With the number people forcibly displaced from their homes sitting at a staggering 60 million
, it’s no surprise the UN Refugee Convention is the global agreement that comes up every time we talk about immigration.
Drafted in the 50s, the convention followed the aftermath of World War II as nations refused, on mass, to take in Jewish refugees escaping the Holocaust. The agreement was designed to ensure no country ever turns its back again on vulnerable groups needing to escape from persecution.
The convention is quite specific. A refugee is someone who is unable or unwilling to return to their country because they have good reason to fear being persecuted because of race, religion, nationality, being a member of a particular social group, or having certain political opinions.
But over the years criticism of the convention has become commonplace. Some say it’s too narrow, unfairly excluding those fleeing war, general violence, poverty, lack of opportunity and natural disasters. Others say it’s too broad, designed for an entirely different time when global populations were vastly smaller.
Is it time to overhaul or move on from the convention?
The Ethics Centre has set an ambitious goal to present a program on refugee policy that adds to debate and goes beyond the polarised positions that have created political stalemate. We believe narrowing in on the refugee convention is the best way to do this. Our speakers will address the middle ground with intelligence, reason and a healthy passion that won’t descend into name-calling or over-simplicity. Stay tuned as we finalise the line-up.
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