Transcript Learn@Lunch with Professor Guy Goodwin-Gill
Effective Action in the Age of Displacement | 14 February 2018

Welcoming remarks from Jane Miller, Executive Director, Alumni & Engagement, UNSW Sydney

Good afternoon. I'd like to offer a very warm welcome and a happy Valentine's Day to you all. Thank you for joining us today for a Lunch Date with Lifelong Learning. And thank you for being present at what is the launch of our Lifelong Learning series for 2018.

My name is Jane Miller and I am the Executive Director of Alumni and Engagement for UNSW Sydney. I'd like to take a moment to acknowledge the Gadigal people of the Eora nation, the traditional custodians of this land, and I'd like to pay my respect to elders, both past and present.

Learn@Lunch is a programme that is very close to my heart. Traditionally it was a series that we've offered our alumni in the business school for the last four years, and this year we are growing this programme to be an across university programme. What you'll be able to do through this programme is access research, the latest cutting edge research, from our academics across the entire university, and it's open to all UNSW alumni and, of course, our friends and supporters as well.

This means greater access to knowledge across all disciplines direct from UNSW's leading academics. I won't hold up proceedings any further. I'm going to introduce you to Professor George Williams AO, who is our Dean of Law, to introduce the speaker today. Thanks very much.

1:53 Introduction by Professor George Williams AO, Dean, UNSW Law

Thank you very much, Jane. A couple of things to mention at the beginning. This session today is going to be recorded and will be available via podcasting through the UNSW Law Alumni website. Please have your mobile phones switched to silent. When we come to the end asking questions, please don't ask your question before the microphone gets to you, because it's an audience in a room where we will need the mic to be heard properly.

I'd like to say as the Dean of Law at the UNSW, we're really delighted to be hosting with our alumni team this first event in the Learn@Lunch series. The Faculty of Law is a body that really prides itself on wanting to solve the world's problems, to improve the lives of people, to develop just legal systems, and to do so in ways that really leave our mark and imprint upon the world.

For us, engagement with the community is absolutely essential to what we do. We're really proud of the fact that we're now ranked 14th in the world, amongst all law schools, and we want to use that ranking, that opportunity we have internationally to really make a difference. The session we've got today is a really good example of what we pride ourselves in doing. Something that we think is so important to our mission and also important to the community at large. And that, of course, my job is to welcome Guy Goodwin-Gill to talk about these issues today.

Guy is presently the acting director of the Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law. That body, that centre, is the only one of its kind in the world, and it has the not small mission of helping to produce a sustainable, humane solution to one of the world's largest problems today. That is, how do we deal properly and effectively with the fact that we have the largest number of displaced people at any time since World War II, and how can we have a framework that deals with that fairly? How do we treat people with dignity and respect? How do we do so in a way that actually forges solutions that are economically viable and also politically achievable? These are the sorts of things that Guy and his team are seeking to solve at the moment.

Guy comes to us with a very distinguished background. We're so fortunate that he's joined us in this leadership position. He's an Emeritus Fellow of All Souls College from Oxford, an Emeritus Professor of the International Refugee Law at the University of Oxford. He has also practised as a barrister at Blackstone Chambers in London. He's held academic appointments in the United Kingdom, Canada, and The Netherlands. His areas of expertise are broad and deep; public international law, but with particular reference to refugee law and associated areas.

It's fair to say that Guy absolutely is one of the world's leading authorities on the topic of refugees and the law, and I'm delighted now to welcome him. He'll speak for about 40 minutes and then I'll invite your questions for about 10 minutes afterwards. Guy.

4.55 Presentation by Professor Guy Goodwin-Gill, UNSW Law

Thank you very much, and thank you for those very warm words of introduction as well. I must say, the reference to cutting edge research worried me slightly. I know that's what my team at the Kaldor Centre are engaged in, but I started looking at these issues in 1969 and I'm rather worried that I'm getting a little bit blunt, perhaps in which sense we will find out.

My background is, as you might have gathered, in international refugee law. That's an area of study, a topic, which has now nearly 100 years of history behind us, but over those 100 years, of course, there has been radical change, particularly in the opportunities for movement and the numbers of people who are on the move, and development also in the causes, the drivers of displacement over time.

When the League of Nations first thought about what to do with regard to refugees it was thinking in terms of a more or less static population, those who were left behind after the Russian Revolution of 1917, or as former prisoners of war after the end of that conflict, the First World War. The concern in the 1920s was in particular for enabling refugees to become self-reliant, that they should be enabled to get into work so as not to become a liability on the public purse.

It was also recognised that amongst those who were displaced there would be vulnerable groups. There would be children in need. There would be refugees with disabilities. It was accepted that states needed to work together on solving the problems with which they were faced, but it was also accepted quite remarkably, from the very start in 1921, that there should be no forceable repatriation even if some refugees might rightly want to and seek to go back, none should be forced to go back, otherwise the then conditions of security.

