As a general rule, the rights created by the Convention still apply today. Some have argued that the complex nature of refugee relations in the 21st century requires a new treaty that recognizes the evolving nature of the nation-state, population displacement, environmental migrants, and modern warfare.   Nevertheless, ideas such as the principle of non-refoulement (Article 33) are still applied today, with the 1951 Convention being the source of these rights. The situation on the EU side is even less promising. This is reflected in the European Commission`s „New Deal on Migration and Asylum“, which was launched in September 2020. While the pact emphasises the principle of non-refoulement (refugees or asylum seekers should not be forced to return to a country where they can be persecuted), another pillar of the Convention on the Status of Refugees proposes measures that could further complicate the possibility for people fleeing persecution to seek protection and access the EU. The aim, some observers say, appears to be to „harden and formalise `Fortress Europe`“ and „keep migrants and refugees out of Europe at all costs“. Denmark passed a law in June 2021 to shift the processing of asylum applications from the country to third countries, while in April its government refused to renew residence permits for some Syrians, saying parts of Syria under the regime`s control were safe enough to return refugees. The fact that this comes from a country known as progressive and led by a social-democratic government – which was among the first to sign the 1951 Convention – shows how far-right policies have changed the scope of refugee protection in Europe. This picture is exacerbated by allegations that the EU border agency FRONTEX and some Member States have been involved in pushing refugees back to the Aegean Sea and the Mediterranean, an immoral act that threatens to kill them. Thank you, Eric. I hope I can still have 30 seconds with Senior Advisor Harold with us.
I think what I want to say at the end, yesterday in the absence of the United States in the last four years of the world stage on so many important issues, including the refugee issue, was regrettable. But at the same time, there were a lot of ideas, there was a lot of innovation. Many efforts have been made. This gives the United States some privilege today to look at these solutions and try to borrow. But at the same time, it`s not about borrowing the solution, it`s about directing the work. No one today can overlook the fact that today`s United States is the greatest power, has the most diplomatic power, the most soft power in the world. I mean, on a small issue and a small initiative like the one Eric mentioned, for example, a special fund for refugees in this organization. Over the decades, it has become clear that we need to do this through a public-private partnership where refugee-led organizations such as RI work with national governments, international organizations and UNHCR to promote greater involvement in national and international policy-making on refugee issues.
But while our time has been short, this government is committed to listening, acting and offering solutions to root causes. Even in six months, we hope that you, the public, will feel the difference. After all, as they say, we are just getting started. Thank you for listening. I am honoured to be here. I thank my good friend Eric and look forward to the conversation that follows. Well, that`s a good question, Eric, and I think we understand it in two ways. The first is, of course, that you can`t be too subtle in the overall message. So you say, „If you`re not a refugee, don`t come, but if you`re a refugee, come.“ Everyone will say, „Well, I`m a refugee,“ and they`ll come. This is not a message that you can customize.
If it is actually activated, and this is my second point, is that if there are qualities or qualities that you have that you cannot change, and your only alternative is to flee, they will flee. They are told not to come, and they will ignore it. If you`re being persecuted for political reasons and you know they`re going to come tomorrow and kill your family, you`re not going to listen to a U.S. government official say, „Don`t come.“ You really have no choice. You run away and think, „If I get to the other end, I will claim the legitimate basis of asylum. This is an important professional milestone because of the years I have spent fighting inside and outside government to enforce the provisions of the Convention. America`s profound refugee legacy includes as many descendants of refugees as Representative Neguse, who have supported your cause over these many years. And as much as I have been moved by the gift we received from the convention to try to pay off our debts through government service around the world. As Eric mentioned earlier, this is my fourth time in the U.S. government and my fifth decade of work on refugee issues. I started in the 80s in the office of the legal counsel at the Department of Justice. Second, in the `90s, advocating for the U.S.
government on behalf of Haitian and Cuban refugees, and working with Eric on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, later as Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor in the Clinton administration, worked hand in hand with Eric when he was Senior Director of Humanitarian Affairs at the National Security Council. .