Implications for policy of a (post-?) COVID-19 world…

Implications for policy of a (post-?) COVID-19 world…
17 March 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.

Implications for policy of a (post-?) COVID-19 word...

Moderators: David Cantor, RLI / Walter Kälin, PDD

What are the implications of COVID-19, as a particular kind of natural (biological) hazard, and its impact and implications for global trends and debates addressed in previous sessions?

    • Paul Spiegel, Johns Hopkins University – pandemics, humanitarian emergencies and forcibly displaced populations
    • Mihir Bhatt, All India Disaster Mitigation Institute – the COVID 19 pandemic, displacement, and the paradox of social distancing related challenges.
    • Aimée-Noël Mbiyozo, Institute for Security Studies Africa – migrating as a safety net in the times of disasters and epidemics
    • Dr Nikolas Feith Tan, Danish Institute of Human Rights

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

Speaker bios:

Dr Paul Spiegel, a Canadian physician by training, is internationally recognized for his research on preventing and responding to humanitarian emergencies, with a focus on refugee crises. Paul is the Director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Humanitarian Health and Professor of Practise in the Department of International Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health (JHSPH). Before JHSPH, Dr. Spiegel was Deputy Director and Chief of Public Health at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. He previously worked as a Medical Epidemiologist in the International Emergency and Refugee Health Branch at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and as a Medical Coordinator with Médecins Sans Frontières and Médecins du Monde in refugee emergencies, as well as a consultant for numerous international organizations. Dr. Spiegel was the first Chair of the Funding Committee for Research for Health in Humanitarian Crises (2013-2018). Dr. Spiegel has published over 100 peer-reviewed articles on humanitarian health and migration. He has served as a Commissioner on the Lancet Commission for Migration and Health and the Lancet Commission on Syria. He is currently co-chair of Lancet Migration.

Mihir R. Bhatt leads All India Disaster Mitigation Institute in India, worked in over 50 cities and 80 districts, and over nine countries around India and in the Asia Pacific. Since 1999 Odisha Super Cyclone he has put displaced population—tribal, women, dalit, minorities, and casual labour—on the response to recovery agenda via AIDMI’s action learning pilots; policy round tables; training and capacity building; and co-creating knowledge for local use. Currently he is working on displacement due to the COVID 19 pandemic with local organisation and networks and exploring the concepts of cascading displacement and displacement as transformation in the delta, desert, coastal, metro, river basin, and high altitude areas.

Aimée-Noël Mbiyozo is a Senior Research Consultant at the Institute for Security Studies. She is a migration expert whose research covers how migration intersects other issues and threats. These  include climate change, gender, refugee rights, violent extremism and citizenship. Her research is grounded in the experiences of actual migrants. It covers multiple high-flow regions including Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

Dr Nikolas Feith Tan is a senior researcher at the Danish Institute for Human Rights, where he works on human rights and refugee law. His work on various aspects of international protection has appeared in International Journal of Refugee Law, European Journal of Migration and Law, Nordic Journal of International Law and in specialist edited volumes. Nikolas is convenor of the core module Protecting human rights, refugees and displaced persons in international law on the RLI’s MA in Refugee Protection and Forced Migration Studies and chair of the RLI’s Working Group on Externalisation. Nikolas has also acted as consultant for Amnesty International, the Danish Refugee Council and UNHCR.


Refugee Law Initiative
020 7862 8668