70th Anniversary of the 1951 Refugee Convention – more relevant than ever


70th Anniversary of the 1951 Refugee Convention – more relevant than ever

21st Berlin Conference on Refugee Rights

Von: 21.06.2021 13:30
Bis: 22.06.2021 18:00
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This year, we celebrate the 70th anniversary of the 1951 Refugee Convention. The Convention defines who a refugee is and what rights refugees have. It is, thus, the indispensable foundation of international refugee protection and legally binding on all contracting states.


At the same time, states regularly disregard the rights of refugees. This concerns, for example, forced returns – so-called push backs – at the EU’s external borders, which violate the principle of non-refoulement and thus the cornerstone of the 1951 Refugee Convention. So how has international refugee protection developed? What is the state of compliance with the Convention and what is its current role?

This question will be at the centre of this year’s Conference. In addition, various aspects of the current situation of refugees in Germany and Europe will be examined: With the ‘New Pact on Migration and Asylum’, the European Commission has proposed a restructuring of the procedures at the EU's external borders – but are they fair and based on the rule of law? Which solutions can be found in discussions on the legal situation of beneficiaries of protection recognised in one EU member state who again apply for asylum in another state? Additional challenges and human rights concerns in Germany relate to family reunification, the continued practice of deportations to e.g. Afghanistan and heath protection of asylum seekers during the pandemic. Last but not least, the question arises: What will this year’s general election bring in terms of refugee protection?

At the 21st Berlin Conference on Refugee Protection, these legal and political questions as well as aspects of administrative practice will be discussed. The Conference offers a forum for in-depth exchange to policy makers and representatives of administration, the judiciary, non-governmental organisations and refugee communities, lawyers, academics and volunteers. We invite the various actors to engage in an open and constructive dialogue on refugee protection and to discuss possible solutions.

On Monday, translation into German/English respectively will be offered. With regard to the events on Tuesday, it is noted in the programme whether they will be held exclusively in German or English or partly with translation.
Informationen zum Symposium auf Deutsch finden Sie hier.

The organising team:
Manuel Armbruster, AWO Bundesverband, Berlin
Günter Burkhardt, Pro Asyl, Frankfurt am Main
Friederike Foltz, UNHCR, Berlin
Johanna du Maire, Dienststelle des Bevollmächtigten des Rates der EKD, Berlin
Inga Matthes, Deutsches Rotes Kreuz, Berlin
Lea Rösner, Evangelische Akademie zu Berlin
Franziska Vilmar, Amnesty International, Berlin


Monday, 21 June 2021
On 21 June, all parts in German will be interpreted into English.

13.30 Opening
Dr. Friederike Krippner, Direktorin, Evangelische Akademie zu Berlin

13.45 Refugees in history – on the importance of the 1951 Refugee Convention
Dr. Andreas Kossert, author and historian

14.30 Break

14.40 Non-Refoulement: The core principle of the 1951 Refugee Convention
Gillian Triggs, UNHCR Assistant High Commissioner for Protection

15.00 Break

15.15 Our flight – and what we expect of asylum policies in Europe
Tarek Saad, Student and state chairman of the Working Group Migration and Diversity of SPD Schleswig-Holstein
Khulud Sharif-Ali, Research assistant, Fulda University of Applied Sciences
Melina Borcak, Journalist and film author
Moderation: Waslat Hasrat-Nazimi, Journalist

16.30 Break

17.30 Seeking asylum at Europe’s borders: Are states complying with the 1951 Refugee Convention?
Report on the situation at the EU’s external borders:
Isabel Schayani, Journalist
Steffen Lüdke, Journalist

Subsequent panel discussion between:
Michael Shotter, European Commission, Director of Migration, Protection and Visa
Nils Muiznieks, Amnesty International, Regional Director for Europe
Moderation: Prof. Dr. Nora Markard, Professor for International Public Law and International Human Rights, University of Münster

Tuesday, 22 June 2021
The events in the morning and at noon will be held in German only.

