Thursday, December 31, 2015

Italy's Struggle Processing Migrants

Photo and Video Courtesy of: Journeyman Pictures

This "Journeyman Pictures" and "Dateline SBS" documentary is not only interesting and on-topic, it juxtaposes the personal experiences of the many different kinds of migrant with on-site interviews and informative news segments.

It is so easy to become frustrated with the European reaction to the current Migrant Crisis, which has only gotten worse since Syrian War refugees began to increasingly join the already steady stream of people fleeing Africa and the Middle East seeing refuge from war, abject poverty, persecution, or death threats.  But as this video attempts to show, in Italy, at least, the people are trying to help the refugees, they are just completely unprepared to deal with such a huge influx.  Governments lack necessary infrastructure to deal with all the people that need to be processed, and refugee camps lack food, water, shelter, warmth, basic sanitation, or anything approaching even basic human rights.

As always there will be some people who will be xenophobic, who prefer to build boarders instead of relationships, who ignore this massive need of their fellow man instead of getting educated and getting involved.  Luckily this piece also highlights some of the wonderful nonprofit organizations on the ground helping refugees in Italy.

The big question no one seems to be asking: what is America doing about the Migrant and Refugee Crisis?

Italy's Struggle to Process Swelling Tide of Refugees:

The European Refugee Crisis and Syria Explained

Photo and Video Courtesy of: Kurzgesagt – In a Nutshell

This YouTube Channel provides a simple, easy to understand video-infographic that is informative as well as framed in a interesting, possibly different, viewpoint.  Whatever your current view of the Syrian Refugee Crisis, I highly recommend this brief video... and hopefully you will be inspired to learn more.

Refugee Crisis:

Sunday, December 20, 2015

International Refugee Law

© Prazis / Fotolia

“Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.”
(Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 14.1).

To understand the struggle of today's refugees crisis, forced migration, and human trafficking we need to understand the field of international law.


What is international law? 

International law is the set of rules generally regarded to be binding only in relations between states and between nations. Because of state sovereignty, much of international law is consent-based governance. However, there are other aspects of international law such as customary international law and peremptory norms (jus cogens) are obligatory upon state and non-state actors. These include private corporations and non-state actors, including nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). 

International law serves as a framework for organized international relations for sovereign states. One of the most important international organizations, the United Nations the development of international law one of its main mandates. The UN Charter, in its Preamble, sets the objective "to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained". More than 500 multilateral treaties have been deposited with the Secretary-General of the United Nations. Many other treaties are deposited with governments or other entities such as the European Court of Human Rights, the International Criminal Court (ICC). Treaties such as the Geneva Conventions may require national law to conform to respective parts

The domains of international law encompasses a wide range of issues of international concern such as human rights, disarmament, international crime, refugees, migration, problems of nationality, the treatment of prisoners, the use of force, and the conduct of war, among others. It also regulates the global commons, such as the environment, sustainable development, international waters, outer space, global communications and world trade.


What is a refugee in international law? 

According to the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees a
refugee is someone who:
1. Has a well founded fear of persecution because of his/her
  • Race,
  • Religion,
  • Nationality,
  • Membership in a particular social group, or
  • Political opinion;
2. Is outside his/her country of origin; and
3. Is unable or unwilling to avail him/herself of the protection of that country, or to return there, for fear of persecution.
Read more from United Nations High Commission for Refugees. (2012). Text of Convention


Refugee Law is based on Human Rights Law

Most of the rights crucial to refugee protection are also the fundamental rights stated in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights
  • Right to life, liberty and security of person
  • Right to seek and enjoy asylum
  • Freedom from torture, or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment
  • Freedom from slavery or servitude
  • Recognition as a person before the law
  • Freedom of thought, conscience, and religion
  • Freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention
  • Freedom from arbitrary interference in privacy, home and family
  • Freedom of opinion and expression
  • Right to be educated
  • Right to participate in the cultural life of a community


Refugee and Migrants: An issue of 'force'

International law distinguishes the rights of the migrant from those of a refugee. Unlike migrants, refugees do not choose to leave their countries; they are forced to do so. Economic migrants are persons who leave their countries of origin purely for economic reasons, to seek material improvements in their lives. The key difference between economic migrants and refugees is that economic migrants enjoy the protection of their home countries; refugees do not. Economic migrants do not fall within the criteria for refugee status and are therefore not entitled to benefit from international protection as refugees. 


