Thu, 10 Dec | Webinar

The United Nations of Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow: Conversations with UNHCR personnel

Join us as we speak with Roland Schilling (Representative of UNHCR's Regional Representation for Central Europe) and Andreas Wissner (UNHCR’s Representative to the European Institutions in Strasbourg) about their past and present experiences at UNHCR, as well as their views on the future.
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The United Nations of Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow: Conversations with UNHCR personnel

Time & Location

10 Dec 2020, 17:00 GMT

About the Event

This year, the United Nations (UN) celebrates its 75th  anniversary, whilst the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) celebrates its 70 years of humanitarian work.

We have the honour of talking to Roland Schilling, the Representative of UNHCR's Regional Representation for Central Europe, and Andreas Wissner, UNHCR’s Representative to the European Institutions in Strasbourg. These high-level UNHCR Representatives will be sharing their experiences and stories of their work at UNHCR. Collectively, both of our speakers have worked there for almost three decades in over 14 countries across the world.  Therefore, this webinar provides the opportunity to understand what activities UNHCR conducts across the world and how UNHCR directly helps refugees and States provide protection to refugees.

As well as sharing their experiences, our speakers will also cover the following topics:

· How UNHCR has dealt with the situation in the Mediterranean.

· UNHCR’s work with the European Court of Human Rights and the Council of Europe.

· The speakers' views on the EU Migration Pact and solidarity in the EU

· Field experience in: Sri Lanka (Internally displaced persons (IDPs) and the aftermath of the tsunami) and Pakistan (Voluntary repatriation and experience in refugee camps)

· The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on their operations and how they have adapted to the obstacles presented by it.

· Lastly, the speakers will conclude by reflecting on the Global Compact on Refugees and institutional challenges.

A little more information on UNHCR

UNHCR serves as the so called “guardian” of the 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol. These two legal international documents define who is to be considered a refugee, what rights refugees are entitled to, and outlines what legal obligations States have towards refugees. It goes without saying, that the importance of refugee law has been recognised by the 149 States who are party to either one or both of the abovementioned legal documents.

Additionally, the main principle of non-refoulment “which asserts that a refugee should not be returned to a country where they face serious threats to their life or freedom” is considered a norm of customary international law. This means that the practice of non-refoulement has become a legal obligation, even for those States which have not signed the 1951 Convention nor the 1967 Protocol. This is because numerous States have acted in accordance to the non-refoulment principle (did not deport people to their country of origin if they were found to be at risk) and they have done so persistently and out of a sense of obligation.

It is important to mention that UNHCR’s work is not limited to refugees. Certainly, the initial mandate of the organisation being the need to protect people who were forced to migrate due to conflict, persists to this day. However, throughout the decades, the UN has extended UNHCR’s mandate to now also include the protection of internally displaced persons and stateless people. By the end of 2019, there was an estimated 79.5 million people who were forcibly displaced worldwide with 17,324 UNHCR personnel working in 135 countries.

To access more information on UNHCR, visit these two links:

  • UN Webinar Ticket

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