‘Camps That Are Becoming Cities – Cities That Are Becoming Camps: The Case of Syrian Refugees in Lebanon and Jordan

The Oppenheimer Chair is pleased to welcome Faten Kikano, PhD Candidate in Environmental Design, from the Université de Montréal for a conference and a photo exhibition. Ms. Kikano will present her research and her photos about the life of  Syrian refugees in camps in Lebanon and Jordan. Join us for a lunch, a short conference…
Sonia Cancian Poster
Monday, 27 March 2017

The Power of Life Stories: Situating the Narratives of Migrants and Refugees within the Context of the Law

The Oppenheimer Chair and the McGill Centre for Human Rights and Legal Pluralism are pleased to welcome Dr. Sonia Cancian, from Zayed University for a seminar on life stories of migrants and refugees and the law. This seminar will lead a discussion on life stories of migrants and refugees and their power (or not) within…

Radio National Breakfast: Morrison refuses to sign UN migration pact citing risk to border security

Interview with Professor François Crépeau
6 March, 2019

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Radio National Breakfast – Separate stories podcast, with Fran Kelly, Australian Broadcasting Corporation.


10520846-3x2-700x467Image: The UN migration pact is a conceptual framework and not legally binding. (Chaideer Mahyuddin/Getty Images)

Australia’s decision to refuse to sign up to a global UN migration pact has been described as “regrettable” by the United Nations.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has confirmed Australia won’t be a signatory to the United Nation’s Global Migration pact, claiming it will compromise Australia’s national interests and border security.

Australia now joins the United States, Poland and some populist governments in Europe in not signing the pact which aims to coordinate a global response to the world’s migration crisis.

The growing number of countries rejecting the accord is a symbolic blow to UN efforts to protect migrants and refugees, with a record 68 million people being displaced from their homes last year alone.

To listen to the full audio recording, please click here.

Podcast: The Truth About Migrants with Professor François Crépeau

5 February, 2019
Professor François Crépeau, the former UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants, speaks with Matthew Scott, Raoul Wallenberg Institute’s Team Leader for People on the Move, about migration, its causes, effects and the attitudes surrounding it.
To listen to the podcast, click here.

La Libre: Comment est né le Pacte sur les migrations qui déchaîne les passions de bien des Etats

10 December, 2018


Parler de migration était encore impensable à l’Onu il y a un peu plus de 10 ans.

La veille de sa présentation officielle à Marrakech, ces lundi et mardi, le pacte sur les migrations de l’Onu n’avait pas fini de déchaîner les passions de bien des États et de nourrir les critiques des populistes de tous bords. Pris dans les échanges de tirs de la politique interne belge, ce texte d’à peine 30 pages aura même enterré de facto le gouvernement du plat pays. “Tout ça pour un texte qui n’est même pas obligatoire et qui n’ajoute aucun droit aux migrants… Il y a encore énormément de résistance des États, qui craignent de partager leur pouvoir ultime souverain de décider qui entre et qui sort de leur territoire”, observe François Crépeau, professeur de droit à l’Université McGill au Canada. Rapporteur spécial de l’Onu sur les droits de l’homme des migrants entre 2011 et 2017, il retrace pour La Libre Belgique les prémices de ce texte dont l’existence même marque alors une véritable rupture.

Ne serait-ce qu’évoquer la migration au sein des Nations unies était impensable il y a un peu plus de dix ans. “À partir de 1950, les États ne voulaient pas que la migration, attribut de la souveraineté territoriale, soit discutée de façon multilatérale. Elle n’était pas un sujet pour les Nations unies, qui sont un cadre de coopération internationale”, explique M. Crépeau.


Ce Pacte pour les migrations – négocié pendant plus de deux ans à la sueur du front de la représentante spéciale de l’Onu pour les migrations, la Canadienne Louise Arbour – se base sur l’idée que le phénomène migratoire est naturel. “Et il faut le gérer comme tel. Les frontières n’ont jamais été fermées. Les frontières démocratiques – au contraire de celles de la Corée du Nord – sont poreuses. Car l’homme est une espèce animale migrante. Et la migration est fondée sur l’espoir d’une vie meilleure. Nous n’arracherons pas l’espoir du cœur de l’homme”, résume donc M. Crépeau.

To read the full interview and article, please click here. Comment est né le Pacte sur les migrations qui déchaîne les passions de bien des Etats – La Libre

The Economist: European governments in melt-down over an inoffensive migration compact

Symbolism trumps toothlessness
7 December, 2018


Commentary by Francois Crépeau: “Much ado about nothing, really. Not that the GCM is not worth anything. As a conceptual framework, it provides a useful tool to initiate international cooperation on migration issues and channel it over the coming decades. However, it is not in any way mandatory and therefore does not oblige any State to do anything any time soon. Moreover, the GCM does not deny any sovereign power to exclude dangerous foreigners or control borders appropriately. The GCM is therefore not worth the current European “meltdown”, which is caused by politics, not policy. Once again, nationalist populist politicians will use any kind of fodder to revel in myths, buttress stereotypes and stoke fears, presenting themselves as saviors. Other politicians allow them to do this by not taking a principled stand on mobility and diversity.”

It was like watching paint dry, or other people’s children play baseball. Last month Gert Raudsep, an Estonian actor, spent two hours on prime-time television reading out the text of a un migration agreement. Estonia’s government was tottering over whether to pull out of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, to give it its full name. So Mr Raudsep was invited to present the source of the discord to worried viewers. Thoughts of weary migrants from Africa and Latin America kept him going, he said. “But my eyes got a bit tired.”

Mr Raudsep’s recital made for dull viewing because the compact is a dull document. Its 23 “objectives” are peppered with vague declarations, platitudes and split differences. Partly in the spirit of other global agreements like the Paris climate deal, it encourages states to co-operate on tricky cross-border matters without forcing them to do anything. It urges governments to treat migrants properly, but also to work together on sending them home when necessary. At best it helps build the trust between “sending” and “receiving” countries that is the foundation of any meaningful international migration policy.

None of this has prevented European governments from melting down over it. In the end Estonia resolved its row; it will join more than 180 other countries in Marrakesh on December 10th-11th to adopt the compact. But so far at least ten others, including seven from Europe, have followed the lead of Donald Trump and pulled out of a deal that they helped negotiate. The agreement is agitating parliaments, sparking protests and splintering coalitions; Belgium’s is on the verge of collapse. More withdrawals may follow.

To read the full article, please click here.