There was, even in the 1920s, a sense of the need of the international community of states to protect those who no longer enjoyed the protection of their government of their state of origin. But what was initially, if you like, a static problem has become very much now, of course, a dynamic one, and what we're faced with, what the internationally community of states is faced with in particular are the challenges, some of which George has already mentioned, the challenges, which were generated by what's come to be called mixed migration.

In fact, the movement of people between states, in my view, has always been driven by mixed motives, mixed causes. But it has made the task of the lawyer and the government policy maker harder when they seek to draw a line between forced migration, which they might feel sympathetic towards, and voluntary migration, which they would like to treat at discretion even arbitrarily.

That dynamic has also, as I'll have occasion to mention, generated vast numbers that are displaced, and has given rise, ironically as a consequence of government control measures, to the flourishing businesses of smuggling and trafficking.

It does seem to me, after all these years, that the regimes, which have been set up by states to deal, at least, with some of the challenges, are, if not inadequate, then certainly at risk, and I am somewhat fearful of what might follow as the rights, as we now do talk about the rights of those displaced, which they didn't talk about in the '20s. As the rights of those displaced come up against, run into the sovereign interest of states.

What makes people move between states? Conflict, of course, is one major driver of displacement. So is persecution. So is the breakdown of law and order. So is economic deprivation. So are disasters. So is climate change. And so very often is a combination of all those factors. I think that combination has shown up these days in the strangest of places. What I want to emphasise, though, that I have seen out of my own experience when I used to work for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in dealing with individuals, in talking to individuals is the extent to which movement, migration, flight, that is an essentially rational process in which individuals or groups of individuals, families amongst them, make a conscious assessment of the risks involved.

If one steps back, for example, from looking at the crisis that befell Europe in 2015/2016, noting the risks, which people run in order to cross the Mediterranean, then I think one can begin to understand how that rational process works, and how strong must be the drivers, the desperation, behind that movement across turbulent waters, often with loss of life. That's a factor, the rational process of risk assessment, which I think is very often ignored by policy makers today, who believe that somehow or other by pretending to be tough they can deter people. Deterrence is no solution to those who are desperate.

In my own experience I have often come across refugees and asylum seekers who hearing of how badly they may be treated on arrival, say, "Yes, but once they hear my story they will understand. They will see why it is I had to leave." Of course, sadly, that is too often not the case. So deterrence, I think, is not a viable as has been proven over the years, not just recently, to be not a viable alternative to the rational processes, which lead people to take risks in search of refuge.

A moment ago I mentioned how these issues arise in some of the strangest of places, and most recently, Venezuela, not a country one would normally think of as a refugee producing country. But in a series of stories recently in The Guardian, we've seen how Venezuelans, upwards of 500,000, are now beginning to leave for countries nearby, for Columbia, for Brazil. And how those countries too are beginning to wonder exactly how to deal with them. They're clamping down on borders to try to deter Venezuelans from seeking what? From seeking a living. And what the reporting tells us from Venezuela is that in particular the middle class are finding it hard to survive. Jobs are being lost, food is not available.

It's not a typical refugee producing country by any means, but it does, I think, help us to focus to home in on the sorts of factors, which can drive that rational decision making process to take flight. One of the saddest elements coming out of the Venezuelan crisis too, and it's repeated in other scenarios, is the fact that parents are choosing to leave their children behind, because they can no longer afford to feed them. Leaving them in care homes and the like. A story just in yesterday's Washington Post. I say that question of children comes up again, as we will see, in other scenarios.

These are the sorts of factors; conflict, persecution, breakdown of law and order, economic deprivation, and the like, which drive displacement today. Of course, they have even before flight, a major impact on those affected at the legal, social, and economic level. It affects those who are displaced, obviously, if you cross a border with next to nothing you are deprived of practically all opportunity to earn the living that you once lived. Those you leave behind maybe similarly destitute, while those who receive you face, as we are reminded periodically, the typical security or securitized problems of which we are only too aware today.

Shifting continents a little, let's turn now to somewhere I would say closer to home, to Myanmar and Bangladesh. Now that is a major, excuse me one moment, that is a major issue. It's been a major issue for centuries. The situation of the Muslim minority in what in the British Empire was referred to as Burma, has been a problem and the British are reported to have set up camps for displaced persons in Cox's Bazar in the late 18th Century.

It's a conflict, which of course, is driven by religious division. That between Muslims and Buddhists, but it's also a conflict, which is driven by another more modern consideration, which is statelessness. Those who are denied access to nationality as the Rohingya are in Myanmar, who are then subject to persecution, denial of basic rights, find themselves precisely in that situation of desperation where they are obliged to flee, where they are obliged to leave their country to seek refuge in Bangladesh.