How does refugee law relates to humanitarian and human rights law?

In her book The Human Rights of Migrants and Refugees in European Law Cathryn Costello has clearly identified the strengths and limits of international law and international human rights in relation to the 2015 EU refugee and migration crisis.

"The human rights of migrants and refugees are far from secure. Human rights and refugee law both contain strong norms of non-refoulement, or non-return to face persecution or serious human rights violations. However, those seeking refuge rarely have a legal route to claim asylum in the EU. To claim asylum, they must normally be on the territory, and usually this means a dangerous irregular journey. EU law requires the states where they arrive (predominantly Greece and Italy in 2015) to process their asylum-claims (unless they have close family elsewhere). However, that allocation mechanism would be unworkable if it was properly enforced. It creates many legal frictions, as people resist being transferred back to countries of first arrival, which often run weak asylum systems." (Read more here).


Read more on International Law and Refugee

  1. International Refugee Law
  2. Refugee Protection: A Guide to International Refugee Law
  3. International Journal of Refugee Law
  4. Free access to Oxford University Press resources on refugee law

The human rights of migrants and refugees are far from secure … The figure of the ‘migrant’ sits uneasily with the basic human equality than underpins human rights law. - See more at:
Cathryn Costello, is a Andrew W Mellon Associate Professor in International Human Rights and Refugee Law, Refugee Studies Centre, Oxford Department of International Development. She is the author of The Human Rights of Migrants and Refugees in European Law. - See more at:
Cathryn Costello, is a Andrew W Mellon Associate Professor in International Human Rights and Refugee Law, Refugee Studies Centre, Oxford Department of International Development. She is the author of The Human Rights of Migrants and Refugees in European Law. - See more at:

Friday, December 18, 2015

International Migrant Day and Migrant Rights

Today is the International Migrant Day. We still have a way to go to promote social inclusion and global citizenship based on human security... Let's reflect for a moment on the humanity journey through global migration and on the human rights implications and international obligations in forced migrations. 

"On International Migrants Day, let us commit to coherent, comprehensive and human-rights based responses guided by international law and standards and a shared resolve to leave no one behind.""

Ban Ki-moon
Message for International Migrants Day,
18 December 2015

The following is a United Nations reflection and invitation to remember the victims of forced migration. 

"Throughout human history, migration has been a courageous expression of the individual’s will to overcome adversity and to live a better life. Today, globalization, together with advances in communications and transportation, has greatly increased the number of people who have the desire and the capacity to move to other places.

This new era has created challenges and opportunities for societies throughout the world. It also has served to underscore the clear linkage between migration and development, as well as the opportunities it provides for co-development, that is, the concerted improvement of economic and social conditions at both origin and destination.

Migration draws increasing attention in the world nowadays. Mixed with elements of unforeseeability, emergency, and complexity, the challenges and difficulties of international migration require enhanced cooperation and collective action among countries and regions. The United Nations is actively playing a catalyst role in this area, with the aim of creating more dialogues and interactions within countries and regions, as well as propelling experience exchange and collaboration opportunities.

To mark this year’s International Migrants Day, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) is calling on the international community to come together and remember the refugees and migrants who have lost their lives or have disappeared while trying to reach safe harbour after arduous journeys across seas and deserts.

IOM invites people all over the world to hold the first global Candlelight Vigil on December 18 to commemorate the migrants whose lives have been lost this year. Each of them has a name, a story and left their homelands seeking better opportunities and safety for themselves and in many cases for their families - aspirations that all of us strive for." Read more about the vigil.

The United Nations Human Rights Council has issued an important report on the rights of migrants. Check their work on migrant rights at and The UN Special Rapporteur on #MigrantRights:

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Migration Justice: A New Master Program at USF

The University of San Francisco (USF) has recently launched a Master Degree Program on Migration Studies. As we are faced my growing crises of forced migrations in Europe and worldwide, programs like this are becoming even more relevant for developing appropriate and competent leaders for the present and future global needs. International migration, along refugee crises, and human trafficking are some of the most pressing global challenges, international responsibilities and societal opportunities.

