‘Ageing Gracefully? The 1951 Refugee Convention at 70’

The 5th Annual Conference of the Refugee Law Initiative (RLI) took place from Wednesday 9 June to Friday 11 June 2021. The RLI Annual Conference is an annual international forum dedicated to debating the latest research and developments in the field. 

The 5th RLI Annual Conference built on the success of previous RLI conferences in uniting refugee law academics, practitioners, policy-makers and students. Run as a virtual event over three (3) half-days, this Annual Conference was based on the principle of free and open access online to allow for truly global participation.

View the conference programme here.

The chosen theme for the conference - ‘Ageing Gracefully? The 1951 Refugee Convention at 70’ – reflected on the enduring legacy of the ‘cornerstone’ treaty for refugee protection 70 years after it was first adopted. 

Keynote Speakers

“Is 'Ageing Gracefully?’ an Ageist Critique?”
Professor James C. Hathaway, James E. and Sarah A. Degan Professor of Law
University of Michigan, USA

“The 1951 Convention at 70: A Postcolonial Perspective”
Professor B.S. Chimni, Distinguished Professor of International Law
O.O. Jindal Global University, India

“States and the Refugee Convention: Circumventing, but not Blatantly Disregarding”
Professor Fatima Khan, Director of the Refugee Rights Unit
University of Cape Town, South Africa

Panel Sessions

Across the three half-days, a fantastic range of current research was presented across a total of 18 panel slots. The majority of panels addressed a range of topics relevant to the chosen theme including:

  • Framing, interpreting and understanding the Refugee Convention
  • The Refugee Convention and its relationship to other bodies of international law 
  • Implementing the Refugee Convention in national law, policy  and practice
  • The Refugee Convention and emerging global refugee policy (e.g. Global Compacts)
  • Institutional engagement with the Convention - UNHCR, courts, governments, NGOs
  • Applying the Refugee Convention - procedural issues, mass influx etc.
  • Refugee law practice and practitioners – litigating the Refugee Convention
  • Content of asylum and the rights under the Refugee Convention
  • Externalisation, responsibility-sharing/-shifting under the Refugee Convention
  • Contemporary concerns and the Convention

Other ‘open’ panels gather presentations on a wide range of other themes of contemporary interest to law and policy on the protection of refugees and other displaced persons.

Please go here for a full list of presentations.