As we know there have been instances of massive violations of human rights in Mayanmar and that has been followed by action and inaction. The United Nations, the High Commissioner for Human Rights amongst them, has condemned what's been going on, has argued that action must be taken to prevent those violations of human rights. Many other states, including Australia, have remained ominously silent. There has been no or little condemnation of what has been going on in that country.

The High Commissioner for Refugees is obviously seeking to finance major budget too. The amount of dollars, of course, will always fall short, and the solutions, which are being proposed are, in the circumstances, repatriation, but in conditions of which many Rohingya say they cannot face again.

As Ben Doherty, who is here today, has reported from Bangladesh in particular, so many amongst those displaced are children. In a telling phrase he wrote in one report, "I think there's something, which we need to remember in relation to the displaced who are children. Boys," he wrote, "Boys without futures become young men without hope. That's a lesson which we ought to have learnt from our understanding of the Palestinian situation. Or our understanding of the Syrian situation too. The extent to which we may be faced with generations denied education are, therefore, on the brink of radicalization, or on the brink at least of despair. The education challenge is no less important than the labour challenge, than the challenge of getting people into work.

If nothing is done in relation to those displaced into Bangladesh what is likely to happen? I think we're likely to see something similar to what happened in relation to Syria, Turkey, and Europe in 2015 and 2016. We have, indeed, already seen that just in May 2015 also, because just as Syrians felt obliged to move on out of Turkey, so Bangladeshis, the Myanmar refugees, Rohingya, felt obliged in May 2015 also to move on. Then we had the crisis of displacement in the Andaman Sea from May 2015 onwards. On that occasion, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand actually cooperated together, even though not party to the relevant international laws governing refugees. They cooperated informally, on a relatively small scale admittedly, to accept those displaced from Myanmar.

If nothing is done we can expect to see a repeat of that exodus, of those in Myanmar seeking alternatives. It's the rational thing to do. Let's remember also, that the crisis in Myanmar is not limited to Rakhine State. There are similar problems in Kachin and the northern Shan States, conflicts, which have been on the burn, fluctuating up and down since the 1960s.

Syria, I think, contains many lessons for us. The crisis in Syria, the war began in 2011 when the population of Syria was estimated at some 22 million. The latest estimate puts it at 18 or so. Five and a half million people have fled abroad and are registered as refugees in neighbouring countries. Four hundred thousand have been killed. Six million three hundred thousand or so are displaced internally within that country. And over one million, of course, as we know, have sought asylum in Europe, moving on from countries of first refuge.

Why, you may ask, would Syrian refugees move on? For precisely the same reasons as I highlighted earlier; because of the lack of opportunity, the lack of educational opportunity, the lack of education for their children in particular. A major factor in the movement in 2015/2016 from Turkey, from Lebanon, from Jordan, was a cut in rations. As the support offered by the international community fell away, so Syrian refugees felt that they had no alternative but to move on.

Most of the refugees in Turkey do not live in camps. They live in the community. That might give us the impression, that might lead to the impression that all is well. In fact, we have too little information about what goes on in the community, to what extent refugees are employed, to what extent they have access to services, to be content with that as a solution. Nonetheless, we do know that there were drivers there, which pushed refugees onwards and outwards, therefore, all cannot have been well. And the European Union, to give it some credit at least, has recognised that by pouring in billions of euros with a view to improving infrastructure, improving work opportunities, improving educational opportunities for children.

Some refugees live, as these photographs show, in camps very close to the border with Syria, Kilis and Gaziantep, which I visited in 2015. One is known as the Tent City, as you can see, and one is the Container City, as you can also see. How long they will stay there in conditions of relative insecurity is anyone's guess. The prospects of return seem more and more remote. Again, the drivers of onward movement; food security, lack of employment, lack of education, lack of hope. It's more shots of what it's like to live close to the border with Syria, in Turkey.

To the challenges of disasters and climate change. Earthquake, floods, hurricanes, drought, desertification. That's where we see climate change operating so very often as a risk of threat multiplier, as it's come to be known. We see this in particular in specific situations, one, which I hope will come up in a moment is a picture of Lake Chad. It's not that lake, by any means. Lake Chad at one stage covered some forty thousand square kilometres of fresh water. That's about the size of Switzerland. Getting there. Now that fresh water, of course, was a source of fish, it helped fertilise the land, it provided what? Livelihood or opportunities for living to, some estimate, up to 30 million people. It has radically changed in the last 50 years as you will see in a moment.

