IWB for Refugees

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IWB for Refugees

Our big project to improve the legislation for refugees and asylum seekers in Europe through civil society action!

Learn more

Past actions

 

"i am a migrant" - a project by the International Organization for Migration

In 2016, UN's Migration Agency IOM (International Organization for Migration) launched a project sharing personal stories from around the world to promote diversity and inclusion of migrants in society.

IWB supported the project through a number of conversations with members of the Roma community living in the Mures County in Transylvania, Romania.

Check out the full project on the website http://iamamigrant.org/ 

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At the Youth Project Gala in Timisoara


By Patricia Casandra Papuc

On 5 December 2018 I participated in the 8th edition of the annual Youth and Youth Project Gala as a member of the jury, celebrating the best youth projects conducted by NGOs and other entities in Romania’s Timis county, as well as the most active volunteers, volunteer coordinators and youth workers, high school councils, etc.

As always, the Gala gave awards to projects in several different categories, and this year also saw the addition of a special category to mark the centenary of the 1st World War as well as the unification of Romania in 1918.

The Gala took place at the Casa Tineretului (Youth House) in Timisoara, run by the FITT foundation, which is the only youth centre in Romania with a quality label from the Council of Europe; and one of only 11 of this type in the world.

During the day, there were different activities and workshops, including the presentation of a major research mission to assess the quality of youth projects in Europe. The undertaking is a collaboration between youth centres in several European countries and had guest speakers from Spain, Germany, Finland and Slovenia.

At the evening’s awards ceremony, jury members gave out prizes to all this years’ winning projects. I awarded the prize for best project in the category of Education, which went to the people behind “Robomaniacs”. Earlier in the year, they organised an exchange experience for students passionate about robotics. The event included competitions both for beginners and those at an advanced level.

I was also part of choosing the overall winner for best youth project 2018. The prize went to the students at the IT faculty from the university in Timisoara who created a framework for intercultural dialogue between 100 young people from 33 countries during an 11-day long conference in the city.

It was a great honour for me to take part in celebrating projects for young people, and it was an inspiration to see so many passionate souls together in one place. In addition, being back at the Youth House in Timisoara brought back very special memories for me as this was also where we held our first IWB international human rights conference, Let’s Talk About Refugees, in November last year.

The Youth Gala was financed by the Ministry of Culture and National Identity and Timis Regional County.




My experience at CIFE Summer Programme


By Patricia Papuc I was invited for the second time as a speaker at the “Summer University Programme“, the 15th edition organized by CIFE (which is a private institution of higher education and research, founded in 1945, having its head office in Nice and branch offices in Istanbul, Brussels and Berlin). This programme was focused on migration and refugees across Europe and was taught in French. One of the organizers of this programme is Laura Spătaru Negura who is also one of the founding members of Issues Without Borders and a teacher at Nicolae Titulescu University, which is one of the organising partners. The summer school took place in several places: 29 July- 31 July 2018 in Bucharest (Romania), 31 July-2 August in Slobozia (Romania) and 2 August-5 August 2018 in Silistra ( Bulgaria). The programme gathered students from different countries such as France, Bulgaria, Italy, Netherlands, Ecuador. The participants got the chance to discover parts of Romania and Bulgaria, visit the surroundings, discover the culture and create great memories. The programme included interesting lectures among which I can mention “Security in its many facets“ ( held by Raluca Miga Besteliu, professor at Nicolae Titulescu University), “The Impact of Civil Aviation on migration and its consequences on migration“ ( held by Sorana Paun-Pop, Politehnica University in Bucharest), “Islamic Terrorism, weapon in the psychological war“ ( held by Rosemarie Olanescu, specialist in security and islam), “Terrorism: definition, movement, coverage “ ( held by Francois Dieu, Sociology Professor at Toulouse University and Director of the Study and Research Police Center), “Security and the fight against terrorism in Europe (held by Laura Laura Negură Spătaru, lawyer and Teaching Assistant at Nicolae Titulescu University). My presentation was on: “ IWB (Issues Without Borders) for refugees: actions to raise awareness. “ During my lecture I presented IWB actions to raise awareness on the refugee issue, thus presenting all the conferences that I have attended on behalf of IWB (in Cyprus, Georgia, Belgium, Romania) I also presented our first promotional clip, from the first international conference on human rights that we organized in Timisoara in November 2017 . Furthermore I presented Refuge D’ Amour, a short film about a syrian women who obtained the refugee status in France. This short movie is meant to depict a different side of the refugee issue and it aimed at sensitize people. After my presentation I engaged with students in a Q & A, trying to see what they think about migrants and refugees, what was their opinion about our actions to raise awareness and how they see the future of Europe in terms of migration. I was happy to see that the students shared their thoughts during the discussion and they also gave me many ideas for our future petitions. I had a great time, not only during my presentation but also after it, when I joined the group and explored Bucharest together, visiting the House of the People and other important places . I hope I will be invited next year as well! Congratulations to all the organizers, especially to Marie France Perdigon and to Laura Negura Spătaru!




My experience at the international student conference Constant


By Patricia Papuc On the 20th of April 2018 I was invited as a speaker at the Nicolae Titulescu annual student conference: Constant. Constant is an international event (http://constant.univnt.ro/constant_2018.html) organized by Nicolae Titulescu University, Miskolc University (Hungary) and Angel Kanchev University (Bulgaria), in partnership with the Nicolae Titulescu International Law and International Relations Foundation, the Nicolae Titulescu Students’ Association (ASUNT) and the Bucharest University Publishing House Nicolae Titulescu. This conference represents an opportunity for undergraduate and graduate students to develop and present studies in interdisciplinary fields such as legal sciences, economics and social and administrative sciences. I was invited to this international conference by the rector of Nicolae Titulescu University, where I am currently enrolled on a phd program. I am doing my phd in International Public Law and my thesis is analysing The Role of International NGOs in tackling the Current Refugee Crisis. My lecture was on “Non Governmental Organizations’ Role in Raising Awareness on the Refugee Issue.” During this presentation I introduced Issues Without Borders to the audience, talking a bit about the platform and about our team, continuing with a description of IWB for Refugees, our current project meant to propose changes to the current EU legislation on asylum. Because the presentation was focused on how to raise awareness on the refugee issue I described some of the activities conducted by our NGO. Issues Without Borders was present at the international conference on migration organized by the European Parliament; our members were also speakers at various international conferences on migration and we also organized an international human rights conference in Timisoara (Romania) called Let‘s Talk about Refugees. After describing these activities I presented Refuge D‘Amour, a short clip that weco-produced together with 4everfilms productions. It it a short film about a Syrian woman who obtained refugee status in Paris, and is meant to depict a different side of the refugee crisis. The program was well-organized, the students were engaged in all the discussions and they asked many questions. Congratulations to the organizers, I had a great experience. Thank you for inviting me.




Let’s talk about short films focused on refugees!


