The concept of a ‘city of refuge’ is based on the original Cities of Asylum that was founded by the International Parliament of Writers in 1993. This was established by Salman Rushdie, Vaclav Havel, Margaret Drabble and Jacques Derrida among others, in response to the assassination of writers in Algeria. The IPW has since dissolved, but the scheme was left intact and has developed in over 30 cities across the world, including Stavanger where the International Cities of Refuge Network (ICORN) is based. In June 2007, ICORN's General Assembly was held in June 2007.

Writers who have gained from the ICORN initiative in other Cities of Refuge include:

Soudabeh Alishahi (Norway)
Soudabeh Alishahi was the first writer to gain asylum in Norway under the Writers in Exile scheme. She is educated as a teacher and has taught at secondary school in Iran. Her first collection of short stories, Blue and Red, was published in 1999. She has written a second collection as well as a novel but publication was stopped by Iranian censorship. Her short stories are mostly about the situation of Iranian women living in Iran or in exile, and express strong criticism of the prevailing political and religious conditions in the country.

Er Tai Gao (Las Vegas, USA)
Having been imprisoned after the Tiananmen Square protests in 1992, Er Tai Gao escaped China through Hong Kong with his wife Maya. They were then granted political refugee status in the United States. Gao's published works include The Struggle of Beauty and Beauty, The Symbol of Freedom. Between bursts of painting, he has completed a memoir, In Search of My Homeland, to be published by HarperCollins in late 2006.

José Anibal Campos (Berlin, Germany)
José Anibal Campos had to leave Cuba in 2002 due to his critical attitude towards the government, and cannot return. He initially lived in Barcelona, Spain, while his wife and daughter remained in Cuba and subsequently travelled to Germany where he received a scholarship from the Weimar Association, Cities of Asylum.