This is the first time that IASFM members will gather in Central Europe. The setting for the 16th IASFM conference is especially important as we watch the most recent refugee crisis unfold in Europe, including in countries that historically were refugee-producing spaces and now have to provide durable solutions for forced migrants fleeing armed conflicts and asking for refuge in Europe. These developments constitute a significant opportunity to rethink and redefine forced migration. Existing concepts and definitions are rooted in historical transformations–political, legal and social—that led to refugee movements post-World War II and during the Cold War, but are they appropriate for the diversity and complexity of the 21st forced migration?
International responses to recent conflicts in Syria and Ukraine have resulted in a heated public debate about who belongs in Europe and who does not. However, similar debates about whether refugees should be accepted or not are also taking place elsewhere in the world. Therefore, it is time to engage in discussion involving researchers and practitioners on when, how and why forced migrants have “the right to have rights”, to quote Hannah Arendt. The answers to these extremely sensitive political problems should be the subject of deep analysis involving social scientists, legal scholars, historians, and representatives of humanitarian organizations, policy makers, and when possible refugees. Such interdisciplinary perspectives will give the participants of the IASFM 16 the opportunity to develop a deeper reflection on forced migration concepts, definitions, and issues from historical and contemporary as well as regional and global perspectives.