New Frontiers of Refugee Law in a Closed World


17-20 November 2020

A virus has laid bare our interconnectedness – for better or worse. While we have seen acts of solidarity and compassion around the world, we have also seen borders slam shut and reasoned debate give way to fear and rage. Under the cover of COVID-19, laws and norms have started to shift away from long-held principles. UNSW’s Kaldor Centre Conference 2020 brings together leading thinkers from around the world with diverse perspectives to explore what the post-pandemic world will look like for refugees and other forced migrants. 

Above the Clouds


Setting the agenda

Over several days, we will explore the big issues facing the refugee protection regime over the next decade. Our ambitious, agenda-setting program will unpack where we stand in light of COVID-19, where we are going, and what can be done to promote refugee protection in the face of emerging challenges. 

Global reach,

diverse voices

Harnessing the opportunities of going online, we will welcome speakers and delegates from across the globe.

Sessions are designed to be accessible around the world - with live sessions scheduled for easy viewing in multiple timezones, and quick playback options for those who can’t join in real time. 


Not just talk

This will be more than just a series of talks. Breakout sessions and discussion boards will promote engagement and exchange amongst delegates across the world. For those who wish to connect, there will be the opportunity to create profiles and chat one-on-one or in groups on topics of shared interest.

Learn. Share. Connect.
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Explore the program
The decade ahead.jpg

The decade ahead: Defending protection and people on the move

17 Nov 2020, 11am-12pm AEDT

Think through the big issues in global displacement in the decade ahead with our panel of experts.

Louise Aubin (UNHCR)

Rez Gardi (Harvard Satter Human Rights Fellow)

Cecilia Jimenez-Damary (UN Special Rapporteur, Human Rights of IDPs)

Kathleen Newland (Migration Policy Institute)

Chair: Jane McAdam (Kaldor Centre)

The decade ahead.jpg

Hope or hype? Hacking through the role of technology in refugee protection

18 Nov 2020, 9-10am AEDT

Go beyond the buzzwords to explore the promise and pitfalls of technology for refugee protection.

Tey El-Rjula (Author and tech entrepreneur)

Fleur Johns (UNSW Law)

Petra Molnar (Refugee Law Laboratory)

Roya Pakzad (Taraaz)

Chair: Daniel Howden (Lighthouse Reports)

The decade ahead.jpg

Courts at the frontier: Can strategic litigation in Australia advance refugee protection?

19 Nov 2020, 1-2pm AEDT

Lawyers reflect from the frontlines on the effectiveness and potential of strategic refugee litigation.

Matthew Albert (Dever's List, Castan Chambers)

Scott Cosgriff (Human Rights Law Centre)

Arif Hussein (Refugee Advice and Casework Service)

Sanmati Verma (Clothier Anderson Immigration Lawyers)

Chair: Sangeetha Pillai (Kaldor Centre)

The decade ahead.jpg

Facing the fights ahead: Advancing protection at the new frontiers

17 Nov 2020, 8-9pm AEDT

How do we advance human rights amid growing nationalism, misinformation and mistrust?

Michael Ignatieff 

(President and Rector, Central European University)

Gillian Triggs 

(UN Assistant High Commissioner for Protection)

'Sultan' (Saudi journalist seeking asylum in Australia)

Chair: Osman Faruqi (Editor, 7am Podcast)

The decade ahead.jpg

Protection 360: Surveying refugee challenges across the regions

18 Nov 2020, 6-7.15pm AEDT

Join experts from around the globe to discuss emerging and future regional challenges to refugee protection.

Maria Bances del Rey (UNHCR Americas Bureau)

Cathryn Costello (Hertie School)

Oroub El-Abed (Centre for Lebanese Studies)

Ottilia Anna Maunganidze (Institute for Security Studies)

Vitit Muntarbhorn (Chulalongkorn University)

Chair: Madeline Gleeson (Kaldor Centre)

The decade ahead.jpg

On racism and refugees: A conversation with E Tendayi Achiume and Nyadol Nyuon

20 Nov 2020, 10-11am AEDT

How do racism and displacement intersect, and is the protection regime part of the problem or the solution?

E Tendayi Achiume 

(UN Special Rapporteur on Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia & Related Intolerance)

Nyadol Nyuon 

(Lawyer, community advocate and writer)

The Andrew & Renata Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law at UNSW Sydney is the world's first research centre dedicated to the study of international refugee law. The Centre was founded in 2013 to undertake rigorous research on the most pressing issues in Australia, the Asia-Pacific region and the world, and to contribute to public policy promoting legal, sustainable and humane solutions to forced migration. 

We acknowledge the traditional owners of the lands on which we live and work,

and pay our respects to their elders – past, present and emerging.


The Kaldor Centre would like to thank the following conference sponsors for their generous support


To discuss sponsorship opportunities, please contact us at

Andrew & Renata Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law

Faculty of Law, UNSW Sydney, NSW 2052 Australia

CRICOS Provider Code 00098G


Image credit: © UNHCR/Diego Ibarra Sánchez