IASFM Statement against Xenophobic and Anti-refugee Discourse and Practice

January 22, 2019

Since its founding in 1998, the International Association for the Study of Forced Migration has worked to promote, increase, and deepen scientific knowledge about forced migration, as well as to guarantee the rights of human beings in movement and the pursuit of durable solutions, through a horizontal dialogue among academics, practitioners, activists, and policy makers from around the world.

IASFM expresses its deep concern for the global rise of a political discourse that characterizes refugees, internally displaced persons, and migrants as threats to peace and security. And we are profoundly troubled by migration and refugee policies that have unreasonably restricted, mobility, constructed new barriers between nations, and criminalized migration. The United States, traditionally the world’s leader in refugee resettlement, has drastically limited refugee admissions, banned Syrian refugees from entering the country and incarcerated thousands of migrant children, many of whom are in need of international protection. Countries of Europe have externalized enforcement of their borders, subjected children and families to harsh detention practices, and have entered into agreements with other states that limit protections for forced migrants. These measures, many of which are inconsistent with international norms and notions of fundamental justice, are often fueled and supported by inflammatory and xenophobic discourse.

It is not only in the richest countries that refugees and forced migrants are the victims of unjust practices and spurious rhetoric. Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya people permitted to enter Bangladesh have been confined in grossly inadequate refugee camps, and other South Asian countries have refused to participate in any form of burden-sharing. In Latin America, in recent years tens of thousands of people have left their home countries fleeing violence. States deny protection to many of these people and also fail to act against the criminal gangs and organizations that take advantage of the extreme vulnerability of these populations.

IASFM calls upon States to honor their commitments under human rights law, international refugee Iaw, and customary international law. These include respect of the mandatory norms of non-refoulement and non-discrimination and special concern for the protection of women and children. States that are not signatories to the 1951 UN Refugee Convention and 1967 Protocol are nonetheless bound by these fundamental human rights principles. 

IASFM invites academics, practitioners, and policy makers to individually and collectively fight against xenophobic and anti-refugee discourse and practice, to work on the prevention of the root causes of forced migration, to find new ways to reach durable and sustainable solutions, and, above all, to build bridges and dismantle walls. 

2018-2020 Executive Committee

2018-2020 Executive Committee

President: Christina Clark-Kazak, Canada
Past President: Dianna Shandy, USA
Vice President: Nasreen Chowdhory, India
Treasurer: Michele Millard, Canada
Secretary: Idil Atak, Canada
Communication Officers: Beatriz Sanchez, Colombia; Nergis Canefe, Canada
Programme Affairs and Innovation:Laurence Juma, South Africa; Paul Dudman, UK
Fundraising: Ayar Ata, UK
Programme Committee Chair: TBA