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"The Refugee Convention and beyond": keynote address to the International Association of Refugee Law Judges: Australasian Chapter regional conference, Melbourne
Minister for Immigration and Citizenship
THE HON CHRIS BOWEN MP
International Association of Refugee Law Judges: Australasian Chapter Regional Conference “The Refugee Convention and Beyond”
Keynote address Melbourne 3 February 2012
Good morning ladies and gentlemen and thank you for your introduction, Mary [Cameron, RRT Member].
It is a privilege to speak to a room that includes so many experts from around Australia and around the world.
I noted with interest that the theme of today’s conference is “The Refugee Convention and Beyond”.
As I see it, there are two ways of interpreting today’s theme.
The first is to say that we fully accept the Refugee Convention as the foundation and basis for refugee protection but that, in light of the changed nature of how people move around the globe in the 60 years since it came into force, we must look “beyond” the Convention, supplementing it with new and innovative approaches to addressing the international problem of displacement.
The second way of looking at today’s topic is to argue, as some do, that the principles behind the Convention are well-meaning but that its terms have become outdated and that its inflexibility is being exploited, undermining its goal of providing protection to those most in need. The conclusion of that argument is that it’s time to look “beyond” the Convention in another sense.
I support the former view.
Looking constructively “beyond” the Convention
It is true to say that the problems the world is facing today are quite different to the European humanitarian crisis of the 1940s and the harrowing