Roundtable "Welcoming cities for refugees: promoting inclusion and protecting rights"

When, local time: 
Monday, 9 May 2016 -
9:30am to 12:00pm
Where: 
France, Paris
Type of Event: 
Category 8-Symposium
Contact: 
Hedda Lokken, h.lokken@unesco.org; Konstantinos Tararas, k.tararas@unesco.org

UNESCO and the Foundation of UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador Marianna V. Vardinoyannis, in partnership with the European Coalition of Cities against Racism (ECCAR), organize a roundtable on "Welcoming cities for refugees: promoting inclusion and protecting rights", at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris on 9 May 2016. The roundtable is part of a partnership to empower municipal authorities and local governments to promote the integration of refugees and migrants, women and men, girls and boys, in their cities. It responds to the dramatic increase in 2015 of the number of refugees arriving in irregular situations in Europe, and the significant additional challenges this represents for local governments.

With this partnership, UNESCO, the Foundation and ECCAR aim to promote a better understanding of roles of cities in facilitating reception and inclusion of refugees and migrants.

The roundtable will present and debate the preliminary key findings of a study which maps the approaches of several cities, identifies relevant city governance responsibilities and critical gaps, and compiles relevant promising practices and examples. These findings, enriched by deliberations at the roundtable and the analysis of a survey among ECCAR member cities, will set the stage for discussions at an expert meeting in Athens in November 2016. The meeting will put forward recommendations on policy initiatives and actions to address current gaps and enhance good governance.

Europe has witnessed in 2015 a dramatic increase in the number of refugees arriving in irregular situations. According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, some 1,015,078 persons entered the European soil by sea in 2015, while some 173,000 entered by early April 2016.

This large influx in refugee arrivals resulted in significant additional challenges for all levels of government in European countries. A large share of the additional responsibilities fell on the shoulders of local governments that are most directly called on to meet human rights and public services obligations in areas such as the provision of adequate shelter, food, health care, education, water, and sanitation facilities.

These challenges are further exacerbated by obstacles deriving from existing and emerging stereotypes and prejudices against refugees and migrants, particularly all those with distinctly different ethnic and cultural backgrounds.

This partnership resonates with the longstanding endeavors of UNESCO and the Foundation towards building inclusive societies. It also builds on the unwavering commitment of ECCAR member cities to tackle the situation with an “anti-racist welcoming culture”, expressed at the network’s 2015 General Conference (Karlsruhe, October 2015). And it coincides with the increased attention of the international community for this level of government, illustrated by the adoption of SDG 11 to "Make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable", and the forthcoming adoption of a New Urban Agenda by the Habitat III Conference (Quito, Ecuador, October 2016).

The roundtable will be opened by Irina Bokova, UNESCO Director-General, Marianna. V. Vardinoyannis, UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador, and Benedetto Zacchiroli, ECCAR President.

The roundtable will be opened by Irina Bokova, UNESCO Director-General, Marianna. V. Vardinoyannis, UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador, and Benedetto Zacchiroli, ECCAR President.

The theme will be addressed by:
- Patrick Taran, President of Global Migration Policy Associates
- Susanne Asche, Head of Cultural Affairs Department, City of Karlsruhe
- Parvati Nair, Director, UNU Institute on Globalization, Culture and Mobility and
- Ralf Gruenert, Representative of the UNHCR in France.

A welcome coffee will be offered from 9am onwards by the entry of the conference venue.