2011-2012: Refugee and Migrant Rights

Children with milk ration at Mesa Grande Refugee Camp in Honduras.  Photograph © Bill BarrettThe 2011-2012 YIHR theme, refugee and migrant rights, was selected because 2011 marks the 60th anniversary of the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, a treaty that formalizes the rights of individuals fleeing persecution. The 1951 Convention compliments the work of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the principal agency responsible for finding durable solutions to the plight of the world's refugees. Durable solutions include the assimilation of refugees within countries of first asylum or resettlement in third countries. This YIHR emphasized related migration issues and the needs of individuals in refugee-like situations, such as those who are internally displaced or are fleeing generalized violence, civil war, extreme poverty, or natural disaster.

Highlights of the 2011-2012 YIHR included:

Jack ShenkerOct. 3, 2011: Changing Realities in the Arab Spring: Migrants and a Voyage to Europe. Jack Shenker, journalist.

Award winning journalist Jack Shenker visited Webster University in October. Shenker, who made headlines earlier this year with his coverage of the Egyptian revolution, spoke in Moore Auditorium at 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 3, as part of the Year of International Human Rights 2011-12: Refugee & Migrant Rights.

Shenker spoke on Changing Realities in the Arab Spring: Migrants and a Voyage to Europe. 

A correspondent for the U.K.'s Guardian newspaper as well as magazines and other newspapers, Shenker has reported from Egypt, the Indian subcontinent, central Asia, Sudan, and Gaza. His coverage of the revolution in Egypt won him the Amnesty International Gaby Rado Prize for excellence in human rights journalism.

In, January 2011, Shenker was attacked on the streets of Cairo by government security forces. Along with demonstrators, he was beaten and driven to the desert in the back of a police truck. Shenker secretly recorded his experience on a dictaphone, and the audio that was eventuallycirculated around the world revealed the brutality of government forces and the desperation of demonstrators trying to crack a three-decade-old dictatorship. Over the next three weeks, Shenker's reports on Egypt were awaited eagerly by the rest of the world. His coverage was named one of the Guardian's 190 “most defining moments.”

Shenker now lives between London and Cairo as he continues to cover Egypt's ongoing revolution. He also is working on other journalistic projects. Among them is an investigation of the experiences of migrants, which heightened awareness of the plight of those seeking political asylum and a better life in Europe.

Shenker was co-sponsored by the College of Arts & Sciences, the Multicultural Center/International Student Affairs, the School of Communications, and the Year of International Human Rights 2011-12: Refugee & Migrant Rights.

Click here to listen to Jack's interview with Don Marsh, St. Louis on the Air.

Jack's talk at Webster was also featured in the Saint Louis Beacon.

Panel flyer

Nov. 17, 2011: Student Panel "My St. Louis Story: Immigrants & Refugees" student panel. Webster students, alumni, and Pat Joshu, Executive Director of Immigrant and Refugee Women's Program in Saint Louis, came together to discuss immigrant and refugee issues. Students and alumni shared their stories of how they came to Saint Louis, and what life is like as a refugee or immigrant.



Golden Door

Nov. 28, 2011: Is the 'Golden Door' Still Open?: America's Reception of Refugees in the 21st Century. Jonathan Guzé, Attorney at Law.
Jonathan Guzé shared his personal experience and insights as a result of representing immigrants in Immigration Court and before the Bureau of Immigration Appeals.  

He has provided legal assistance to immigrants and the businesses which hire them on various matters arising out of the employment of aliens.  Mr. Guzé has supplied professional legal advice on issues related to interactions between immigration and nationality matters and criminal, family, and estate matters.  His experience includes interactions with the U.S. Department of Labor, the U.S. Department of State's National Visa Office, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Employment Security Commission of North Carolina.  He helped us understand the human rights of immigrants from the inside.

**This event was part of series of annual seminars dedicated to Mary T. Hall, a leader of the United Nations Association of St. Louis and other local civic organizations for many years.  This 2011 Mary T. Hall Seminar had special significance because Mary celebrated her 100th birthday in February.


John Seager

Feb 1, 2012: A Talk with John Seager, President of Population Connection








The Conference:

The YIHR conference on refugee and migrant rights took place on April 19 and 20th, 2012 and explored the contemporary refugee situation, as well as related migration issues. 

Refugee and Migrant Rights

The needs of individuals in refugee-like situations, such as those who are internally displaced or are fleeing general violence, civil war, extreme poverty, or natural disaster will also be examined. The conference incorporated a combination of expert panels, workshops, breakout sessions and speakers to address the many facets and challenges of the global refugee situation.  

Explore our Conference Reflections for more on the people and ideas brought together by the conference. Download the full conference schedule.



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