9.00 Uhr Begrüßung
Johanna du Maire, Juristische Referentin beim Bevollmächtigten des Rates der Evangelischen Kirche Deutschland (EKD)

9.10 Uhr Flüchtlingsschutz in der kommenden Legislaturperiode
Einführung: Günter Burkhardt, Pro Asyl

Vorstellung der Positionen aller Fraktionen und anschließende Aufteilung in Arbeitsgruppen
Thorsten Frei, Stv. Vorsitzender der CDU/CSU-Bundestagsfraktion
Dirk Wiese, Stv. Vorsitzender der SPD-Bundestagsfraktion
Luise Amtsberg, Sprecherin für Flüchtlingspolitik der Bundestagsfraktion Bündnis 90/Die Grünen
Petra Pau, Vizepräsidentin des Deutschen Bundestages, MdB DIE LINKE
Linda Teuteberg, Sprecherin für Migration der FDP-Bundestagsfraktion

11.30 Lunch Break

12.45 Uhr Gespräch zu ausgewählten Aspekten des Asylverfahrens im Kontext von AnkER-Zentren und Widerrufsverfahren
Ursula Gräfin Praschma, Vizepräsidentin, Bundesamt für Migration und Flüchtlinge
Moderation: Johanna Mantel, Informationsverbund Asyl und Migration, Berlin

13.45 Break

14.00 – 15.30 h Working Groups 1 – 3

1. Pushbacks and violence against asylum seekers
The event will be held in English.

The working group deals with human rights violations at the EU's external borders where asylum seekers are being forcibly returned in violation of international law. The core of refugee and human rights law, the principle of non-refoulement, is systematically violated. Using the examples of Greece and Croatia, the patterns of push-backs of asylum seekers at the land and sea borders are analysed and the legal strategies against these practices are described. There is a growing call for a robust, independent border monitoring mechanism to end the serious violations without impunity. In the working group, blueprints of a robust mechanism ’with teeth’ are presented and put up for discussion.

Giota Masouridou, Lawyer, Athens
Antonia Pindulic, Centre for Peace Studies, Zagreb
Markus Jaeger, Consultant Jaeger & Associates
Moderation: Karl Kopp, Pro Asyl

2. Fair and in accordance with the rule of law? The proposed new procedures at the EU‘s external borders
The event will be held in German with simultaneous English translation.

The right to asylum only offers protection to persecuted persons if their need for protection is recognized through fair procedures that respect the rule of law. Hence, the design of asylum procedures is of vital importance. With the ‘New Pact on Migration and Asylum’, the European Commission has proposed a restructuring of the procedures at the EU's external borders. Following a screening and, based on criteria such as the protection quota of the country of origin, asylum seekers would be subject either to a new border procedure or the regular asylum procedure. During the screening and the border procedure, entry into the country would not be permitted. Are the procedures and legal protections designed in a way that ensures that the new procedures at the external borders are fair and based on the rule of law?

Alfred Bindels, Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection, Head of Directorate-General, Constitutional and Administrative Law; European and International Law
Birgit Sippel, Member of the European Parliament
Wiebke Judith, Legal Policy Advisor, Pro Asyl
Moderation: Franziska Vilmar, Amnesty International

3. Deportations to War Zones and Zones of Conflict
The event will be held in English.

Since 2016, collective deportations from Germany to Afghanistan have been carried out. Moreover, the ban on deportations to Syria was not extended at the Conference of Ministers of the Interior at the end of 2020 and are now being discussed. Are deportations to war zones and zones of conflict permissible from a human rights perspective and what consequences do they have for the persons concerned?

