The European Council on Refugees and Exiles, the Danish Refugee Council and the Maastricht University Graduate School of Governance/UNU MERIT will organize a seminar on the involvement of diasporas in development cooperation. The aim is to gain more understanding on the specific contributions of refugee diasporas to development in their countries of origin and the resulting impacts on their host country.
The seminar will take place on 18 March 2014 in Brussels. It brings together around 40 participants from EU institutions, Member States, UNHCR, NGOs and academia. Some places are still available. Registration is possible here.
More information on the seminar can be found here.
The Refugee Law Initiative, University of London, and the School of Law, Queen Mary, University of London have issued a call for papers for a conference on “Boat Refugees and Migrants at Sea: A Comprehensive Approach Integrating Maritime Security with Human Rights”, to take place June 23-24, 2014.
The conference aims to comprehensively address the contemporary phenomenon of ‘boat migration’ with a holistic approach. We will consider its multiple facets, combining knowledge from several disciplines and regions of the world, with a view to making a decisive contribution to our understanding of current trends, against the background of the fragmentary responses adopted and innumerable tragedies occurred thus far.
Click here for more information.
Jane McAdam, member of this Interest Group and Australian Research Council Future Fellow at the University of New South Wales, Australia, wrote an article for the International Journal of Refugee Law on the origins of the concept of ‘persecution’ in international refugee law, thus changing the way the history of the refugee definition has been conventionally understood in refugee law scholarship. It suggests that the concept of persecution, which in legal terms has come to be viewed as a mid-twentieth century characterisation of the refugee, was in fact implicit in all the international legal instruments concerning refugees developed from the 1920s onwards.
The article can be found here.
blogpost by Isabelle Swerissen, chairperson of the Interest Group
The 2014 Winter Olympics are in full swing. The games, which take place in the Black Sea coastal city of Sochi, should have been a prestige project of huge importance for Russia’s image at home and abroad. Instead, they are turning out to become the most criticized games ever. The controversies surrounding the Sochi games are many: flagrant discrimination against the gay community, forced evictions of homeowners to make way for Olympic venues and infrastructure, environmental destruction of the surrounding land and, of course, the staggering costs of the whole enterprise, totaling an estimated 50 billion dollars. An issue that has received far less media attention is the abuse of migrant workers on whose backs the Olympic sites are built.
The transformation of Sochi from a quiet subtropical resort into a winter sporting paradise required the influx of thousands of workers from Central Asia, the Caucasus and other places. Dozens of these migrant workers were subjected to a range of abuses and exploitation, or so Human Rights Watch (HRW) reports. It claims that “employers cheated workers out of wages, required them to work 12-hour shifts with few days off, and confiscated passport and work permits, apparently to coerce workers to remain in exploitative jobs”. Since a host of different actors was involved in construction activities in and around Sochi, this blog post inquires which of these actors can be held responsible for their part in violating the rights of migrant workers. Let the Blame Games begin! Continue reading
During a riot in a detention camp in Papua New Guinea, one asylum seeker was killed and at least 77 were injured. Accounts as to what caused the riot differ; Australian authorities claim the violence began when detainees forced their way out of the center, but refugee advocates insist it was sparked when local residents and police stormed the facility, attacking the asylum seekers.
The facility is part of Australia’s Pacific Solution on the basis of which Australia processes and detains asylum seekers in centers on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea and on the tiny Pacific island of Nauru. The asylum seekers are sent there after trying to get to Australia, often in unsafe boats and with the help of people smugglers in Indonesia.
A similar incident took place earlier this week when 35 asylum seekers briefly escaped. The continuing unrest in the center on Papua New Guinea quickly drew calls from critics to shut the facility. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees had already said in a November report it failed to provide “safe and humane conditions of treatment in detention”.
Read more here.
A new Implementing Regulation has entered into force providing detailed rules for the application of the Dublin III Regulation, which entered into force in July 2013 and replaces the Dublin II Regulation. The Recitals of the Implementing Regulation state that the Regulation is designed to “increase the efficiency of the [Dublin] system and improve the cooperation between national authorities” by ensuring the “effective application” by Member States of the Dublin III Regulation in practice.
The detailed rules cover the preparation required of States prior to requesting another State to assume responsibility for an asylum seeker, obligations in the case of delays in the procedure, the necessary consultation between States that host different members of the same family, required actions by States to identify the family of unaccompanied children seeking asylum, and the conditions and arrangements for exchanging data regarding the state of health of the asylum seeker before he or she is sent back to the state deemed responsible for examining the asylum application.
Read more here.
At the Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna (Austria) from 19 – 21 June, 2014
Higher education is a central element to foster socio-economic development. It helps young people by providing them with professional qualifications, to establish themselves occupationally, and enabling them to become mobile in social and geographical terms. These issues are particularly important in Africa which is the only macro-region in the South where per capita income has declined over the last years, despite some economic growth, because of extremely high birth rates.
African governments recognize the importance of education for socio-economic development and increasingly invest also in higher education. The rapid expansion of universities, especially of private institutions, however, now is increasingly difficult because of the shortage of university teachers. As a consequence, the quality of education might suffer. Also the employment of university graduates is a problem given the weak development of modern industrial and service sector. Closely related to this is the issue of emigration of graduats (brain drain) toward Europe and America.
The conference shall discuss all relevant issues concerning the development, quality, and outcomes of higher education and university teaching and research in Africa from a comparative perspective, with a specific focus on relations between Africa and Europe. Furthermore, the conference shall provide a forum for both African and European social scientists in order to exchange relevant research findings across continents.
More information can be found here.
On 9 February 2014, Swiss voters narrowly approved a referendum that would limit the number of persons who would be allowed to migrate to Switzerland. The outcome obliges the government to turn the ‘Stop mass immigration’ initiative, spearheaded by the right-wing Swiss People’s Party, into law within three years.
If implemented, the law contradicts the pact on free movement of people with the EU, which came into force 12 years ago. Many EU leaders have already expressed their regret over the outcome of the referendum. The European Commission said in a statement that it would examine the implications for its relations with Switzerland.
Read more here.
On 4 February 2014, the European Parliament adopted a non-legislative resolution on ‘Undocumented women migrants in the European Union’, in which it calls on EU Member States to allow undocumented women migrants to enjoy their fundamental rights regardless of their residential or legal status and report abusers to the police without fearing arrest or deportation.
The resolution urges Member States to detach immigration policies from access to healthcare and education as well as from the prosecution of crimes against undocumented migrants. In addition, Member States must ensure that undocumented migrant women have mechanisms available to introduce claims against abusive employers.
Read more here.
The latest issue of the Michigan Journal of International Law is out. This issue is dedicated to the exclusion clauses of the Refugee Convention, more in particular the exclusion of international criminals. Through the Sixth Colloquium on Challenges in International Refugee Law, a principled and workable framework has been developed to guide the considering of the exclusion from refugee status of persons believed to have committed international crimes. The ‘Michigan Guidelines on the Exclusion of International Criminals’ is the result. Earlier Guidelines were established on, amongst others, the topics of the Right to Work, Well-Founded Fear, the Internal Protection Alternative.
The Guidelines can be found here.