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Launch of the Andrew & Renata Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law

30 October 2013
6.00pm – 8.00pm AEDT
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Launch of the Andrew & Renata Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law

On Wednesday 30 October 2013, the Andrew & Renata Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law was launched at UNSW Law.  As the world's first research centre dedicated to international refugee law issues, it aims to bring a principled, human rights-based approach to the issue of refugee law and policy in Australia by feeding high-quality research into public policy debates and legislative reform.

In her keynote address, Founding Director Professor Jane McAdam noted the complexity of forced migration.  'In an ideal world, we would not see people fleeing their countries in the first place,' she said.  'A country like Australia should be at the forefront of trying to make protection for refugees as good as it can be.  When we deny humanity to others, we dehumanize ourselves.'

'With leadership on the asylum issue so lacking among our politicians on all sides, it is now the task of research institutes to fill this void,' Professor McAdam said.  'The Andrew & Renata Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law at UNSW aims to move beyond the sound bites and slogans that dumb down public policy, and seeks to open up a space for questions, debate, and informed opinion-making.'

Based in the UNSW Faculty of Law, the centre has been established through the generosity of Andrew Kaldor AM and Renata Kaldor AO, motivated by their deep concern about Australia's treatment of refugees and asylum seekers.

'We were distressed by the policies toward refugees of our two major political parties in the 2013 election. We decided we needed to do something,' said Andrew Kaldor, who will chair the Centre's Advisory Committee. Mr Kaldor said he and his wife Renata had refugee backgrounds. 'Our parents fled war-torn Europe after WWII. In escaping their home countries, our families resorted to assistance that would today be classed as illegal. Australia was welcoming, open and generous to us. We therefore feel both a debt to Australia and empathy with those refugees who are fleeing their homes without proper documents or assistance.'

Read Professor Jane McAdam's keynote address from the launch of the Centre.  An extended version of Professor McAdam's keynote address was published in (2013) 25 International Journal of Refugee Law 435.