Criminal Law and Justice

The Refugee Crisis and the Responsibility of Nations: A Test of Global Conscience

February 17, 2016  • Justice and Society Program

The plight of Syrian and other refugees fleeing conflicts raging in the Middle East pulls at the conscience of the world, but responses within European receiving nations—and potential receiving nations like the US—have been uneven, punctuated by fear and nativism. Comparisons to the Second World War are inevitable. Yet the international conventions and institutions that grew out of that conflict appear fragile in our current crisis. Nations have a responsibility to protect civilians in wartime, but what are the parameters of that responsibility, and what happens when those efforts fail—is there an obligation to resettle? To repatriate? In the current political climate, what are the prospects for a just, humane, and practical resolution of the crisis?

A panel featuring:

His Excellency Antonio de Aguiar Patriota
Permanent Representative of Brazil to the United Nations

The Honorable Alexander Aleinikoff
Former Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees, UNHCR

Mr. Mark Lagon
President of Freedom House
Moderated by:
Jacqueline Bhabha
Professor of the Practice of Health and Human Rights, Harvard School of Public Health