The Master in Migration Studies at University of San Francisco (USF) has been created in collaboration with the Universidad Iberoamericana, the Jesuit university in Mexico City (UIA). USF’s Master in Migration Studies combines its interdisciplinary approach with field experiences with migrants and with a particular attention to Mexican and Central American migration. In an article to the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities (AJCU), Dr. Lois Ann Lorentzen, USF Professor of Theology and Religious Studies, highlights the Latin American and Jesuit values of the program: "Mexicans make up roughly half of all unauthorized migrants to the U.S. In addition, half a million Central Americans cross Mexico annually, many of them making the dangerous journey north on top of a train known as “la Bestia.” The new USF program will benefit from Jesuit programs in support of migrants in Mexico, Central America, the U.S. and other parts of the world. For example, the Jesuit Service for Migrants in Mexico was founded in 2002 to address the urgent needs of migrants within Mexico, and several Jesuit groups staff comedores (food distribution centers) and shelters along the migrant route as well as the country's northern and southern borders."

Dr. Marco Tavanti has been instrumental to develop other programs similar to this and the AGI-Rome that aim at preparing adequate leaders and managers to address the challenges and opportunities of people on the move. He was instrumental for the creation of a Master degree program at DePaul University in Chicago focused on Refugee and Forced Migration Studies. He also developed the Intercultural Refugee Service Management Program in Jordan, in collaboration with UNHCR, UNRWA, IOM and other agencies with the purpose of helping nonprofit voluntary agency refugee resettlement workers (VOLAGs) to understand the global struggles and international procedures linked in migration. The Refugee Studies Centre at University of Oxford has been a pioneer in the study of forced migration and has been offering substantially contributing to the field. The educational challenges of such innovative program is to combine the understanding of international legal environments, with cultural normative and other interdisciplinary aspects with managerial skills for developing, running and assessing projects, programs and organizations.

The USF- School of Management AGI-Rome program along the USF Master in Migration Studies aim at preparing professionals to meet the needs of migrants and refugees. They aim to prepare professionals to adequately and competitively address these global challenges. They aim at understanding the intersection and complexity of forced migration with refugee and human rights responsibility, and with criminal activities linked to modern forms of human trafficking. They exemplify what former Jesuit Superior General Rev. Pedro Arrupe, S.J. envisioned in these professionals who can change the world by becoming “women and men for others."

Read more about the USF Migration Studies program here.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

AGI-Rome Students Publish on Anti-Human Trafficking

On December 2015, the International Journal of Sustainable Human Security (IJSHS), a peer-reviewed publication of the World Engagement Institute (WEI), published a special issue on Anti-Human Trafficking and Human Security. This special issue of the International Journal of Sustainable Human Security (IJSHS) aims to identify the connections between human trafficking and anti-human trafficking with sustainable and institutional solutions linked to the comprehensive framework of human security. Some of the AGI-Rome 2015 students submitted their paper that were accepted for the publication in the online issue. Under the editorial direction of Prof. Marco Tavanti, the special issue aims at considering practical and theoretical aspect of anti-human trafficking in relation to human security. During the past 20 years, human trafficking has been traditionally studied by various disciplines such as criminal law, human rights, international studies, gender justice and other social sciences. Yet, the complexity of the phenomenon requires a more comprehensive approach through multidisciplinary perspectives and multi-sector solutions. Human trafficking is more than a criminal activity. It is a practice often legitimized by a lack of awareness, socio-cultural norms, and lucrative-exploitative economic transactions. Anti-human trafficking solutions require systemic and structural factors linked to poverty, globalization, political and institutional capacity to protect victims and punish perpetrators. The sustainable human security comprehensive framework provides the necessary framework to study the structural causes of human trafficking while highlighting effective, innovative, and sustainable solutions to the fight against modern human slavery. 

These are the titles and abstracts of the three AGI-Rome students:

"Partnership and the 3Ps of Human Trafficking: How Multi-Sector Collaboration Contributes to Effective Anti-Trafficking Measures." - Kelly Ann Yeo-Oxenham & Dylan Rose Schneider
This paper reviews the relevance of partnership in the anti-human trafficking globally adopted 3P strategy of prevention, protection and persecution. It proposes concrete recommendations for implementing cross-sector partnerships as a more effective response and holistic strategy to the challenges of modern day slavery. The fourth “P”, Partnership, was added to the widely practiced “3Ps” paradigm of human trafficking by former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in 2009 in the attempt of promoting anti human trafficking solutions through pooled resources and collaborative strategies.

