The Kaldor Centre Annual Conference brings together academics, practitioners and policymakers to discuss key challenges in international refugee law. The theme of this year’s conference is ‘From refugee emergency to protracted exile: The role of...

‘Refugee Facts’ is produced as part of the UNSW Grand Challenge on Refugees and Migrants. This university-wide initiative showcases UNSW’s research on migration and displacement from a variety of different perspectives, and is an important source...

The scale of the Middle East refugee crisis is overwhelming authorities. But war, failed states and climate change seem to be the new world normal – and so does the global flow of desperate people. Kaldor Centre Director, Professor Jane McAdam...

This page contains analysis and resources on two upcoming international summits on refugees: the United Nations Summit for Refugees and Migrants on 19 September, and the Leaders’ Summit on Refugees hosted by US President Barack Obama on 20...

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What if other countries copied Australia's border security example?

Frances Voon

First published in the Lowy Interpreter.

Two international summits held in New York this week were intended to generate fresh political will and substantial new pledges to bolster the international response to refugees. Australia's contribution to these summits was not only inadequate, it demonstrated a fundamental misconception of the requirements of international cooperation for refugee protection.

Photo: Getty Images/Anadolu Agency

What Australia Needs To Bring To The UN Refugees Summit

Frances Voon

First published in the The Huffington Post, 16 September 2016.

Displacement is a global challenge requiring collective international action. This is the imperative driving two historic international summits taking place this week in New York, which Australia will attend.

The first, a special meeting of the United Nations General Assembly on 19 September, will reaffirm key principles of international refugee law, and set in motion a process to develop a Global Compact on Refugees, including a framework for more predictable and comprehensive international responses to refugee flows. With displacement at an historic high and the vast majority of refugees hosted in developing states, the meeting calls for greater responsibility sharing, including increased support for refugee-hosting states.

Glimmers of Hope

Geoff Gilbert

In less than 24 hours’ time in New York, on 19 September 2016, heads of state and government will gather at the high-level meeting of the UN General Assembly on addressing large movements of refugees and migrants. What will count as success … and for whom? With around 65 million displaced persons of concern to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and a further 26 million displaced as a consequence of disasters and the impacts of climate change, what can one reasonably expect of a single day’s meeting at the UN? Even if pledges can be obtained from states to resettle one million refugees in 2016–17, that would still only represent a small reduction of that staggering overall figure.

For the sake of the world’s displaced people, though, realism has to be balanced with some hope for improvement. This short piece addresses the inherent problems with the high-level meeting, but it also considers the glimmers of hope it offers … even if they simply reflect states fulfilling obligations to which they have already agreed.

The Global Summit on Refugees and Migrants: the pesky issue of level of ambition


I have been very fortunate to work in the United Nations Secretary-General’s office to help prepare the 19 September United Nations Summit on Refugees and Migrants. Seconded by my university and supported by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), my particular task was to be the ‘pen-holder’ in drafting the Secretary-General’s report, In Safety and Dignity: Addressing Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants and to support the Special Advisor for the Summit, Karen AbuZayd in the preparations. Although I’ve worked closely with several UN agencies and the International Organization for Migration in different capacities over the years, I’d never worked for the UN before. To say it has been a learning experience is an understatement. The most important and difficult lesson I have learned is the need to get the ‘level of ambition’ right.

Can we solve the asylum seeker crisis? Guardian Workshop at the Festival of Dangerous Ideas


On 3 September, the Guardian's David Marr led a panel of national and international experts on refugee policies at the Festival of Dangerous Ideas. The session titled 'Can we solve the asylum seeker crisis?' explored alternative solutions to the current situation for asylum seekers in Australia. Could a simple change to the law make a difference for asylum seekers in Australia? Or do we need to stop acting as though there are ‘good’ and ‘bad’ types of refugees? Kaldor Centre Director, Professor Jane McAdam and Visiting Professor Geoff Gilbert joined Daniel Webb from the Human Rights Law Centre and Shukufa Tahiri from the Refugee Council of Australia to tackle these big questions.

September summits on refugees: Background, commentary and resources


This page contains analysis and resources on two upcoming international summits on refugees: the United Nations Summit for Refugees and Migrants on 19 September, and the Leaders’ Summit on Refugees hosted by US President Barack Obama on 20 September.

This page will be regularly updated in the lead up and aftermath of the summits.

Filling up or emptying the glass? Musings on the 19 September refugee summit

Professor Jane McAdam

There are 21 million refugees in the world today – the highest number since the Second World War. But on a per capita basis, there are actually fewer refugees now than there were then.

Back in 1949–50, 48 per cent of Australia’s migration intake was comprised of refugees. In the late 1970s, 25 per cent of new arrivals in Australia were refugees. Today, refugees make up just seven per cent of our annual permanent migration intake.

We can resettle refugees in Australia and it's not just wishful thinking. This is how

Professor Jane McAdam

First published in The Guardian, 5 September 2016

There are many sides to the refugee debate in Australia, but an overarching question is this: how can we create a more sustainable and humane policy that accords with international law?

I was challenged to identify a single intervention that could have this effect. It seemed a formidable task, but the answer is quite simple if we go back to first principles.

Minor miracle or historic failure? Assessing the UN’s refugee summit


By Dr Jeff Crisp, Associate Fellow at Chatham House & Research Associate at Refugee Studies Centre, University of Oxford

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