Notes from Geneva: International Protection

23 06 2011

UNHCR Standing Committee meeting, 2009

Introduction: Assistant High Commissioner for Protection, Erika Feller

The Global Needs Assessment (GNA) process has highlighted protection gaps and provided the opportunity to strengthen responses. Program design and monitoring will benefit. The Results Framework will provide the opportunity for comparative analysis & global consistency.

UNHCR is not the principle protection provider and can never be effective substitute for the exercise by States of their proper responsibilities.  UNHCR’s continued focus however is the building of effective national asylum systems through improved registration arrangements, expertise in refugee status determination or working to sensitise national legislative frameworks to age, gender and diversity considerations.

UNHCR’s protection mandate is delivered through protection staff with expertise and knowledge in a range of areas from refugee status determination, age/gender and diversity programming, Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) cluster co-ordination or protection capacity building.  Recent review of programs highlighted too few protection staff with low levels of knowledge and high turnover (due to temporary placements) which negatively impacts protection measures.

The GNA process illustrated the realisation by all offices of the implications flowing from UNHCR’s growing responsibility for Stateless populations.  The needs of Stateless persons feature more prominently in the plans than ever before. Some offices have found it difficult to move beyond advocacy and technical advice on statelessness issues to actual protection responses – this will be addressed through GNA planning and prioritization processes for mainstreaming of this population.

IDP’s are solidly integrated into planning, in the way of greater analysis of IDP needs, protection via documentation, land issues and other solutions.  Not all offices had sufficient budget to accommodate the needs of IDPs.  Further resources are needed to address the expanded IDP responsibilities of the offices, the GNA this has highlighted this as a key priority.

The offices have on-going dilemma of allocating the finite (and insufficient) resources between the competing protection objectives of all peoples of concern.  The GNA will highlight more protection measure gaps and act as an advocacy tool to secure more funds – if not, things will not get done.

Introduction: Director of the Department of International Protection Services, George Okoth-Obbo

  • South and South West Asia, Middle East and Horn of Africa need special attention.
  • Humanitarian Space shrinking due to the changing nature of armed conflict, restrictions on access, attacks on staff, use of the sovereignty argument by States and side effects of failed peacekeeping efforts. 260 humanitarian aid workers killed, kidnapped or seriously injured in 2008
  • Staff security becoming greater priority for UNHCR
  • Access to asylum for asylum seekers has become more difficult because of interception, detention and restrictive procedures which is a growing concern for UNHCR
  • Need to transfer policies to practice.
  • UNHCR leads 15 of the 22 IASC protection cluster operations 
  • Goal of UNHCR to strengthen 1951 Convention, despite progress there is insufficient engagement by states, there remains a restrictive Refugee Status Determination system and national security is given priority over refugee protection.
  • Stressed the importance of the Conclusion on Protracted Situations and the hope that the wording could be agreed by ExComm, as durable solutions, international solidarity and burden sharing were critical for the issue.
  • Acknowledgement of the growing complexities of root causes of displacement – such as environmental, population growth, declining resources, inequality of access to resources, ecological damage, climate change, urbanisation, armed conflict, extreme deprivation
  • The legal implications of implications of displacement driven by forces other than persecution, human rights violation and war have yet to be seriously assessed
  • Whatever the cause of displacement the international protection process and response to provide asylum needs to be flexible to accommodate the varying needs and strengthen in areas where it is weak.  

Protecting Persons of Concern in Emergencies a particular focus of UNHCR – an overview

  • Afghanistan and Pakistan have over 4.7m people of concern, intensified conflict and restricted access has created further disastrous situations
  • Iraq witnessed greater security & co-ordination with the Government to create conditions for voluntary return and sustainable re-integration of refugees and IDPs. However, is still a fragile situation with over 4.3m displaced internally and in Jordan and Syria
  • Darfur continues to host over 3m refugees & IDPs, the forced departure of 16 NGO’s threatening the international community’s ability to respond
  • The Somalian situation continues to remain volatile with 1.3m IDPs and over 500,000 refugees hosted by neighbouring countries 
  • The Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo remain extremely volatile and are witness to SGBV and recruitment of children by armed groups
  • Sri Lanka’s cease fire allowed humanitarian forces in and seen 280,000 IDPs registered
  • Columbia has 3m IDPs and 300,000 in refugee like situations in neighbouring countries

