On 17-18 October 2017 international conference “Promoting Refugee Integration Support through youth Engagement: 1951 Convention and nowadays refugees” took place at Mykolas Romeris University (Vilnius, Lithuania).
The Conference brought together the most active participants from national youth networks, national and municipal authorities, academia and experts on the 1951 Refugee Convention to
a) explore the meaning of the 1951 Convention for today’s Europe, identify and discuss arguments for its importance despite the changed environment in Europe
b) share experiences on engaging youth in support for refugees at national and municipal level.
It included presentation of guidelines for municipalities on working with refugees and engaging youth in refugee integration work.
The Conference was organized under the PROMISE (Promoting refugee Integration Support through youth Engagement: 1951 Convention and nowadays refugees) project, which is co-funded by the Europe for Citizens Programme of the European Union. It is run by the Faculty of Law of Mykolas Romeris University (MRU) in partnership with Lithuanian Youth Council (LiJOT), the Association of Local Authorities in Lithuania and Human Rights Laboratory of MRU, Bulgarian Foundation for Access to Rights (FAR), Josip Juraj Strossmayer University of Osijek and Volunteer centre Osijek in Croatia, Organisation “Svjetski savez mladih Hrvatska” and the University of Pécs in Hungary, University of Catania and the Associazione AccoglieRete per la Tutela dei MSNA in Italy, as well as London South Bank University Lbg.
Conclusions of Vilnius Conference:
- 1951 Convention stays as a cornerstone of refugee protection supported now by a historical global political commitment of all UN states in September 2016 New York Declaration. In European context, as we have seen from a number of presentations about various restrictions and concerns in Europe with regard to refugee issue, access to protection is very important. We believe that controls and refugee protection are not incompatible, border controls have to be implemented consistently with respect to international and EU law. Europe could do more and better.
- Causes of concern of societies about refugees are frequently unsubstantiated by the evidence and it is our responsibility as academic community to contribute to the process by providing data and scientific evidence to address the myths and stereotypes in the society that does not foster integration of refugees. We hope that our background papers could continue to be used for further discussions in the project countries and at European level.
- Integration is about motivation, thus listening to the voices of refugees is key, as well as involvement of locals into integration and establish relations helps a lot to achieve the success of integration. We see integration as refugee participation in the life of the country, not restricted only to participation in the labour marker. The guidelines for municipalities that were developed in the Promise project and presented along with good practices of integration need to be promoted to European level, in particular in the context of European Union framework to support MS efforts to strengthen integration measures. Danish approach to listening to the voices of refugees in integration is a good example – interviews to see how refugees feel – worthwhile promoting in future research in other countries and comparing cross-country experiences in order to improve social integration efforts at European and national level.
- Youth networks that have been pulled together in project countries have contributed to sensitization, competence and skills in refugee issues among the young people and already contributed to the work of refugee assisting organisations in the project countries. These networks need to be connected together through social networks with a view of building a pan-European network, potentially through a new project, as there is a need to continue foster networking, learning from each other and mobilise joint actions across the border. University channels should be further used to support these networks in project countries and beyond. Continuation of activities could also be linked to refugee law clinics that universities run. It is recommended to bring together on a separate occasion all country leaders of youth groups to discuss follow-up to the project and set up concrete proposals for further cooperation at cross-country level.
Video of the conference:
Please find attached Vilnius conference agenda for your information.
Should you need any further information about the Conference, kindly address Ms. Inga Mickevičiūtė, email@example.com,
phone: (+370) (5) 2714633.