The Refugee Convention at 70 : lessons and perspectives in a changing world.


21 June 2021

Watch the recording of the webinar on Youtube


The 1951 Refugee Convention, and its 1967 Protocol,   define who is a refugee, what rights refugees have as well as the legal obligations of states to protect them. The Convention is the indispensable foundation of international refugee protection and is legally binding on all contracting states. It has helped to save countless lives and provided protection to those forced to flee their country due to conflict and persecution.  While the world has changed in the 70 years since the Convention was drawn up, it remains as relevant today as it was at the time.  There are today nearly 80 million forcibly displaced people globally. However, states regularly disregard the rights of refugees and numerous breaches of the rights protected by the Convention have been recently observed.

This anniversary is therefore a unique opportunity to remind us of the tools that have been put in place to protect refugees and forcibly displaced people ,  the United Nations’ and in particular the UN Refugee Agency – UNHCR’s role, how refugee arrivals are being handled in Belgium, and the Belgian position in the EU debate.  Although only a small proportion of refugees are currently in Europe, the protection mechanisms put in place by the EU and its member states are of significant importance for international refugee protection.


The Panel discussion will be opened by Filippo Grandi , UNHigh Commissioner for Refugees


Members of the panel will be :


  • Sammy Mahdi, Belgian Secretary of State for asylum and migration
  • Gonzalo Vargas Llosa, UNHCR Representative for EU Affairs, Belgium, Ireland, Luxembourg and the Netherlands
  • Catherine Woollard, Director European Consortium for Refugees and Exiles


More info about UNHCR here.


The panel discussion will be moderated by Jean-Louis de Brouwer , Director of the European Affairs Program at the Egmont Institute and will be closed by Peter Wollaert et Philippe Nieuwenhuys ,  UNA Belgium co-présidents

The working language will be English  but participants will be able to ask questions in French and Dutch


Please register by 17 June.

You will then receive later the link that will allow you to connect to the debate


(Photo credit: UNHCR)