Migration in the Spotlight

From refugees and human trafficking to sovereignty and security, immigration is the topic of the EPIIC Symposium March 7-9 at Tufts
painting of two rafts of migrants meeting in the ocean
“An important goal of the symposium is to understand the pressing challenges facing countries of origin, countries of transit, and countries of destination—and the challenges facing migrants themselves,” said Abi Williams. Photo: ©Umberto Romano
February 26, 2019

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Immigration has been at the forefront of the news for years now—from the refugees streaming into Europe to the political divide in the United States. “We have more people living outside their countries of birth than ever before,” said Abi Williams, F85, F86, F87, the director of the Tufts Institute for Global Leadership and Professor of the Practice of International Politics at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.  That’s why he made it the focus of his year-long course “Migration in a Turbulent World.”

That’s also the focus for the thirty-fourth annual Norris and Margery Bendetson EPIIC International Symposium, which takes place at Tufts on March 7-9. “This is a critical global issue, and how we deal with it will have a profound effect on relations between people in both developed and developing worlds,” said Williams.

Over the three days, there will be panel discussions on gender and migration, modern-day slavery and human trafficking, South-to-South migration, and much more. “An important goal of the symposium is to understand the pressing challenges facing countries of origin, countries of transit, and countries of destination—and the challenges facing migrants themselves,” said Williams.

Another goal is “to have a better understanding of the need for international cooperation on the question of migration,” he said. “To ensure that migration is a win-win story, many of its challenges need to be resolved at an international level.” That said, “the benefits of migration far outweigh the challenges it poses,” he added.

This year will see the highest number of international students participating in the symposium’s history—sixty-five from nine countries, as well as students from the U.S. Naval Academy and the West Point.

Keynote speakers are Miroslav Lajčák, the minister of foreign and European affairs of the Slovak Republic, and Sir Paul Collier, a professor of economics and public policy in the Blavatnik School of Government at the University of Oxford.

Lajčák has been foreign minister  since 2012, and recently completed a term as president of the United Nations General Assembly’s seventy-second session, during which he led the discussions on and adoption of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration. Collier is the author of Exodus: How Migration Is Changing Our World (Oxford University Press, 2013), and also a director of the International Growth Centre, the director of the Centre for the Study of African Economies, and a fellow of St Antony’s College, Oxford. From 1998 to 2003 he directed the Development Research Group of the World Bank. He was named by Foreign Policy magazine on its list of top global thinkers in 2010 and 2011.

Both Lajčák and Collier will receive Dr. Jean Mayer Global Citizenship Awards, as will Ratna Omidvar, a senator for Ontario in the upper house of the Canadian parliament who will be taking part in a panel discussion on Integration, Adaptation and Exclusion. Omidvar is also a distinguished visiting professor at Ryerson University, and co-author of Flight and Freedom: Stories of Escape to Canada. Omidvar immigrated to Canada from Iran. “She has been a staunch advocate for immigrants who have been displaced, and is also an advocate for diversity and inclusion,” said Williams.

Among the many other distinguished panelists and speakers are E. Benjamin Skinner, founder and president of Transparentem and author of A Crime So Monstrous: Face-to-Face with Modern-Day Slavery; David Lammy, a Labor Member of Parliament for Tottenham since 2000 who led the campaign for Windrush British citizens to be granted British citizenship and paid compensation by the government; Peter Tinti, a journalist focusing on conflict, security, human rights, and organized crime, and co-author of Migrant, Refugee, Smuggler, Savior; Mariam Traore Chazalnoel, associate expert in the Migration, Environment and Climate Change program of the International Organization for Migration; and Karen Jacobsen, Henry J. Leir Professor in Global Migration at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and the Friedman School of Nutrition, and director of the Refugees and Forced Migration Program at the Feinstein International Center at Tufts.

For more information on the symposium, which is free and open to the public, visit the symposium website.

Taylor McNeil can be reached at taylor.mcneil@tufts.edu.

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