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At a high-level UN Summit in New York on September 19, the governments of 193 countries adopted the New York Declaration – a commitment to enhance protection for 21.3 million refugees displaced by persecution and conflict worldwide.

As borders are being fortified to keep refugees out and refugees are accused wrongly of being terrorists, UNHCR’s Assistant High Commissioner for Protection Volker Türk believes it is nothing short of a miracle that countries unanimously adopted a declaration that affirms and strengthens the protection of refugees.  

In a rare public address, Türk will speak at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) on Friday 18 November, outlining how the Declaration will revolutionise the international community’s engagement with refugees and migrants. His public talk, A Minor Miracle: The New Global Compact on Refugees, will also examine the UN’s commitment to create a new Global Compact on Refugees in 2018. Will this be a game-changer for the international refugee protection regime? And how will Australia need to respond?  

This event will launch UNSW’s Grand Challenge on Refugees & Migrants, led by Scientia Professor Jane McAdam, director of the Andrew & Renata Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law at UNSW.


UNHCR’s Assistant High Commissioner for Protection Volker Türk.

The Grand Challenges are a new program designed to position UNSW at the forefront of debate and policy formation around some of society’s biggest challenges. Grand Challenges Academic Lead Scientia Professor Rob Brooks hopes to work with leads and host academics at UNSW to curate a year-round program of activities addressing up to six Grand Challenges at a time, with themes announced over the next two years. Another Grand Challenge already underway is on Climate Change, led by Scientia Professor Matthew England. The Grand Challenge on Inequality has just been announced.

Volker Türk’s address will come after the conclusion of the Kaldor Centre Annual Conference, which will bring together global experts to analyse pressing issues in refugee law and protection. The keynote speakers at the conference, which is open to all, are Jean-François Durieux, a former senior UNHCR official and academic, and Professor François Crépeau, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants, in his only formal public address in Australia.    

Professor McAdam, from UNSW Law, said: “This event offers Australian audiences the rare privilege to hear UNHCR’s Protection Chief speak about the global challenges and opportunities for the international refugee regime. We are delighted to welcome Volker Türk to UNSW.”

What: Volker Türk public address, “A Minor Miracle: The New Global Compact on Refugees”

When: Friday 18 November, 6pm-7.30pm

Where: Law Theatre, UNSW, Kensington

Details: Free event, registrations here