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    Human Rights Day 2022

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    Event description

    The United Nations Association of New Zealand (UNA NZ) will mark the 74th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the 7th anniversary of the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development with a seminar entitled: Human Rights Day 2022 – “The refugee crisis as a human rights crisis.” This event honours the memory of John Morgan, UNA NZ.

    This event will be held on Thursday, 8 December 2022 from 5.30pm-7.30pm at the Beehive Theatrette, New Zealand Parliament Buildings. Light refreshments will be served following the event. Non-member tickets are $30 and member tickets are $25, to cover costs with catering. 

    We are delighted to announce MP Ibrahim Omer as our host and keynote speaker. He will be joined by other excellent speakers including Rachel O’Connor (Chief Executive of English Language Partners New Zealand and previous lead advisor to the Race Relations Commissioner at the Human Rights Commission), Murdoch Stephens (the driving force behind the “Double the Refugee Quota” campaign and Senior Research Fellow with the University of Auckland's Centre for Asia Pacific Refugee Studies) and Ali Muhammad, who came to New Zealand as a refugee and works today to enable opportunities for youth from refugee backgrounds to thrive.

    Karim Dickie, the Acting President of UNA NZ, will chair and Dr Marnie Lloydd, Lecturer at the School of Law of Victoria University of Wellington, whose principal field of expertise is international law related to armed conflict and the protection of civilians, will moderate the seminar which will address the following theme:

    - With 89.3 million people displaced in 2021 (from which about 30% are refugees), the Ukraine war has pushed the number of people forced to flee their homes over 100 million – people also from Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Ethiopia and Venezuela, to cite the countries where most refugees come from. Overall, the number of refugees has more than doubled in the last decade alone. We can’t talk about the refugee crisis without talking about human rights: Isn’t the violation of human rights what causes the conflicts that, in turn, force people to leave their homes? On the other hand, how can we guarantee that refugees and asylum seekers have their human rights protected throughout the whole process of fleeing a country and resettling somewhere else?

    - It's been said that in response to the Ukraine crisis, we’ve seen refugees being treated humanely and with consideration. Doesn’t it show that it’s possible to treat all refugees with respect for their human rights? Is prejudice and racism adding to a crisis that is already grave enough on its own?

    - And lastly, what can we do as a society and as individuals to help find solutions for the refugee crisis? Is New Zealand as a country doing enough?

    Bio of speakers

    Keynote speaker: Ibrahim Omer MP

    Ibrahim Omer became an MP to represent communities who often struggle to have their voices heard. His experience spans fleeing his home country, being in a refugee camp, working as a minimum wage cleaner, graduating from university, and representing low paid workers as a union organiser.

    He left his home country of Eritrea in 2003 spending years in UN-run refugee camps where he worked as an interpreter. He was then detained on suspicion of being a spy, it was only when the UN stepped in that he was rescued and offered the chance to come to New Zealand.

    He moved to Wellington where he worked as a cleaner and dreamt of studying at University. That dream came true in 2014 when he started studying at Victoria University. He paid for his study by working full time at nights, cleaning the lecture theatres he would study in during the day. Since becoming involved in politics at university, Ibrahim has taken every opportunity to work for a better tomorrow. He has chaired the board of Change Makers Resettlement Forum, been involved in governance for the Living Wage Movement, and knocked on hundreds of doors and made thousands of calls as a Labour volunteer.

    During his time in Parliament Ibrahim has advocated for migrant communities, refuges and low-paid workers across Aotearoa. He is also the co-chair of the New Zealand Parliamentary friendship group for Middle East and Africa facilitating closer ties between New Zealand, Africa and the Middle East.

    Moderator: Dr. Marnie Lloydd BA LLB(Hons) VUW, MA (Bochum), LLM (Geneva), PhD (Melbourne)

    Dr. Marnie Lloydd is a Lecturer and Associate-Director of the New Zealand Centre for Public Law at the School of Law, Te Herenga Waka–Victoria University of Wellington. She is an international lawyer whose principal field of expertise is international law related to armed conflict and the protection of civilians. Her academic work builds on fifteen years in the international humanitarian sector, primarily with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) as well as with the UNHCR.


    Murdoch Stephens

    Murdoch Stephens started the double the refugee quota campaign in 2013, working to form non-partisan consensus on the increase until it became government policy in 2018. He is speaking as a Senior Research Fellow with the University of Auckland's Centre for Asia Pacific Refugee Studies and has also worked in numerous other parts of the forced migration sector. In his spare time he's a novelist and a publisher, and he lives in Te Whanganui a Tara, Wellington.

    Rachel O'Connor

    With a Masters of Migration Studies and over 15 years’ experience in the refugee and migrant sector, Rachel is a passionate humanitarian, supporter and advocate for welcoming and integrating people new to New Zealand. She is currently the Chief Executive of English Language Partners New Zealand which supports over 7,000 former refugees and migrants each year with English language acquisition.  She has previously been the lead advisor to the Race Relations Commissioner at the Human Rights Commission.  Rachel was also the General Manager of Migration at New Zealand Red Cross, overseeing the community settlement programme for quota refugees as well as employment and mental health services for former refugees and asylum seekers. A past member of the Taku Manawa Human Rights programme run by the Human Rights Commission, Rachel advocated and presented in Geneva to member state representatives as part of the Universal Periodic Review of New Zealand.

    Ali Muhammad

    Ali Muhammad was born in Pakistan to an Afghan family that had to take refuge in the neighbouring country during the first takeover of the Taliban group in the 1990s. Ali received his early education in Pakistan but later on found himself unable to attend education due to the 'Afghan refugee' tag. He moved to Aotearoa New Zealand in 2015 under the refugee quota. Ali has since then completed an undergraduate degree and is now doing his Master's at Massey University. He is the founder of Thrive Foundation with the aim to break barriers for refugee youth to thrive in Manawatu, and he's also the host of Humbling Stories, a podcast with the mission to provide young refugees an opportunity to share their stories. Passionate about the impact of sports and recreation in our communities and how it can support us to be a more inclusive society, Ali currently officiates in New Zealand Women's National League.

    About the United Nations Association of New Zealand

    UNA NZ is a national community organisation and a registered charity. It is made up of a number of regional branches, an independent youth association (UN Youth New Zealand) and affiliates across New Zealand. UNA NZ was founded shortly after the United Nations itself in 1945, and is formally associated with the UN Department of Public Information. UNA NZ is a member of The World Federation of United Nations Associations (WFUNA), which provides links with United Nations Associations in other countries throughout the world.

    UNA NZ members come from all areas and walks of life. What brings them together is a shared interest in the work of the United Nations and in trying to make the world a better place. UNA NZ is also affiliated with a number of organisations who are looking for synergies and collaboration. It is supported by the We the People’s Foundation to grow a capital base for the organisation.

    Our branches continue to foster scholarship and creative engagement in the work of the United Nations, and our network of enthusiastic members and interns is growing both in New Zealand and abroad.

    The future we want, the United Nations we need: reaffirming our collective commitment to multilateralism.

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