Response from Australian Government Delegation:

  • Recognition of the complexity and frequency of global population flows, exacerbated by the global economic downturn, climate change and conflict induced IDP and protracted refugee situations.
  • Reference to the new situations of displacement (Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Somalia) and improved security situation in Iraq
  • Requested that UNHCR clearly articulates its priorities for action for the various persons of concern
  • Increased focus on protracted refugee situations announced by Australian Government and an on-going commitment to provide durable solutions through a new 4yr re-settlement planning framework
  • Australia welcoming 13,750 people under its Humanitarian Program for 2009-2010, an increase of 250 places on 2008/9 (7,750 under the special humanitarian program and 6,000 under refugee component)
  • Increased the target for the resettlement of women at risk and their dependents under the re-settlement program from 10.5% to 12%.
  • Urge Nepal and Bhutan to work together to facilitate a return to Bhutan for those refugees who wish to take up this option
  • Congratulates Japan on the launch of a pilot resettlement program
  • Commends Indonesia for working co-operatively with UNHCR to build a strong framework to ensure protection and minimise irregular movements
  • Australia will continue to provide resettlement palces for those referred by UNHCR and will continue to fund projects to stablilise displaced populations, support sustainable return and build protection capacity in the region.
  • Pleased by the agreement reached at the 3rd Ministerial conference of the Bali Process to use an ad hoc group process to mitigate increased irregular population flows and the impact on victims
  • Australian Government announced its complementary protection model to give effect to Australia’s non-refoulment obligations within its protection visa framework.


9 03 2011

So DJ JG’s Aussie song collection for POTUS was a fizzer among the Twitterati. She also gave him the second most expensive Sherrin, which is the equivalent of not ordering lobster on your first date. I think I can do better, mostly because I am style, fashion & politics at once.

In alphabetti-spaghetti order:


  • It’s A Long Way To The Top
  • Thunderstruck
  • Shook Me All Night Long
  • Highway To Hell

The Allniters:

  • Montego Bay (every list has to feature a cover)

Australian Crawl:

  • Errol
  • Reckless (Don’t Be So)
  • Boys Light Up
  • Downhearted
  • Beautiful People

Who wouldn’t want a tribute to Tasmania’s greatest pantsman? OK, Maybe more Bill Clinton’s style. Have to include Reckless if only for the accompanying subtitles.

Boom Crash Opera:

  • Dancing In The Storm
  • The Best Thing

The Cat Empire:

  • Hello
  • Days Like These

The Church: (meh, under ‘C’)

  • Under The Milky Way
  • Almost With You

Love song dedication for FLOTUS on those long return flights on Air Force One

Cold Chisel:

  • Flame Trees
  • Bow River
  • Khe Sanh
  • Saturday Night
  • Forever Now

Essential prep for 2012 campaign when visiting factories in the flyover states.

Crowded House:

  • Into Temptation (hmm, maybe one for Bill …)
  • Private Universe (because no one knows what it’s like to sit behind that desk, except the other people who have)

The Cruel Sea:

  • The Honeymoon Is Over
  • Black Stick
  • Better Get A Lawyer Son

Because let’s face it, it is.

Deborah Conway (incl. Do Ré Mi)

  • Man Overboard
  • Consider This
  • It’s Only The Beginning

Decoder Ring:

  • Out of Range

Whispy vocal has to come in at some stage, right?


  • Science Fiction
  • Boys In Town

Dragon: (if Crowded House count, the fucking Hunter brothers do)

  • April Sun in Cuba (derr …)
  • Get That Jive (for trips to Chicago)
  • Are You Old Enough?
  • Still In Love With You
  • Rain

The Dynamic Hepnotics:

  • Soul Kind Of Feeling

The Easybeats

  • Friday On My Mind
  • She’s So Fine

Ed Kuepper:

  • The Way I Made You Feel

The sexiest chord progression. Maybe not of all time, but it is right up there.