A very good article in The New Yorker in December describes what has happened to the livelihoods of those who lived in and around Lake Chad. Chad borders four states, they are Chad itself, or the country of Chad, Niger, Nigeria, and Cameroon. As you are all probably aware too, it has been the subject of Boko Haram's attentions. Local militias have also sprung into being, some to oppose Boko Haram, some to claim their own rights. There are nationalist conflicts as well. And all the time, of course, there is extreme poverty. But climate change is what has led this once fertile land, this once resource rich entity to the depth of despair. Thousands have been displaced. It is a truly complex humanitarian emergency. That just gives a quick picture of how Lake Chad has shrunk since 1963.

Let's bring some of this together in the numbers. Headlines from The New York Times last year is ‘The population bomb. It's still ticking. From IRIN, ‘China to relocate millions of people away from disaster zones’. And then there's losses, global insured losses. Swissre estimates that amounted to 54 billion in 2016, up 43% from 2015.

Let's bring in some other statistics too. World population statistics. The trouble with statistics and with predictions, of course, is that people tend to get awed and overburdened by them. We knew in the 1990s, for example, that the number of the absolute poor would rise to over two billion by 2000. We knew the growth in working age population to 2030, that it required the creation of jobs. 35 to 40 million jobs per year were needed. They were not provided. The most recent revision of the world population prospects puts world population today at some 7.6 billion, up a billion since '05. 8.6 we'll go to in 2030. 9.8 in 2050. 11.2 in 2100.

But the statistic that I find most worrying, and the one, which seems, to me, ought to be of concern to policy makers is the statistic relating to the age group, the age cohort 10 years to 24 years. It's estimated that by 2050 that will be two billion. Now, of course, not all of them will be living in the developing world. Many of them will be in the developed world, but those in the developing world will be about to enter, or seeking to enter, the workforce. We know too, from experience, that underemployment and unemployment are powerful drivers of displacement. And given those numbers one would think the policy makers were directing attention to the creation of those jobs, which will enable many of them to remain where they are, and so mediate the pressure to move.

In that context, what's law got to do with it? I introduced myself as an international refugee lawyer, and that's one area that's been part of my work for the last 40/50 years. I'm not so simple as to imagine that the law provides answers. It can provide guidance, it can provide a framework. The League of Nations, for example, was concerned that the law should be enabled to establish the status of those displaced, that it should secure agreement on the issue of identity certificates and passports for those displaced, that it should help enable solutions. Also, that law, perhaps, through the medium of organisation should bring states to cooperate internationally, while accepting the principle of none return of those who might be subject to harm.

The United Nations took over those basic values and it too has been concerned with refugees, with their status, with their rights. But there was, it seems to me, looking back, a rather important change in focus in the 1940s leading up to the 1950s. They came to define the states, or at least the majority of them, who was a refugee. That definition of a refugee as someone who left their country by reason of a well-founded fear of persecution, has loaded the term with meaning, which perhaps we need, today, to step beyond. Because as we know, states in particular those who are parties to refugee treaties, very often talk about how their obligations are restricted or limited to those refugees who have a well-founded fear of persecution.

As you can see, perhaps, from my listing of the drivers of displacement today how, perhaps, relatively few of those who are forced to move might fit within that rather limited notion of having a well-founded fear of persecution. Those who leave Venezuela, for the most part today, are leaving for economic reasons, which are the consequence of political mismanagement. But the idea of the refugee as someone with a well-founded fear of persecution doesn't fit that model.

States were concerned in the '50s, certainly, to ensure that refugees had rights. The rights attaching to refugee status that they would continue to benefit from the principle of non-return to harm, and they also paid lip service to the ideal of international cooperation. That, sadly, is where it's fallen down. This schematic gives us a brief idea of how the present International Refugee Regime operates. We have an office the UN High Commissioner for Refugees established in 1950 to provide international protection to refugees, to seek permanent solutions, together with governments, for the problem of refugees.

It's a regime, which is interesting, because it fulfils much of what we would like to see. It brings states together around, for some of them at least, international agreements dealing with the refugees, and it provides a forum. The High Commissioner reports every year to the UN General Assembly. He or she has an executive committee to advise on policy and practise, which meets regularly throughout the year as a standard committee. And the High Commissioner's Office is linked into a series of treaties of international agreements, the most important of which is the 1951 Convention and 1967 Protocol, which have a universal basis.

You might think that there is in place the international mechanisms, which are essential to the solution of refugee problems today. But there's a problem, which goes back to the origins of the United Nations itself, which has meant that the UNHCR, the High Commissioner for Refugees Office, is essentially reactive. It does not have the competence to anticipate refugee flows, although it now tries to do the best it can in those circumstances. And it doesn't have that competence, because states were jealously guarding their sovereignty and the principle of non-intervention. They didn't want the UN, in the '40s, to interfere in matters within their reserved domain of domestic jurisdiction. To look beyond the frontier, for example, to see and to perhaps criticise how they were treating their own citizens.

