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There have always been refugees: people forced from their home countries by war, persecution, or other types of violence and who must seek new homes and new lives abroad. But the world is now experiencing a crisis of a greater scope and severity than anything it has seen in decades. 

In 2014, an estimated 14 million people were newly displaced by conflict or persecution, and almost 60 million people – one in every 122 people around the globe – were living in situations of forced displacement. The ongoing conflict in Syria alone has led to 9.5 million internally displaced persons and 4 million refugees. But it is not just a Middle Eastern and European problem. There are refugees fleeing countries from Honduras to Nigeria to Myanmar seeking protection in countries from the United States to Australia to Turkey and Lebanon. 

The ongoing refugee crisis has placed unprecedented strains on international, regional, and national institutions, and exacerbated longstanding tensions and unresolved questions in the global framework for refugee protection. 


Schedule of Events (with linked video footage)

Introductory Remarks


Panel 1: Can effective steps be taken to address protracted refugee situations and the root problems that cause refugee flows? With many refugees languishing in camps or unstable situations in nearby countries, how can the international community provide them with adequate support or help them find new homes? How can countries be incentivized to take in their fair share of refugees? 

Panel 2: How can states’ interests in border protection and controlling mass migrations be reconciled with refugees’ rights and protection needs? International law bars countries from returning refugees to places where their lives or freedom would be threatened. While some nations have responded generously, many countries have gone to great lengths to evade their obligations by preventing refugees from arriving in the first place.  

Keynote Address - Mark Hetfield, President and CEO of HIAS


Panel 3:How should states manage the pressure to tighten eligibility standards, lessen procedural protections, or place higher burdens of proof on asylum‐seekers when there is a large scale refugee flow? These mass refugee flows tend to heighten fears that asylum claims will be by persons that are really economic migrants, potential terrorists, or otherwise “unworthy.” 


Closing Remarks

Spring 2017 - A Continent Divided: Nationalism and the European Union 


Spring 2016 - The Global Refugee Crisis (click here for full transcript)



The European Coal and Steel Community, the predecessor to the European Union and established by the Treaty of Paris in 1951, was formed with the aim to “make war not only unthinkable but materially impossible.”  Over the past sixty years, the European Union has developed a single internal market and ensures the free movement of people, goods, services, and capital within the Union.  However, the resurgence of a nationalist sentiment across Europe threatens the very fabric of the Union.  This symposium will consider some of the factors that have contributed to this uncertain climate, including the Eurozone crisis and the greater financial crisis which crippled Europe starting in 2010.  It will also examine the United Kingdom’s shocking vote to leave the European Union, commonly known as Brexit, and the current rule of law crises in Poland and Hungary.​


Schedule of Events (video)

Introductory Remarks
Timothy Fisher, Dean, University of Connecticut School of Law
Navid Wheeler, Editor-in-Chief, Connecticut Journal of International Law

Panel 1 – The United Kingdom: From Eurosceptic to Brexit
Gráinne de Búrca, NYU School of Law
Frank Emmert, Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law
Peter L. Lindseth, University of Connecticut School of Law
Peter Rutland, Wesleyan University
Moderator: Willajeanne F. McLean, University of Connecticut School of Law

Panel 2 – The Eurozone and the European Economic Crisis
Tanja Bender, Leiden University
Jeffery Atik, Loyola Law School
Federico Fabbrini, Dublin City University
Philomila Tsoukala, Georgetown Law
Moderator: Stephen Utz, University of Connecticut School of Law

Keynote Address
The Honorable Pierre Vimont, Senior Fellow, Carnegie Europe; former Ambassador of France to the United States; former Executive Secretary-General of the European External Action Service

Panel 3 – The Rule of Law Crisis in Poland and Hungary
R. Daniel Kelemen, Rutgers University
Daniel Hegedüs, German Council on Foreign Relations
Vlad Perju, Boston College Law School
Moderator: Mark Janis, University of Connecticut School of Law


Closing Remarks
Ángel Oquendo, Faculty Advisor, Connecticut Journal of International Law​

Past Symposia