Refugee Policies from 1933 until Today: Challenges and Responsibilities, 16-17 February 2017, Rome, Italy.

From 16-17 February 2017 the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, in cooperation with the Holy See, held a conference for public policy-makers from Europe, North America and the Middle East, media representatives and representatives of NGOs and civil society organizations at the Palazzo della Cancelleria in Rome focusing on refugee policies from 1933 to the present day.

Refugee Policies from 1933 until Today: Challenges and Responsibilities

Pope Francis has made compassion and generosity to refugees a hallmark of his papacy, referring to Europe’s migrant crisis as “the greatest humanitarian crisis, after the Second World War.”

At a time when the current situation of refugees in Europe and the Middle East continues to dominate the news and the political arena, this conference brings together experts in Holocaust history and contemporary policy-makers to reflect on the past with a view to concretely informing positive, ethically responsible, and rational policy-making today. The outcome of the conference will be a concrete set of recommendations for international policy-makers.

On 16 February Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States, Secretariat of State of the Holy See, will address participants on the opening evening of the conference.

The key-note speaker is H.E Mgr. Silvano Maria Tomasi, Secretary Delegate of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development. Mgr. Silvano Tomasi was Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations in Geneva and co-founded the Center for Migration Studies, a think tank based in New York.

Speakers include Michael O'Flaherty, Director of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, European Union Fundamental Rights Agency, Mr. Stephane Jaquemet, Regional Representative for Southern Europe of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Ms. Kristina Touzenis, Head of the International Migration Law Unit, International Organization for Migration, and Mr. Stefan Lehne, Carnegie Europe, Brussels. The draft programme and further information on speakers is available below.

The IHRA Chair, Ambassador Mihnea Constantinescu, said:  “We are honoured to be holding this conference with the Holy See and our cooperation should send a strong signal to the international community that we have both a moral and a historical responsibility to address the present-day situation facing refugees. The IHRA knows all too well the consequences of the international community failing to act. The current refugee situation is the litmus test for international solidarity.”                

The conference “Refugee Policies from 1933 until Today:  Challenges and Responsibilities” is organized by Advisor to the IHRA, Professor Steven Katz, Co-Head of the Austrian Delegation to the IHRA, Ambassador Michael Baier, Dr Robert Williams, Deputy Director of International Affairs at United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (US Delegation to the IHRA) and Dr Veerle Vanden Daelen, adjunct general director and curator of Kazerne Dossin (Belgian Delegation to the IHRA).

Pdf programme

16 February 2017
Registration (17:00-17:45)

Opening Remarks and Keynote (18:00-20:00)
Opening Remarks: Ambassador Mihnea Constantinescu, Chair of the IHRA
Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with the States, Holy See
Introduction: Prof. Steven T. Katz, Advisor to the IHRA and Alvin J. and Shirley Slater Chair in Jewish Studies, Boston University
Keynote Speech: H.E. Mgr. Silvano Maria Tomasi, Secretary Delegate of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, Holy See


17 February 2017
Registration – from 08:00

Panel 1: From the 1930s to 1945 (08:30-10:30)

This panel will explore the policies formulated in leading political circles in reaction to the refugee crisis of the 1930s, with the rise to power of Hitler and through the war years. Panelists will discuss the main actors, their actions, and to what degree they were successful.

Moderator: Father Norbert Hofmann S.D.B., Holy See
(a) US and European responses – Dr. Susanne Heim, Institute of Contemporary History, Munich– Berlin
(b) The Holy See – Dr. Johan Ickx, Holy See
(c) NGOs and International Organizations – Prof. Dr. Avinoam Patt, University of Hartford

Panel 2: Developments since 1945 (10:45-12:15)

The situation created by WWII resulted in a refugee crisis of unprecedented proportions. Governments, intergovernmental organizations, religious organizations, and NGOs all attempted to respond. This panel examines what these actors did and why, evaluates their successes and shortcomings, and considers what lessons can be learned to help deal with the current refugee crisis.

Moderator: Dr. Veerle Vanden Daelen, Deputy General Director and Curator, Kazerne Dossin: Memorial, Museum and Documentation Centre on Holocaust and Human Rights

(a) International Organizations – Prof. Dan Plesch, SOAS, University of London
(b) European Response – Dr. Juliane Wetzel, Centre for Research on Antisemitism, Technical University Berlin
(c) American Responses – Prof. Carl J. Bon Tempo, State University of NY at Albany

Panel 3: The Present Situation (13:15-15:00)

The speakers in this session will evaluate the present situation and the challenges we face today. What are the responses of Europe and the EU, international and non-governmental organizations, and religious organizations? What are the perspectives of refugees themselves? The conversations from this panel will support the policy proposals put forward in the final panel.

