Opinion pieces


Searching for Truth in all the Hidden Places

Madeline Gleeson

First published in Sydney PEN Magazine, November Issue 2016.

To be able to write, and to have your words read, is a great privilege.

Asylum seekers will welcome another New Year still in limbo

Madeline Gleeson

First published in The Age, 13 December 2016.

The remote Pacific islands of Nauru and Manus Island will be among the first places in the world to celebrate the arrival of 2017. Some 1500 refugees and asylum seekers will be there to greet it, stranded in a combination of semi-detention and community residences. Four New Years into their offshore limbo, yet little closer to knowing what this one will bring.

How do we deal with the prospect of increased climate migration?

Professor Jane McAdam

First published in The Conversation, 1 December 2016.

On average, one person is displaced each second by a disaster-related hazard. In global terms, that’s about 26 million people a year. 

Most move within their own countries, but some are forced across international borders. As climate change continues, more frequent and extreme weather events are expected to put more people in harm’s way. 

After Trump’s Election, We Need to Get Creative on the Refugee Crisis


After a series of global summits on the refugee crisis, America elected Donald Trump. Elizabeth Ferris, who helped prepare the UN refugee summit, considers whether that progress is ruined, or if lack of US leadership will bring urgency to other players and policy ideas.

Defending the Refugee Convention

Professor Jane McAdam

First published in The Saturday Paper, 19 November 2016

It is 65 years since the Refugee Convention was adopted. This year, there are 65 million displaced people in the world. The synchronicity of those figures would have caused the drafters of the convention grave concern. The Refugee Convention was intended to provide a consistent and predictable means of granting refugees a legal status, and thus a means of finding a durable solution, whether through local integration, resettlement or voluntary repatriation.

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.