Upcoming Einaudi Center Roundtable: Syria and the Middle East: Refugees, Internally Displaced Persons, and Asylum Seekers in Long-term Global Crises


On March 22nd, 2016 the Einaudi Center will host a thought-provoking discussion on the important topic "Syria and the Middle East: Refugees, Internally Displaced Persons and Asylum Seekers in Long-term Global Crises" featuring leaders and scholars including Ambassador Lakhdar Brahimi, former U.N. Under-Secretary-General and Special Adviser to the Secretary-General; Chantal Thomas, Professor of Law at Cornell Law School and Director of the Clarke Initiative for Law and Development in the Middle East and North Africa, Alex Aleinikoff, former UN Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees in Geneva, Visiting Professor of Law at Columbia University; and Lisel Hintz, Post Doctoral Fellow at the Einaudi Center. The event will seek to highlight challenges relating to protracted conflict and displacement, focusing on Syria and the Middle East but with a view to a global perspective.

This event will highlight challenges relating to protracted conflict and displacement, focusing on Syria and the Middle East. More than 4 years after the start of the Syrian conflict, refugees now number in the millions and face increasingly desperate circumstances. Tragically, the Syrian refugee population only adds to the waves of displacement in the Middle East in the modern era stemming from conflict in Iraq, Afghanistan, and many other neighboring countries. As a result, a majority of the world’s refugees today originate from the Middle East, and that world population is at its highest level since the Second World War. Ambassador Brahimi, former UN Special Envoy to Syria, will discuss the relationship between conflict and displacement. Professor Aleinikoff, former Deputy UN High Commissioner for Refugees, will address challenges in law and policy relating to refugee protection. Dr. Hintz, postdoctoral fellow at the Einaudi Center and specialist on Turkey, will address the qualitative political challenges faced by countries neighboring the conflict.

The event will be held at 184 Myron Taylor Hall from 4:30 PM - 6:00 PM and is co-hosted by the Berger Center for International Legal Studies, and the Clarke Initiative for Law and Development in the Middle East and North Africa.

About the Speakers:

Keynote Speaker: 

Ambassador Lakhdar Brahimi is an Algerian United Nations diplomat who served as the United Nations and Arab League Special Envoy to Syria until 14 May 2014. He was Minister of Foreign Affairs of Algeria from 1991 to 1993. He is also a member of The Elders, a group of world leaders working for global peace. Ambassador Brahimi is a member of the Commission on Legal Empowerment of the Poor, the first global initiative to focus specifically on the link between exclusion, poverty and law. He is also a member of the Global Leadership Foundation, an organization which works to promote good governance around the world. He is currently a distinguished senior fellow at the Centre for the Study of Global Governance at the London School of Economics and Political Science, and a governing board member of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.


Lisel Hintz is a Post Doctoral Fellow at Cornell University's Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies. Bridging the fields of International Relations and Comparative Politics, her overall research investigates the origins and functions of particular identities (ethnic, religious/sectarian, gender, national, regional, imperial) in domestic politics and foreign policy. She is currently working on a book manuscript based on her dissertation that seeks to distill the complexity of the Turkish case while offering a conceptually rigorous, comprehensive approach to wider studies of the relationship between national identity debates and foreign policy that will be of interest to comparativist and IR scholars alike. Her research has been funded, in part, by grants from the American Consortium on EU Studies; the Project on Middle East Political Science; the Institute of European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies; and the Institute of Turkish Studies, as well as a five-year Selective Excellence Teaching Assistantship from GWU and two US State Department Critical Language Scholarships. She speaks Turkish, French, Spanish, and German. 

T. Alexander Aleinikoff, a leading scholar in immigration and refugee law, is currently on assignment with the U.N. Secretariat in New York. From 2010 to 2015, he served as the United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees in Geneva. Prior to his service with the U.N., he was a professor at Georgetown University Law Center (1997-2010), where he also served as dean (2004-2010). Aleinikoff was a professor of law at the University of Michigan Law School from 1981 to 1997. Aleinikoff was co-chair of the Immigration Task Force for President Barack Obama’s transition team. From 1994 to 1997, he served as the general counsel, and then executive associate commissioner for programs, at the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS).


Chantal Thomas is Professor of Law at Cornell Law School, where she also directs the Clarke Initiative for Law and Development in the Middle East and North Africa. She teaches in the areas of Law and Development and International Economic Law. Prior to joining Cornell, Professor Thomas chaired the Law Department of the American University in Cairo, and also served on the University of Minnesota and Fordham University law faculties. She has been a Visiting Professor teaching international economic law at institutions such as the Center for Transnational Legal Studies in London, and Soochow University in China.

About Einaudi Center Roundtable Discussions:

The Einaudi Center Roundtable discussions address issues in global affairs that cut across disciplinary areas and/or regions of the world. These public forums are open to faculty, visiting scholars, students and the local communit. In the past, topics of discussion have included '20th Anniversary of the Rwandan Genocide,' 'Kurds in the Age of Middle Eastern Revolutions,' 'The EU Financial Crisis – Implications Inside and Outside the Euro-Zone,' and 'Food, politics, and society: Alternative futures.' Read more about these events on the Roundtable Discussions page.