By Patricia Papuc Together with 4everfilmsproductions (Oana Merdariu – president & Daniel Pop – artistic director) we organized a conference on refugee integration at Unirea High School in Targu Mures, Romania. Unirea High School is our former high school. There were around 120 participants at this conference, between the age of 16 and 18 years old, all students at this high school, as well as some of our former high school teachers, the principal and other teachers who found out about this event and wanted to attend. We were offered the opportunity to present our short film Refuge D’Amour, a short film meant to depict a different side of the refugee crisis. This short film was filmed in Paris and it presents the story of a Syrian woman called Waed who lives there as a refugee. In this short film we are presenting the idea of freedom, of being home sick, of being in love. It is a story meant to sensitize people and show a different face of the refugee issue. After presenting the short film we discussed it with the students present. We wanted to know their opinion about the short film; what freedom means for them. We also wanted to know what they think about the media’s role in presenting refugee stories and their integration. Furthermore, we talked about ways of producing short films related to this topic. They were very engaged in this discussion and shared some of their personal experiences with us. We also presented a trailer about our first international human rights conference; a conference that we organized on the 10/11th November 2017 in Timisoara, Romania. This promotional short film presents moments from our conference, from our presentations and also explains some of our future plans which are all related to our current project IWB for Refugees. IWB for Refugees is a project aimed at mapping a new European legislation on migration through national and international petitions where we will offer our recommendations for the member states of the European Union. Sharing our future projects with the students was a good opportunity to get to know them better, hearing their thoughts on these topics and stimulating their curiosity. We also spoke about our idea of creating a cultural youth centre in Targu Mures, a centre aimed at organizing various events, from theater shows to dance lessons, concerts, art expositions, etc. After our presentations we had a Q&A session with the participants where we asked them several questions; if they had ever volunteered, if they would volunteer for an NGO and about the importance of volunteering. We were very surprised to see that most of them had volunteering experience, they were volunteering for different NGOs/student unions; they were also curious about our projects, about the youth centre and they wanted to know more about refugee integration and how we can better integrate refugees in our society. We were very happy to be back in our former high school; it brought back a lot of good memories. All in all it was a lovely experience and we will go back for more interactive sessions where we can raise awareness and discuss about important topics! Thank you to Unirea High School for believing in us, we were honored to be there!




My experience at CIFE Summer Programme


By Patricia Papuc On the 1st of August 2017 I’ve attended as a speaker the international summer school Romania/Bulgaria organized by CIFE, programme focused on migration and refugee rights across Europe, taught in French. CIFE is a private institution of higher education and research, founded in 1954 with its head office in Nice and branch offices in Berlin, Brussels and Istanbul. I was invited at this summer school by Laura Spataru-Negura, one of the founding members of Issues Without Borders, who is teaching at Nicolae Titulescu University (the university where I am currently enrolled in a PHD programme). Nicolae Titulescu University is one of the organizing partners of the summer school, besides CIFE, and the European Law Institute of Sofia. Due to this partnership, the summer school took place in several locations: July 31 – August 1st in Bucharest (Romania), August 1st – 3rd in Slobozia (Romania) and August 3rd – 6th in Silistra (Bulgaria). The programme gathered students from different countries, such as Bulgaria, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Romania, Turkey, and it was held in French. The participants had the chance to discover all the cities where they attended lectures, discover the culture of the area and exchange ideas thus creating lasting memories. The programme included interesting lectures among which I mention (in a chronological order): “The inviolability of human rights in migration. Different types of rights in favour of migrants” (held by Laura Spataru-Negura, University of Nicolae Titulescu), “The contribution of civil aviation in the migration process and the protection of the right to life” (held by Sorana Paun-Pop, Politehnica University), “The Route to the Balkans. Geographic aspects concerning the history of migrants in the Balkans” (held by professor Michael Hermans, HEC Liege in Belgium), “Migrations, law and barriers: two-speed Europe or two-truths Europe?” (held by professor Atanas Semov, University of Sofia, Director of the European Law Institute of Sofia), “Human Rights in Europe” (held by professor Evgeni Tanchev, University of Sofia, Attorney General at the European Union’s Court of Justice). My lecture’s topic was on “Debates on migration management. The role of NGOs”. Because I wanted my presentation to be more interesting for students, I’ve presented my experience at Brussels in the European Parliament, where I’ve attended a conference on migration management as the president of the NGO Issues Without Borders. In addition to the Power Point presentation I also initiated a debate with the students, a long Q&A session and I was very happy to see a lot of positive feedback. The programme was very well-organized, I was given the opportunity to attend a lovely dinner at Caru’ cu Bere in Bucharest (the most iconic restaurant in Bucharest, in my opinion), one evening before my lecture. I must confess that I felt very good in this program and that I will attend it next year for sure, if I will be invite it. I highly recommend it! Congratulations to all the organizers, especially to Marie France Perdigon (director of CIFE’s summer programmes – http://www.cife.eu/en/4/summer-university-programmes_6-1) and to Laura – thank you for inviting me!




The Good Lobby Programe


By Patricia Papuc On the 22nd of June I attended the Good Lobby Inaugural Event & The Launch of the EU Pro Bono Awards on behalf of Issues Without Borders. This event brought together EU officials, lawyers and other professionals, civil society actors and academics to publicly build a case for pro bono in Europe. On this occasion, The Good Lobby and its partners also officially launch the EU Pro Bono Awards to acknowledge and celebrate the most successful instances of pro bono co-operation between citizen experts and civil society organizations carried out within the past twelve months at the EU level. The speakers included: Emily O’ Reilly (European Ombudsman); Alberto Alemanno (Founder of The Good LobbyJean Monnet Professor of EU Law at HEC Paris, Director of the EU Public Interest Clinic, New York University School of Law ); Lamin Khadar (Co-founder of The Good Lobby, Pro Bono Associate, DLA Piper Amsterdam); Tony Venables ( Founder, European Citizens’ Rights, Involvement and Trust (ECIT) Foundation, Director of Maison des Associations Internationales (MAI); Onno Brouwer( Partner, Freshfields Amsterdam); Philip Buisseret (Secretary General, CCBE); Helen Darbishire (Vice-President and Executive Director, Access Info Europe) ; Ed Rekosh (Founder of The Global Network for Public Interest Law (PILnet), Director of Human Rights Initiative, Visiting Professor of Law at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law); Michael Diedring Director (European Programme for Integration and Migration (EPIM) Maria Orejas-Chantelot (Policy and Programmes Director at European Foundation Centre (EFC). Furthemore The EU Pro Bono Awards have recently received the High Patronage from the European Parliament. The programme of the event was the following: after the registration of the participants there was a key note speech and Q&A section by Emilie O`Reilly (EU Ombudsman). It continued with a presentation of a survey: „ What do EU NGOs Need and Expect”?, a roundtable „ A need for pro bono at the EU level”, a presentation of the Good Lobby and Q&A, a launch of the EU Pro Bono Awards Ceremony, concluding remarks, lastly a reception at the place of conference, where participants were encouraged to network. The event ended in a very constructive way and the participants were already very excited to attend the „proper training” which took place the following day on the 23rd of June. The following day , the 23rd of June was a busy day for us participants because we attended many trainings and workshops. The first section was section intitled „ Make your voice heard” , where Alberto Alemano gave us some suggestions in how to state our case to EU policy makers. The second section was called :” The Good Lobby Tool Box” which included the following presentations : the first tool box„ How to make a FOIA request”( Helen Darbishire-Acces InfoEurope &Onno Brouwer-Freshfields Amsterdam); the second tool boox „How to lauch a Citizens Initiative” (Carsten Berg-Citizens Initiative); and the third tool box „How to submit a complain at the EU Ombudsman” (Fergal O`Regan-EU Ombudsman Office) The third section of the conference was called „How to spread the word” and this involved a workshop „How to set up a digital campaign in the EU and case studies”, training performed by Riparte il Futuro, We move and Old Co (Priscilla, Virginia, Federico, Gaulthier). The fourt and last section was intitled: „The Good Lobby Pro Bono Simulation” and this involved a Role Play : „How NGOs and Law Firms Can Work Together”. Based on a hypothetical scenario, participants (in small groups) were supposed to simulate a request for pro bono assistance, it`s processing by a law firm and the delivery. Lastly there was a farewell and concluding remarks. My favourite parts of the conference were the presentations made by Karsten on the Citizens Initiative since Issues Without Borders is also planning to launch in the future a Citizens Initiative in order to map a new EU legislation on migration and the last part, the role play because the role play gave us participants the opportunity to think outside the box, prepare and deliver a presentation under time pressure and we also received valuable feedack after this. All in all I would like to thank the Good Lobby platform and particularly Alberto Alemanno, who also offered us a copy of his book „Lobby for Change” , a book I highly recommend. This conference offered me valuable information and I am even more enthusiastic about the work performed by Issues Without Borders is terms of the refugee crisis and it`s future work because this is just the beginning.




