this imbalance. ARC provides country reports to support individual asylum claims for use in representations to the Home Office, the UK Immigration and Asylum Chambers and to international refugee decision making bodies. In the UK Country Guidance case AK (Article 15(c)) Afghanistan CG  UKUT 00163(IAC) promulgated on 18th May 2012, the Tribunal determined that “there may be a useful role in country guidance cases for reports by COI (Country of Origin) analysts/consultants” such as ARC (headnote A (iv) and para. 178) and considered that ARC consultants have the “relevant skills and experience to undertake this work” (para. 178).
In addition to case specific COI research queries, ARC provides country specific and thematic COI research for UNHCR, publishes commentaries on UK Home Office Country Information and Guidance reports (and previously commentaries on the now discontinued Operational Guidance Notes), and commentaries on European Asylum Support Office (EASO) COI reports. ARC also undertakes research consultancy, project management and training to the asylum, immigration and human rights sector both in the UK and internationally.
ARC manages the international COI Forum which provides a platform for COI researchers and refugee status determination practitioners to share publications and ideas on COI research and sources, and to develop shared resources. ARC also provides a free bi-monthly COI Update, which contains notifications of new Home Office COI publications as well as recent publications and developments in the top countries of origin of asylum seekers in the UK.
The CVs of ARC's consultants are available on request.