U.N. Commissioner Calls for “Responsibility to Solve”

Location: McCartan Courtroom


Those caught in protracted refugee situations need more than legal rights – they need a morally based commitment from the world community to find lasting solutions. That was the message T. Alexander Aleinikoff, United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees, brought to Eck Hall of Law’s McCartan Courtroom on March 19, 2012.

Mr. Aleinikoff began with a thoughtful assessment of several intractable refugee situations around the globe. Considering first the possibility of identifying specific legal rights which would entitle refugees to political solutions, Mr. Aleinikoff then suggested that the world community think beyond this approach toward a more broadly-based one, resting on the principle of moral responsibility.

“What I will suggest here is a way to find a rhetoric or, if you will, a moral fulcrum that moves the international community into action,” Mr. Aleinikoff said. Emphasizing the need for a commitment to durable political solutions rather than temporary remediation, Mr. Aleinikoff suggested that “…if you can get a discourse going about a responsibility to solve…[it] will support new and interesting thinking…”

Mr. Aleinikoff’s address marked the inaugural presentation in the Program on Law and Human Development’s planned series of annual lectures, designed to address issues related to law and human development. This lecture was co-sponsored by the Kellogg Institute for International Studies and The Center for Civil and Human Rights.

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