Back in 1950 when the Secretary General commented on a proposed treaty for refugees, he urged states to include specific provisions on international cooperation. He urged states to include in the new treaty, the one that was to become the '51 Convention, measures on solutions to agree to take a certain number of refugees, to admit refugees. States declined to do that. And that is the price we owe. The price of that omission is what we are paying today, because we do not have in place the mechanisms, which are oriented to getting the machinery into operation and ensuring that those who are displaced find some sort of solution.

In its most recent estimate of trends the UN High Commissioner for Refugees mentioned the number of 65.6 million forcibly displaced worldwide, including 22.5 million refugees, amongst them the Palestinian refugees, of course, who have been displaced since the 1940s. Amongst the worlds displaced people, as the High Comm and UNHCR notes, 55% come from just three countries; South Sudan, Afghanistan, and Syria. The top hosting countries; Ethiopia, Uganda, Iran, Lebanon, Turkey, Pakistan. 84% of the world's displaced are in the developing world, not in the developed world at all.

UNHCR itself is engaged worldwide, operating in 130 countries, with a staff of nearly 11,000. Yet still it faces challenges in producing solutions for refugees.

The crisis in Europe led the UN Secretary General at the time, Ban Ki-moon, to propose that states get together and devise some sort of better response. In 2016, as a result of his urgings, state did meet in New York and produced the New York Declaration on Refugees and Migrants. That declaration reaffirms existing principles, rights, protection, but nonetheless, encourages states now to move forward, to conclude two global compacts. First of all a global compact on refugees with a view, hopefully, to making state responses more predictable, and to making states more accountable for how they respond to the challenges of displacement.

The New York Declaration contained the outlines of much of what had gone before, and the terms of a comprehensive refugee response framework, and what is being negotiated now is a programme of action. States are, it is hoped, going to agree to more concrete mechanisms for ensuring that when the UNHCR calls for funds, those funds are made available. When UNHCR identifies solutions, needs, such as resettlement, that states step up to the plate and provide at least some of the answers.

The consultations, the final stage of consultations is just now beginning, with considerable civil society input to what is, nonetheless, a states driven operation.

It's also proposed to have a global compact on safe, orderly, and regular migration, and that is quite original in the sense that there has never been, and this is one of the problems, which we face today, there has never been international agreement on migration, because every state tends to view its interests from a unilateral perspective, that it decides for itself who shall come in, who shall be required to leave, who may remain, and so forth. A great deal of reluctance, nonetheless, to internationalise these issues.

In the zero draught of the global compact we see, actually, a rather ambitious programme, which if it is accepted by states, and it's going to be the subject of conference in Morocco in December, will radically, I think, reorient states approaches, or may radically reorient states approaches to these migration issues, and actually internationalise them. I remain somewhat sceptical about the extent to which states will accept what has been set out in this zero draught.

Objectives, the various objectives, I'm not going to list them all, but amongst them, states will commit to minimise the adverse drivers. The structural factors, which I've mentioned. They will enhance regular migration. They will save lives. They will strengthen the responses to smuggling. They will prevent and combat trafficking. They will manage borders more concertedly and coherently. They will strengthen status determination. They will avoid migration detention, save it as a last resort. They will eliminate discrimination. They will promote fact based public discourse. I'm not holding my breath. They will invest in skills development and facilitate recognition of qualifications. They'll facilitate dignified and sustainable return. That is a majorly ambition agenda. As I said, I am not holding my breath on that.

States, I think, will increasingly begin to reintroduce their own sovereign interests into this picture, and I'm not convinced as yet. I'm hopeful, but not convinced as yet, that we're going to see progress.

There are still many things that are not dealt with. A new international humanitarian order was an idea proposed by a former High Commissioner for Refugees and colleagues in the 1980s. Perhaps it's worth digging up some of the ideas that were then current, that we should start thinking more in terms of those who are without protection, that we should think about early warning, irrespective of the principle of non-intervention. That the Secretary General himself should use more often the powers that he or she has under Article 99 of the UN Charter to refer to the Security Council matters, which appear to be a threat to international peace and security.

That we should generate more concern for the principle, and action on the principle of humanitarian access. That's to say the entitled of the international community to bring humanitarian need out to help to where it is needed, and that we should pay particular attention to more predictable and accountable international cooperation mechanisms.

We should square finely, if you like, the international migration circle. That is one of the major problems that I think that we are faced with today, that migration has, as I say, resisted internationalisation. We need, nonetheless, to recognise the sorts of drivers, which I listed in opening, and to recognise that some of them may indeed be subject to mediation, to modification through international action. We need to deal with root causes.

There's a school of thought that says we should beware of dealing with the root causes of migration, because if we focus too much on development aid and assistance we may actually, at least in the short term, encourage people to move, because they now have the resources to pay their way. I think that's a fallacy. We need to think much more proactively about international development and about bringing hope to those who would prefer, as I know from my own personal experience dealing with those displaced, to remain in the land of their birth.

