‘Public Policy & Governance Beyond Borders’ will be the guiding theme of the international conference of the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management (APPAM), to be held in Brussels on 13-14 July 2017. In the run-up to the event, I’ll be posing questions to a number of minority scholarship winners. Our third post looks at the work, hopes and dreams of Sara Hamedani, an International Law student from Azad University in Iran.
How did you hear about the scholarship, and why did you decide to apply for the conference?
I am constantly searching the internet for academic opportunities. About four months ago I saw the announcement for the 2017 APPAM international conference – and it seemed a great opportunity to broaden my horizons as a student of International Law who focuses on the human rights of refugees. I couldn’t afford the expenses of travelling to Europe, so I was delighted to win this scholarship!
At the opening session you will present a study on ‘The Impact of Terrorism on Refugee Law’. Can you briefly explain what the study is about?
In this study, I considered the needs of refugees and the responsibilities of states based on the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. The main question is whether or not terrorism affects the right and principle of asylum seeking. Another focus is the link between refugees and national security, particularly with regards to asylum applications and approvals.
Your study begins from a legal perspective, before moving into the field of human rights and refugee studies. If you could advise world leaders and the international community on how to improve the situation of refugees, what would you recommend?
The findings of my study on the Mediterranean refugee ‘crisis’ cover three key points. First, I would say it is important to analyse the roots of unrest especially in the parts of the world such as the Middle East and Africa that are engaged in civil wars. Second, I would emphasise the need for burden sharing, which is already reflected in international conventions and European human rights instruments. It’s not only border countries like Italy and Greece that are responsible for refugees amid the current ‘crisis’; all European Union countries need to work together to solve this international problem. Third, we need to check the role of the media and how they cover refugees and asylum seekers, as countless news articles have fuelled a new kind of xenophobia within host countries. Such articles often ignore the life-threatening journeys made by refugees, and make the overall process of integration that much harder once they have arrived in various ‘safe’ host countries.
You come from Azad University in Iran, yet the vast majority of APPAM members are still US-based. What do you expect to find of value for your study and career development within APPAM, and what can you and your university add to the association?
I am excited to present the results of my study at the APPAM conference and discussing them with other scholars of this field. I look forward to shedding new light on hidden aspects of the international refugee crisis.
Ultimately, I believe in the transformational power of education – and so I think youth are the best ambassadors of peace around the world. When we trust in ourselves and our inner powers, we can influence the powerful – no matter who they are or what their intentions.
As Malala Yousafzai said at the UN in 2013: “Dear sisters and brothers, we realize the importance of light when we see darkness. We realize the importance of our voice when we are silenced… The extremists are afraid of books and pens. The power of education frightens them.”
The opinions expressed here are the author’s own; they do not necessarily reflect the views of UNU.
UN Photo/OCHA/David Ohana