The Refugee Law Initiative’s ‘New Challenges in Refugee Integration’ series concludes with open debate between MPs, Lords and refugee experts at Portcullis House

Friday 23 March 2012

The Refugee Law Initiative (RLI) at the School of Advanced Study, University of London, concluded its collaborative seminar series ‘New Challenges in Refugee Integration’ with a well-attended open debate at Portcullis House on 15 March 2012.

The seminar series, which was held in collaboration with the Refugee Council in commemoration of its 60th anniversary, brought together five leading experts in the field of refugee integration: Professor Loren B Landau, University of the Witwatersrand; Dr Maja Korac-Sanderson, University of East London; Professor Alice Bloch, City University London; Professor Roger Zetter, University of Oxford; and Professor Alastair Kenneth Ager, Columbia University. They delivered five informative seminars on matters ranging from: fragmentation and authority, refugee agency and freedom, employment rights and integration, identity and securitisation and the significance of refugee experience in integration.

The concluding open debate, which was overseen by Julian Huppert MP, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Refugees, and also included Donna Covey, Chief Executive, Refugee Council, and Dr Paresh Kathrani, Practice Coordinator, Refugee Law Initiative on the Panel, drew more than 100 guests, including members of both Houses of Parliament. Discussions focused on some of the main issues that arose during the seminar series, including cuts to frontline services, questions of employment and refugee experiences of integration in the United Kingdom.

The Director of the RLI, Dr David James Cantor, said: “Europe often concentrates upon the asylum application process as if this were the only element of refugee protection. This series of innovative and engaging seminars has served to challenge academics, practitioners and legislators to think seriously about the integration needs of refugees both before and after they have been granted asylum”.

Summaries of each of the five seminars can be accessed through the Resources section of the Refugee Law Initiative website and further dissemination of the presentations will take place shortly. Podcasts of the seminars are available from the Refugee Council website. A summary of the series is also available: Welcome to the UK: The future of integration [PDF]

Notes for Editors:

  1. For further information please contact the RLI Director (Dr David Cantor) or Research Coordinator (Ms Margherita Blandini) at or +44 (0)20 7862 8871/8570.
  2. The Refugee Law Initiative at the Human Rights Consortium of the School of Advanced Study, University of London is the only academic centre in the UK to concentrate specifically on international refugee law. As a national focal point for leading and promoting research in this field, it works to integrate the shared interests of refugee law scholars and practitioners, stimulate collaboration between academics and non-academics, and achieve policy impact at the national and international level. The Refugee Law Initiative hosts seminars, workshops, short courses and other events to promote and facilitate cutting-edge research on the protection of refugees and other displaced persons. It leads and manages high-impact research, policy and training projects, and carries out consultancy work on refugee law and protection.
  3. The School of Advanced Study at the University of London is the UK’s national centre for the facilitation and promotion of research in the humanities and social sciences. The School brings together the specialised scholarship and resources of ten prestigious research institutes to offer academic opportunities, facilities and stimulation across a wide range of subject areas for the benefit of the national and international scholarly community. The member institutes of the School are the Institutes of Advanced Legal Studies, Classical Studies, Commonwealth Studies, English Studies, Germanic & Romance Studies, Historical Research, Musical Research, Philosophy, Study of the Americas, and the Warburg Institute.
  4. The Human Rights Consortium, founded in 2009, brings together the multidisciplinary expertise in human rights found in several institutes of the School of Advanced Study, as well as collaborating with individuals and organisations with an interest in the subject. The main aim of the Consortium is to facilitate, promote and disseminate academic and policy work on human rights by holding conferences and seminars, hosting visiting fellows, coordinating the publication of high quality work in the field, and establishing a network of human rights researchers, policy-makers and practitioners across the UK and internationally, with a view to collaborating on a range of activities.