The High Level Conference on Migration Management at the EU Parliament


By Patricia Papuc On the 21st of June I attended together with Elena Schigirev (also a member of Issues Without Borders) the “High Level Conference on Migration Management” organized by the EU Parliament. The conference was aimed at finding solutions to the migration crisis and deliver on the expectations of EU citizens. The participants at the conference were: political leaders, policymakers, stakeholders and practitioners. The speakers included important figures such as : Antonio Tajani (President of the European Parliament); Jean-Claude Juncker (President of the European Commission); Federica Mogherini (High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission); Dario Scannapieco (Vice-president of the European Investment Bank); Markku Markkula (President of the European Committee of the Regions); Dimitris Avramopoulos (European Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship); Julian King (European Commissioner for Security Union); Johannes Hahn (European Commissioner for Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations); Louise Arbour (United Nations Special Representative for International Migration); William Lacy Swing ( Director General of the International Organisation for Migration). The discussions were around strengthening the EU`s internal security, discussing on the root causes of migration and ensuring a stable social and economic environment in non-EU countries as well. The conference was divided in the following way: There was first an introduction section, furthermore there were two round tables at the same time, the participants could choose the one that they wanted to attend: The first round table was on “Managing asylum and migration” , with included presentations related to: “Better sharing responsibility for asylum seekers, accelerating asylum procedure”; Addressing legal migration gaps; Promoting integration; Addressing irregular migration; Implementing return decisions; „Ensuring coherence with the Union’s human rights policy”. The second round table which took place in parallel was on “Promoting stability and prosperity in third countries” which included presentations related to : “Fostering economic and cultural diplomacy to ensure prosperity, tackling root causes”; „Addressing humanitarian needs”; „Helping partners prevent or manage crises on their own”; „Enhancing third countries’ capacity building in border management and asylum”; „Ensuring coherence with the Union’s human rights policy; Ensuring democratic scrutiny of international cooperation tools”. I chose to attend the first round table because it was more related to the work Issues Without Borders is conducting now, while Elena attended the second one because it is more related to her job. This was anyway a wise decision since we spent time after the conference and shared our thoughts from both rounds tables. The conference continued with another round table “Strengthening the EU internal security” and lastly there was a closing session with the leaders of the political groups. Even though there were many interesting and viable solutions raised, they have no binding force. So there are some solutions to the problem but without a political will, without consensus change is very hard to implement. Even so, I was very happy to attend this conference, because I heard many important figures discuss about a topic that I am highly interesting in, I got the chance to exchange ideas with some of the NGOs that were given the opportunity to offer their opinion at the conference and I spend a great day in the European Parliament, an amazing building, with an amazing history. Hopefully if next year there will be another conference on migration management Issues Without Borders will also be given the opportunity to make it`s voice heard and offer it`s expertise on this topic.




IWB was presented at the international conference “Punishing International Crimes in Domestic Courts: Sentencing, Incarceration and Reintegration”


By Patricia Papuc On the 12th of June I attended a conference organized by VU University in Amsterdam called “Punishing International Crimes in Domestic Courts: Sentencing, Incarceration and Reintegration”. I was invited to this conference by Adina Loredana Nistor, vice president of Issues Without Borders and a very close friend of mine.Adina graduated with a masters in Criminology at VU University and is still highly involved in many activities related to this great University. The event that we attended was organized, as I previously said by VU University, together with the Center for International Criminal Justice, NSCR and NWO. The moderators of the conference were Barbora Hola and Joris van Wijk, both professors at VU University. The conference was divided into 4 panels followed by a final discussion and drinks. The 4 panels were the following: -panel 1: “Theoretical Considerations “, where papers like the following were presented: “Penalty in criminal law on war crimes” ( Chair for Criminal Law and Criminal Procedure, University of Turin, Italy, Gianluca Ruggiero). -panel 2: “Former Yugoslavia”, where papers like the following were presented: “Domestic Trials for International Crimes- Challenge of Prosecuting and Sentencing Perpetrators of War Crimes in Croatia” ( Maja Munivrana Vajda). -panel 3: “Latin America and Europe”, with papers such as: “Sentencing factors in cases against the most responsible for acts constitutive of international crimes: The Peruvian experience” (Post Doctoral Research Fellow, PluriCourts, Faculty of Law, University of Oslo). -panel 4: “Africa and Europe”, with papers such as: “Punishing the Core Crimes in Ethiopia: A comparative analysis of purposes and factors in Sentencing” (PHD Candidate International Criminal Law, University of Groningen). The conference was very interesting especially because all the topics were challenging, the authors raised a variety of issues, offered their suggestions and encouraged the participants to be active. I highly appreciated the Q&A section because it led to a lot of brainstorming, many questions generated other questions, so I left the conference even more curious to discover more on this topics, which I think is great. I thank you Adina and VU University for giving me the chance to expand my knowledge on International Criminal Law and to meet so many qualified professionals from across the globe, who were so happy to share their expertise with us, both in the formal setting during the conference as well as in the informal setting, at the post-conference drinks.




My experience at the “Challenges of the Knowledge Society” conference


By Patricia Papuc I have just returned from the 11th International Conference “Challenges of the Knowledge Society,” which took place between 12th -13th May 2017 in Bucharest The event was organized by the Nicolae Titulescu University, along with the Foundation for Law and International Relations Nicolae Titulescu, the Complutense University from Madrid and the Dueto University from Bilbao. The main organizers were lecturer PHD Andreea Stroe and professor PHD Mircea Damaschin. Several reputed professors and specialists took part in this conference, among which: Augustin Fuerea PHD Professor in EU Law, Bogdan Micu, Associate Professor in Criminal Procedure and Dean of the Nicolae Titulescu Law Faculty, Viorel Ros PHD Professor in Intelectual Property Rights/ former president at the International Commercial Arbitration Court (Romania) and others. The conference started with a plenary session where our rector Gabriel Boroi held the opening speech, which was followed by three lectures: -The first one was “New trends in business models in the EU” lecture held by Marta Enciso Santocildes, Associate Professor PHD, University of Deusto, Bilbao, Spain -The second one was “Fighting Crime in the Knowledge Society” , lecture held by Pinar Mermis Kartal, Associate Professor, PHD, Galatasaray Istanbul, Istanbul, Turkey. -The third one was “Human being trafficking in the European Court of Human Rights-case law”, lecture held by Laura-Spataru Negura, Assistant Professor, PHD, Nicolae Titulescu University, Bucharest, Romania and one of the founding members of Issues Without Borders. Laura`s presentation was highly appreciated by the auditorium. I would like to emphasize the fact that among the renowned specialists present in the amphitheater there was also Laura`s PHD coordinator professor Nicolae Popa who is the former president of the Romanian Supreme Court of Justice and of the Romanian Constitutional Court and professor Corneliu Barsan, the former Romanian judge at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. After the plenary sessions there were five panel session divided in the following way: Juridical Sciences, Economic Sciences, Administrative and Political Sciences and IT in Social Sciences. I participated in the Juridical Sciences panel, in the International Public Law subsection, with my paper “UNHCR and Non- Governmental Organizations Role and their joint efforts in tackling the European refugee crisis from its inception until present times”. I am currently a PHD candidate at Nicolae Titulescu University, my PHD coordinator being Mrs. Raluca Miga Besteliu. I am very happy that I was given an opportunity to be a PHD candidate and have professor Raluca Miga Besteliu as a coordinator, she is helping me a lot to shape my PHD thesis which analyses the role of UNHCR/ IOM/ International NGOs in tackling the refugee crisis as well as a a case study: our work in Issues Without Borders and our plan to map a new EU legislation on migration. After the panel discussions we had a lunch break where we continued to debate on several specific academic problems , a very nice walk in the Old town of Bucharest, and a Romanian traditional dinner at the beautiful restaurant Caru` cu Bere, dinner attended also by our pro rector Mister Mircea Damaschin, professor in Criminal Procedure, one of the conference`s organizers. The following day, on Saturday, the 13th of May, there was a closing ceremony at Nicolae Titulescu University, a Bucharest city tour, and a lunch at Hanu` lui Manuc another well-known Romanian traditional restaurant. Laura and I had a great time at the conference, we got the chance to present our papers, meet other foreign and Romanian participants and exchange great ideas with them not to mention the fact that we also enjoyed showing them Bucharest, presenting them the city, parts of our history, and presenting them Romanian traditional food . It was a great experience and we are already looking forward for the next edition of the “Challenges of the Knowledge Society” conference next year. If you are also interested in attending this conference, please write me in order to put you in contact with the organizers. (patricia_papuc@yahoo.com)