Eric Bogle:

  • And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda


  • Sounds of Then

The Go-Betweens

  • Cattle and Cane
  • Bachelor Kisses
  • Streets Of Your Town

Hoodoo Gurus:

  • My Girl
  • Bittersweet
  • Like Wow-Wipeout!
  • Good Times

Hunters & Collectors:

  • Throw Your Arms Around Me
  • Holy Grail
  • Say Goodbye
  • Do You See What I See?

One of the seminal bands of my (misspent) youth


  • Hey Little Girl


  • Need You Tonight
  • Original Sin
  • Never Tear Us Apart
  • New Sensation
  • Don’t Change
  • What You Need
  • I Send A Message
  • Burn for You
  • Mystify
  • Devil Inside

OK … THE seminal band of my (misspent) youth. Limiting it to 10 tracks was difficult.


  • Are You Gonna Be My Girl?

Jo Camilleri (Jo Jo Zep & The Falcons & The Black Sorrows):

  • Shape I’m In
  • Hit & Run
  • Chained To The Wheel
  • Hold On To Me


  • Confide In Me
  • Love At First Sight
  • Come Into My World
  • Better The Devil You Know
  • I Believe In You
  • Can’t Get You Out of My Head
  • Spinning Around
  • On A Night Like This
  • Slow

Because it’s Kylie. Because she rocks.

The Loved Ones:

  • The Loved One

Machine Gun Fellatio:

  • The Girl of My Dreams Is Giving Me Nightmares

Midnight Oil:

  • US Forces (fuck him!)
  • Beds Are Burning
  • Power and the Passion
  • When The Generals Talk
  • The Dead Heart
  • Blue Sky Mine
  • River Runs Red
  • Stars of Warburton
  • Kosciusko


  • Out Of Mind, Out Of Sight
  • I Hear Motion

Mondo Rock:

  • Come Said The Boy

Nick Cave (solo, associated collaborators, bands)

  • Red Right Hand
  • The Weeping Song
  • The Ship Song
  • Where the Wild Roses Grow
  • Henry Lee

Someone’s got to growl at the man (occassionally)

Paul Kelly:

  • From St Kilda To Kings Cross
  • Before Too Long
  • How To Make Gravy
  • Sweet Guy
  • Dumb Things
  • Darling It Hurts


  • My Happiness

The Presets:

  • My People

The Reels:

  • Quasimodo’s Dream

Richard Clapton:

  • Girls on the Avenue

The Saints:

  • Stranded


  • Howzat


  • Breathe Me


  • The Greatest View
  • Tomorrow
  • Straight Lines

Newcastle. Reprezent.


  • Ego Is Not A Dirty Word
  • Horror Movie

Slim Dusty

  • Pub With No Beer

Split Enz (yeh yeh, whatever. I’ve got Crowded House & Dragon.)

  • One Step Ahead
  • I Hope I Never
  • Message To My Girl
  • I See Red

Stevie Wright:

  • Evie (Parts I, II & III)

The Triffids:

  • Wide Open Road

Warumpi Band:

  • My Island Home

Wendy Matthews:

  • The Day You Went Away

The Whitlams:

  • No Aphrodisiac

Yothu Yindi:

  • Treaty

And they’re racing …

1 11 2010

I box six horses in a $50 flexi trifecta. I have won the Melbourne Cup (2007) & last Saturday’s Mackinnon trifectas this way. It pays 41.66 per cent of the trifecta back – so it can be thrilling but not hugely profitable (when Efficient won, paying $6 from memory) or faint-inducing (Saturday).

I have also put my hard earned readies on the following Cup winners:

1986: At Talaq

1987: Kensei

1992: Subzero

1993: Vintage Crop

2002: Media Puzzle

2003: Makybe Diva

2007: Efficient

(if you’re wondering about the 1980s horses, OK, it was my Dad’s cash. I still picked the horses).