The drivers like conflict, like poverty, need to be the subject very much of international action. Our responses to those displaced also need, somehow or other, more effectively to balance the rights of those who are displaced with, yes, the admittedly sovereign interest of states. Why, I ask myself, are politics? Why are these sorts of politics not driving solutions? Why is it the small politics of unilateralism that seem to attract attention? Why is policy trumping the evidence base? Why do we opt for deterrents when we know it doesn't work? Why do we detain people when we know from experience what harm it does to them? Why is that small politics carrying the day-to-day? Let's hope that in the future the larger politics can come to our aid and to the aid of those displaced. Thank you.

38.22 Q&A session

George Williams:           Thank you very much, Guy. We've now got some time for some questions, and we have a roving microphone, I can see, on the left. Two roving microphones, in fact, so we'll just start down here. Sure. Either one. Then we'll take both of those questions.

Speaker 4:                      Excuse me. I think food shortage, in my mind, is growing as an emerging issue in increasing population. Geologists, I've heard say, after 2054 when the oil runs out, known oil runs out, half the world will die of starvation. Does the law have anything to say about sharing of food and controlling the growth of the world's population, so half of us don't starve to death?

G. Goodwin-Will:            The law, as it stands today, doesn't. No. Nor does it in relation to solutions for the refugee problem. It talks to the principles of responsibility sharing, the sharing of the burden. It talks to the principle of cooperation and solutions. But the challenges to reduce that general principle, which could be characterised as a legal principle, to finite results. International cooperation, I think, is precisely the challenge, which international organisations can help to make real. And I think in relation to food shortage, it could be in that forum, which is the United Nations and its agencies that we might be able to move towards some sorts of solutions.

                                       Already, for example, the World Food Programme is there and does, at the present time, enable the better distribution of excess food to those in need. But quite clearly we will need to be thinking even more proactively along those lines if the future, as you set it out, eventuates. Thank you.

Speaker 5:                     Thank you, Professor. I have just returned from a two week period in Serbia, working with young refugees on the ground throughout Belgrade and the camps that surround that area. I represent a new social health movement where we are trying to address ways using education to minimise youth mental illness in young people. Now, my question is, in relation to the effective action that's required in order for us to address all of these issues, the biggest problem we are facing at the moment is government corruption in relation to funding. It's actually being pulled down into these service providers, including NGOs and non NGOs. What is the law actually doing to address some of this funding allocation and some of the government ... And it's quite transparent, the corruption in how people are clipping the ticket in order to let people through. How is the law dealing with that? Just a question. Thank you.

G. Goodwin-Will:            I think I opened by saying that the law doesn't have any answers. No, the law, actually there is an emerging body of law, anti-corruption law at the international level at the present time. The challenge here is operationalizing it. But there are agencies out there, like Transparency International amongst them, which are very active in bringing to the notice of those who can perhaps do something about corruption, that something should indeed be done.

                                       It's a bit like, in many respects, the refugee problem. We know that the issue is there. The challenge is in getting state and state institutions actually fully and effectively to address it. I could indeed also have included corruption amongst my drivers of displacement, because when a people are deprived of its resources that may also add to the additional factors; deprivation, poverty, perhaps even conflict over resources, which lead to displacement.

                                       I see it as part of the, if you like, the global agenda. Putting it like that is perhaps a bit too discouraging, because the global agenda tends then to become so huge that we all turn away for fear that there's nothing that we as individuals can do. I think that's something that we also have to combat. We have to regenerate the feeling that there is actually something that we can do, both as individuals and as societies. It doesn't take the form, for example, of deterrents, or detention, or just turning our heads away. It must take the form of concrete actions, perhaps of earmarking funds or of introducing prosecutions for those who travel abroad after having engaged in corrupt practises or worse.

                                       I think there is a multifaceted agenda ahead of us there. It's going to stem, it's going to draw ... it has to draw in particular, I think, on civil society, because I think the increasing democratisation of the international scene is something, which we need to see. And, indeed, of the national scene if you like. I think civil society's voice has got to become not only heard, but much more effective. It's already begun to some extent. There are certain individuals who we know who don't travel abroad, because they may well find themselves in a state, which does believe in universal jurisdiction, and they may well find the prosecutors and police have been put on notice by concerned, non-governmental organisations.

                                       Those are the sorts of initiatives, which I think also have to play their part. Not the complete answer, but their part of it, I think.

George Williams:            Yes, we've got a question.

Speaker 6:                      Why is it that in international refugee law there's one definition for all the world's refugees except for Palestinians, in which refugee status cannot be inherited, but for Palestinians uniquely, refugee status is inherited and the law is different? Can you explain why that is, and if you think that's adequate?