Moderator: Ambassador Dr. Thomas Michael Baier, Republic of Austria

(a) EU/Europe – Mr. Stefan Lehne, Carnegie Foundation, Brussels
(b) International Organizations and NGOs – Ms. Kristina Touzenis, Head of the International Migration Law Unit, International Organization for Migration
(c) The Holy See – Msgr Giovanni Pietro dal Toso, Holy See
(d) Refugee perspectives – Dr. Mukesh Kapila, CBE, Refugee Crisis Group, University of Manchester

Panel 4: The Current Challenge: Where Do We Go From Here? (15:30-16:30)

This panel intends to promote an open conversation about new initiatives and responses to the current refugee situation. Rapporteurs will present key take-aways from the previous three panels. With input from the audience, it is hoped that this panel will result in suggestions for new, pragmatic policies that can be adopted by governmental and nongovernmental institutions.

(a) Dr. Wolf Kaiser, former Director of Education at the House of the Wannsee Conference
(b) Dr. Cecilie Stokholm Banke, Senior Researcher for Foreign Policy, Danish Institute of International Studies
(c) Dr. Robert J. Williams, Deputy Director, International Affairs, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Closing remarks (16:30-17:00)

Mr. Stephane Jaquemet, Regional Representative for Southern Europe, UNHCR, Rome

Professor Michael O'Flaherty, Director of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights

Speakers

IHRA Delegates and Moderators

Ambassador Thomas Michael Baier received his LLD from Vienna University in 1975 and then joined the Austrian Foreign Service where he served in Vienna, Rome, Baghdad, Sofia and at Austria’s Permanent Mission to the UN in Geneva. He was Austrian Ambassador in Addis Ababa (1996-2001), Algiers (2001-2006) and Skopje (2011-2015). In 2010 Dr. Baier led the Austrian Delegation to the Revision Conference for the International Criminal Court in Kampala. From 2009 -2011 he was Head of Austrian Delegation to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance where he chaired the Legal Drafting Group. In 2015 Ambassador Baier was appointed Austrian Special Envoy for the IHRA, where, in 2016, he chaired the Evaluation Reference Group.

Ambassador Mihnea Constantinescu is the current Chair of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance. Mihnea Constantinescu is Ambassador at large, Special representative for Economic Diplomacy and Energy Security in the MFA. Previously, he served for six Governments as Director of the Prime Minister’s Office, State Counselor and Diplomatic Counselor to the Prime Minister, spokesman of the Government. As a diplomat in the MFA he was State Secretary Coordinator, General Director for political affairs, Special representative, Head of Policy Planning, and director of the minister’s office. Before joining the diplomatic service he was a faculty member at the Polytechnic University in Bucharest in Nuclear Power Engineering field.

Dr. Wolf Kaiser has been a member of the German delegation to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance since 2001. He was former Director of Education at the House of the Wannsee Conference, worked as a high school teacher and for 24 years as a historian and educator at the Memorial and Educational Site House of the Wannsee Conference in Berlin.

Prof. Steven Katz is the Advisor to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance and holds the Slater Chair in Jewish and Holocaust Studies at Boston University. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge in 1972 and he is the former Director of the Elie Wiesel Center for Jewish Studies. Prof. Katz is a member and former co-chair of the Academic Committee of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, and Chair of the Holocaust Commission of the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture. Steven Katz has also published numerous works on the Holocaust and Jewish philosophy and over 120 articles in the fields of Jewish Studies, Holocaust studies, philosophy of religion, and comparative mysticism and has lectured at universities around the world including India, China, and recently Iran. 

Dr. Cecilie Stokholm Banke is Head of the Danish Delegation to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance. Dr Stokholm Banke is a Senior Researcher for Foreign Policy, Danish Institute of International Studies, where she specializes in topics including European history and society, including nationalism and multiculturalism, political and social change, the politics of memory in Europe since 1945 and refugee policy in Europe before and during the Second World War.

Dr. Veerle Vanden Daelen has been a member of the Belgian Delegation to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance since 2012. She is Deputy General Director, Curator and Head Collections & Research at Kazerne Dossin and holds a PhD in History from the University of Antwerp. Her dissertation examined the return and reconstruction of Jewish life in Antwerp after the Second World War (1944-1960). She has held fellowships at the Frankel Institute for Advanced Judaic Studies (University of Michigan) and the Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies (University of Pennsylvania). In addition to numerous articles, she has authored two books, Vrouwbeelden in het Vlaams Blok (Ghent, 2002) and Laten we hun lied verder zingen. De heropbouw van de joodse gemeenschap in Antwerpen na de Tweede Wereldoorlog (1944-1960) (Amsterdam, 2008).

