‘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…
  Work is underway on a second barrier at the Hungarian-Serbian border to keep out migrants. Photo Credit: Anadolu Agency

U.N. Rapporteur: We Need a Long-Term Strategy for Human Migration

Article in NewsDeeply
8 June, 2017

The so-called “migration crisis” is policy-driven. Migration itself is a natural part of human existence; it is neither a crime nor a problem, and it has the potential to be a remedy for many social ills. The collective response to date of placing restrictions on mobility is part of the problem, not of the solution…

With this in mind, I propose two axes of solutions to human mobility and eight goals to aim for.

The first axis consists in developing refugee settlement programs to serve more refugees than the current 1 percent. Private sponsorship of refugees should be included in these programs, because it progressively builds a constituency of nationals who are in favor of welcoming refugees.

The second axis consists in recognizing real labor needs and opening up considerably more visa opportunities or visa-free travel programs for migrant workers at all skill levels. With appropriate selection and organization, the numbers would be entirely manageable…

A 2035 agenda for facilitating human mobility would translate the existing 2030 agenda for sustainable development into “bite-sized” and achievable goals, targets and indicators. I suggest the following goals:

Goal 1. Offer regular, safe, accessible and affordable mobility solutions to all migrants, regardless of status or skill level.

Goal 2. Protect the labor and human rights of all migrant workers, regardless of status and circumstances.

Goal 3. Ensure respect for human rights at border controls, including return, readmission and post-return monitoring, and establish accountability mechanisms.

Goal 4. End the use of detention as a border-management and deterrence tool against migrants.

Goal 5. Provide effective access to justice for all migrants.

Goal 6. Ensure easy access for all migrants to basic services, including education and health.

Goal 7. Protect all migrants from all forms of discrimination and violence, including racism, xenophobia, sexual and gender-based violence and hate speech.

Goal 8. Increase the collection and analysis of disaggregated data on migration and mobility.

To access the full article, please click here


  Theresa May: We will change human rights laws to crack down on terrorism

May: I’ll rip up human rights laws that impede new terror legislation

Article in The Guardian
7 June, 2017

For politicians, it is too often a zero-sum game, “my way or the highway”. In the present nationalist populist atmosphere, politicians will claim that undesired foreigners should not be covered by international human rights law or by constitutional guarantees. When most of the terrorism is “homegrown”, they still need to “externalise” it and, in an echo of the Cold War, place the responsibility on “foreign agents”. Moreover, they invoke their conception of a “crisis” to justify trampling the rights of foreigners, forgetting that the human rights regime was created by the generation that survived WWII and that human rights safeguards were thus put in place to remind States of their obligations, not only in times of peace, but more so especially in times of crises or war. Who can seriously argue that our present “migration crisis” is of the magnitude of WWII?

“The prime minister said she was looking at how to make it easier to deport foreign terror suspects and how to increase controls on extremists where it is thought they present a threat but there is not enough evidence to prosecute them…

She said: “But I can tell you a few of the things I mean by that: I mean longer prison sentences for people convicted of terrorist offences. I mean making it easier for the authorities to deport foreign terror suspects to their own countries.

“And I mean doing more to restrict the freedom and the movements of terrorist suspects when we have enough evidence to know they present a threat, but not enough evidence to prosecute them in full in court.

“And if human rights laws stop us from doing it, we will change those laws so we can do it.”

To access the full article, please click here


Report: ‘Human Act or Devil’s Pact’

Human rights aspects of migration agreements between EU and third countries
5 June, 2017

An excellent report on the human rights dimensions of migration agreements between the EU and third countries. Many thanks to Marie-Laure.

“Through the media, we were regularly confronted with the deadly consequences of dangerous attempts by migrants to cross the Mediterranean Sea on overcrowded, often unseaworthy, boats…

Since then, the European Council has convened various meetings discussing the necessity to reduce the number of migrants and refugees coming to Europe. These discussions tend to focus more on saving human lives at sea and preventing people smuggling, and less on safeguarding human rights, such as the right to asylum and the prohibition of refoulement…

The Netherlands Institute for Human Rights and Meijers Committee are aware that managing migration is a source of great concern to citizens and governments in the EU. However, managing migration should not compromise the fundamental human rights to which the EU and the individual Member States have committed themselves. In the paper that follows, the Institute and Meijers Committee will list the human rights that may be jeopardised by the scheduled agreements. Member States and EU repeatedly emphasise that the agreements must be implemented in conformity with human rights obligations under international and European law.

This paper offers a yardstick for establishing whether the proposals and agreements about migration comply with these human rights obligations.”

To access the full report, please click here


Migrants’ Rights & Development: New Report

MOVEMENT Report: A Global Civil Society Report on Progress and Impact for Migrants’ Rights and Development
5 June, 2017

Many thanks to Rosa.

“The new Report is based on written input from 600 representatives of civil society active in migration and development around the world, as well as twenty in-depth interviews with civil society actors actively engaged at the regional and global level.”

To access the full report, please click here

  Photo Credit:

“Rights City”- Montreal Human Rights Conference

May 26-27 - "One city. One cause. Three events"
8 May, 2017

Unprecedented Human Rights Conference coming to Montreal this May.

Described as “A global initiative celebrating the role Montreal has played in advancing human rights worldwide and re-energising the international human rights community in a time of great upheaval”

The two-day event is organized by Amnesty International, the Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies (Concordia University), the Armenian National Committee of Québec and the Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights.

For more information on the conference, please visit the following site