On the 23 November 2018, the Kaldor Centre hosted its fifth annual conference, entitled ‘Refugee Diplomacy: Negotiating protection in a changing world'’. This Q&A panel discussion shared insights behind the scenes of refugee diplomacy and was chaired by Leanne Smith, Director, Whitlam Institute, Western Sydney University and member of the Kaldor Centre Advisory Committee. Panellist include:
- Apajok Biar, Multicultural Youth Ambassador, Multicultural Youth of Australia Network NSW
- Professor Erika Feller, Vice Chancellor’s Fellow, University of Melbourne
- John Quinn, former Australian Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations and for the Conference on Disarmament, Geneva
A full program, along with conference papers and presentations, can be found here.
About the Speaker
Apajok Biar was born in a refugee camp in Kenya, arriving in Australia with her family at the age of two. She completed a Bachelor of Social Work at Western Sydney University. She is chairperson and co-founder of South Sudan Voices of Salvation Inc, a not-for-profit youth-run and led organisation. She is a youth advisor for Multicultural NSW, MYAN NSW Multicultural Youth Ambassador and currently the Youth Participation Officer with Cumberland Council. Ms Biar was the Refugee Youth Advocate representing Australia and New Zealand at UNHCR in Geneva in 2017, and spoke on a panel discussing the importance of refugee youth involvement. She was a member of the team undertaking a Gender Audit of the Global Compact on Refugees. She was a finalist for the Women’s Weekly ‘Women of the Future 2017’ award. Ms Biak was Awarded the 2017 Western Sydney Refugee Youth Award in recognition of her outstanding community leadership. She was also a semi-finalist for the 2018 Young Achievers Awards for community leadership (NSW/ACT).
Erika Feller held the post of Assistant High Commissioner (Protection) at UNHCR from 2005–13. Her career has included 14 years with the Australian diplomatic service, followed by 26 years with UNHCR. She was the High Commissioner’s Representative in Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei, Regional Coordinator for Status Determination for the Indo-Chinese refugee outflow, and Director of the Department of International Protection. After retiring from UNHCR in 2013, she was appointed a Fellow of the Australian Institute of International Affairs and a Vice-Chancellor’s Fellow at the University of Melbourne. Since January 2018, she has served as a Professorial Fellow with the University’s School of Government. Her recent work has centred on regional refugee protection and on the reduction of statelessness. She is an honours law graduate from the University of Melbourne, and holds an additional degree in the humanities, specialising in psychology.
John Quinn retired in June 2018 after spending more than 39 years as a career officer in the Australian Foreign Service. From 2014–17, he served as Australia’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations and to the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva. He occupied several senior positions in Geneva, including Chair of the Council of the International Organization for Migration from 2016–17. He also held diplomatic posts in Honolulu, Tokyo, Manila, Nairobi and New York, where he was Deputy Head of Mission with Australia’s Permanent Mission to the UN. In Canberra, Mr Quinn occupied a range of senior positions in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), notably as an Assistant Secretary in the International Security Division, as head of the Australian Government’s interagency Iraq Task Force in 2003–04, and leading branches dealing with Southeast Asia, New Zealand and Pacific Regional issues, the Middle East, nuclear policy, and cultural relations. In 2011–12 he was seconded to the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet to lead DFAT’s input into the Australian Government’s Australia in the Asian Century White Paper. He contributed a chapter on the UN General Assembly in a 1992 book edited by Professor Philip Alston entitled The United Nations and Human Rights: A Critical Appraisal.