The following focus areas have been officially recognised as priorities at the present time:
- Human rights and humanitarian action: It centres on aspects related to international humanitarian action in the broad sense, including protection of persons in crisis contexts and international conflicts. Special attention is placed on protection of vulnerable groups (displaced people, refugees, indigenous communities) through analysis of public humanitarian aid policy, humanitarian organisations' management or International Humanitarian Law and International Human Rights Law. Emphasis is also placed on peace building strategies and democratisation with humanitarian crises and international conflicts as the starting point. The NOHA and E.MA networks support international projects in this area.
- Human rights and cultural diversity: This field of research centres on the study of societies’ new multicultural realities in our area, cultural transformation of migrant groups and conflicts caused by different groups sharing public spaces. It also analyses policies that recognise and accommodate ethnic, linguistic or religious minorities in Europe, and indigenous people's policies in their own countries, particularly Latin America. Equality and non-discrimination principles, with their array of legal and political instruments, fundamental rights and extending the concept of citizenship are the main topics in this focus area. The IMISCOE and E.MA networks frame the international projects and actions in this focus area.
- Migrations, integration and social cohesion: This focus area studies the dynamics of inserting and accommodating immigrants in societies in our area as well as transnational movements and networks. This area places special importance on the different aspects of migratory phenomena, particularly social and occupational integration of immigrants, training and social capital development or the use of new technologies in immigrant networks and associations. From a more legal-political perspective, public policies affecting migration and protection of immigrants' rights are analysed. The area converges with cultural diversity when analysing cultural expression in diasporas or immigrant groups, as well as their integration or cultural or identity accommodation. . The IMISCOE network is the one that mainly functions as the framework to carry out international work and actions.
The three focus areas described above are not mutually exclusive. On the contrary, numerous conceptual and methodological synergies arise among them, depending on the project or contract. The team researchers are not permanently attached to specific focus areas, although they tend to specialise.
The team also conducts research on human rights topics that do not strictly form part of the priority research areas. For example, work has been conducted on human rights protection in the Basque Country, emerging rights or the fight against discrimination and gender-based violence.