Legal responses to cross-border ‘environmental’ mobility

Legal responses to cross-border ‘environmental’ mobility
10 February 2021, 1.30pm - 3.00pm

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.

11th RLI Annual Seminar Series 

Academic Year 2020-21 Webinars


How can law and policy engage with the impact of natural hazards on human mobility? 

Environmental processes shape human mobility, including processes of displacement, migration and planned relocation, within countries and even across borders. They can also entrench immobility for specific groups. Natural hazards that shape mobility in such contexts encompass the slow-onset impacts of climate change and environmental degradation, as well as sudden-onset disasters linked to storms, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and even biological hazards like the COVID-19 pandemic. 

This webinar series brings together diverse scholarly and practitioner perspectives on how law and policy can respond to this global challenge. Its six topical sessions will be broadcast live in an interactive format via Zoom technology to enhance participation from across the globe.

The series is convened by the Refugee Law Initiative (RLI) and its Internal Displacement Research Programme, in partnership with the Platform on Disaster Displacement (PDD), a state-led initiative working to improve protection for people displaced in the context of disasters and climate change.

Legal responses to cross-border 'environmental' mobility 

Moderator: Atle Solberg, PDD

How can law respond to 'environmental' cross-border (im)mobility at global, regional and national levels, including refugee and human rights law and migration law?

  • Jane McAdam, Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law – international law frameworks [will present by video and Sanjula Weerasinghe will respond in Q&A]

  • Richard Bedford, Waikato University – migration and law in the Pacific context

  • David Cantor, RLI – national law and free movement – lessons from the Americas

  • Lucy Daxbacher, Intergovernmental Authority on Development Secretariat (IGAD) – disaster displacement and the Protocol on Free Movement of Persons in the IGAD Region 

This seminar will be held via zoom - access link provided upon sign-up.

Speaker bios:

Atle Solberg is the Head of the Secretariat of the Platform on Disaster Displacement (PDD). Atle is a political scientist from Norway and he was the Head of the Nansen Initiative Secretariat, the predecessor of the PDD, from 2012 to 2015. His background is primarily from international humanitarian action and from working in the context of displacement (both in conflict and natural hazard situations). He has worked for UNHCR and UN OCHA in Switzerland, the Balkans and in Central America, and for the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) in the Balkans, Indonesia and Colombia. He has research and teaching experience from the University of Bergen on humanitarian issues as well as on the protection of unaccompanied minors. Atle has also undertaken evaluation of humanitarian aid and worked as a consultant both with a focus on Norway as well as on the post-conflict recovery situation in the Balkans and Central America. 

Jane McAdam is Scientia Professor of Law and Director of the Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law at UNSW Sydney. She is a Fellow of the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia and a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Law. She publishes widely in international refugee law and forced migration, with a particular focus on climate change, disasters and displacement. She is Editor-in-Chief of the leading journal in her field, the International Journal of Refugee Law. Jane has held visiting professorships at Harvard Law School and NYU, and is a Research Associate at Oxford University’s Refugee Studies Centre, an Associated Senior Fellow at the Fridtjof Nansen Institute in Norway, and a Senior Research Associate of the Refugee Law Initiative, London. In 2017, she was awarded the Calouste Gulbenkian Prize for Human Rights, becoming the first Australian recipient of the award. 

Sanjula Weerasinghe is an Australian qualified lawyer and an independent consultant based in Geneva. She is an Affiliate at the Andrew and Renata Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law (UNSW) and a Non-resident Fellow at the Institute for the Study of International Migration (Georgetown University). She has directed legal aid centres in Thailand and Hong Kong and worked as a consultant with UNHCR, IOM and the Brookings-LSE Project on Internal Displacement. Her research focuses on international law, displacement and migration. 

Professor Richard Bedford is Emeritus Professor at the University of Waikato and at the Auckland University of Technology. He is the immediate past President of New Zealand’s national academy, the Royal Society Te Apārangi. Professor Bedford is a specialist in migration research and since the mid-1960s he has been researching processes of population movement in the Asia-Pacific region. Since the 1980s Professor Bedford’s research has had a strong applied focus, addressing critical issues in immigration policy in New Zealand and the Asia-Pacific region. Professor Bedford is currently working on implications for New Zealand and Australia of population developments and migration trends in the Pacific over the next 30-40 years, including the impact of climate change on migration. 

David James Cantor is Professor of Refugee Studies at the School of Advanced Study, University of London, UK, where he is also Director of the Refugee Law Initiative and the Internal Displacement Research Programme. He has advised and trained governments from Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Europe and Latin America and co-founded the first ever distance-learning MA in Refugee Protection and Forced Migration Studies, with over 250 students from humanitarian practice all over the world. David has published widely on the legal and practical protection of refugees and internally-displaced persons and carried out extensive fieldwork across Latin America, including in Colombia, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala and Mexico. He previously practised before the UK courts as a Legal Officer for the Refugee Legal Centre and has been seconded part-time to the UNHCR Americas Bureau as its Principal Advisor. He is Editor-in-Chief of the Refugee Survey Quarterly journal.

Lucy Daxbacher works as a Project Officer at the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), working on Free Movement of Persons and Transhumance. Lucy has 14 years of experience working on Governance, Migration, Peace, Security and Stability (PSS), Human Rights Protection and Development in fragile, conflict and post conflict societies in West Africa, East Africa and the Horn of Africa.  She is an experienced expert who has worked with a number of donors/development partners including the EU, World Bank, DFID, SIDA, UN and NGO partners. 


Refugee Law Initiative
020 7862 8668