G. Goodwin-Will:            Well, in particular, because it's not actually like that. Refugee status can also be inherited by non-Palestinians. If you think about children born in the camps for the displaced they don't cease to be refugees, because they happen to be born outside the country of their parents or without being able to be registered by their parents and so forth. There's no a priori objection to, if you want to call it that, the inheritance of refugee status.

                                       What's unique about the Palestinian situation, though, is the extent to which it has become necessarily tied to the principle of self-determination. You see that if you work your way through the history of UN General Assembly and, indeed, Security Council resolutions. What there was at one point a ... what considered to be a short term displacement issue, if you look at the travaux preparatoires of the '51 Convention of the office of the High Commissioner for Refugees, everyone thought it would all be over within three years, that there would have been a solution through repatriation and/or compensation. No one anticipated when they set out the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, that it would still be operational 70 years later. It was thought to be a short term solution.

                                       But then, over the years, of course, the issue of the Palestinian people became identified, as I said, with self-determination, and that gives the situation a completely different, it seems to me, perspective.

                                       I think it's not correct, going back to your statement that there's a one refugee definition for the rest of the world and one for the Palestinians. Their origins are different in particular, and many states were concerned in the 1940s the Palestinian refugees should not be subsumed within refugees at large. So they are actually formerly excluded from, or contingently excluded from the mandate of the High Commissioner, from the application of the convention, the 1951 Convention. That was driven by political considerations, because many states thought that the displacement that occurred was, in fact, in no small way due to the General Assembly's decision on dividing Palestine into two entities. It was that UN responsibility, which drove the desire to ensure the Palestinians remain separately treated until such time as a solution was found for their case. One, as I say, which was imagined to be relatively short term in the 1940, '50s.

Speaker 7:                     Thank you for that presentation. You mentioned the increasing numbers of children being left behind by their parents. Is anybody doing any work on how those children are developing when they are really left to their own devices?

G. Goodwin-Will:            I think the question of children at large is worthy of separate consideration. The story I picked up on was just part of a report in The Washington Post from yesterday. It applied to middle class families in Venezuela, unable to find the food for their children, but knowing that there were voluntary agencies, which were ready to step in. Hoping that their absence from home would be short term, or that if they were absent from home they would be able to find jobs and, therefore, to send money back to assist them. I don't know what the long term answers there are in relation to those left behind in Venezuela. I think it's a most tragic situation.

                                       More often than not, of course, we find the children flee as well, either with their parents or a parent, or on their own. There are a very substantial of unaccompanied children for whom special consideration is obviously due. UNICEF, in particular, working together with UNHCR, and in light of the principle the best interest of the child is certainly part and parcel of trying to find solutions for them.

                                       But on that point I'm going to go back to the issue of education. There was again, another interesting report. I think it was just in today's BBC News, comparing the situation of two child refugees. One in Sweden who went into school, as it were, the next day, and one in the UK who had to wait six months. I think that puts the issue quite neatly. Childhood is a diminishing resource. You can't get it back once it's gone. That's the point that we need to ensure that every child receives the education to which he or she has a right.

Speaker 8:                     Thanks for the presentation. Really fascinating topic. I work with an organisation and have been in the field with MSF, and it's something we see the effects of in every context we work. I'm interested to see if you can develop that point on non-state solutions. We, in many of our contexts, we see UN agencies failing, and quite honestly, many people in my organisation, not myself, but many people argue that UNHCR has failed to get to the point, have 65 million refugees and displaced around the world. I'm interested if you've got a perspective on how NGOs and non-state actors could become involved in the solution?

G. Goodwin-Will:            I think that precisely is the challenge. When UNHCR first publicised the 65.6 million, I shuddered. I shuddered, because I thought this is giving the wrong message. This is giving the impression that they're all on the move to us, and of course, they're not. You have to read carefully through the statistics to find out exactly what the level of displacement is and how it impacts on particular countries.

                                       UNHCR, is it a failing organisation? It was not set up, and neither was the '51 Convention or the '67 Protocol, it was not set up to deal with the causes of refugees. In fact, the '51 Convention is often misunderstood in that regard, but its title gives the game away. It is a convention relating to the status of refugees. It happens to include a few rights, but basically, that's what it's about. It's about that status that will enable the refugee to settle successfully in the country of his or her refuge.

                                       Now, there's no doubt that UNHCR could do better, but let's also remember that what is it? It's a state organisation. It's a subsidiary organ of the General Assembly. It doesn't have an independent life at all, and one of its problems has always been, right from the very start, funding. All save a very small percentage of administrative costs, which are paid by New York, every other cost has to be raised by voluntary contributions on the part of governments and private individuals, but mainly governments.

