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

The 4th Annual Conference of the Refugee Law Initiative (RLI) took plac 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 built on the success of the previous annual conferences that united academics, practitioners, policy-makers and students in considering pressing challenges to refugee law.

These were the keynote speakers at the event:

Professor Elena Fiddian Qasmiyeh 
Professor in Migration and Refugee Studies, and Co-Director of the Migration Research Unit; Coordinator of UCL's Refuge in a Moving World Research Network

Professor Vicent Chetail
Founding Director of the Global Migration Centre and Professor of International Law at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies

George Okoth-Obbo
UNHCR’s Assistant High Commissioner for Operations

Professor David Cantor (Director, Refugee Law Initiative) will also give his inaugural lecture as part of the event.

View the conference programme here.

The conference theme – ‘Rethinking the “Regional” in Refugee Law and Policy’ – reflected 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 raised 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) was 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 conference theme interrogated the role of regional refugee law and policy in light of refugee movements and shifting politics of today’s world. It asked 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 were devoted to this theme. 

A full list of the presentations can be found here.