Australia’s role within the international refugee protection system: Lessons, challenges and opportunities

Presented by ANU College of Law

Australia was a founding signatory of the 1951 Refugee Conventionwhich remains the cornerstone of international protection for displaced persons. Almost 70 years later, while the Convention has proved adaptable to modern conflicts and challenges, there remains an imperative for Australia to also uphold these principles and standards domestically. UNHCR Regional Representative, Mr Thomas Albrecht, will discuss key recent developments and positive examples worldwide, as well as the impact and implications of Australia's Operation Sovereign Borders in the context of 'offshore processing.'

Thomas Albrecht is the Regional Representative of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Canberra, with geographical responsibility for Australia, Cook Islands, Fiji, Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, the Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

Mr Albrecht's role is to work with governments and other partners to ensure all persons of concern to UNHCR, including refugees, asylum-seekers and stateless persons, receive protection, assistance and durable solutions to their plight. He is also keen to promote long-term cooperation on the protection of persons of concern in the region, and to increase understanding and support for refugees worldwide.

Prior to taking up this assignment in early 2014, Mr Albrecht served as Head of the UNHCR Regional Support Hub in Nairobi. From 2005-09, Mr Albrecht served as Deputy Regional Representative at the UNHCR Regional Representation for the United States of America and the Caribbean, located in Washington. Before coming to Washington in October 2005, Mr Albrecht was the UNHCR Representative in Ghana.