                                       That's a phenomenal amount of money. What UNHCR estimates what it requires today, it won't get it, is between seven and eight billion dollars. If you look at the budgetary record over the past few years it just goes up and up and up. UNHCR is caught, to some extent, in a cleft stick. It has the duty, the responsibility to provide international protection for refugees, but even though that mandate, as it were, is independent of money, if you like, it is dependent operationally, entirely and absolutely on the wills and whims of governments. And governments very often have attempted when making donations ... not attempted, succeeded when making donations of funds to UNHCR to earmark them. To say, "Yes. Well, here is five million, but it's only for this group of refugees," or that group of refugees, or for this type of service in these sorts of camps. That makes budgeting and efficient and effective management that much harder.

                                       These are the sorts of daily challenges that UNHCR has to do. I have no doubt in my mind whatsoever that it can do better, but at the same time, it is very much subject to what states permit it to do. That's, I think, the challenge, and I think it is through the medium of non-governmental organisations, through enabling civil society to get a better and stronger voice in the issue, that we may begin to see change. I think that's happening to some extent already in so far as a lot of what UNHCR and other international organisations do, is in fact, done by their partners, like MSF, for example. And UNHCR can usefully channel funds to those who are on the ground and who can be effective in bringing services to the displaced. But I'm more concerned that from a democratisation perspective of the UN we need to find the ways and means by which to ensure that the voice of the people, and the people are aforementioned in the charter at the UN, get to not only to have ... to be heard, but to have an influence on what happens on the ground.

                                       I don't know what the answers are there. I think at the moment it's just keep shouting louder.

George Williams:            We have time for one more question, just down the front here.

Speaker 9:                      It seems the world over that refugees are a very political issue and, perhaps, divisively political and very polarising one way or the other, and it becomes something that political parties will campaign over and draw lines one. So much so that it becomes ... It seems like it's difficult to actually move forward on producing outcomes, positive outcomes, because it's just something to fight over rather than something to actually work towards solution. What's the cause of that do you think? And what would you do to make refugees less of a political issue and something that people actually work together on?

G. Goodwin-Will:            That's actually a very good question. Actually quite a good one to finish up on as well, because I was at a conference a few days ago, in Tasmania, on climate change, and an individual there, from Utrecht, who was actually an ethicist said, "Why don't we stop calling them refugees?" I began to think, that's actually in itself not necessarily a bad idea, because back in the 1920s the concern certainly was the league with refugees, but the principle concern was with individuals who did not enjoy the protection of the government of their country.

                                       Moving ahead to the late 1940s, early 1950s, we find the term, refugee, actually being loaded with politics. Not necessarily always intentionally. To some extent the definition of a refugee was an extrapolation from previous practise, the idea that a refugee was someone with a well-founded fear of persecution on certain grounds. But in the political context of The Cold War it did have political significance, and actually that politicisation of the refugee was what carried the refugee machinery through the 1950s, and 1960s, and 1970s, because refugees were then seen, being refugees from communist or communist dominated countries, as having political significance. So no one was ever turned.

                                       If you fled Eastern Europe, got off a cruise ship, Stefan Batory, in London, in 1976, from Poland, you were not going to be sent back. Life would be tough for the first 12 months. You would only have limited access to social security, but if you managed to get through that you would get permanent residence. That was a typical reaction on the part of western countries replicated in the time of the Indo-Chinese refugee crisis, which nonetheless, of course, managed to find states and communities doing a great deal of good, but it was driven by politics, and when those politics went out of the window, suddenly from that broader grand strategy perspective, the refugee no longer had political weight. He or she simply had humanitarianism behind them and it wasn't enough.

                                       Somehow or other we have to find a way by which we can bring that humanitarianism back into the picture at the international level, but also, and here you put your finger on what happens at the national level as well, how do we alter that perspective and the small politics of perception, which enable communities to be less fearful of the newcomer? But that's always been a challenge. There's nothing new there. It's just become so highly politicised by those who have found in the media and in the small politics of national governments, that you can make capital out of that fear, out of that apprehension.

                                       I think there's a lot to be said, and the Kaldor Centre stands for this in particular, there's a lot to be said for producing good evidence-based arguments in favour of a policy of reception and protection. In my own experience, the more people begin to learn about what's actually going on in refugee camps or in detention centres, like on Manus Island, or Nauru, the more concerned they are that their government is, in fact, party to the process, which results in serious harm to others, and that becomes something that they want to change.

                                       It comes back to the debate. We need to ensure, as indeed is recognised in part in that agenda for the migration of global compact that there is ... the facts are out there, and that there is a better and more informed public discussion. Thank you.

George Williams:            Thank you, Guy, and what a great note to end on. If I can say thank you for the talk, and your many insights. We've got a great audience today. This is obviously a conversation that we need to continue, and if I can please ask you to thank our speaker.