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Humans Without Rights: asylum seekers in the 21st century

The rights of asylum seekers in the UK and across Europe are far inferior to those of citizens and residents. Is this an affront to human rights? On the other hand, surely human rights must to some extent respect national sovereignty and territorial borders?

A major one day conference exploring the issues around asylum seekers will be held on Saturday 1 November at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).

Asylum seekers are restricted in what they can do when here and liable to be expelled without the kind of due process that the rest of us take for granted. But where do we draw the line on human rights with regards to national ?

It is in this clash between territorial interests and individual rights that the subject of human rights must forge its identity in the twenty-first century: are human rights for everybody or only the already fortunate? If we give human rights to all, do we end up in a kind of legal anarchy, with, eventually, no human rights for anybody at all?

This conference is organised by the Centre for the Study of Human Rights, LSE, in association with the Guardian. It will take a fresh look at the subject of asylum, setting it in its historical, political and legal context.

Conor Gearty, director of the Centre for the Study of Human Rights at LSE, said: 'The issue of asylum has long been presented in terms that have strayed too easily into the language of fear and panic. The value of taking a human rights perspective is that it helps us to see this subject as one concerning not just territorial integrity and national security but also human dignity and the needs of displaced persons. With yet more legislation threatening asylum seekers' rights now imminent, it is more important than ever to keep in mind that behind the statistics are a whole range of individuals and families many of whom have already suffered the most terrible persecution.'

Speakers include:

  • Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, vice president of the United Nations Association, UK
  • Dr Chaloka Beyani, LSE
  • Zrinka Bralo, Migrant and Refugee Communities Forum
  • Professor Stephen Castles, director of Refugee Studies Centre, Oxford
  • Don Flynn, Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants
  • Professor Guy S Goodwin-Gill, University of Oxford
  • Dr Satvinder Juss, King's College London
  • Michael Kingsley-Nyinah, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency
  • Margaret Lally, deputy chief executive, the Refugee Council
  • Professor Daniele Lochak, Universite Paris X-Nanterre
  • Dr Liza Schuster, LSE and the Centre on Migration, Policy and Society, Oxford

Humans Without Rights: asylum seekers in the 21st century is on Saturday 1 November at 9.30am-4.30pm in the Old Theatre, Old Building, LSE, Houghton St, London WC2A. This event is ticketed and costs £10, £5 unwaged and free for asylum seekers. To book a ticket, please contact Joy Whyte on 020 7955 6428 or email j.m.whyte@lse.ac.uk 

Ends

To reserve a press ticket, please contact Jessica Winterstein, LSE Press Office, on 020 7955 7060 or email j.Winterstein@lse.ac.uk| 

For more information on the event, please contact Joy Whyte, Centre for the Study of Human Rights, LSE, on 020 7955 6428 or email j.m.whyte@lse.ac.uk| 

Notes:

Humans Without Rights: asylum seekers in the 21st century is organised by the Centre for the Study of Human Rights, LSE, in association with the Guardian.

The Conference will see the launch of an exhibition of Guardian photographs of asylum seekers, to be on display from Saturday 1 November to the end of December 2003 in the Atrium, Student Services Centre, LSE. The exhibit is free and open to all.

The day will also host stands by many campaign groups with literature on issues surrounding asylum seekers and feature an interlude from pupils from John Kelly girl's school coeducational class, as featured in the Education Guardian.

30 October 2003

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