H.E. Prof. Dr. Kennedy Gastorn and Ms. Yasuko Shimizu, Chief of Mission, UNHCR, Delhi delivered the inaugural addresses at the “One-Day Seminar on the Global Compact on Refugees: From Hope to Action”, organized by the Faculty of Legal Studies, South Asian University, and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, India, at the South Asian University on 18 April 2019. The Conference was divided into five sessions pertaining to topics covering a wide range of issues concerning the Global Compact on Refugees.
In session II titled “New Trend Towards soft Law – Beyond the “Convention” Approach”, the Secretary-General made a presentation on the topic “The Added Value of the GCR to the Refugee Convention and Protocol”. In his presentation the SG noted that the GCR has been lauded as a key step forward in the protection of refugees, particularly because of the number of countries that have pledged their commitment to it. He also stated that the GCR is a soft law document which primarily focused on burden and responsibility sharing rather than burden shifting, an aspect which had not been covered earlier by the 1951 Convention and the 1967 Protocol.
The second speaker in the session was Dr. K. Ratnabali, Assistant Professor, Delhi University, who presented her views on “Possible Dynamics between International law and Domestic Frameworks”. The last presentation in the session was made on skype by Dr. Aniruddha Rajput, Member of the International Law Commission, on the topic “The recent Trend of Soft Law and Its Implications”. Dr. Rajput highlighted that we are living in the age of soft law and this development is most commonly witnessed in the area of environmental law and refugee law. Greater cooperation between States to solve some of the most pressing problems of today like climate change and sea level rise can most effectively be secured by frameworks that look beyond treaty law. This is where soft law assumes importance.
Session III was titled “The Scope of the GCR in the Absence of Formal Refugee Protection frameworks”. Presentations were made by Mr. Angshuman Chodhury, Senior researcher, Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies on the topic “The GCR and refugee protection in Countries Not Party to the refugee Convention”. The second speaker Dr. Priyanca Mathur, Associate Professor, Jain University, made a presentation on the topic “Models of refugee presentation in South Asia”.
Session IV was titled “The Whole of Society Approach: Strengthening National Civil Society Engagement with GCR”. In this session, presentations were made by five speakers; Ms. Suhasini Haider, Diplomatic Editor, The Hindu, spoke on “Media Engagement to realize GCR”. Dr Bernard D’sami, Senior Fellow, Loyola College, presented his views on “Promoting GCR through Teaching and research”. Ms. Alana Golmei, Director, Burma centre Delhi, spoke on “Bridging Theory and Practice for refugee Protection”. Ms. Meenu Chopra, Executive Director, Fair Trade Forum-India, presented her views on “Building refugee Self reliance” and the last presentation was delivered by Ms. Anisa, a refugee, who shared her experience.
Professor B. S. Chimni, who was invited to deliver a special lecture on Global Compact on Refugees, critically unveiled the inadequacies in the text of the Compact - apparent especially in absence of primacy to the right to asylum in the document. Adducing statistical evidence, he pointed out the limitation in the scope and design of the Compact, and accentuated the need for setting up an academic network that is not only concerned with “deliverables”, but also raises foundational questions on the topic.
All the sessions were followed by interactive sessions of questions and answers.