In Europe as elsewhere, immigration is an issue characterized by controversy and political deadlock. This podcast broaches the crucial yet often overlooked role of local government in regulating migration and promoting the rights of migrants and refugees.
S2E6: Human rights law and cultural arguments in court
Whether we are talking about burqa bans, honour killings, or practices of female genital mutilation, controversies regarding cultural practices loom large not only in discussions on integration but in human rights law more generally. To discuss how delicate and complex notions of “culture” should be dealt with in courts, Moritz Baumgärtel interviews Dr. Paola Pannia, a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Florence undertaking comparative research on culture, equality, and judicial reasoning. Their talk delves into the conceptual intricacies of culture, the way in which judges in Italy, the United Kingdom and the European Court of Human Rights deal with them, risks of essentialization and stigmatization, as well as the importance of balancing between human rights and cultural diversity, including in questions related to gender. This interview was conducted for a guest lecture within the international human rights law course at University College Roosevelt in Middelburg.To read more on the topic, see Paola Pannia, "The elephant in the courtroom: a socio-legal study on how judges manage cultural diversity in criminal law cases in Italy and the UK (https://cadmus.eui.eu/handle/1814/49164)", EUI RSCAS; 2017/58; Global Governance Programme-285.
S2E5: Cities and the reception and integration of refugees in Greece and Italy
On 17 December 2021, Dr. Tihomir Sabchev successfully defended his doctoral dissertation titled "Local authorities, human rights and the reception and integration of forced migrants in Greece and Italy". In this episode, Tihomir is interviewed by his Cities of Refuge colleagues and supervisors Barbara Oomen and Moritz Baumgärtel on some of the key findings of his four-year research project. This includes a conversation about the scope and sustainability of local policies in Greece, the relationship of Greek local authorities to international organizations, the relevance of human rights in local approaches to migration in cities like Bologna, the significance (and limits) of mayoral leadership, and his current work exploring the potential of community-based refugee sponsorship.Selected chapters of Tihomir Sabchev's PhD thesis are also available online, including "Against all odds: Thessaloniki’s local policy activism in the reception and integration of forced migrants (https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/1369183X.2020.1840969)", Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 47, 1435-1454, "The role of local political leadership in the reception of forced migrants: evidence from Greece (https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/21622671.2021.1927815)", Territory, Politics, Governance, and "Human Rights Localisation and Individual Agency (https://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.1007%2F978-94-6265-447-1_8.pdf)" (with Sara Miellet and Elif Durmus), Myth or Lived Reality On the (In)Effectiveness of Human Rights.This episode was produced with the assistance of Sithis Yim Samnang.
S2E4: "A permanent emergency" – Seeking for shelter in Zeeland?
This episode zooms in on developments close to the home base of the Cities of Refuge project in the Dutch province of Zeeland. In recent months newly arrived asylum seekers in the Netherlands have been housed in emergency shelters and even in tents because of an acute shortage of asylum accommodations. The municipalities of Middelburg and Goes in Zeeland were among the first in the Netherlands to offer help to the central government and centralised reception authorities. How did this capacity problem arise? What are the differences between the 2015 crisis of refugee governance and the current situation? Why and how did municipal actors in Middelburg and Goes become involved? Barbara Oomen and Sara Miellet talk to Margo Mulder, the Mayor of Goes, and Harald Bergmann, the Mayor of Middelburg about these questions including late-night phone calls and WhatsApp texts, local political leadership, and accountancy-driven refugee reception. Their discussion highlights how mayors matter for migration governance, innovations in refugee reception, and local perspectives on long-term developments in the Dutch multi-level governance context.For more information, check out Sara Miellet’s latest open-access article, “Burden, benefit, gift or duty? Dutch mayors’ framing of the multilevel governance of asylum in rural localities and cities in Zeeland (https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/21622671.2021.1999314)”, Territory, Politics, Governance, 1-19.
S2E3: Local governments and transnational human rights charters
In this follow-up episode on the emergence of cities in international law, Elif Durmus interviews Eva Garcia Chueca, Senior Research Fellow at CIDOB’s Global Cities Programme, about the involvement of local governments in the global arena and the legal and behaviour-shaping value of local and international human rights charters. They specifically zoom in on the drafting processes and the relevance of the European Charter for Safeguarding Human Rights in the City and the Global Charter-Agenda for Human Rights in the City, two documents that invoke the language and form of international law to claim some level of bindingness or at least legal significance. To what extent do local governments intend to be bound by such transnational, quasi-legal commitments? What is the charters’ impact on the ground and how could they be made more effective? The conversation also addresses the role of city networks in this process and the future direction of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights' engagement with local authorities.For more on the relevance of normative documents created by local governments, see Elif Durmus and Barbara Oomen’s recent article in Local Government Studies: https://doi.org/10.1080/03003930.2021.1932478 (https://doi.org/10.1080/03003930.2021.1932478)
S2E2: The emergence of cities in international law
Cities are increasingly recognized as actors that participate in the implementation and even in the creation of international law. On the occasion of the publication of the Research Handbook on International Law and Cities, Moritz Baumgärtel speaks to the volume’s lead editors and pioneering scholars in the field: Janne Nijman, Professor of History and Theory of International Law at the University of Amsterdam, and Helmut Aust, Professor of Law at the Freie Universität in Berlin. In their conversation, they talk about how cities’ actions became a topic first in their own research, and then in international law more generally—and why people from outside the discipline should care about this development in international law. They also go through some of the examples where cities’ influence has been particularly pronounced, as well as the response of states to cities challenging (or at least negotiating) their sovereignty.The Research Handbook on International Law and Cities was published by Edward Elgar in autumn 2021; the introductory chapter by Janne Nijman and Helmut Aust can be accessed freely (https://www.elgaronline.com/view/edcoll/9781788973274/9781788973274.00006.xml). The ILA City Reports are available on the website of the T.M.C. Asser Institute (https://www.asser.nl/global-city/ila-city-reports/). This episode has been produced with the assistance of Sithis Yim Samnang.
S2E1: From the Sea to the City
Welcome to another season of the Cities of Refuge Podcast! In this first episode, we talk about “From the Sea to the City”, a new and interesting consortium of civil society organisations working together with cities for a more human rights-based migration policy. “From the Sea to the City” held a major conference in Palermo back in June of this year that led to the creation of an "International Alliance of Safe Harbours” featuring 33 co-founding cities. Moritz Baumgärtel discusses the origins, process and goals of both alliances with two guests from the Humboldt-Viadrina Governance Platform, which has been driving the process: Professor Gesine Schwan and Dr. Malisa Zobel, respectively the co-founder of the Platform and the program director of its Municipal Integration and Development Initiative.For more information on “From the Sea to the City” (including videos of the conference panels), visit https://fromseatocity.eu/ (https://fromseatocity.eu/) and read the initiative's 2020 report: https://bit.ly/3EByOz8 (https://bit.ly/3EByOz8). You can also have a look at the Declaration of Mayors founding the Alliance: https://bit.ly/3jTpPle (https://bit.ly/3jTpPle). A visualisation of the various city and civil society networks can be found here: https://bit.ly/3w4tkKr (https://bit.ly/3w4tkKr). This episode was produced with the assistance of Sithis Yim Samnang.