Here are my sezzy six nags for race seven, Flemington (no order)

No. 8 Americain

No. 6 Mr Medici

No. 12 Harris Tweed

No. 3 So You Think

No 11. Descarado

No. 24 Maluckyday

I’m probably going to have a few other bets, but that’s another thing altogether.

Be victorious

6 10 2010

Jai Ho!


Aaja Jariwale Nile Aasman Ke Tale


Jai Ho, Lyrics: Gulzar / Composer A.R. Rahman

“It is pretty shocking seeing the empty seats. Wonder what ticket prices are?”

“1.2 billion people live in India and maybe 40 or 50 of them have turned up to watch the host nation play in a netball game”

“Maybe they should of held the commonwealth games in Perth, there were better crowds at unigames”

“#T1 : Grandma interested in #CWG status of the day, #T2 : Grandma asks when does the next Test Match Start?”

“#cwg 6 golds wow….but y we don’t get more then single gold in Olympics……i always wish,India should be on top of table in Olympics :)”

“That indians have a fascination for gold is not new.. that we can win it in sports and so many of them .. is ! #CWG”

I love India; it’s an incredible and infuriating country to spend time in – & it requires time. India is everything and nothing … you can eat, cross-legged on the floor with thousands of Sikh pilgrims at Amritsar’s Golden Temple; go to the Regal Cinema in Mumbai & throw popcorn at the bad guys in a Bollywood blockbuster; or take a package holiday in Goa, eating full English breakfasts & never setting foot outside Calangute.

It’s incredible: the languages, the food, the people, the diversity of landscapes, architecture, religions; and infuriating: the wild goose chases because nobody says ‘no’, or ‘i don’t know’, spending half a day to send a parcel, the obvious baksheesh deals to get you into the ‘right’ shop, the unbelievable gap between rich and poor. Most of all, it’s intense: the slums, the inevitable illnesses, the Taj at dawn, the ghats on the banks of the Ganges at Varanasi, Gandhiji’s memorial, the forts and palaces, the impeccable saris, the rituals, the sacred cows.

India is everything the world is – but in one country. Communal violence, corruption, coexistence, TV channels – all on a monumental scale that you don’t understand until you arrive. The crowds buying bhelpuri on a muggy night at Chowpatty Beach aren’t hundreds of people, they’re thousands; Dharavi slum is Asia’s largest, & yet there’s an emerging middle class of 200m plus and 565 million mobile phone connections (and better reception). In 2007, I arrived in Delhi after three months travelling from Kerala to the Pakistani border. From my autoricksaw in freezing December, I saw children sleeping outside construction sites; yet Forbes 2010 rich list names 69 Indians in the world’s top billionaires – two in the top five. It has one time zone – the infamous Indian Standard Time – which is an elastic concept in a geographically daunting country and the accepted price of doing business.

So with every tweet, comment, news update, whatever, that I come across about how badly the Commonwealth Games is going attendance-wise, I want to scream. India is a maddening place to get things done, but when you go with it and see its mighty past and awesome (in geopolitical and socio-economic terms) future, you just laugh. You laugh and you cry and you are moved by the smallest things and the biggest problems. Having seen construction standards, and experienced power failures across the country, the fact that the athletics track is on par with a school playground and the official broadcast centre is a shambles doesn’t surprise me. That people question a country’s pride or place because of a sketchy crowd at a netball game – that just saddens me. I’m obviously passionate about this, but I’m trying to rationalise it. Here goes:

1/. The BCCI (The Board of Control for Cricket in India) refused to reschedule the Australian test series. It is an utter conundrum that the most cricket mad nation I’ve visited can’t fill a 30,000-seat stadium in Mohali for a thrilling test match, but weigh it up – there are entire TV channels devoted to cricket, 24/7 – replaying matches endlessly. A new match = huge TV audiences, product placement and profits. It is no joke that everything moves a little slower when a cricket match is on. It is inescapable, but as a woman who can attempt to bowl overarm, I was all kinds of weird to kids wherever I went, whether it was in the laneways of Old Delhi or an orphanage in Mamallapuram; for my backyard cricket days I remain eternally grateful. The laughs I had with children I couldn’t otherwise communicate with – (unless I handed over my camera – self-portraits are a big hit) made my angst about the overwhelming poverty a little more bearable. I don’t think I have ever cried as hard as I did leaving that orphanage. I had my own Jolie moment, fantasising that I could somehow adopt a child when in reality, I can’t even keep tropical fish alive. Enough: suffice to say that the BCCI is as powerful as the IOC, FIFA and the European Union rolled into one and the Commonwealth Games didn’t stand a chance against it;

