Solutions and the Global Compact on Refugees - A Long Road ‘Home’

Solutions and the Global Compact on Refugees - A Long Road ‘Home’
25 February 2020, 6.00pm - 8.00pm
Woburn Room, G22, Ground Floor, Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU

The International Refugee Law Seminar Series, sponsored by the Refugee Law Initiative at the School of Advanced Study, University of London, provides a public space for discussion, promotion and dissemination of research between academics, practitioners, students and others with an interest in the refugee and forced migration field.

10th International Refugee Law Seminar Series

The 10th International Refugee Law Seminar Series is held jointly with UNHCR to present discussion and analysis of key issues in refugee law and policy.

This series will explore the future of refugee protection in a  global community. It will frame those discussions within the current 'blueprint' of the Global Compact on Refugees (GCR). Bringing together a range of speakers from academic, policy and lived experience, the series will present varied perspectives on the development of refugee protection and promote the visibility of, and engagement with, the GCR within UK academic and public audiences.

Solutions and the Global Compact on Refugees - A Long Road ‘Home’


While the headline objectives from the Global Compact on Refugees are (i) fairer and more predictable burden- and responsibility-sharing and (ii) enhanced protection and assistance for refugees and host communities, the sub-text of the Compact is to achieve durable and sustainable solutions (paragraphs 85-100). Adopting a human rights based approached and ‘thick’ rule of law initiatives that draw on humanitarian principles and development initiatives (where the refugee population are part of the national development plan), the objective is to move towards solutions for refugees that thereby obviate the need for burden- and responsibility-sharing. While there are three traditional solutions, voluntary repatriation, resettlement and local integration, the emphasis in the Formal consultations was on voluntary repatriation and resettlement/ complementary pathways, even though the majority of displaced persons locally integrate or remain in limbo. So, where is ‘home’?


Geoff Gilbert is a Professor of Law in the School of Law and Human Rights Centre at the University of Essex. He was Head of Department between 2000-2003 and 2011-13. In 2012, he was appointed a Professorial Visiting Fellow at the University of New South Wales in Sydney. He was Editor-in-Chief of the International Journal of Refugee Law from 2002-15 and is co-Editor-in-Chief as of September 2019; he also sits on the Advisory Board. He is author of Current Issues in the Application of the Exclusion Clauses in Feller, Türk and Nicholson, Refugee Protection in International Law (2003), part of UNHCRs Global Consultations on the 50th Anniversary of the 1951 Convention. He was founding Director of Studies for UNHCRs annual Thematic Refugees and Human Rights course for judges, government officials and UNHCR staff at the International Institute for Humanitarian Law, Sanremo, Italy, from 2005 to 2007. In 2014 he was appointed a consultant to UNHCR (with Anna Magdalena Rüsch) on Rule of Law: Engagement for Solutions and is part of the Solutions Alliance Thematic Group on Rule of Law.In April 2016, the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung invited him to present papers in Manila and Canberra on refugee solutions in the region and in the September he was a speaker at the Festival of Dangerous Ideas at the Sydney Opera House. In 2017, again with Anna Magdalena, they were commissioned by the Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law, UNSW, to write Creating Safe Zones and Safe Corridors in Conflict Situations: Providing protection at home or preventing the search for asylum? Under an ESRC Impact Acceleration Award 2017-18, he worked with UNHCR on the political participation of refugees in their country of nationality and on exclusion and national security, UNHCR invited him, first, to participate in the Thematic Discussions on the Global Compact on Refugees and then to attend the Formal Consultations, contributing orally or in writing as appropriate. He was the only academic given access by UNHCR to the Formal Consultations.

He was Specialist Adviser to the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights in its inquiry into the treatment of asylum-seekers, 2006-07. He was part of the Human Rights Centre's research programme on human rights in situations of acute crisis that was carried out on behalf of DfID and then directed Essex's residential training programme of human rights for DfID staff, 2006-07. He drafted a report in 2010 for the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe on a possible Protocol to the ECHR dealing with minority rights. He has carried out human rights training on behalf of the Council of Europe and UNHCR in the Russian Federation (Siberia, the Urals and Kalmykskaya), Georgia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia and Kosovo. He has advised governments on their laws in Central and Eastern Europe, the Balkans and the FSU, and was the Director of the OSCE training programme on combating torture for judges in Serbia and Montenegro. His areas of interest are international criminal law, the protection of refugees and other displaced persons in international law, the protection of minorities in international law, international humanitarian law and international human rights law. Since 1995, he has been involved in the annual simulated humanitarian exercise for human rights masters students and officers in 16 Air Assault Brigade, the UK's Rapid Reaction Force. In 2009 he was elected a Bencher of the Middle Temple and was called in February 2010.

Photograph © UNHCR/Sebastian Rich


Refugee Law Initiative
020 7862 8668