Erica Bower and Sanjula Weerasinghe
As hazards, disasters and climate change profoundly affect people’s lives and livelihoods, communities and authorities seek opportunities to move people permanently out of harm’s way. Planned relocation is generally considered as a measure of last resort. In this context, policymakers, practitioners and communities require refined information on how planned relocation could be undertaken to minimize negative impacts, avoid pitfalls and promote human rights and human dignity.
Complementary pathways provide a significant opportunity to enhance refugees’ access to protection and durable solutions, and to facilitate international responsibility-sharing in the protection of refugees. They also provide potential benefits to states and communities hosting refugees, helping to address current skill and labour shortages in countries of destination and fostering positive public attitudes to refugees. However, realising these benefits requires clarity in the nature, objectives and minimum standards required of complementary pathways, and clear frameworks for implementation that will ensure that such pathways promote, and do not risk undermining, the international protection regime.
The Australia OPCAT Network was formed in 2015, initially as a group of individuals interested in promoting the ratification by Australia of the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT). It has grown significantly since, consisting of individuals, non-government organisations and academics, as well as statutory and oversight agencies. The Network's objectives are to share information about OPCAT and the benefits of preventive monitoring more generally, and to promote OPCAT implementation in Australia.
The Kaldor Centre Annual Conference brought together scholars, decision-makers, legal practitioners, civil society representatives and people with lived experience of seeking asylum together to explore aspects of refugee decision-making from individual cases through to wider public policy. It asked how we can ensure that refugee decision-making is fair, transparent and protection-sensitve, with outcomes that are consistent with international law.