On conferences: Guterres @ 12th Annual Immigration Law and Policy Conference

On 29 October 2015, António Guterres gave the lunchtime keynote lecture at the 12th Annual Immigration Law and Policy Conference (video available).

The High Commissioner echoes many of his statements from his Georgetown lecture; the quotes I’ve transcribed dive deeper into securitization, resettlement + US influence —

On the US [@ :23:20] —

Guterres: You have a very important resettlement program (by far, the largest in the world). I can only hope that as debates that now exist in relation to resettlement can move in the right direction, which means more resettlement opportunities. I saw in these days people asking for more resettlement, and also people asking for ‘be careful, don’t bring us Muslims because they can be terrorists!’ and the only thing I can say about that is that if that is entirely true then there are 7000 potential terrorists entering Germany every single day, and I don’t think that we have seen the impact. So, with very careful screening, methodology that is what is inherent to the US resettlement process, I don’t think that terrorists will be so stupid to be so effectively scrutinized and to wait 18 months to come to the United States. I think they will try to fly one of the airlines that exist with a nice passport, a good visa that they can obtain probably in a much easier way than through resettlement.

I think the same in relation to Europe. I don’t see terrorists being so stupid: instead of flying Turkish Airlines from Istanbul to Berlin to get into the hands of a smuggler, cross into Greece, pay $5000 instead of $50 in a low-cost, risk to die in the crossing, and then spend one or two weeks painfully going country by country one after another until finally they have some chance to Germany. I think we are dealing today with a global network of terrorist organizations that are well organized and have much easier instruments to become a danger than through what it is, I believe, one of the safest processes in place which is the US resettlement process. So, again, hoping for also good news in relation to resettlement in the US, I am very encouraged by these three days of visits that I had in Washington and am hoping that the US will remain the leading country in the world in relation to refugee protection: inside the US, resettling from outside, and supporting protection and humanitarian activities all over the world.

Q: On the impact of US leadership on resettlement [@:27:25] —

Guterres: First of all, I am a fanatic supporter of resettlement. I know that it is not the only solution and its probably not the only solution for the overwhelming majority of refugees; voluntary repatriation in safety and dignity is obviously the most common, and for many clearly the best choice. Local integration in many cases – we had recently success in Tanzania with the Burundian in ’72 gaining nationality. But, I mean, when we come to the US… I remember a visit to Chicago, visiting several resettled families; or, to Canada, I had that opportunity also several times in Ottawa and Montreal; or, to Australia I had that opportunity in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne; and several European cities. And you see a resettled family coming from one of these dramatic situations — like Somalis from Dadaab, or Eritreans from Sudan, or Syrians from Zaatari — and see them with the children in school, with the good job or sometimes a business, good perspectives for life, and you compare with what was their life without a meaning in many of the refugee situations — I think we can only consider that even if it is just for a little, a small percentage of the refugees, resettlement is a fantastic instrument, changing completely the lives of people. So, I’ve always said that resettlement for us should not only be a protection instrument, but a strategic solution.

In these contexts, resettlement today, in relation to Syrians, has two very important consequences. First, it’s a form to show to Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey that we also want to assume their responsibility and co-assume their responsibility. I remember with the Iraqis, the resettlement of Iraqis, that was a very important program a few years ago, was an excellent tool gave us enormous leverage with the negotiations with Syria and Jordan to preserve the asylum space for the Iraqis in those countries. The same applies today in relation to the Syrians. In the other hand, it is a very important tool to make sure that the European borders remain open for Syrians. The debate in Europe is becoming a very difficult debate. And, to show that other part of the world — fortunately we had Australia offering 20,000 opportunities, Canada.. I had yesterday contact with the Canadian government and the new government wants to have 25,000 [?] spots by the end of the year which I sincerely don’t know exactly how they are going to manage, but shows a commitment. Obviously, 70% of the resettlement opportunities in the world come from the United States, so whatever the United States does defines the rules of the game. So the importance of a bold US approach to resettlement of Syrians, in the attitudes of other parts of the world, in particular in Europe, will be enormous. So I can only encourage that bold initiative, and I am very hopeful that the internal debate with all its complexities that is normal in a democratic society, will lead to a positive result.

(In the absence of an official transcript the quotes above were transcribed; emphasis added.)