York prof to moderate expert panel on displacement, war and refugee placement

James Simeon
James Simeon

James Simeon, professor and director of the School of Public Policy and Administration in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies at York University, is the moderator of an expert panel presentation of the Special International Joint Public Seminar: Armed Conflict, Generalized Violence and Asylum Law.

A two-part public seminar featuring an international cohort of panellists, the first session was titled, “The ‘War Refugee’ and International Law: New Global Approaches” and was held on March 27. The second, “Regional Perspectives on the Consequences of Displacement: War, Generalized Violence, and Refugee Protection” will take place April 30 at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies at the University of London and will be live streamed at 120E Stedman Lecture Hall at York University. The panel, which runs from 5 to 7pm in London, will be live streamed from 12 to 2pm at York University.

Panellists will address the question: How do regional asylum concepts and mechanisms emerge and adapt in response to the impact of refugee flows upon neighbouring and nearby countries within regions and how does this, in turn, influence and affect international refugee law and practice? The experts participating on the panel are: Professor Dawn Chatty, director, Refugee Studies Centre (RSC), Department of International Development, University of Oxford, UK; Professor Susan Akram, clinical professor of law, School of Law, and director, International Human Rights Clinic, Boston University, USA; Professor David James Cantor, director, Refugee Law Initiative (RLI), School of Advanced Study, University of London, UK;  Ahmed Arbee, head, Africa Chapter (South), International Association of Refugee Law Judges; and  Justice Isaac Lenaola, High Court of Kenya, Nairobi, and the United Nations Residual Special Court for Sierra Leone.

“The purpose of this series is to examine a number of fundamental aspects of forced migration, specifically, the principal factors that generate refugees in the world today,” says Simeon. “The single major cause of refugees in the world today is armed conflict. One only needs to consider the situation in Syria to appreciate this point. Last fall, the UNHCR reported that since March 2011, when the Syrian conflict commenced, there were two million Syrian refugees and with an outpouring of more that 5,000 refugees per day to neighbouring countries.
“The situation in Colombia between the insurgency forces, Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the National Liberation Army (ELN) and government forces has been ongoing at least since the mid-1960s,” adds Simeon. “The number of refugees that this armed conflict has generated is conservatively estimated at over 100,000 people who have fled to neighbouring countries such as Ecuador, Brazil, Panama, Peru, and Venezuela.”
Similarly, Simeon says the African continent, including the  Middle East, Central and South America, has suffered protracted periods of armed conflict, creating a mass displacement of people. One source has identified 24 countries in Africa that are engaged in armed conflicts with some 145 militias-guerrillas, separatist and anarchic groups. The toll that this has had on general destruction and human suffering is inestimable, says Simeon.
“What we are seeking to do in this second segment of our international public seminar on armed conflict, generalized violence and asylum law, is to consider the regional dimensions and aspects of how extreme violence triggers forced migration and how the international community and international and regional refugee rights law has sought to protect war refugees’ most fundamental human rights,”says Simeon.

The live stream link for the panel is: http://msl.stream.yorku.ca/mediasite/Viewer?peid=d6efeedd-eb8c-428a-8a0c-ec01ce1daf2e.

Those interested in viewing the panel proceedings should copy and paste the link into their browser. All are also welcome to attend and watch the proceedings in person in 120E Stedman Lecture Hall at York University.