2/. Historically, India has never ‘performed’ at the Commonwealth Games (271 total medals won at 14 games attended out of 18) – or the Olympics – 20 Olympic Games medals total since 1920 (6 gold in men’s field hockey). Australians flip their wigs if we finish further down the medal tally than countries larger than us by infinity and beyond; yet the IOC’s head, Jacques Rogge, is there, encouraging an Indian bid for the Olympics. This is a trial run, they’ll get a whole heap of criticism and then get it right in 20 years time. $100 on it now;

3/. Not all countries care. Australian TV promos pitched the entire games as a grudge match between Australia and England. Stuff everyone else. Try listening to BBC World Service. Every time any other nation wins anything, they’re shouting from the rooftops. Last night, every hour, they played a quote from an Australian competitor (sorry, can’t remember name) who described the games as a bit like a training run for a better competition. It comes at the end of the far more lucrative Euro athletics season; the sun has well and truly set on the Empire, so it’s time to ask: is the whole thing an anachronism? Plenty of the Commonwealth’s best athletes are voting with their feet and saying I’m not bothering. Why should Indian spectators pay for the privilege of not seeing many of the best athletes in the world (barring, for example, Steve Hooker who is competing and to his absolute credit, has publicly stated that he doesn’t understand why others have withdrawn) – or even the best athletes in the Commonwealth. This article from the Bangalore Mirror gives a pretty comprehensive list of reigning champions not appearing (some who definitely wanted to go but had to withdraw because of injury); others, like Usain Bolt, who at least said straight up that it doesn’t suit his training schedule; but I’m going to call it as I see it: if it’s safe enough for the Australian cricket team to go, it is safe enough for Canadian badminton player Alvin Lau to get out of uni for 12 days to compete (seriously – I’ve never met a student who couldn’t wangle their way out of college)

4/. There are shedloads of Indians who can undoubtedly afford tickets and get time off. Public servants get approximately 20 days’ holiday a year – 3 secular, national holidays – the rest are (‘local’ holidays according to which state you live in, or religious observances). If you work in the private sector, say for a corporation, chances are you may get the same time – but what if you don’t? What if you’re the hundreds of millions of rural and urban poor? What if you work everyday selling ice from a cart to feed your family? Ticket prices for athletics events range from zero on the last day of competition – the marathon finals to Rs1,000 (AUD 23.22 today) The median salary in Delhi is Rs419,000 (AUD9,729 today): The median salary in Sydney is $65,460. So each Rs1,000 seat would cost a Sydneysider on the median salary the equivalent of $163. Think about it, long and hard: would you fly to the Gold Coast, pay for accommodation and alcohol, put up with maddening security and see the best of who can be arsed turning up when you can watch it on tv for nothing?

5/. Finally, who the hell are we to talk? ANZ Stadium is hardly ever ‘full’ … a couple of football games a year; it’s never carried the same numbers as it did during the Olympics because they got rid of the extra stands. If people are so incensed by crowd numbers at the netball in New Delhi, then TV ratings and attendance figures at Australia’s stellar women’s comp should double next year.

But most of all, why should any of this deter this inspiring, infuriating country, one of the world’s fastest developing economies, from sinking billions into sporting & other infrastructure? India is a member of the G20; the world’s largest democracy and second largest population. I really hope that Delhi makes similar reuse of facilities as Beijing did with its Olympics venues and the performances of the stars who will be made  by these games inspire and bring joy. A sincere “Jai Ho” to everyone who loves the Commonwealth Games. To all of the competitors, supporters, TV audiences around the world … “Victory to You”.