"Combating Human Trafficking Through Increased Awareness." - Zane Jacobs
This paper explores the role of awareness in anti-human trafficking. It argues that due to the lack of awareness, human trafficking has been allowed to flourish in many communities, operating in the shadows. Increasing awareness amongst victims and their surrounding communities will shed light on this atrocity and limit trafficker’s ability to function in secrecy. Awareness, in the case of trafficking victims, is the opposite of vulnerability. Awareness provides protection from traffickers by providing potential victims with the information necessary to recognize their options, and make informed decisions.

The IJSHS also included an article of Risa Harrison, a Master of Nonprofit Administration (MNA) who conducted a study on international adoption procedures and offered recommendations for avoiding human trafficking violations.

"An Examination of Trafficking Loopholes in International Adoption: Recommendations for Trafficking Avoidance." - Risa Harrison
The Hague Convention outlines an international agreement to ensure that intercountry adoptions happen in the best interest of the child. Much controversy exists around international adoption because some children have been trafficked into loving homes in a corrupt adoption process. While it is a child’s human right to be raised in a loving home, it is required that a child is not trafficked into such an environment. This paper looks at areas where loopholes can be found in the Hague convention such that a child can still be trafficked through a corrupt adoption even between Convention signing countries. It shows how international adoption and trafficking should differ, and will suggest ways adopting NGOs and Central Authorities can ensure that they are only facilitating adoptions for children in need of families, devoid of corruption, and can therefore avoid unknowingly trafficking children. This paper makes systemic and systematic recommendations to help ensure human rights and increase human security.

Read more on the IJSHS-AHT issue at

USF For Freedom Symposium: Understading Refugee Accompaniment and Tackleing Human Trafficking

On May 30, the University of San Francisco’s USF for Freedom Symposium highlighted important issues surrounding human trafficking, including modern day slavery and forced migration.
“People think of slavery and human trafficking as a problem of the past, or at least far removed from the Western world. But it’s neither. Did you know that the Bay Area is in the top 13 locations in the U.S. for most child sex trafficking?” said Minouche Kandel, Women’s Policy Director at the San Francisco Department on the Status of Women and member of the SF Mayor’s Taskforce on Anti-Human Trafficking, during her keynote speech.
“There were at least 1300 Bay Area sex trafficking victims in 2012,” she said, “and we don’t even know the true extent of the problem because by definition this is a hidden problem.”
Dr. Marco Tavanti, Director of USF’s Master of Nonprofit Administration program and co-founder of the World Engagement Institute and his students organized the event.
Tavanti’s students’ learned about modern day slavery and forced migration from representatives of the Jesuit Refugee Service, a worldwide Jesuit organization that provides aid to refugees and other forcibly displaced persons during an Academic Global Immersion trip to Rome this past January.
After coming back from Italy, the students said, wouldn’t it be great to have a conference with Bay Area nonprofits and other organizations that promote the human dignity of victims of forced migration and slavery?,” Dr. Tavanti said. “They’ve been working on the symposium ever since, as yet another way to work with USF to change the world from here.
Keynote speaker Mitzi Schroeder, Director of Policy for the Jesuit Refugee Service, spoke about the Jesuit practice of accompanying refugees, listening to their needs and advocating for them. “A listening ear and an education is the only thing you can give a refugee that nobody can take away,” she said. “The average time a person spends as a refugee is 17 years. That’s a whole generation of refugee kids growing up in camps, outside of society, outside of their culture.”
According to the United Nations Refugee Agency, there are more than 51 million forcibly displaced people in the world today. By conservative UN estimates there are at least 21 million victims of human trafficking and slavery today.
“Why does our society produce so many victims?” asked USF President Fr. Paul Fitzgerald at the symposium. “How do we change our system so that it won’t?”
This is a question USF School of Management Professor David Batstone has been trying to answer for years. After accidentally finding out that there were victims of forced labor working at his favorite Indian restaurant in San Francisco, Dr. Batstone co-founded Not For Sale in 2006 and authored a book by the same name.
“This is a global, international crisis that reaches all the way to your local community,” Dr. Batstone said. “It’s evil, and I don’t use that word lightly. To take away someone’s freedom and dignity is evil.”
So what can be done to battle human trafficking?
Organizations like those present at the symposium are working hard to change the necessary local government policies. One example is underage prostitution victims, who shouldn’t be funneled into the delinquency system for prostitution’s illegality but rather need to be seen as victims and transferred over to Child Protective Services. “We’ve all heard the phrase child prostitute,” Kandel said. “But of course there’s no such thing. If a child is being prostituted, it’s slavery.”
Individuals can report suspicious activity to the National Human Trafficking Hotline (1-888-3737-888) or the San Francisco Police Department Tipline (415-643-6233).
People can educate themselves on modern slavery in the consumerism supply chain through websites such as Free2Work and Know the Chain.
“It’s important that we work from a mentality of empowerment rather than rescue,” said co-founder of Not For Sale and USF alumnus Mark Wexler. Not For Sale runs a program in the Bay Area called Reinvent that provides trafficking victims with education, counseling and jobs.
The USF For Freedom Symposium tackled such an important topic, that organizers are already thinking about next year.
“We will further connect USF with community organizations, nonprofits and social enterprises,” Dr. Tavanti said. “Modern day slavery is a complex phenomenon that requires coordinated effort to prevent, including protection of victims, prosecution of criminals, and establishing effective partnerships across sectors and agencies. As a university, we can play a crucial role in providing the space for awareness, sharing best practices and promoting social and global engagement.”
Want to know more about fighting human trafficking? Measure your slavery footprint. Donate your time or money to local anti-trafficking organizations. Sign up for the national Polaris Project and Stop Trafficking newsletters. Learn about the San Francisco Mayor’s Task Force on Anti-Human Trafficking. Check out our USF4Freedom website’s extensive learning resources.