Dr. Juliane Wetzel is a member of the German Delegation to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance and a member of the Expert Board on Antisemitism of the German Bundestag. She is working at the Centre for Research on Antisemitism, Technical University, Berlin, researches on topics including displaced persons in Germany and the emigration of the Jews during the Nazi era. Dr. Wetzel received her PhD from the Ludwig-Maximilians University in Munich.

Dr. Robert J. Williams is a member of the United States Delegation to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, where he chairs the committee on Archival Access, is US delegate to the Academic Working Group, and will soon chair the Committee on Holocaust Denial and Antisemitism. Working as Deputy Director, International Affairs, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, he previously served as director of special research programs in the Museum's academic center.  His doctoral research focused on German political culture, US and Soviet Foreign Relations, and contemporary antisemitism, and he is completing a book on the role played by the media in development of political culture in East and West Germany.  

Invited Speakers and Moderators

Prof. Carl J. Bon Tempo, State University of NY at Albany, teaches courses in 20th century American political history, public policy history, immigration history, and the history of American foreign policy. Bon Tempo's current research focuses on human rights politics and policies in the U.S. from the 1970s to the present. He is the author of Americans at the Gate: The United States and Refugees during the Cold War (Princeton University Press, 2008), which explores how and why the U.S. admitted over four million refugees between 1945 and 2000.

Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher was appointed as Secretary for Relations with States within the Holy See's Secretariat of State on 8 November 2014. He was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Liverpool on 31 July 1977. Having gained a doctorate in Canon Law, he entered the diplomatic service of the Holy See on 1 May 1984, serving in the Apostolic Nunciatures in Tanzania (1984-1988), Uruguay (1988-1991), the Philippines (1991-1995) and subsequently as an official of the Section for Relations with States of the Secretariat of State (1995-2000). On the 15 July 2000, he was appointed Special Envoy and Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the Council of Europe at Strasburg. On 22 January 2004, he was appointed titular Archbishop of Hodelm and Apostolic Nuncio to Burundi, succeeding Archbishop Michael Aidan Courtney, who had been assassinated in an ambush on the 29 December 2003. On 13 March 2004, he was ordained a bishop. After 5 years of service as Apostolic Nuncio in Burundi, he was appointed Apostolic Nuncio to Guatemala on 19 February 2009. On 11 December 2012, he was appointed Apostolic Nuncio to Australia.

Dr. Susanne Heim, Institute of Contemporary History Munich–Berlin,  is a German political scientist and historian of National Socialism, the Holocaust and international refugee policy. Since 2005 she has been project coordinator of the editorial project Judenverfolgung 1933 - 1945. Her publications include Architects of Annihilation, with Goetz Aly (2003) and Fluchtpunkt Karibik. Juedische Emigranten in der Dominikanischen Republik, with Hans-Ulrich Dillmann (2009). 

Fr. Dr. Norbert Hofmann, SDB, is a Catholic Salesian priest ordained in 1990. A biblical scholar in the field of the Old Testament with a special interest in intertestamental literature, he studied in Benediktbeuern (Germany), Luzern and Zürich (Switzerland), and in Rome at the Pontifical Biblical Institute and the Gregorian University. Secretary of the Holy See’s Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews since 2002, which under Cardinal Kurt Koch is responsible for promoting Jewish-Catholic relations on a worldwide level.

Dr. Johan Ickx, Holy See, studied religious sciences, theology and philosophy at the Catholic University of Leuven and got his doctorate in church history at the Pontificia Università Gregoriana. He worked as academic assistant of the Archivum Historiae Pontificiae, official of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and official and archivist of the Tribunal of the Apostolic Penitentiary. Currently he is head of the Historical Archive, Section for Relations with States of the Secretariat of State. He published on several subjects related to the history of the Church in the Middle Ages and in the 19th-20th centuries.

Mr. Stephane Jaquemet was appointed Regional Representative for Southern Europe of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) as of April 2016. Mr. Jaquemet has been working with UNHCR for 24 years, starting in 1992 in Croatia as Head of Operations. He continued his career in Togo serving as Head of Emergency Operations and then as Senior Protection Officer. From 1997 to 2002, he held a number of senior positions in the Division of International Protection at UNHCR Headquarters in Geneva. In 2005, he was appointed as Representative and successfully served as such in Lebanon, Nepal, Burkina Faso and Colombia. Mr. Jaquemet is a Swiss national and studied law at Lausanne University and was called to the Swiss Bar in 1981. He then successfully completed his master's degree in criminology at the University of Paris.

