The International Refugee Law seminar series at the Refugee Law Initiative 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. This 7th annual seminar series addresses the theme of: ‘Protection in the context of large-scale movements of refugees and migrants’.
Abstract: As he was about to leave office, High Commissioner António Guterres told his Executive Committee : « if there is one Protocol that is yet to be drafted to complement the 1951 Convention, it is one on international solidarity and burden sharing ». While this statement may identify a wrong target, its focus on protocols as the way forward for refugee law is welcome. UNHCR has consistently argued that to ‘open’ the 1951 Convention would inevitably lead to its unravelling, hence to a loss of the few but precious protections contained in the instrument. While acknowledging this risk, this paper will contend that it can, and indeed should, be contained in a less feeble manner. The adoption of optional protocols is desirable and feasible, both to build upon developing State practice in a few key areas of 1951 Convention-based obligations, and to address procedural gaps in the operation of the Convention, including within the context of declared emergencies allowing for a measure of derogation.
Speaker: Jean-François Durieux, holder of a Law Degree from the Catholic University of Louvain (Belgium), has taught international human rights and refugee law at the Refugee Studies Centre, University of Oxford (UK) from 2007 to 2012. In 2011 he completed a long career with UNHCR, which included a wide array of field positions as well as legal advice, policy and management responsibilities at the Organisations’ Headquarters in Geneva. In addition to regular participation in conferences, seminars and workshops in representation of UNHCR, Jean-Francois started in the 1990′s publishing the findings of his “operational” research on some of the challenges faced by UNHCR in Central America, East Africa and other regions in which he worked. In recent years, his research interest has focused on legal responses to mass influxes of refugees, including a comparison of African and European regimes; the concept and measurement of humanitarian protection; and the legal implications of refugee emergencies and protracted refugee situations.