Impressions After CIFE’s Summer Programme On Migration


By Laura Spataru-Negura I have just returned to Romania after a few days in Rome, Italy, where I was invited to share my experience on human rights law and European Union law in a summer/autumn programme organized by CIFE (for those who do not know about CIFE or CIFE’s summer programmes, please see http://www.cife.eu/fr/4/programme-universitaire-d-ete_6-1) in collaboration with Università La Sapienza and Centro Italiano di Formazione Europea. The programme organized in Rome (September 25, 2016 – October 1, 2016) had as topic Migrants in Europe: Borders, Human Rights and International Security, and it was really cross-cultural (reuniting students from Austria, Bresil, Germany, Greece, Italy, Kosovo/Albania, Switzerland, Turkey, UK, and lecturers from Italy, Estonia and Romania – actually my colleague Hamed has an incredible life story and is difficult to come under just one country – from Iran, settled in Estonia, working in Norway). My presentations have addressed the issue of human trafficking as a new modern form of slavery (where I have tackled the irregular migration issue) and EU’s commitments to solve it. At the end of the programme, we have organized a role-play by dividing the students in four teams (migrants, activists, opposers and Italian authorities). I must confess that the role-play was great, the students have impressed me with their capacity of using the information received and getting into the skin of characters (I have to underline that some of them were actually graduate, with experience in human rights). I am so sorry they did not agree to record it – it would have been a great tool for other students (I attach however a few photos in order to have an idea – I hope my students and colleagues will not mind). Additionally, I have told them a few things about Issues Without Borders platform (who was created from the passion for human rights law) and showed them a video about it. The students were very interested in learning more and I really hope we will collaborate in the future. As for the organizing team, I have to admit that I know Marie-France Perdigon, who is the manager of the summer university programme, for many years and our collaboration has always been great. I have also really loved our Italian host, Cristina Giudici, who is professor at the Unesco Chair in Population, Migrations and Development at Università La Sapienza in Rome and the President of Centro Italiano di Formazzione Europea. After the summer programme, Marie France and Cristina have organized an alumni meeting that was great, giving us the alumni the possibility to reconect and to socialize (I am also an alumni of CIFE after attending different summer programmes – this was the manner I have discovered the CIFE). At this alumni meeting, I was invited to be part of a debate panel about BREXIT. Marie France’s proffesionalism and thoroughness, the high level of the students and lecturers, as well as the partners and locations chosen, are arguments that make me each year to follow CIFE’s path and to deliver lectures in different parts of the world. I really hope that next year I will be invited again (in another summer programme or again in Rome, especially that I made a wish at the Trevi Fountain… and I have to get back to Rome again)! Congratulations CIFE for doing such a spectacular work with your summer programmes! You should be really proud of your ambassadors!




Borderless Europe - Blessing or Burden?


By Patricia Papuc I was invited as a speaker and as a participant at the conference „Borderless Europe- Blessen or Burden” in Cluj Napoca-Romania from the 6th to the 9th of May 2016. This conference was organized by AEGEE antenna-AEGEE Cluj with the support of the Association des Amis de Franck Biancheri (AAFB). During the conference there were pannel discussions, workshops, Q&A sessions connected to the following subjects: „Borderless Europe vs borders in Europe”; „Europe in crisis- Schengen in suspension”; „Our image of refugees: change of perspective”; „Socio-cultural borders in Europe: the borders that define us”. We also watched a movie called : „The Great Disaster Europe”. We also discussed topics such as: „Socio-Economic Borders in Europe and the idea of a Universal Basic Income”; „A leap of faith-utopian thinking and acting in the 21 century Europe; Towards a Borderless Europe-what`s next?” I was invited to offer my expertise on the migration crisis which is affecting Europe, representing thus the international human rights NGO Issues Without Borders, Issues Without Borders being one of AEGEEs partners since the beginning of 2016. My workshop was intitled: „Issues Without Borders petition: IWB for Refugees! Europe needs new legislation on migration” I presented our current project „IWB for Refugees” explaining participants that based on the same set of guidelines our team of researchers is conducting research on the member states of the European Union (analyzing the national legislation on refugees and the way the current EU legislation is transposed in the national system, conducting interviews with refugees, showing how media is depicting the issue, presenting also their social life, cultural life, access to education in these EU countries. After briefly presenting the research I also emphasized the use of the research, sending our research in 3 different directions: at a national level in every single member state directly as a petition to the EU Parliament raise 1 000 000 signatures needed for the Citizens Initiative, pass it through the EU Commission which will implement a new EU directive, our researchers are also going to be part of the implementation process in the member states. I really liked the fact that the participants coming from different EU countries seemed very interested in our project, they asked several questions, started telling stories from their own countries about the refugees issue, even offered recommendations for our petition and some are interested in joining our platform. It was a great experience because we also got the chance to know each other better, we had social and cultural events in the evenings, even a farewell dinner during the last evening, celebrating 25 years of the AEGEE local antenna- in Cluj Napoca. The organizers were very supportive through out the entire event so thank you AEGEE Cluj for everything, thank you AEGEE, Vision for Europe and last but not least the Association des Amis de Franck Biancheri (AAFB).




IWB for Refugees: AEGEE European Planning Meeting and to the next phase


By Adina Nistor Some of the best experiences come from bringing people together, sharing ideas, being challenged by difficult questions. Therefore, when Issues without Borders (IWB) was invited to presents its expertise on the issue of migration at AEGEE’s annual European Planning Meeting that was held in the Netherlands, I was excited to attend and discuss our project. IWB is conducting a detailed analysis on asylum procedure and refugee law in the EU member states for almost a year now and I participated as a guest speaker. I also had the pleasure of being part of the audience and listen to other presentations and hear different points of view and feel the pulse of the debate. The topic of the 2016 session “Refugees in Europe – Europe ‘vs.’ the rest: change of perspective?” – a subject that is actually the main focus of the IWB organization I attended the event for the two discussion panels, the first one as part of the audience and the second as a guest speaker and IWB representative. # Panel 1: Europe vs “the rest”: do we need the others to define ourselves? The building of fences amid the refugee crisis has not only brought in physical borders, but also mental ones. The panel discussion aimed to reflect on the meaning of considering ourselves as European citizens and how it affects the relations of Europe to the rest of the world, especially the refugees who want to come to Europe. How can the reactions of different European countries be understood, in regards to the ‘other’? Are we building a ‘fortress Europe’ also in terms of European identity and values? # Panel 2: Finding solutions to the current migration challenges – is there still space for solidarity in Europe? The aim of the panel was to provide a space for reflection on the consequences that the current migration crisis in several levels; from the perspective of European identity and values, of freedom of movement, of human rights, and economy and growth. From a different perspective, each one of the speakers had to reflect on three questions: 1) is there still space for solidarity in Europe?, 2) how can the situation look like in the future?, and 3) will the current migration influx bring a change of perspective in the current European values? I discussed about Issues without Borders, the core values we stand for, and about the IWB for Refugees and the research we conduct in the EU member states through our volunteer members. I gave an overview on how the project is an analysis on each EU member state legislation on refugee law and whether it is in line with international law, on how the media present the situation, and on how the refugees themselves experience the process. I underlined the fact that we, as members of our societies can and have to be pro-active and be the ones that create the change we want to see. The debate was lively, we discussed the effect of the media and how hate speech can be counteracted, on how can there be more dialogue between citizens and their governments. We talked about the work that can be done at the micro level by each individual and its impact, and at a macro level, be it as a community, a state or as European Union. I have really enjoyed learning more about the work of the Peace and Justice Foundation, and the Kiron University that offers free studies to the refugees. It is always exciting to see the many ways in which people get involved and take initiative in different projects they believe in. Next phase: IWB citizens’ initiative The research we have been conducting for the past few months is ready to be published, and I am excited for the next phase in the “IWB for Refugees”. We will analyse the results from our 28 states’ reports and draft a European citizens’ initiative that will address concrete, long term solution for the “refugee crisis.” The following period, 31 March-30 June will be dedicated to a close study of the EU state reports and for drafting the “IWB for Refugees” petition. This legislative initiative will be sent in three distinct directions: At the national level in every EU state At the European Parliament It will be registered at the European Commission. Together with our partners “The Development Researchers”, “Citizens Right Watch”, “Global Magazine”, “AEEGEE Europe, and supporters from the Copenhagen University, Vilnius University, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and other partners, we will gather the 1,000,000 signatures necessary for the initiative to be successful. With its members and collaborators, IWB aims at being part of the implementation of the European Directive at the national level in each member state.




