Call for Papers: RLI Fourth Annual Conference

Wednesday 3 October 2018

‘Rethinking the “Regional” in Refugee Law and Policy’

4th Annual Conference, Refugee Law Initiative, University of London

3 – 5 June 2019

The 4th Annual Conference of the Refugee Law Initiative (RLI) will be held on Monday 3 June to Wednesday 5 June 2019 at the Senate House of the University of London.

The RLI Annual Conference offers a dedicated annual forum internationally to share and debate the latest research and cutting-edge developments in refugee protection. This conference builds on the success of the previous annual conferences that united academics, practitioners, policy-makers and students in considering pressing challenges to refugee law.



This year’s special theme – ‘Rethinking the “Regional” in Refugee Law and Policy’ – reflects on how a host of ‘regional’ questions loom large for refugee protection in 2019.

In Africa, the 50th anniversary of the 1969 African refugee convention raises real questions about its continuing role as the preeminent regional refugee treaty, even as the African Union declares 2019 the Year of Refugees in that region. In Europe, the future of the Common European Asylum System (CEAS) is furiously debated as fracture lines grow between European Union (EU) member States and in anticipation of Brexit. Meanwhile, large-scale refugee movements from Syria, Venezuela and Myanmar strain regional responses in the Middle East, Americas and Asia.

Against this backdrop, this year’s special conference theme interrogates the role of regional refugee law and policy in light of refugee movements and shifting politics of today’s world. It asks participants to reflect on the construction of both ‘regions’ and ‘regional responses’ to local and global refugee challenges and to rethink the changing role of both law and policy in these processes. To what extent can a ‘regional’ approach continue to be taken for granted in certain parts of the world and what potential exists for the emergence of new forms of non-global (State) cooperation based on other forms of identity in the response to refugees?

Alongside presentations from keynote speakers, several panel sessions will be devoted to this theme. Proposals for these ‘thematic’ panels should ONLY speak directly to the special theme for this year. Possible topics for paper or panel submissions include the following:

  • What is the continuing value of ‘regional’ refugee law and policy in today’s world? What role do established regional frameworks (African Convention, Cartagena Declaration, CEAS etc.) continue to play? Are newer forms of regional cooperation in the response to refugees emerging in different parts of the world? How have refugee institutions (such as UNHCR, NGOs etc.) engaged at the regional level?
  • How is the relationship between ‘regional’ and ‘global’ to be articulated in the field of refugee law and policy? Do regional approaches remain complementary to global ones? Or do they shape them? How do the frameworks in the Global Compacts on Refugees and for Migration intersect with regional approaches? How do ‘situational’ approaches that address actors from more than one region (e.g. Comprehensive Plan of Action for Indochinese refugees) intersect with regional approaches?
  • How do dynamics of cooperation, tension or competition play out between regions in the response to refugees? How do they intersect with wider North-North, South-South or North-South dynamics? What are the implications for regional refugee law and policy of strategies based on ‘protection in the region of origin’?
  • How are ‘regions’ constituted in the refugee context? What are their internal dynamics? How are regional responses manufactured (or fragmented)? What advantages or disadvantages do they bring? Are ‘regions’ a useful unit of analysis (c.f. ‘States’, ‘cities’ etc) still in the refugee field? Are alternative forms of identity now more important in structuring the supra-local response to refugees?
  • How do refugee issues play into regional identities and disputes? What regional challenges/opportunities have particular examples of refugee flows brought? Does the inter- or intra-regional nature of specific refugee flows shape the response by destination States? How do wider political and economic factors shape regional refugee law and policy? Are they shaped by the character of regional institutions?
  • How do general concepts of refugee law or policy, such as ‘responsibility-sharing’, operate when translated to the regional level? How have regional courts and mechanisms shaped the direction of refugee law and policy? How do regional mobility arrangements impact on refugee protection? What is the relationship between regional refugee frameworks and national law, policy and practice? What is the relevance of non-refugee-specific regional mechanisms and processes (Bali, MERCOSUR, ECOWAS etc.) for refugee protection and solutions?
  • Equally of interest are analyses on any of the above issues in regional responses to internally displaced persons (including analysis of the Kampala Convention, which celebrates its ten-year anniversary in 2019) or stateless persons.

Note that these are pointers only and we welcome proposals on any aspect of the debates concerning ‘the region’ or ‘regional approaches’ in refugee law and protection.


The remainder of panel slots will be open to ANY topic on law, policy and practice relating to refugees, IDPs, stateless persons and forced migrants. They offer a platform for a broader range of high-quality research in this field. Proposals to these panels can be for law, policy or practice at the international level, in the UK and Europe, or in any other country or region.


The selection committee is pleased to invite paper and panel proposals (of 3-4 papers) for both ‘thematic’ panels and for ‘open’ panels.

Proposals for papers, whether part of a panel proposal or not, should be PDF attachments of approx. 300 words. Please indicate clearly in the subject line of your email whether your proposal relates to the ‘thematic’ or the ‘open’ panels and whether it is for a single paper or a panel. Selection is competitive and proposals will be chosen based on quality, relevance to the field and (for ‘open’ panels) coherence with other submissions.

We also invite proposals for poster presentations during the vibrant evening drinks reception. See here for examples. This is a space that newer researchers, taught students, etc. may find more suitable for presenting research through poster presentations. High-quality proposals not accepted for the panel sessions may be offered a place on the poster session. Please indicate in the subject line of your email if you are proposing a poster.

Please send all proposals – whether for a paper or panel - to Deadline for submission is Monday 28 January 2019. A decision will be returned by Monday 18 February 2019. The decision of the selection committee is final.

Proposals are welcomed from researchers at all stages in their careers.


All attendees, including presenters, will need to register for the conference based on the following terms. Conference registration for one day only is not available.

  • A. Early Bird - booking completed before or on 1 March 2019: Standard - £90; Concession (student, unemployed etc.) - £80; RLI affiliates (SRAs, RAs, MA Refugee Protection students) - £65
  • B. Non-Early Bird - booking completed after 1 March 2019: Standard - £150; Concession (student, unemployed etc.) - £120; RLI affiliates (SRAs, RAs, MA Refugee Protection students) - £100

‘Early bird’ registration opens on Thursday 1 November 2018 via the RLI website. Early bird tickets are non-refundable.

We strongly encourage registration, with a discounted rate available, by former or current refugees as presenters or participants at the conference. Please contact us at for further information.

Participants are responsible for making their own visa, travel and accommodation arrangements, which are not included in the registration fee. However, we can provide details for economical hotels close to the conference venue.

A limited number of places are available so please book early to avoid disappointment.