On July 28th, the world will mark the 70th anniversary of the adoption of the United Nations’ 1951 Refugee Convention, a historic multilateral agreement that clarified the rights of refugees under international law and the obligation of host countries to provide for their protection. The principles enshrined in the Refugee Convention set precedents for the rights, repatriation, and resettlement of refugees that still resonate to this day.

Read the full event transcript

However, these precedents are increasingly under strain amid a changing global context. Driven by violent conflict and insecurity, the world is facing a new displacement crisis. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated displacement trends, pushing healthcare infrastructure to the brink and creating dire economic conditions as countries struggle to contain the virus. Meanwhile, climate change uprooted more than 30 million people—the highest figure in a decade. 

On July 28, USIP hosted U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield to reflect on the 70th anniversary of the Refugee Convention and its critical importance in the current global context. The discussion took stock of the global community’s efforts to protect the rights of refugees and asylum seekers under international refugee and humanitarian law and considered how the United States and its network of allies and partners can better protect those rights in a moment of profound global crisis and uncertainty. 

Continue the conversation on Twitter with #RefugeeConventionAt70.

Speakers

Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations

Lise Grande
President and CEO, U.S. Institute of Peace

Related Publications

How Climate Change Deepens Bangladesh’s Fragility

How Climate Change Deepens Bangladesh’s Fragility

Monday, September 13, 2021

By: Mubashar Hasan; Geoffrey Macdonald

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its sixth report on the state of the earth’s climate in early August — and it paints a dire picture. The report argues that unless governments take appropriate measures to curb greenhouse gas emissions and spur behavioral change, the world is moving toward a climate crisis of rising sea levels, warmer temperatures and more extreme weather. The report’s findings are particularly relevant in Bangladesh, where low elevation, high population density and weak infrastructure make it highly vulnerable to climate change. 

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Economics & Environment

After Taliban Takeover, Can Afghanistan’s Economy Survive?

After Taliban Takeover, Can Afghanistan’s Economy Survive?

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

By: William Byrd, Ph.D.

The Taliban’s unexpectedly rapid and complete victory over the now defunct Islamic Republic of Afghanistan brings with it yet another shock to the long-suffering Afghan people and the country’s very weak economy. Already plagued by insecurity, COVID, corruption, government over-centralization and mismanagement, declining revenues and drought, the Afghan economy will now face a host of challenges in the aftermath of the Taliban’s takeover and the international community cracking down on aid and assistance. As a new Afghan government takes shape, the actions of the Taliban and the response of the international community could greatly exacerbate or modestly ameliorate the current economic and humanitarian crises.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Economics & Environment

Myanmar Regional Crime Webs Enjoy Post-Coup Resurgence: The Kokang Story

Myanmar Regional Crime Webs Enjoy Post-Coup Resurgence: The Kokang Story

Friday, August 27, 2021

By: Jason Tower; Priscilla A. Clapp

Following the coup by the Myanmar army on February 1, 2021, fighting exploded immediately in the China-Myanmar border area along a strategic trade route between the two countries. But the outbreak wasn’t about the coup — instead it was a battle between two Chinese-speaking militias over control of the Kokang Special Administrative Zone, a lucrative center for illegal business. The story behind this episode provides a small window on the rise of regional criminal networks under the army’s patronage and how they are enjoying a new lease on life under the junta.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Conflict Analysis & Prevention; Economics & Environment

View All Publications