12.06.2017 - Social and Human Sciences Sector

The Human Face of Migration

© World Bank / Dominic Chavez - Syrian refugees line up during a class break

Analysis of historical contexts, testimonies, experiences and lessons learned are to be featured during a joint UNESCO-United Nations University (UNU) conference on "The Human Face of Migration: Historical Perspectives, Testimonies and Policy Considerations", organized at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, on 15 June 2017. The conference is linked to the initiative Welcoming Cities for Refugees and Migrants of the International Coalition of Inclusive and Sustainable Cities (ICCAR) and the Management of Social Transformations (MOST) Programme of UNESCO. It aims to shed light on the current thinking on the development of migration policies that put human dignity at the heart of their action.

For the majority of the 244 million international migrants across the world*, including some 20 million refugees, migration was a necessity not an option. The circumstances underlying their movement have generated additional challenges to their inclusion in receiving societies.

Developing appropriate policies at the local, national and global levels requires a better understanding of the implications of human mobility. Listening to migrants’ stories reveals the human face of this global phenomenon and contributes, through a ‘cathartic’ experience, to delegitimize established prejudices and stereotypes.

Equally important is the understanding of the root causes of migration and displacement, which can be obtained through a careful analysis of historical contexts and processes. This knowledge, combined with the experiences and lessons learned of the broad array of actors working on migration, has the potential of informing global agendas towards the full realization of human rights by all migrants and refugees, irrespective of their gender, identity or status.

This UNESCO-UNU conference coincides with a broader process of developing the global compact on migration mandated by the New York Declaration on Refugees and Migrants (UN General Assembly, September 2016). Ongoing work by UNU and by UNESCO, notably the Welcoming Cities for Refugees and Migrants initiative with the M. V. Vardinoyannis Foundation and the International Coalition of Inclusive and Sustainable Cities – ICCAR, will provide illustrative examples.

The conference will be opened by Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO and David Malone, Rector of the UNU with introductory remarks by Daniel Rondeau, Representative of UNU to UNESCO, and Marianna V. Vardinoyannis, Founder and President of the Marianna V. Vardinoyannis Foundation, UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador. followed by two panels with the expected participation of:   

  • David Abulafia, Historian, Professor at Cambridge University
  • Yann Arthus-Bertrand, Photographer, film Director, President of the GoodPlanet Foundation
  • Susanne Asche, Head of Cultural Affairs Department of the city of Karlsruhe
  • Pietro Bartolo, Doctor and Coordinator of health interventions for migrants in Lampedusa
  • Albina Du Boisrouvray, Journalist, Producer, President of the François-Xavier Bagnoud Association
  • Father Najeeb Michael, Philanthropist engaged in humanitarian work in refugee camps and the preservation of cultural heritage (Iraq)
  • H. E. Ms Eleonora Mitrofanova,  Ambassador-at-large of the Russian Federation
  • Gilles Pecout, Rector of Paris, Historian, Professor at the Ecole Normale Supérieure
  • Catherine Wihtol De Wenden, Sociologist specialized in international migrations,  Senior Research Fellow at the French National Center of Scientific Research (CNRS)

Online RSVP mandatory: http://on.unesco.org/rsvp150617

Contact: Konstantinos Tararas, SHS.inclusion-rights(at)unesco.org


* International Migration Report 2015, http://bit.ly/1RQIond

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