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Relisten | Migration: Idealism vs. Pragmatism

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Migration: Idealism vs. Pragmatism

Debate - 

According to John Dalhuisen, former director for Europe at Amnesty International, humanitarian organizations should compromise on their ethical and moral standards, when it comes to migration. In the face of surging support for far right parties and political agendas, they have to search for humane migration policies that are sellable to the majority of the European citizens. Dalhuisen explains his argumentation, during the first edition of ‘Humanitarian Hot Topics’. 

Migration is one of the biggest humanitarian issues of our time. People flee poverty and seek security in Europe. But many European citizens fear uncontrolled migration, and perceive it as a threat to their own culture, security and prosperity. How should humanitarian organizations position themselves, now that the call for a fortress Europe is getting stronger? Should they continue to hold on to their moral values, or be more willing to bend to the public opinion?  

John Dalhuisen worked for many years at Amnesty International. He resigned in May 2018, expressing dissatisfaction with the organizational approach to migration. Now Dalhuisen works for the European Stability Initiative, the think tank of Gerald Knaus, architect of the Turkey Deal. According to Dalhuisen, humanitarian organizations are being imprisoned by their own idealism, especially when it comes to migration. He calls on to them to be brave enough to search for a compromis with politicians such as Merkel and Macron, and to come up with a border control that is humane and legal, but also sellable to European citizens. 

About John Dalhuisen

John Dalhuisen is a Senior Fellow at European Stability Initiative. He was Director of Amnesty International’s Europe and Central Asia Programme and Regional Office from 2012 to 2017. He had joined Amnesty International in 2007 as a researcher on discrimination in Europe, becoming Deputy Director in 2010 covering the former Soviet Union. Between 2001 and 2006, he was Special Adviser to the first Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights. He was called to the Bar of England and Wales in 2007 and studied Philosophy at Edinburgh University and Humboldt University in Berlin.

About the rest of the speakers

  • Evelien van Roemburg is the Europe Migration Campaign manager for Oxfam International. She leads the advocacy and campaign development and delivery of Oxfam’s humanitarian refugee response in Europe. She has previously worked at Oxfam Novib, lectured at the University of Amsterdam in conflict studies and refugee law, and worked in New York and Nairobi with asylum seekers and refugees. Evelien has master degrees in political science and law from the University of Amsterdam and from Columbia University in New York, and has almost finalized her PhD research on treaty supervision in the international refugee law regime. 

  • Marieke Mol is senior policy officer at the Bureau Migration Policy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in The Netherlands. From 2014 until 2015 she was liaison officer at the Taskforce for Greece – European Commission in Athens, Greece. In 2016 she was seconded to the EU Delegation in Ankara within the framework of the EU-Turkey statement.

  • Arjan Hehenkamp works as Deputy Director for St. Vluchteling and is chair of KUNO. Before working for St. Vluchteling, he was Operational Director and then Managing Director at the head office of Doctors Without Borders.