Fundamental to the threefold mission of JRS is addressing the root causes of human displacement. The organisation strives to change unjust policies at the most appropriate level: locally, nationally or internationally.

First and foremost JRS carries out advocacy work on the ground. When the refugees with whom staff are working are denied services, JRS intervenes at the most appropriate level. For instance, if the food distributed in a refugee camp is not received by those most in need, JRS personnel intervene directly with the organisation responsible. If this fails, the information is passed on to staff in the national, regional and international offices. Where appropriate, JRS works with other organisations raising issues publicly in the media or privately in centres of power, such as Geneva, Rome, Brussels and Washington.

JRS advocacy is qualified by key characteristics. Rooted in field work, it is based on Jesuit values and is relations-centred and research-based.The organisation is currently developing research facilities in cooperation with the Arrupe Tutor in Oxford University and other universities. It seeks to strengthen synergies between field programmes and research and advocacy work. The search for sustainable solutions, addressing the root causes of forced displacement, requires the development of effective structures and efficient advocacy networks based on research analysis.

Advocacy priorities are set at project, national and regional levels. Key issues are also taken up by JRS at international level. JRS also often works in coalition with other NGOs, particularly in campaigns against the use of child soldiers, landmines and detention. JRS country and regional offices play an essential role in providing information from the ground which can be used in work with the media and in advocating with national governments and international organisations, such as UN agencies.