My experience at the International Model United Nations Nigeria (IMUNN) 2015


By Samson Faboye The International Model United Nations Nigeria (IMUNN) 2015 conference held in Lagos, Nigeria between 4th and 9th August was the first edition of its kind. I found it privileging to participate in the Summit, serving as Vice President to the General Assembly for Asia (VPGA Asia). Having encountered several challenges in my efforts to participate in MUN Conferences in the past, good fortune allowed me to finally participate in an MUN event at the Ghana International Model United Nations (GIMUN) in 2014. The event was held in Accra, where I served as the Turkish delegate in the Economic and Financial Affairs Council (ECOFIN). Fond memories from my first diplomatic experience were still strong, so much so that I perhaps longed for another MUN type event, something which in the end I found in IMUNN. IMUNN 2015 plenary sessions were held at the Centre for Management Development (CMD) Shangisha, Lagos State. I could not help feeling nostalgic returning to the areas where I grew up and was schooled as a child. Adding to this generally nostalgic tone was the chance I had to once again meet with colleagues I had previously encountered at GIMUN 2014. IMUNN 2015 began with the arrival of officials and delegates. After warm hearted but informal welcome sessions, officials proceeded to a training session facilitated by the President for the IMUNN2015 General Assembly, Joseph Mensah. After this training period the delegates participated in an orientation session facilitated by the Secretary General for the IMUNN 2015 General Assembly, Chibueze Ofobuike. The summit formally commenced on 6th August with the inaugural plenary session of the IMUNN 2015 General Assembly. Participating in that event were guests from international diplomatic core circles who were actively involved in the session. Drawing inspiration from the conference theme ‘Consolidating on the MDGs through the SDGs’ and seeing the event as a prelude to the 70th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, held in September 2015 in New York, was helpful. Having ratified the Post 2015 Agenda/SDGs as its focus, those members of the international diplomatic core present, including the Ghanaian Consul General to Nigeria Mr Kwabena Okubi-Appiah, the South African Consul General to Nigeria Ambassador Mokgethi Sam Monaisa and a representative from the Nigeria Institute for International Affairs, Professor Osita Agbu, Head, Division of International Politics; gave their assessments of the progress, achievements and challenges facing the MDGs in their respective regions. The South African Consular General gave an intriguing and detailed report, which though time consuming, was in the end quite informative. After the opening plenary session, delegates proceeded to their respective committees to debate and propose resolutions on their allotted topics. In all there were four committees and each committee, apart from the Security Council, debated on two topics. The Committees and their topics were as follows: 1. Security Council: Having its president in Chiemzie JudeMary Udechukwu, the topics for the debate were: Cooperation between the United Nations and Regional and Sub-regional Organizations in Maintaining International Peace and Security. Global Arms Control and Non-Proliferation Regime. 2. UNESCO: The group chair person was Isaac Opoku Adjei and the following topics were debated: Appraising the Education For All (EFA) Goals: Consolidating on The Gains and Reinforcing against Lapses. Cultural Mixing and Politics: Multiculturalism and Hybridization. 3. SOCHUM: The group was chaired by Justice Yaotse Kodzo and debated on the following topics: Intensifying Global Efforts on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia, Negative Stereotyping, Stigmatization and Related Intolerance. Promotion of Democratic and Equitable International Order. 4. WHO: This group’s chairperson was Oppong Eugene Nimapau and debated on the following topics: Building A World Void of Substandard/Spurious/Falsely-labelled/Falsified/ Counterfeit (SSFFC) Medicines. Synergizing For Global Monitoring Against Communicable Diseases. The Committee sessions lasted a total of two days thereafter the closing plenary session for the General Assembly was held at the conclusion of the second day of committee sitting. To add some extra spice to the experience of IMUNN 2015, the Security Council held a crises session which interrupted the normal debating flow of the committee. The crisis meeting revolved around the hypothetical news of a large scale advance of the Islamic State (IS) Militia in Syria leaving hundreds of Civilians dead in its wake, the Security Council committee transmuted to a crises session and in the end came up with a draft resolution to ensure speedy UN action against the group referred to as IS. Upon the conclusion of the committee sessions, I set to work with my Co-VPGA’s to critically examine the submitted draft resolutions from the various committees and to ensure compliance to relevant standing protocols and resolutions with respect to the debated topics. Before this, I was also delegated by the President of the General Assembly (PGA) to observe committee sessions and managed to do this interchangeably with my co-VPGAs. The gala and awards event followed immediately after the closing plenary session. Awards were given to delegates who had the best position papers in each committee. Aside from these, there were other award categories which included: Best delegate in each committee Best dressed delegate Most sexiest And lots of other sundry awards Foreign delegates were also recognized, particularly for their steadfast dedication and commitment in making the journey by road and air to the event. Most of the foreign delegates were Ghanaians. After the formal conclusion of IMUNN2015, the conference participants enjoyed a more informal conclusion to the event with a fun trip to water parks at Ikeja. On reflection, it was a great way for delegates to unwind after days of cerebral discussion. The contrast was helpful with light discussion, music and dance, table tennis, swimming, footballing and all sorts of refreshments available at the venue and its surroundings. Delegates wishing to explore more of Lagos were hampered by the notoriously slow moving Lagos traffic jams. I particularly enjoyed every bit of IMUNN 2015 as it afforded me a refresher course in diplomacy and served to indulge my feelings of local nostalgia.




