Concept Note

12th World Conference of the International Association of Refugee and Migration Judges, 17 – 21 February 2020

San José, Costa Rica will be holding the 12th World Conference of the International Association of Refugee and Migration Judges (IARMJ) from 17 to 21 February 2020.

A New World on the Move:
The Realities of Irregular Mass Migration and the Challenges
Facing Asylum and Immigration Judges

Background 

Two World Conferences have previously taken place in the Americas (1998, Ottawa, Canada; 2006 Mexico City, Mexico). Hosting this important event in the Americas and in Costa Rica is timely for several reasons. 

The World Conference of the IARMJ is indeed a great opportunity for the Americas Chapter of the IARMJ to focus on the increase of mixed flows of people who cross international borders, whether forced to seek international protection or migrants with other characteristics and profiles. 

The 5 million Venezuelans who left their country have had a major impact on its neighbours in Latin America and the Caribbean. It is the largest exodus in recent history in the region and one of the largest crises of displaced persons in the world, with a constant average of 5,000 people leaving Venezuela daily. Thousands of them cross the Colombian border, while others go to Brazil, Chile, Ecuador or Peru, and some make risky boat trips to the Caribbean islands. 

The most important one was the caravan of migrants to the United States, some of them heading towardsCanada, which started in October 2018, and was joined by people from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, as well as other nationalities such as Cubans and Venezuelans. If some among them needed international protection, a lot of those migrants hoped for a prosperous life, far from the hardships of their communities of origin. There are still significant movements from Nicaragua, Panama and other Central American countries to Costa Rica for temporary or permanent work and from Central American countries (mainly Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador) to Belize due to the unstable political or economical situation in their countries of origin. In the Caribbean, Haitians try to find a better life in the Dominican Republic. 

Similar movements take place in the most economically stable countries in Europe, Asia or Africa. 

Other UNHCR statistics still show a continuousexodus from Afghanistan and South Sudan.

International migration is even a higher concern to lot of countries in the world not only seen from the point of view of mostly migrant workers but also from the demographic need of economical advanced nations. It brings along social, economic consequences, as well as security aspects. 

In the Central American region, forced displacements have continued due to situations generated by violence, criminality of organized groups such as Maras and gangs, as well as political and social situations that have destabilized countries such as Nicaragua, which since April 2018 is experiencing a political crisis that has caused more than 60,000 Nicaraguans to have to leave their country seeking international protection. Most of these applications have been filed in Costa Rica, where by May 2019, 44,000 applications for international protection had been submitted.

Migrant smuggling and human trafficking for the purpose of forced labour, commercial sexual exploitation, forced marriage or others forms of exploitation occurs in the margins of all global migration as it generates enormous financial benefitsIf this is not complex enough, in a high number of countries, the law has not necessarily followed either because there was no need for it, being transit countries, or because it became of such importance that the new political discourse stood in the way of legal change. 

As if this is not complex enough, in a high number of countries, the law has not necessarily been followed either because there was no need for it, they were transit countries, or because it became of such importance that the new political discourse stood in the way of legal change.

Format of the Conference 

  • The conference themes will be introduced by plenary sessions/interactive panels of experts with Q&As. 
  • This will be followed by breakout sessions where discussions between the judges can be maximized to exchange knowledge and best practices. 
  • Each theme will be closed by the plenary reports of the breakout sessions. 
  • The conference will allow holding separate meetings for the IARMJ established working parties and offer the possibility for judges to join these working parties.
  • Regional and inter-regional meetings will be scheduled.