Abdul Ghafoor, Afghanistan Migrants Advice & Support Organization (AMASO), Kabul
Diana Semaan, Amnesty International, Syria Researcher
Holger Schamberg, Federal Ministry of the Interior, Building and Community, Head of Division, Readmission: Africa and the Middle East
Wolfgang Hammer, Federal Ministry of the Interior, Building and Community, Head of Division, Readmission: Europe and Asia
Moderation: Inga Matthes, German Red Cross

16.00 – 17.30 h Working Groups 4 – 6

4. Gesundheitsschutz in Erstaufnahmeeinrichtungen in Zeiten der Pandemie
The event will be held in German only.

Aufgrund der vorherrschenden Wohn- und Lebensbedingungen unterliegen Geflüchtete in Sammelunterkünften einem erhöhten Infektionsrisiko. Diesem Umstand wir u.a. durch die hohe Priorisierung in der Coronavirus-Impfverordnung Rechnung getragen. In dem Forum werden die Herausforderungen des Infektionsschutzes in Erstaufnahmeeinrichtungen aus verschiedenen Perspektiven dargelegt und gemeinsam mögliche Handlungsspielräume und Lösungsansätze innerhalb des gegebenen derzeitigen gesetzlichen Rahmens sowie gegebenenfalls über diesen hinausgehend diskutiert.

Prof. Dr. med. Kayvan Bozorgmehr, Universität Bielefeld
Olaf Jansen, Zentrale Ausländerbehörde des Landes Brandenburg, Leiter der Behörde
Heidrun Nitschke, Beratungsstab zum Psychosozialen Krisenmanagement in den Aufnahmeeinrichtungen, NRW
Moderation: Dr. Lena Riemer, UNHCR Deutschland

5. Lücken im Europäischen Schutzsystem? Die Situation von in anderen EU-Ländern Schutzberechtigten bei neuem Asylantrag in Deutschland
The event will be held in German only.

Gewöhnlich werden in Deutschland Asylanträge von in anderen EU-Ländern Schutzberechtigten als unzulässig abgelehnt. Welche Schutzform ist aber die richtige, wenn gerichtlich festgestellt wird, dass eine Person angesichts des in einem anderen EU-Land gewährten Aufenthalts einem ernsthaften Risiko aussetzen wäre, eine unmenschliche oder erniedrigende Behandlung im Sinne von Art. 4 der Charta zu erfahren? Bisher wird ein Abschiebungsverbot gewährt. Was passiert mit dem Schutzstatus und der Verantwortung des anderen EU-Staates für die Flüchtlingseigenschaft? Wie muss eine völker- und europarechtskonforme Lösung aussehen? Ausgehend von diesen asyl- und aufenthaltsrechtlichen Fragen sollen auch die rechtspolitische Dimensionen und die aktuelle Rechtsprechung in die Diskussion einfließen.

Rabea Hathaway, Bundesministerium des Innern, für Bau und Heimat (BMI), Leiterin der Arbeitsgruppe Asylrecht und Asylverfahren
Britta Paul, Richterin am Oberverwaltungsgericht für das Land Nordrhein-Westfalen
Kerstin Müller, Rechtsanwältin
Moderation: Katharina Stamm, Diakonie Deutschland

6. Family reunification – challenges in the country of first refuge and in Germany
The event will be held in German and English with simultaneous translation

Relatives who seek to join their family holding a residence permit in Germany are faced with numerous obstacles. In this working group, the multifaceted challenges in the country of first refuge will be discussed at first. Taking the example of Ethiopia, the legal and practical problems for those seeking to join their family members will be illustrated. Subsequently, we will discuss the situation in Germany, the country of destination: This will also include the question of what conceivable improvements could be made.

Gloria Nakamaya, Family Reunification Expert for UNHCR, UNHCR Ethiopia
Elizabeth Downing, Resettlement and Complementary Pathways Officer, UNHCR Ethiopia
Sigrun Krause, Lawyer and founder of JUMEN e.V.
Dr. Annette Weerth, Federal Foreign Office, Head of Division, Immigration and Asylum Law
Moderation: Johanna du Maire, Legal advisor, office of the representative of the Council of EKD (Evangelical Church in Germany)

17.30 h Closing



Lea Rösner

Lea Rösner

Projektreferentin für das Flüchtlingsschutzsymposium 2021


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