Lahore: Shaikh Ahmad Hassan School of Law (SAHSOL), LUMS, in collaboration with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), organised a conference on “Incorporation of Refugee Law Courses into the Curriculum at Leading Academic Institutions”. The overarching aim of the Conference was to introduce and highlight the importance of an International Refugee Law course in educational institutes in Pakistan that would advance the knowledge and understanding of refugee protection principles among the academia.
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Key themes discussed during the Conference included the legislative background of refugees in Pakistan, challenges associated with defining refugees and resulting issues with identification, hurdles faced by refugees in accessing fundamental rights, and an International Refugee Law course developed by LUMS.
While opening the event, Ms. Nugmanova, Assistant Representative, Protection-UNHCR Pakistan, welcomed the speakers, participants and the LUMS team for coming together for this crucial initiative of laying the groundwork for the refugee law course. This was followed by an extensive overview of the International Refugee Law course designed and presented by the LUMS team. Prof. Sikander A. Shah, Associate Professor and former Legal Advisor to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, discussed the International Regime Component of the course whereas Prof. Uzair J. Kayani, Head of the Department, SAHSOL, elaborated on the Domestic Law Component of the course.
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Keynote speaker, Honourable Mr. Justice Jawad Hassan, Lahore High Court, enlightened the participants with the judicial perspective on the implementation of the mandatory articles of the international conventions dealing with human rights and refugee law. This was followed by panel discussions on the contours of international burden sharing, financial responsibility and potential national security risks considering the global refugee crisis. Key challenges to border security, gaps in the refugee management policy, and public perception of refugees at the social and state level were also discussed. The speakers included, Mr. Ahmer Bilal Soofi, Senior Managing Partner of the ABS&Co firm and former Federal Minister for Law, Justice & Parliamentary Affairs; Ms. Ayesha A. Malik, Team Lead at the Conflict Law Centre at the Research Society of International Law,; Mr. Umar Rashid, Advocate of the High Court of Pakistan and a PhD candidate at the Adelaide Law School; and Ms. Fatima Y. Bokhari, CEO Muswai, and Executive Committee Member of the Asia Alliance Against Torture.
The audience from educational institutes and bar councils from across Punjab, Islamabad, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh, Balochistan and Azad Kashmir networked and expressed interest to offer the International Refugee Law course in their curriculums. Prof. Sikander A. Shah and Prof. Uzair Kayani thanked the UNHCR and its donor partners for their support.