My Experience at the African Union Agenda 2063 International Youth Summit


By Samson Faboye My recent trip to Africa’s diplomatic capital, Addis Ababa in Ethiopa, for the Africa youth day celebration on November 1 was a mesmerizing experience. Originally this trip was not part of my strategic plan for 2015. Preparations for the trip began in late August due in part to the encouragement of my boss, Mr David Allu. The experience brought to mind memories of my last trip to East Africa in 2009 for the Zain Africa Challenge inter University Quiz competition. These were my first experiences of Kenya and Uganda and which certainly whet my travelling appetite. Setting out from my abode at Uyo, Akwa Ibom State in far Southern Nigeria in the early hours of October 25th, I journeyed North to Abuja to catch a flight to Nairobi en route to Addis Ababa. I was joined in Abuja by James Allu and fellow delegates Chiagozie Udeh and Ngozi Emmanuel; together, we set out for Addis Ababa. Our trip to Addis was eventful, most notably for the cancellation of our connecting flight from Nairobi to Addis Ababa. We were treated to a five star experience at Nairobi’s Panari Hotel (just for one night though), and afterwards continued our journey to Addis. We eventually landed at Addis Ababa on 28th October around Noon, and after clearing security and immigration, were warmly received by the YALDA-AAU team (Youth Alliance for Leadership and Development in Africa—Addis Ababa University Chapter) who were the conference organizers, and conveyed us to our temporary lodgings at Afarensis Hotel. After we were peacefully settled at the hotel, we were treated to an Ethiopian welcoming luncheon subsequent to registration on 29th October. Our next event was a delegates training session, which allowed us to further familiarise ourselves with the conference formalities. Delegates were divided into three committees with each one assigned to an African Country. The committees were: Gender Equality, Women in Business and Entrepreneurship Right to Health and Right to Education Youth Civic Space and Diaspora in Youth I was assigned to the ‘Youth Civic Space and Diaspora in Youth’ Committee as the Eritrean delegate, with my delegate partners, Musinguzi Wilfred and Bit Mar Saad. On 30th October, the summit began after a Model African Union General Assembly at the Main Conference Hall of the Old African Union Building. After a short session there, we dispersed for the committee sessions. Representing Eritrea in the context of youth issues was no simple task, especially considering the troubles the country is alleged to have had with Military Service conscription, absconding of Eritrean delegates at sporting competitions as asylum seekers and countless Eritrean youths who risk their lives fleeing their country to undertake dangerous crossings of the Sahara and Meditteranean. Yet, despite these factors, I was determined not to be a passive committee member. I was determined to ensure my voice was heard whilst trying to realistically and effectively work as an an Eritrean representation. Observing what I began to think was the parliamentary naivety of most delegates in my committee, I was satisfied with my performance until a certain Lesotho delegate tabled a motion stating that Nation states such as Eritrea, who have not yet ratified the ‘African Youth Charter’, be disenfranchised from the debate and subsequent voting on any resolution on the youth issue. There and then, I championed the Eritrean cause by calling for an open worded apology to the Eritrean delegation from the Lesotho delegation as their statement seemed vindictive. I argued that my government was still studying the document, after which a decision on the appropriate ratification action on the charter will be taken. I intended to stage a walk out, but not wanting to cause a parliamentary crisis, remained present whilst the Chairperson urged progress as the Lesotho delegation only stated facts. The Lesotho delegation continued to chide my delegation saying… ‘It is deeply saddening that reality worries you’. That statement seemingly dealt a death blow to all my self satisfied parliamentary wit. Not willing to prolong the matter further, I let things rest. Aligning to blocs during the unmoderated caucus was another issue. Acquainted with the apparent uncooperative stance of Eritrea with her regional bloc, IGAD (Inter Governmental Authority on Development), and not wanting to sit side by side with the Ethiopian delegation, I let my delegation play lone wolf choosing instead to independently align with the nearby delegation of Zambia, Congo and Benin, and together we worked to draft a resolution. As the committee reconvened for a final moderated caucus, time constraints only allowed for the resolution put forward by the Algerian delegation be debated upon and adopted as the committee’s final working paper to be presented at the General Assembly. As an interlude between committee sessions, delegates were given a pep talk on Agenda 2063 by an AU volunteer, Jerry Laurence Lemogo. Getting the resolutions passed on the floor of the final General Assembly was no mean task. While others had a simpler time with what could be described as near easy passages, my committee was critiqued but in the end allowed to pass. Having concluded the sessions of the Model African Union, all was set for the Africa Youth Day slated for 1st November. The session was held at one of the committee rooms in the new African Union Headquarters building. The day was based around the themed “Agenda 2063” with a special focus on the African Union declaration of the year 2016 as “African Year of Human Rights –The Africa we want with particular focus on the Rights of Women”. There were opening addresses, notably from the President of the Pan African Youth Union, Francine Muyumba and the Africa Union Commissioner for Human Resources, Science and Technology, Dr. Martial De-Paul Ikounga. A message from the Head of the African Union commission, Dr Nkosanza Dlamini Zuma was relayed in absentia in a short video clip, which conveyed her best wishes for the African Youth. Aside the reading of the resolution from the Model African Union Sessions, there was a presentation of works from African Youths who were deemed outstanding in their personal endeavours. In all, we were thrilled by the presentation of ten of them as ‘Youth Heroes’ for their humanitarian work in HIV/AIDS education, girl child empowerment, Sex education etc. In rounding off the session, there was a hearing on the good work of the African Union Youth clubs and other associated youth clubs from their representatives. In the end, more collaborative work amongst these various groups was urged, and the Pan African Youth Union was officially recognized for its correspondence with the African Union Youth division. More inclusive initiatives were suggested to bring on board youths who are not students of higher institutions of learning. The day ended with a photo session as everyone dispersed with a message of hope and motivated to engage further in the actualization of Agenda 2063. Just before my departure, I found time to tour Addis Ababa on 2nd November, thanks to my Ethiopian friend Asefa Lintso. In his absence he enlisted his good friend, Deneke Desalegn, to be my tour guide. Though pained that I couldn’t get on the famed Addis metro train, I visited the Museum, Emperor Haile Selassie’s Palace at the Addis Ababa University and of course the Nigerian Embassy. We were just in time to catch the ambassador, His Excellency, Usman Baraya who just flew in from New Delhi following the India-Africa summit. His Excellency treated us to a Nigerian Jollof Rice which was cooked amazingly by an Ethiopian Chef I learnt had been working at the embassy for 32 years! Bole Airport was my next port of call for my departure from Addis Ababa. Coincidentally, even though we had booked our flights separately without any prior knowledge of one another, I travelled aboard the same flight with delegates I met en-route Addis Ababa! My trip to Addis Ababa was a great experience as an introduction to the intricacies of Pan African diplomacy. I met with over 250 delegates from about 30 African Countries and surely, my journey into Pan Africanism has just begun! Agenda 2063, On Y Va




Should the European States Receive Waves of Refugees (Debate)


By Alex Suciu On October 13, at Petru Maior University in Targu Mures, Romania, the local European Law Students Association (ELSA) held an interesting debate about the current European refugee crisis; this debate was themed: Should the European states receive waves of refugees? Despite setting a certain tone and appearing as presenting view on the current crisis, this is an actual topic, often taken as a ‘neutral’ starting point in many discussions throughout the different EU states. Even though it is discussed extensively on many occasions, this has not led to any answers or solutions, not at the national and not at the international level. The audience was made up of 120 students, professors and law professionals, and the key speakers of this event were: assoc. Prof. Dr. Nicolae Ploeşteanu, Mr. Andrei Palade, attorney Raul Miron and Alex Suciu on behalf of IWB. They approached this issue from various perspectives and tried to create a larger and more comprehensive picture of the subject. In their attempts to create a more comprehensive picture, the participants not only used legal arguments, but also historical, cultural and geo-political arguments. The most debated and revealing point of the event was if the Sharia Law could be used in parallel with European law systems. All in all, the event was successful and the organisers hope to continue organising similar academic debates.




