Refugee Protection, Migration and Human Rights in Europe: Notes from the field
Start: Mar 04, 2014 12:00 AM
Britain & Europe Series. 4 March 2014
The Commissioner for Human Rights at the Council of Europe, Nils Muižnieks, is to speak on European countries’ treatment of Syrian refugees, irregular migrants and asylum seekers, and the increasing hostility toward European migration.
4 March 2014, 6.00pm
Chaired by Dr Virginia Mantouvalou, Co-Director of the UCL Institute for Human Rights and Reader in Human Rights and Labour Law, UCL
The Syrian crisis is not only the world’s biggest humanitarian crisis at present, but also Europe’s biggest refugee crisis in 20 years. Last December the Commissioner carried out a “thematic mission”, following the route taken by many Syrian refugees through Turkey, Bulgaria and Germany. This journey strengthened the Commissioner’s conviction that European states can and must do much more to live up to their obligation to protect Syrian refugees. During various other country visits the Commissioner witnessed the extreme difficulties faced in general by irregular migrants, including asylum seekers, coming to the EU: ‘push-back’ practices in the Mediterranean, ‘Dublin returns’ to countries whose asylum systems are dysfunctional, and the criminalisation of migration. These problems are compounded by a raising wave of racist manifestations against migrants, by politicians, the public and the media. Racist extremism has made serious inroads in the political life of several European countries. Racism and prejudice affect also migrants originating from European countries, in particular those from the Western Balkans and the new EU member states. Roma migration has become a hot subject in the UK recently. This debate needs to be placed back into its correct context, namely, the right of every person to leave a country.
About the speaker
Nils Muižnieks was elected Commissioner for Human Rights on 24 January 2012 by the Parliamentary Assembly and took up his position on 1 April 2012. He is the third Commissioner, succeeding Thomas Hammarberg (2006-2012) and Alvaro Gil-Robles (1999-2006).
Born in 1964, Mr Muižnieks is a Latvian national educated in the United States of America, where he obtained a Ph.D. in political science at the University of California at Berkeley.
He has been working in the field of human rights for the past two decades and has acquired extensive knowledge in the field of international human rights monitoring, training and education.
Prior to his appointment as Commissioner for Human Rights, he held prominent posts such as Director of the Advanced Social and Political Research Institute at the Faculty of Social Sciences of the University of Latvia in Riga (2005-2012); Chairman of the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (2010-2012); Latvian minister responsible for social integration, anti-discrimination, minority rights, and civil society development (2002-2004); and Director of the Latvian Centre for Human Rights and Ethnic Studies - now Latvian Human Rights Centre (1994-2002).
He has also published extensively on human rights issues, in particular on racism, discrimination and minority rights. Latvian and English are his mother tongues, and he is also fluent in French and Russian.
About the Britain & Europe series
The relationship between Britain and Europe is a highly contested issue that dominates political and academic debates. The UCL 'Britain and Europe' seminar series examines the relationship between the United Kingdom, and both the European Union and the Council of Europe. The aim of the series is to discuss important policy issues, with a special focus on their legal dimension. Topics to be addressed include the EU referendum, immigration, human rights, competition policy and taxation. This series is in association with the UCL European Institute, UCL Institute for Human Rights and the UCL Centre for Law and Governance in Europe.
For more information: Britain-Europe Series