Story from USF-SOM Marketing at
Read more on the USF4Freedom here    

Academic Global Immersion in Rome 2015

Students from the Master of Nonprofit and Public Administration program at the University of San Francisco (USF) traveled to Rome over the winter break as part of the inaugural Academic Global Immersion (AGI) program in January 2015. The week-long course, International Jesuit Models of Refugee Service Management, aims to explore non-government sector practices outside of the U.S. and compare effective administrative strategies for forced migrations around the world.

USF Professor Marco Tavanti collaborated with the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) to design the course that helps students recognize how human dignity and social justice paradigms play a key role in the leadership and management of projects for humanitarian assistance worldwide.

“I wanted to give our students the chance to reflect on emergencies related to forced migrations that are quite vivid and challenging even in our communities here in the U.S. and the Bay Area,” Tavanti said. “The value of these intensive immersion experiences is not only becoming informed and sensitive global citizens, but also providing adequate responses through our profession and location to these global challenges.”

To achieve these goals, Tavanti and the students were given the opportunity to work with The United Nations Office for Partnerships at the Food and Agricultural Organization (UN-FAO), The International Development Law Organization (IDLO) and JRS Italy represented by the Centro Astalli, Caritas (Catholic Charities) Rome.

Pope Francis, the first Jesuit Pope, who has made the issue of welcoming immigrants and avoiding abusive and inhumane situations like modern slavery a focal point of his papacy, also greeted students in St. Peter’s Square.

Elizabeth Ramos, Masters of Public Administration student ‘16, said she chose to participate in the program to gain a deeper understanding of her chosen field and further develop her education, but what the group came away with was a unified mission.

“My peers and I came to a similar conclusion that it is our responsibility to not only be compassionate and knowledgeable about refugee issues, but to also think critically and establish how as individuals, and within our networks, we can take this experience and ensure that it is sustained within our work moving forward,” she said.

The personal element of these larger issues was highlighted by the moving story of a young refugee from Afghanistan named Mohammed, who was a guest of Centro Astalli. His story of forced migration gave an intimate meaning to the policy discussions.

“I was especially impacted by Mohammed's testimonial. He shared his personal story of seeking refuge and it tied all the elements together for a deeper understanding of the issues and social pressures that both refugees and governments of sanctuary are currently facing,” Ramos said. “I am thankful for this individual’s story and his resilience despite his barriers. I can only imagine the children who are my neighbors that are currently in different stages of a similar journey.”

Now back at USF, the AGI participants plan to continue their experience by contributing to an upcoming symposium on Forced Migration at USF’s Downtown campus on May 30th, featuring the “accompaniment” values of JRS and the work of selected Bay Area non-profit and organizations engaged in these social challenges. Ramos and her cohorts will use this opportunity to demonstrate their commitment to the social issues they were exposed to in Rome. “I have found that to be a leader, businessperson and entrepreneur involves getting closest to the people that are closest to the issues at hand,” Ramos said. “Constant communication and understanding are essential to move forward.”

For more information about the Academic Global Immersion Program, click here.

Article by Sage Curtis; Photos by Michael De Leon.