Olivia Bueno (she/her)
Washington DC, USA

Olivia Bueno
 is a Director at Strategy for Humanity and an experienced human rights researcher, advocate, and strategist. Her specialization includes issues on migration and refugees, children, and women. Working with partners in Europe, the US, and Africa, Olivia has carried out research, programming, and advocacy on a variety of human rights issues that relate to, for example, displacement and conflict, land rights affecting refugee returns, challenges for children and youth on the move, and women’s participation in peace processes and peacebuilding. She has worked with a variety of organizations, including supporting the Strategic Initiative for Women in the Horn of Africa (SIHA), MADRE, UNICEF, and Norwegian Refugee Council.

Throughout much of her career, Olivia has focused on migration and refugee issues. In 2004, she co-founded the International Refugee Rights Initiative, where she eventually served as Interim Executive Director in 2018.  Working with staff in Europe, the US, and Africa, Olivia carried out research, programming, and advocacy on issues related to displacement and conflict including on the return of refugees to Burundi, the securitization of refugees in policy, and the situation of Somalis in Kenya. She also carried out a study for Norwegian Refugee Council on land issues in Sudan and how this affects displaced persons’ decisions about return.

Olivia has also conducted significant research on children. In 2018 and 2019, she worked for Innocenti, UNICEF’s Office of Research, on a multi-country research study to understand the situation of children and young people on the move. In this capacity, Olivia contributed to the design of research tools and training, led field research teams in Somalia and Sudan, and authored the final reports. She has also conducted an independent evaluation of SIHA’s program for girls’ empowerment and led a team of researchers to evaluate a UNICEF child protection program in eastern Sudan.  For Save the Children, Olivia coordinated a team of seven research assistants to conduct focus group discussions, individual interviews, and creative exercises with 120 children. Her team’s research findings were published in Why Children Stay in the Northern Triangle.

In addition, Olivia has brought her experience and expertise to bear to address issues affecting women.  For MADRE, Olivia supported a program on women’s participation in peacebuilding in Colombia by preparing reports on women’s issues for quarterly UN Security Council briefings on the peace process and supporting AfroColombian women’s organizations advocacy efforts. For SIHA, she carried out an analysis of current efforts to integrate women into peace processes across the Horn of Africa.

Olivia was conferred a Master’s degree in International Affairs with a concentration in human rights from the School for International and Public Affairs, Columbia University. She was graduated with a Bachelors of Arts in Russian Language and Literature from Barnard College, Columbia University and achieved a Certificate in Russian language from the Moscow International University, Moscow, Russian Federation.  Olivia is a native speaker of English, is proficient in French, Russian, Portuguese and Spanish, and has elementary Arabic.

Select Publications

  • Save the Children, Should I Stay or Should I Go? Understanding children’s migration decisions in Northern Central America, 2022.
  • Olivia Bueno, Mark Gill, Lucy Hovil, Iolanda Genovese, Tahani Elmobasher, Reimagining Migration Responses in Sudan: Learning from migrant children and young people’s experiences. Summary Report, 2021.
  • Olivia Bueno, Mark Gill, Lucy Hovil, Iolanda Genovese, Lawrence Oduma, Kamal Adam, Reimagining Migration Responses in Somaliland and Puntland: Learning from migrant children and young people’s experiences. Summary Report, 2021.
  • UNICEF, Reimagining Migration Responses Learning from children and young people who move in the Horn of Africa, 2021.
  • Ali Agab and Olivia Bueno, Sudan’s Recent Amnesty Resolution Undermines the Prospects for Accountability and PeaceInternational Justice Monitor, 25 November 2020.
  • Ramya Subrahmanian, Lucy Hovil, Mark Gill, Olivia Bueno and Iolanda Genovese, Situational Brief: Research Report on Heightened Vulnerabilities of Migrant Children and Young People Living Alone in the Context of COVID-19, June 2020.
  • No Mother Wants Her Child to Migrate: Vulnerability of children on the move in the Horn of Africa, June 2019
  • EAC Summit is an opportunity to revive Burundi talksNew Vision, 30 November 2018.
  • Impact of the Bemba Acquittal Already Seen in the Democratic Republic of CongoInternational Justice Monitor, August 2, 2018.
  • Olivia Bueno and Yotam Gidron, No Option But EuropeForced Migration Review, January 2016.
  • Deterrence in Sudan: The Limits of a Lonely Court, chapter published in Jennifer Schense and Linda Carter, eds. Two Steps Forward, One Step Back: The Deterrent Effect of International Criminal Tribunals2016.
  • Olivia Bueno, 14 Years: Too Long or Not EnoughInternational Justice Monitor, 2012.