Dr. Mukesh Kapila, CBE, Refugee Crisis Group, University of Manchester, is Professor of Global Health and Humanitarian Affairs. He is also Chair of Nonviolent Peaceforce, Chair of Manchester Global Foundation, Adjunct Professor at the International Centre for Humanitarian Affairs Nairobi, Associate Fellow of the Geneva Centre for Security Policy, Special Representative of the Aegis Trust for the prevention of crimes against humanity, and Special Adviser to Syria Relief. He was Special Adviser to the first-ever World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul in May 2016. His memoir "Against a Tide of Evil", published in 2013, was nominated for the Best Nonfiction Book of that year. He is the curator of a popular blog series Flesh and Blood.

Mr. Stefan Lehne, is a visiting scholar at Carnegie Europe in Brussels, where he researches the post–Lisbon Treaty development of the European Union’s foreign policy with a specific focus on relations between the EU and member states. From 2009–2011, Lehne served as director general for political affairs at the Austrian Ministry for European and International Affairs. Lehne’s work on issues of European foreign and security policy has been widely published in a number of academic journals, including Integration, the Austrian Journal of Political Science, and Europa Archiv. In addition, he has authored a number of monographs on the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe.

Prof. Michael O’Flaherty is Director of the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights since 2015.  Previously, he was Professor of Human Rights Law and Director of the Irish Centre for Human Rights at the National University of Ireland, Galway. He has served as Chief Commissioner of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission. In addition, he has held a number of senior UN posts in the field, supported UN headquarters in various human rights programmes, been a Vice-Chairperson of the UN Human Rights Committee and has sat on the advisory boards of numerous human rights groups and journals internationally. His recent publications include volumes on the law and practice of human rights field operations, the professionalization of human rights field work and human rights diplomacy.

Prof.Avinoam Patt is the Philip D. Feltman Professor of Modern Jewish History at the Maurice Greenberg Center for Judaic Studies at the University of Hartford, where he is also director of the Museum of Jewish Civilization.  His first book, Finding Home and Homeland: Jewish Youth and Zionism in the Aftermath of the Holocaust (published by Wayne State University Press, May 2009), examines the appeal of Zionism for young survivors in Europe in the aftermath of the Holocaust and their role in the creation of the state of Israel.  He is also the co-editor (with Michael Berkowitz) of a collected volume on Jewish Displaced Persons, titled We are Here: New Approaches to the Study of Jewish Displaced Persons in Postwar Germany (Wayne State University Press, February 2010). 

Msgr. Giovanni Pietro Dal Toso, Holy See, studied classical studies and later attended the major seminary of Bressanone/Brixen, completing his studies in philosophy and theology at the Higher Institute of Philosophy and Theology of Brixen, earning the title Magister Theologiae at the faculty of theology at the University of Innsbruck, Austria, and, in December 1997, obtaining his Doctorate in Philosophy at the Pontifical Gregorian University. Msgr. Giovanni Pietro Dal Toso was the Secretary of the Pontifical Council “Cor unum” following his appointment by Pope Benedict XVI on 22 June 2010 until 31 December 2016. He is now Delegated Secretary in the newly created Dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development.

Dr. Dan Plesch is the Director of the Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy at SOAS University of London. His publications include Human Rights After Hitler, America, Hitler and the UN and with Prof. Thomas G. Weiss, Wartime History and the Future UN. Previously, he was the founding Director in Washington DC of the British American Security Information Council and Senior Fellow at the Royal United Services Institute.

H.E Mgr. Silvano Maria Tomasi, Secretary Delegate of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development. Silvano Maria Tomasi is a Roman Catholic archbishop and currently serves as the secretary of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development. Tomasi previously served as permanent observer to the Office of the United Nations and Specialized Agencies in Geneva for over 10 years. Before this, he had been named the archbishop and nuncio to Ethiopia and Eritrea after serving as nuncio to Djibouti. Until his appointment to these posts, Tomasi served as secretary of the Pontifical Council for Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples. Additionally, he co-founded the Center for Migration Studies. Tomasi obtained his Ph.D. in sociology from Fordham University.

Ms. Kristina Touzenis, Head of the International Migration Law Unit at the International Organization for Migration, is responsible for the activities related to international and regional law issues. She has an LLB and LLM from the University of Copenhagen. She worked in Italy for 9 years before joining IOM Geneva, including 5 years for IOM Rome, and has taught both post and undergraduates at the Universities of Trieste and Pisa. Her research focuses on the human rights of women and children and she has published on both international human rights and international humanitarian law issues. She is currently researching issues related to criminal law and human rights.