Responding to the Global Refugee Crisis: Human Rights Have No Borders

TUESDAY, JUNE 14, 2016, 7:00PM – 8:30PM


On June 14th, 2016, the Balsillie School, the University of Waterloo History Department and the International Migration Research Centre welcomed Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada, Alex Neve.

The world faces the biggest refugee crisis we have seen in close to 70 years.  Not since the Second World War have so many people been forced from their homes due to war and human rights violations.  Seven decades ago the response was grounded in recognition of the rights and needs of refugees and led to the adoption of the UN’s 1951 Refugee Convention.  This time, the response has been dominated by the desperate journeys refugees have been forced to take due to closed borders, restrictive policies and racist political responses.  Most attention has focused on the staggering Syrian refugee crisis and the thousands of refugees’ lives lost crossing the Mediterranean to safety in Europe.  But there are similar stories to be told from Central Americans crossing through Mexico, Rohingya from Myanmar taking to rickety boats in Southeast Asia’s seas, and Eritreans held hostage by criminal gangs in the Sinai Peninsula.

While there have been encouraging moves towards a renewed commitment to refugee protection in Canada in recent months, most governments around the world are increasingly fixated on how to keep refugees out. Neve’s talk explored just how broken the global refugee system has become and what needs to be done to turn this mounting human rights crisis around.