International Law Summer School (ISLS): Private Security versus Public Security


By Patricia Papuc Between the 6th and the 12th of July the International Summer School (ISLS) took place at Lapusna summer camp, the theme of the event was ‘Private Security versus Public Security’. The summer school was organised by Raul Felix Hodos and a group of other teachers from Petru Maior University. The participants were law and history students from both Romanian and Moldovan universities. It therefore felt like a great opportunity and honour to be invited as one of the lecturers at the ISLS. Lectures were held by law teachers, history teachers, lawyers and other state employees; all of them offered various perspectives on the theme “Private Security versus Public Security”. Some of the subjects covered in these lectures were: electronic safety between big brother and individual personal rights; reforming through public order, the role and place of Romania in the current armed conflicts, etc. Even though the concept of public versus private security was analysed through the subjects mentioned above, the participants and organisers also had a keen interest for exploring and analysing human rights. This interest was also the reason why I was invited as a lecturer at ISLS and it clearly showed during my lecture, in which I presented Issues Without Borders. I presented IWB as a platform for publishing articles and debating human rights issues, but mostly I focused on presenting and promoting our current project: IWB for refugees. I presented participants the reasons for which we chose to initiate this project, the necessity of a new Directive on this issue, and the necessity of raising awareness in order to create a positive impact. I must say that I very very happy to see that many students wanted to know more about the project, some have already send me an application to join our team. The presentation also proved successful with regard to the teachers, who showed great interest in the nature and future development of the project. Apart from the academic as well as the promotional achievement, I also had a really good time at ISLS. There were lots of interesting and smart people present at the event, which made it a pleasure to exchange ideas and views. Overall it was a great experience. I would highly recommend attending ISLS and I congratulate the organizers for putting together an amazing event.




Summer School on Migration, Human Rights and Democracy


By Lidis Garbovan June 29 – July 3, 2015 Favignana, Trapani – Italy The sea has always been attractive and fascinating for me, thus attending a Summer School on an island, in the South of Italy was an idea that I was very excited about. However, recently the sea has been the carrier of other meanings and other burdens, people forced to flee their homes by means of unsafe boats, aiming to reach Italian shores and to find protection or a better life in Europe. I was looking forward to learning more about ways to respond to the current migration challenges, about how to perceive these challenges as a social scientist and about what policy recommendations would be envisaged by people who work, study or teach in this field. The 9th edition of the International Summer School on Migration, Human Rights and Democracy, organised by the University of Palermo, focused the issues of “separated children” and migrant children. The event was coordinated by Professor Elisabetta di Giovanni and Director Aurelio Angelini. There were 45 participants and 26 presenters from European and non-European countries, the language of the presentations being English and Italian. The topics of discussion and the areas covered varied from the issues of migrant children and the case of Mafia Capitale in Sicily, to Egyptian unaccompanied minors living in Italy, the experiences of (un)welcoming refugees in Hungary, labour migrants of Kyrgyzstan and children left behind, measures to combat Illegal migration in the Russian Federation, Programs and European policies for unaccompanied children protection, Global diaspora problematics and European identity. Unfortunately, two of the participants could not reach the destination as they did not receive a Visa for Italy, thus the topics: Using Religion as Justification for the Abuse of the Nigerian Child and How Afghan Children Immigrants Turn into the Phenomenon Called Children on Street in Iran could not be presented. One of the most interesting presentations for me was the one by Elena Mignosi from the University of Palermo. She conducted a workshop, focusing on the psychological perception of perspectives about “alterity” and the role of the caregiver in the inclusion processes of migrant children. The workshop was an experience of exploring the self, the limits of the self and the interaction with other beings, within the perceived limits of the self. The tool used for this activity was a virtual balloon, the boundaries of which were represented by the length of opened hands. The purpose of the activities for each of the participants was to try and empathize with a separated, unaccompanied minor and to connect to him/her in a manner that renders communication and relationships effective. On Wednesday and Thursday mornings, Professor Liza Ceroni Long from Eastern Michigan University gave a charming speech entitled Culture, Migration and Conflict; and also about the importance of acknowledging the imprint of culture in our thinking, actions and reactions. Even the way a person introduces himself/herself and their presentation to the audience is revealing their culture. For instance, typically a French person would introduce the presentation by thanking the organisers for their generosity, while an Italian person would start by complaining and an American would start with a joke. As an Italian born, American citizen, who spent more than 10 years in Japan, her teaching was relevant for the broader topic related to how different cultures of migrant groups interact and raised important questions about who we are, depending on where we were born and on which culture contributed to shaping our beings. Professor Anamaria Mitrano captured the attention of the audience and my admiration by her bright speech on Exodus, Human Rights and Coexistence. A Cultural Anthropologist from the University of Palermo, with significant experience in the field, she emphasized the shift in the nature of contemporary democracy and politics towards a capitalist driven society, a place where the economy dictates the rules of living and especially the treatment of fellow human beings. Migration is not a new feature in human society; it’s been there since the very beginning of human race, which started migrating from Africa. Moreover, European societies are facing demographic problems due to population aging and they also need labour force. Then why does the current political regime at European level try so hard to build walls, to control migration and to shape it according to its will? It was argued that democracy as a political system should come under scrutiny and new ways of being political should be put forward. Another interesting aspect of her lecture was her underlining the coexistence of migrant communities within the Italian society and the factors that contribute to it. This peaceful relationship is facilitated by cultural affinities, religious similarities and also by a certain action/reaction type of behavior. This behavior referred to, on the one hand Italians welcoming the migrant (Romanian, Albanian, Tunisian, Bangladeshi, African) who provides labour force in the fields where Italians are happy not to work, and on the other hand migrant communities integrate (to a certain degree) quite smoothly, by learning the language and co-existing in a society that seems and feels welcoming enough. Speaking of the welcoming and generosity of the native inhabitants, my time spent in Sicily was marked by a surprisingly pleasant experience one evening, when I was trying to find a shop that would be open after 10 p.m. and buy a bottle of water. Water was a critical part of the daily life in a place where temperature was 35°C+ and water was never for free, it usually cost 1 or 2 EUR per bottle. After walking a long distance without finding any shop, I tried to buy water from a couple of restaurants, an attempt that proved to be unsuccessful until the last moment. Finally, I entered a small, local restaurant where Italians were enjoying their dinner and drinks in a cheering atmosphere and I asked for a bottle of water. The waiter asked me if I also wanted to order food and I replied no. After a few moments he came back with a 1-liter bottle of water and gave it to me. I asked how much it was (in Italian) and he replied it costs nothing, I insisted that I wanted to pay, but he steadily refused to take any money from me. I was happy to have found water and I was astonished that the water was for free, offered with a smile. In a nutshell, the conference was a valuable learning and sharing experience, with the papers to be published in an edited volume by Aracne publisher, Rome and in the Migration Studies journal.




IWB present at the World Refugee Day


By Aleksandra Semeriak Last month, members of IWB were able to attend several events the World Refugee Day, held every year on June 20. In Barcelona, the Catalan Commission for Refugee Aid (Comissió Catalana d’Ajuda al Refugiat/CCAR) and the Asil Cat network organized diverse activities to raise awareness of the need to protect and respect human rights, especially of the increasing number of refugees around the world. A cultural event, held on June 19, counted on the participation of several refugee testimonies and the reading of a manifest, signed by numerous non-governmental organizations, as ACATHI, ACCEM, CAPI-BPI, CCOO Barcelonès, Centre EXIL, CCAR, the Catalan Commission of the UNHCR, Fundació ACSAR, Fundació Casa del Tibet, the Bar Association of Barcelona, the Human Rights Institute of Catalonia and PEN Català. The manifest reinforced the idea that no one should be suffering from discrimination based on race, religion, nationality, political opinion, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation or social origin and that urgent actions should be taken to resolve the tragic situation of the more than 50 million of displaced people worldwide (UNHCR). The manifest made reference to the refugee quotas proposed by the European Union for its member States and the worrying lack of commitment of the latter to take responsibilities, criticizing the Europe’s indifference and “fortification” through new walls that only increase the risk of losing their lives when refugees try to reach European ground. The Mediterranean Sea already counts with a shamefully high number of lost lives that shouldn’t be allowed to grow. The international community also cannot stay silent in front of the inhumane treatment received by those trying to cross the borders, especially regarding the situation at the fence in Ceuta or Melilla. But in spite of the increasing numbers, during 2014, only 5.947 people applied for asylum in Spain, 786 in Catalonia. Out of these, 2.029, almost a 40%, were denied it. Catalonia, supported by the International Protection Plan in Catalonia (PPIC), approved by beginning of 2014, is working hard to improve the situation and grant aid to those in need, although, as often mentioned by Catalan authorities, the refugees and asylum matters are unfortunately not a competency of the Government of Catalonia (Generalitat de Catalunya), but of the Spanish government.




