Refugee Rights Will Be Focus of YIHR4

The College of Arts & Sciences announces that the theme for the fourth Year of International Human Rights (YIHR) will be refugee rights. YIHR4 will be observed during academic year 2011-12.

Refugees in North Darfur camp

A four-year-old and his father, Mohamed Ahmad Adam, are pictured inside their home at Nifasha Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) Camp in North Darfur. More than 30,000 people live in the camp but conditions are difficult; none of the adults in Mr. Adam’s extended family, all resettled at the camp, have founds jobs. (United Nations Photo)

“The United Nations (UN) estimates there are 40 million uprooted people around the world,” said David Carl Wilson, dean of the College of Arts & Sciences.  “We hope that by highlighting the plight of refugees and those in refugee-like situations, we will be able to raise awareness  and be an advocate for those who have been displaced from their homes.”

Kelly-Kate Pease, professor of international relations and director of the Institute for Human Rights & Humanitarian Studies, the YIHR’s umbrella organization, said 2011 is an important anniversary for refugee rights.

“This theme was selected because 2011 marks the 60th anniversary of the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, a treaty that formalizes the rights of individuals fleeing persecution,” Pease said. “The 1951 Convention complements the work of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the principal agency responsible for finding durable solutions to the plight of the world’s refugees.”

She said the Year of International Human Rights 20011-12: Refugee Rights will also emphasize related migration issues.

“YIHR4 will also focus on the rights and the needs of individuals in refugee-like situations, such as those who are internally displaced or are fleeing generalized violence, civil war, extreme poverty, or natural disaster,” Pease said.

YIHR4 activities are in the planning stage and will include a common reading, a film series, art exhibits, guest speakers, Webster Works Worldwide activities, conferences, and faculty symposia.

The first Year of International Human Rights in AY2008-09 commemorated the 60th anniversary of the endorsement of the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Subsequent YIHR themes have been the human right to food and water (2009-10) and women’s rights (2010-11).

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