Skip to main content

COVID-19 and international refugee law

4 June 2020
9.41am – 9.41am AEST
This event has ended

 Watch the webinar  


Listen to the podcast
Listen to the podcast here, or subsribe through itunes


About the event

Refugees and other forced migrants are among the world’s most resilient people, but without medical, economic and social support, no one can escape the impacts of COVID-19. Indeed, the pandemic has prompted new challenges for displaced people – borders closing, resettlement programs put on pause, xenophobia on the rise. 

What is changing in the so-called ‘new normal’, and what does it mean for the legal landscape facing refugees, people seeking asylum and other forced migrants? How are human-rights-based laws designed to protect people holding up under the pressure of a global public health crisis? Once the virus subsides, how do we ensure that regressive laws are not ‘baked in’ and that the social and economic impacts of the pandemic on the most vulnerable people are addressed? 

Find out when two preeminent legal minds discuss the key issues: 

Scientia Professor Jane McAdam, Director of UNSW’s Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law, addressed the differential impact of the pandemic on displaced people, many arising in the Kaldor Centre’s blog, COVID-19 Watch, and will also consider the twin ‘crises’ of COVID-19 and climate change in the context of mobility in the Pacific region.  

Assistant Secretary-General Gillian Triggs, UNHCR’s Assistant High Commissioner for Protection, considered how COVID-19 has undermined the fundamental norms of human rights and refugee law as almost no other crisis has done, even as we reach the 70th anniversary of the Refugee Convention. More than 160 states have closed their borders and suspended or restricted access to asylum and many have pushed back those seeking protection, risking refoulement.  

Each panellist spoke for approximately 10-15 minutes, allowing time for responses to questions.

The discussion was moderated by Professor Natalie Klein, Professor of Law at UNSW Sydney, President of the International Law Association (Australian Branch) and Affiliate Member of the Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law.