IWB at the ENS conference ‘None of Europe’s Children should be Stateless’


By Serena Romeo On the 2nd and 3rd June, IWB was in Budapest to attend a conference organized by the European Network on Statelessness (ENS). The conference represented an important step of the campaign ‘None of Europe’s Children should be Stateless’. 100 participants from over 30 countries got together with the goal of ending childhood statelessness in Europe. (more about the campaign here: http://www.statelessness.eu/communications/campaigns/none-europes-children-should-be-stateless). Lawyers, academics, government officials, journalists, NGOs, UN representatives as well as representatives from other agencies engaged in a passionate and fruitful debate on the subject. Each panel and each individual speaker gave us a different angle from which to analyse the complex and challenging issue of childhood statelessness, with one common assumption: having a nationality is a fundamental right of every child. No child chooses to be stateless. Children always have a connection with at least one country, the one where they were born and grew up, and the one where their parents are from. Each country has its own rules to confer nationality, but as long as European states will not ensure the right to acquire citizenship to every child born in Europe or to European parents there will continue to be stateless children in Europe. Lacking a nationality has many consequences on the lives of children, like limited or no access to basic rights like education, housing or health care, as well as vulnerability to poverty, detention or exploitation. It was pointed out during the conference that preventing children from becoming stateless is not an impossible goal to achieve. This could be done by introducing safeguards in nationality laws, granting the nationality of a certain country to all children born there and that would otherwise be stateless. Unfortunately, little attention has been given to the subject until now, and it is necessary to raise the political will to properly address the issue in Europe. MEP Jean Lambert claimed that the moment has come to push the agenda forward – and I felt this purpose has strongly and positively lead the whole event. There were two things I particularly appreciated about this conference, other than learning more about stateless children and the many sides to this issue. Firstly, the attention dedicated to concrete actions, and the possible next steps to take in order to tackle the many issues raised during various discussions. Each panel did not just present a problem, but encouraged an active debate on how to find answers and durable solutions. Secondly, being surrounded by experts whose intention was not to keep the discussion behind closed doors, but also to bring it outside of the room and into practice. Many speakers have indeed plead the importance of engaging the public, mobilising young people and minors themselves, as well as creating the political space to raise awareness and address childhood statelessness in more effective ways. The analysis of countries’ case studies proved that together with good practices – that need more solid and wide implementation, many challenges to end childhood statelessness in Europe lie ahead. The participation and the commitment so many people have shown for this 2-days conference is the proof that there is a strong will to face these challenges together. You can read the conference Action Statement here: http://www.statelessness.eu/news-events/news/conference-action-statement-none-europes-children-should-be-stateless Check out some photos from the conference here: http://allanleas.wix.com/ens-budapest-2015




IWB was at One World Romania 2015


By Eduard Popa Between the 16th and 22nd of March, Bucharest hosted the 8th edition of One World Romania, the biggest documentary festival dedicated to the human rights in Romania. The four cinemas that hosted the documentaries: Cinema Pro, Cinema Studio, Cinema Elvira Popesco and Horia Bernea Studio of the Romanian Peasant’s Museum (Muzeul Țăranului Român) were named Kino-Maidan. In this context the world “maidan” no longer stands for an urban feature, but it has a symbolical value as a public space where people gather to discuss their problems and to be together. The festival’s kick-off took place at Cinema Pro, where not an empty seat was left. A diverse crowd first watched an artistic moment from The Institute of Change’s repertoire, after which representatives of the organizers and sponsors gave opening speeches. After the introduction ceremony, the first documentary that aired was Our Terrible Country. The subject of this documentary, the crisis in Syria, was of great interest for me. The film discusses the journey between Douma and Raqqa, taken by a young photographer, Ziad Homsi, and Yassin Haj Saleh, a well-known Syrian dissident writer. Yassin spent 16 years in prison in the 1980s and is one of the leading intellectual figures of the Syrian uprising. Their journey to Raqqa gave us the opportunity to see the destruction that Syria suffered during the civil war, a state that cannot be described by books or journal reports. Also this is one of the first documentaries that shown the havoc created by ISIS, described by Ziad Homsi as: We used to have only one enemy, the regime. Now we have thousands. The second documentary that I had the opportunity to gain new insights from was The Chinese Mayor. The subject refers to the former imperial capital Datong and its mayor, Geng Tanbo. His plan to change the future of Datong is by turning it from one of the most polluted cities in China to a cultural and touristic destination. But this plan created its own downfall: tearing down tens of thousands of houses and relocating a quarter million people to a new neighborhood, built in a forest nearby. For two years Tanbo does a great job managing the situation, talking to every citizen who encounters a problem. After he gets reelected, being that he was the only candidate (a scene that stirred laughs in the cinema), Tanbo is perceived as a threat by his superiors and is relocated to another city. Thus he has to leave his plan behind and his grand plan of Datong stagnates under the new mayor. One of my favorite movies, Lord of War with Nicholas Cage, is based on the life of Viktor Bout, also the central figure of the next documentary that I had the privilege to watch, The Notorious Mr. Bout. He was one of the arms dealers that fed the African wars of the 90s. He was jailed after a set-up by the DEA (US Drug Enforcement Agency) in 2009 in Thailand and sentenced for 25 years. The narrator of the film is Viktor Bout himself, and the documentary is crafted from home videos that the arms dealer made for himself. The film presents the life of Viktor Bout, from a young officer in the Soviet Army, to his years as a big business man in the shipping industry, transporting all kind of goods (including weapons) in Africa, until he went broke in the post 9/11 period. After the screening, the audience had the opportunity to talk with Mr. Tony Gerber, one of the directors of The Notorious Mr. Bout (the other one being Maxim Pozdorovkin). They talked about the fine line between moral and immoral, about legal and illegal, starting from the fact that Viktor Bout did not care about what his airplanes were transporting, as long as he would get the money for the shipping. The conclusion that could be formed on the basis of the film and the discussion, is that is good is not always legal, and what is bad is not always illegal. Probably the most impressive documentary that I have seen at the festival was Unearthed, which follows the story of Jolynn Minnaar, a director from South Africa. She finds out that her homeland, the Karoo Desert, could be used for shale gas explorations. According to her country’s media the shale gas exploration would bring new jobs, economic development and energy independence. But the negative effects of this exploration got little attention and her own research remained without result. Unexpectedly, Jolynn gets an invite from a person in Pennsylvania, US, to see with her own eyes the disasters that shale gas explorations produce. But once she arrives in the United States, her contact gets paid to stay silent and Jolynn starts the investigation on her own. Unearthed is a really complete documentary about the fracking industry that kept the audience in the cinema breathless, especially because shale gas is also a problem that concerns the Romanian civil society. During the last day of One World I saw two documentaries. The first one was Sahia Reloaded, a series of films produced by the Alexandru Sahia Cinema Studio in the communist period. The eight short documentaries passed through 20 years of Romanian communist history and were addressed to the reality of those times. Some of them focused on the Romanian industrialization, such as the workers community from a factory that lived like a big family (Tehnică nouă, oameni culți/New Technology, Enlightened People) or problems like the pollution caused by cement factories (Fabrica de împachetat fum/The Smoke-Wrapping Factory). Also, some of the films presented, like De-aș fi cowboy…/If Only I Were a Cowboy… or Cei mici despre lumea mare/The Young Ones Talk About the Grown-up World, were showing the impact of globalisation which even had its effect in the communist world. But the short film that impressed me the most was Pe malul Ozanei/On the Shore of the Ozana. Its subject was the social realities experienced by the students from the Agricultural High School from Târgu Neamț. While waiting for the railroad to be build to take them to other cities, they were learning about the ”degrees of freedom” of a tractor.