Forced migrations of hundreds of thousands of people worldwide, the closing and enforcement of immigration borders, and the widespread misery and geopolitical instability that ensues is the focus of this year’s Otago Foreign Policy School. This annual gathering is the premier fixture in the New Zealand international relations calendar.

The 52nd School will see international and national experts converge in Dunedin to tackle the pressing issues around national and international boundaries and borders – including political, economic, legal and ethical aspects – that forced migration creates through factors such as disasters, climate change and armed conflict.

The venue is St Margaret’s College in Dunedin and the School, titled “Open and Closed Borders: The Geopolitics of Migration”, opens on Friday 30 June at 5:40 pm and continues until Sunday afternoon. Around 150 attendees are expected to take part in the gathering.

This year’s School is being co-directed by Associate Professor Jacqui Leckie of the Department of Anthropology and Archaeology, Dr Heather Devere of the National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies and Dr Simon Ryan of the Department of Languages and Cultures.

Associate Professor Leckie says that the impressive invited speaker line-up features international experts on a range of topics including globalisation, immigration borders including the US-Mexico border, Pacific climate change migrants, global migration, refugee policies, asylum seekers, Pacific detention centres, and racism and Muslim identity.

“The humanitarian tragedy resulting from the Syrian conflict has thrown these issues into stark relief, but that particular horror is only one of dozens being played out around the world,” she says.

“No territory, including Aotearoa/New Zealand, remains unaffected by the web of consequences that links forced migration events, which include people smuggling and human trafficking.

“For example, there has been an ongoing increase in New Zealand’s refugee quota, which recently saw Invercargill announced as new resettlement centre. This has caused some disquiet among civic leaders due to a perceived lack of consultation about the centre’s establishment.”

Concerted efforts by a broad range of governmental and non-governmental agencies are required to effectively respond to the profound challenges that forced migrations present, Associate Professor Leckie states.

“We expect that the School will involve much fruitful debate about the most workable solutions to what, on the face of it, can seem like intractable problems.”

A special feature of the School will be a roundtable late on the afternoon of 1 July discussing the question: “Should the refugee quota in Aotearoa/New Zealand be raised?”

Current confirmed speaker line-up for the School:

Professor Mark J. Miller, Emma Smith Morris Professor, Department of Political Science and International Relations, University of Delaware (Global migration, comparative immigration and refugee policies)

Dr Yassir Morsi Global, Urban and Social Studies Department, RMIT University (Racism and Muslim identity /migration in Australia)

Ursula Rakova, Executive Director, Tulele Peisa (sailing the waves on our own), Papua New Guinea (Relocation of population of Carteret Islands in Soutwestern Pacific to Bougainville)

Professor Jennifer Hyndman Director of the Centre for Refugee Studies Departments of Social Science and Geography, York University, Toronto (Conflict, asylum, human displacement, humanitarian emergencies, refugee resettlement in Canada)

Dr Thanh-Dam Truong, Development Studies, International Institute of Social Studies Erasmus University, Rotterdam (Governance, globalization, social justice, development, human security, gender, migration)

Andrew Goledzinowski, Australian Ambassador for People Smuggling

Professor Brett Neilson, Institute for Culture and Society, University of Western Sydney (Globalisation, proliferation of borders, labour)

Dr Christophe Bertossi, Director of the Center for Migration and Citizenship, Institut français des relations internationals (Citizenship, discrimination, ethnicity, Muslims in Europe)

Professor Wendy Bacon, Journalist and Researcher, Board Member Pacific Media Centre, AUT Former Head of Journalism at University Technology of Sydney, Contributing Editor at New Matilda (Pacific detention centres, Nauru)

Professor Rafael Alarcón Acosta Department of Social Studies, El Colegio de la Frontera Norte, Mexico (International Migration, Mexican Migration to the US, Deportees to Mexico, Borders)

Associate Professor Yvonne Te Ruki-Rangi-O-Tangaroa Underhill-Sem, Development Studies, School of Social Sciences Faculty of Arts, University of Auckland (Pacific migration, gender, labour)

Maya-Ameratunga, United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) Representative in Syria

Paris Aristotle, Chief Executive Officer of the Victorian Foundation for Survivors of Torture (2017 Victorian Australian of the Year; advocate for rights of refugees and asylum seekers)

Dr Lindsey MacDonald, Political Science, University of Canterbury (Indigenous studies, political philosophy of property rights, Treaty of Waitangi)

A registration form is available at the School’s website. Students, staff and interested members of the public are warmly invited to register this stimulating and thought-provoking gathering of high-powered speakers.

About the Otago Foreign Policy School:

The School originally started in 1966 as a workshop on foreign affairs, and now attracts a wide range of people drawn from both public and private sectors.
Participants include officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Ministry of Defence, academics, journalists, diplomats, NGO representatives, members of the business community, students and interested members of the public.