Refugees and our common Humanity

The challenges, opinions and policy of refugees and human rights will be the centre of a major forum at La Trobe University on Tuesday 10 July.

Un FlagsProfessor Raimond Gaita, philosopher, author of 'A Common Humanity', Yusuf Sheikh Omar, Somalian poet and refugee and Dr Savitri Taylor, Associate Professor and Director of Research in the School of Law at La Trobe University will discuss the issues that surround refugees and asylum seekers and the circumstances which they face.

Facilitated by Professor Robert Manne, Politics, La Trobe University, the discussion will outline the varying perspectives into the status of, and international duty towards, displaced peoples.

The forum topic highlights the ongoing policy debate in Australia about asylum seekers and refugee status, most recently expressed through the Coalition’s plan.

Refugees and Our Common Humanity is the keynote event for the Asia-Pacific Model United Nations Conference 2012 and is co-hosted by the Ideas and Society Program of La Trobe University.

Professor Manne said the panel was highly respected group of academics and commentators who approach the topic of refugees and human rights from different perspectives, including legal, moral and political.

‘The panel will challenge concepts, opinions and policy, both domestic and international, and will highlight the physical and bureaucratic circumstances of displaced peoples,’ he said.

The Asia-Pacific Model United Nations Conference (AMUNC) is the world's premier regional model United Nations conference for aspiring young leaders. This year AMUNC is being held at La Trobe University between the 8th-13th of July. AMUNC is a unique model of tertiary extracurricular activity, constituting a simulation of UN-based inter-governmental institutions. 

Tia Spanos, Under-Secretary General for Speakers, said ‘This year we will be tackling some of the world’s biggest issues from breaches of human rights law to climate change, monetary policy and UN institutional reform through a mix of debate, negotiation and resolution formation.’

Refugees and Our Common Humanity

When:     Tuesday 10th July

Time:      1-2pm

Where:   Union Hall, La Trobe University (Bundoora)

Media inquiries: Penny Underwood (03) 9818 8540 or

Biographic details

Raimond Gaita 

Raimond Gaita is a Professorial Fellow in the Melbourne Law School and the Faculty of Arts, University of Melbourne, Emeritus Professor of Moral Philosophy, King’s College London, and a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities. Raimond has contributed extensively to public discussion about reconciliation, collective responsibility, the role of moral considerations in politics.

Yusuf Sheikh Omar

Yusuf Sheikh Omar is a poet of Somali background, a former refugee and detainee at Maribyrnong Detention Centre (almost two years). He received his B.A. from the International University of Africa, in Sudan (1994), and his Masters of Human Science (Arabic as a Second Language) from the International Islamic University of Malaysia (1999). He received his second Masters of Educational Leadership and Management (2004); and his PhD (2011) from La Trobe La Trobe University. He is the founder and first president of Australian Somali Youth Association, and has published numerous articles in Australian and international journals and newspapers including The Age. Currently, he works as a research assistant at the University of Melbourne and as an executive member of Somali-Australian Friendship Association (SAFA). 

Dr Savitri Taylor

Dr Taylor is Associate Professor and Director of Research in the School of Law at La Trobe University.  Her research interest is refugee law and asylum policy at the national, regional and international level.   Her most recently completed research project, an ARC Linkage Project conducted in partnership with Oxfam Australia and Jesuit Refugee Service Australia, looked at the impact of Australia’s border control cooperation with Indonesia and PNG on the human rights of asylum seekers and host communities in those two countries.  Dr Taylor is Deputy Editor of the refereed international relations journal Global, Change, Peace and Security and an Editorial Board member of the refereed law journal Law in Context.