Displacement crises, international law and global justice

We are routinely told that there is a global displacement crises – with over 100 million people counted as displaced from their homes due to persecution, conflict and violence. Of those displaced, a minority flee externally, and of those, only some are ever legally recognised as refugees.  Even fewer flee beyond their own regions, or reach the global north.    A large proportion of those counted as refugees are born into refugeehood, often legally unable to bring their refugeehood to an end.   This talk will explore the crisis framing, both what it reveals and what it obscures.    It will demonstrate the role of international law in framing, generating and mitigating displacement crises.  In an unjust world, characterised by inequality of mobility opportunities, racialised borders, and protracted refugee situations, the lecture explores if there are ways to mobilise international law towards global justice in this field.  

In 2016 the international community reaffirmed the 1951 Refugee Convention the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants ‘as the foundation of the international refugee protection regime’. The subsequent Global Compact on Refugees (GCR) focuses on cooperation to foster responsibility-sharing for refugee protection.  At the same time, international refugee law is routinely derided as ‘out-dated’ and ‘Eurocentric’. In 2020, one of the leading political philosophers of refugeehood, Seyla Benhabib, wrote of the ‘The End of the Refugee Convention?’ arguing that the ‘current refugee protection regime is not only inadequate for the life and well-being of the nearly 70 million displaced persons in our times, but that it also jeopardizes the demos by encouraging state practices that undermine international law.’ (Benhabib2020).

In contrast, on 28 September 2023 a Letter from global NGO leaders to the UK Government appeared in The Guardian, stating that the Refugee Convention ‘continues to offer an adequate framework for supporting refugees and asylum seekers. In an unstable world, where needs are growing, the refugee convention is as important and necessary as ever.’ So which is it? Is international refugee law inadequate to current displacement? Does it lead governments inexorably to abuse human rights? Is it effective or ineffective, protective, puny or punitive? This lecture offers a systematic overview of the practices in the global refugee regime, and identifies a course to understand the practices and their impact.   

Hosted by the University of Valencia.

The Kapuscinski Development Lectures is an initiative funded by the European Commission.

When: 25th March 2024 at 17:00 CET / 16:00 GMT

Where:  Facultad de Derecho / School of Law, salón de grados, Campus Tarongers Edificio Departamental Occidental, av. Tarongers s/n 46022 Valencia

You can join the lecture by:

  • coming to the event at the University of Valencia
  • joining the event online on Zoom – register here
  • following livestreaming from the event at kapuscinskilectures.eu
  • asking your questions to Cathryn Costello via X using #KAPTalks hashtag

Moroccan-EU connection. Migration

Morocco has always experienced all types of migration: immigration and emigration, voluntary and forced migration as well as legal and illegal migration. Nowadays, more than 10 percent of Moroccans live abroad. As the vast majority of them reside in European countries and as the Morocco-Spain migration route is slowly becoming one of the main routes used for illegal migration to Europe, the need for cooperation between Morocco and its European counterparts is more urgent than ever before.

All the while, Morocco serves as a transit and immigration country for migrants coming from various parts of the world, mostly from Sub-Saharan Africa and Syria. In 2013 the Moroccan government adopted a new migration policy, which focused on legalizing the status of illegal migrants living in the country and reviewed migration law in order to make it more human and protective for migrants.

All these topics are explored in this guest lecture of prof. Khadija Elmadmad.

Why refugees need jobs, bank accounts, and insurance

Our world is in the midst of one of the most intense refugee crises it has ever seen. In fact, 1 in every 122 persons in the world has been displaced due to conflict. At 60 million, this is enough to form the world’s 24th largest country. As the international community, largely unprepared, is struggling to meet the demands, Dr. Paul Spiegel of UNHCR joins #KAPtalks to argue for a new paradigm. He suggests we must go beyond the donor-assistance system to one in which refugees must be given cash, bank accounts and health insurance.