‘Refugee Protection in a Hostile World?’

Third Annual Conference, Refugee Law Initiative, University of London

18 - 19 July 2018


This year the Refugee Law Initiative (RLI) hosted its third annual conference on international refugee law on 18-19 July 2018. The following day (Friday 20 July), a special international IDP Workshop ‘Revitalising IDP Research’: 20 Years of the UN Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement was hosted at Senate House.


This year’s special theme – ‘Refugee Protection in a Hostile World?’ - reflected on an apparent strengthening of long-standing currents of anti-refugee feeling and other forms of instability in the world. This trend raises urgent questions about its present and future impact on refugee protection globally, as well as the interaction between global politics and refugee law.

  • The conference gave us the opportunity to consider how this apparently-growing hostility is manifested in refugee law and refugee protection and, importantly, how such shifts are impacting on the lives of forced migrants around the world.
  • We considered the impact of actions of influential states and the potential for international refugee law and other legal frameworks to defend against this, and reflected on the process and potential for global forums such as the Global Compacts on Refugees and Migrants.
  • We considered not only securitisation and externalisation measures being practiced by the EU, the US and other countries in the Global North, but also regional approaches and practices being employed in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East.

The conference also marks the RLI’s sixth anniversary and reflects our success in acting as a global platform for furthering research, dissemination and legal and policy impact in the refugee law field. The two-day event brought together 200 participants from across the globe from governments, courts, NGOs, international organisations and agencies, legal practice and academia, to debate and exchange ideas on the protection of forced migrants and stateless persons.

The full programme can be found here.

Keynote speakers and special guests

In addition to over 50 papers presented, the RLI was pleased to welcome a number of distinguished keynote speakers to the conference. These included E. Tendayi Achiume (UN Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance), Thomas Gammeltoft-Hansen (Raoul Wallenberg Institute) and Jean-François Durieux (Refugee Law Initiative), among others. You can listen to the keynote presentations on our podcast page here.

The RLI was also pleased to welcome a number of students from its distance-learning MA in Refugee Protection and Forced Migration Studies. Delivered through the University of London International Programmes, the MA in Refugee Protection is currently the largest programme on forced migration in the world. Full details of the MA programme (and how to apply) can be found here.

Presentations and Posters

A selection of presentation slides of papers that were presented at the two day conference are available here. MA students and others presented their research in a special poster session attached to the conference, a selection of which are available here.

...and the Fourth Annual conference

The RLI annual conference serves as a dedicated forum for bringing together decision-makers and practitioners, policy-makers, academics and students to share, discover and debate the latest thinking and developments in the refugee protection field. Join our mailing list here for our newsletter and news of how to gain early-bird booking for next year!

* With thanks to support from the Institute of Commonwealth Studies.