Press room

Symposium on Refugee Rights in Records

Symposium on Refugee Rights in Records

Organized by the Center for Information as Evidence, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), the University of Liverpool Centre for Archive Studies (LUCAS), and the Vera and Donald Blinken Open Society Archives at Central European University

January 10, 2018 | 9:00-18:00 | Vera and Donald Blinken Open Society Archives (1051 Budapest, Arany János utca 32.)

This symposium will feature speakers from a range of international bodies, NGOs, archives and academic institutions who will speak to ways in which official records (including bio-records) and bureaucracies, archival documentation, and other more "irregular" forms and uses of records play crucial roles in the lives of displaced people as they travel across state boundaries, interact with governments and aid agencies, and eventually resettle into new countries and interface with their bureaucratic systems or return/are returned to their places of origin.

The aims of the symposium are threefold: to make visible and understand the role of records in the lives of refugees, historically and contemporarily; to identify potential mechanisms for helping refugees and their advocates to locate, access and present trustworthy records on their own behalf; and to work towards a platform of refugee rights in records.

Admission is free and open to the public, but places are limited. For further information and registration, please contact Csaba Szilagyi,


9:00     Registration

9:30     Welcome | István Rév, Director, Blinken OSA

9:45     Keynote, Problem Statement | Anne Gilliland, Professor, UCLA

10:00   Session 1 | Documenting Refugees’ Identities, Archives as Sources

Chair: Tamara Štefanac, Independent Researcher

Mass Problems and the Search for Individual Solutions. Stakeholders and Interests in Documenting the Refugee Crisis | Iván Székely, Senior Research Fellow, Blinken OSA

“Who Does Not Leave Will Be Killed”: Refugee Narratives in Historical Perspective | Csaba Szilágyi, Head of the Human Rights Program, Blinken OSA

10:50   Coffee Break

11:10   Session 2 | Refugee Perspectives? Or Geopolitical Trends?

Chair: Csaba Szilágyi

Protecting Refugees: An Overview of UNHCR’s Mandate and the Rights of Refugees and Other People of Concern to UNHCR | Yolande Ditewig, Senior Regional Policy Officer, UNHCR Regional Representation for Central Europe (Budapest)

A Non-European in Central Europe: Hungary | Boldizsár Nagy, Associate Professor, CEU

The Refugee Experience: Shrinking Space for Protection | Anikó Bakonyi, Advocacy and Project Officer, Hungarian Helsinki Committee

12:30   Lunch

13:30   Session 3 | Problems of Documentation and Technology in Migration

Chair: James Lowry, Lecturer, Liverpool University

State-based Actors and Security Challenges for Documentation | Cameran Ashraf, Assistant Professor, CEU

Keep Your Eyes on the Information | Patricia Sleeman, Digital Archivist, UNHCR Records and Archives (Geneva)

Syrian Archive Curating Visual Documentation for Justice and Human Rights: Challenges and Opportunities | Hadi Al-Khatib, Founder and Director, Syrian Archive

14:50   Film Screening

15:20 Coffee Break

15:40   Session 4 | Refugee Rights in Records Project and next steps

Anne Gilliland and James Lowry

17:00   Closing remarks | Anne Gilliland

17:30   Guided Tour of the Archives | Robert Parnica, Senior Reference Archivist, Blinken OSA

Download the  program and speakers' short bio.