A fresh start for migration: European and American perspectives on migration policy

Panel Discussion

Friday December 4th 12:00-1:15 PM EST / 6:00-7:15 PM CET

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Migration is a central political and moral issue of our time, affecting millions of people and creating sharply polarized political environments. Over the last five years, it has played a  prominent role in the political debate on both sides of the Atlantic. Due to rising demographic pressure coupled with a lack of economic opportunities, climate change and increasingly visible global inequalities, migration flows appear set to increase further in the coming years and decades.

Yet migration policies have become more and more restrictive in both Europe and the U.S. The 2016 EU-Turkey deal as well as the 2019 US-Mexico Migration Agreement are examples of a common approach of reliance on third countries and walling off in reaction to increasing migratory pressures.

Moreover, the Covid-19 pandemic has served as an unprecedented shock to migration flows. While President Trump used the pandemic as an opportunity to cut the ceiling on refugee admissions to 15,000 for the new fiscal year, voluntary migration has also plummeted. The OECD recorded a drop in new visas and permits of 46% in the first half of 2020, with a second quarter decline of 72%. As the pandemic continues, labor markets weaken and tele-working grows at unprecedented rates, migration flows are not expected to return to previous levels for some time.

Historically low migration flows reduce short-term political pressures. The election of President-elect Biden in the U.S. and the ongoing European discussions about a new  partnership with Africa as well as a new pact on migration provide a political opening for a fresh start on migration policies that take the long-term perspective as well as the changing global environment into account. 

Join us in discussing what a fresh start in migration policy could look like with Eric Schwartz (Refugees International) and Christiane Kraus (German Government), moderated by Jacqueline Bhabha (Harvard University).


Eric Schwartz

President of Refugees International and former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration

Eric Schwartz became President of Refugees International in June 2017. Eric has had a three-decade career focused on humanitarian and human rights issues. Between 2009 and 2011, he served as U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration. As Assistant Secretary, he was credited with strengthening the State Department’s humanitarian advocacy around the world, initiating and implementing critical enhancements to the U.S. refugee resettlement program and raising the profile of global migration issues in U.S. foreign policy. He was the senior human rights and humanitarian official at the National Security Council during the Clinton administration, managing humanitarian responses to crises in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Europe. He also served as the UN Deputy Special Envoy for Tsunami Recovery after the 2004 Asian Tsunami; as Washington Director of Asia Watch (now the Asia Division of Human Rights Watch); and Staff Consultant to the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asian and Pacific Affairs, among other positions in the U.S. government, at the UN and in the non-profit sector. Just prior to arriving at Refugees International, Eric served a six-year term as Dean of the Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota. During much of that period, he also served on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom and, ultimately, as the Commission’s vice chair. He holds a law degree from New York University School of Law, a Master of Public Affairs degree from the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs, and a Bachelor of Arts degree with honors from the State University of New York at Binghamton.

Christiane Kraus

Chief of Office & Advisor of the Personal Representative of the German Chancellor for Africa

Since 2018, Christiane Kraus is the Chief of Staff and Principal Advisor to Günter Nooke, the German Chancellor‘s Personal Representative for Africa. She had joined the German Ministry for Economic Development and Cooperation’s Team for the Germany’s G-20 Presidency in 2017. From 2007 to 2017, she was the Chief Coordinator (COO) at the Enhanced Integrated Framework, an Aid for Trade Programme for LDCs at the WTO. Christiane started her career in development at the World Bank as a Young Professional in 1999 with assignments in the environmental division in the Eastern Europe and Central Asia region, as Country Economist in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) and as Senior Trade Economist for East Africa. In that role, she divided her time between the World Bank’s headquarters in Washington, DC and Nairobi (Kenya). 

Christiane holds a PhD in Trade and Environment from Hannover University, an MPA2 from the Harvard Kennedy School (where she was a McCloy Scholar) and an MPhil in Economics from Oxford University. Her BA is from Bonn University, with a double major in History and Economics. 

Her professional interests focus on Africa, in particular trade integration and economic development, digitalisation, the EU-Africa relations, and smart urbanisation.

Professor Jacqueline Bhabha

Professor of the Practice of Health and Human Rights at the Harvard School of Public Health and Director of Research, FXB Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard University

Jacqueline Bhabha is FXB Director of Research, Professor of the Practice of Health and Human Rights at the Harvard School of Public Health, the Jeremiah Smith Jr. Lecturer in Law at Harvard Law School, and an Adjunct Lecturer in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School.  She received a first class honors degree and an M.Sc. from Oxford University, and a J.D. from the College of Law in London.

From 1997 to 2001 Bhabha directed the Human Rights Program at the University of Chicago.  Prior to 1997, she was a practicing human rights lawyer in London and at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. She has published extensively on issues of transnational child migration, refugee protection, children’s rights and citizenship. She is the editor of Children Without A State (2011), author of Child Migration and Human Rights in a Global Age (2014), and editor of Human Rights and Adolescence ( 2014).

Bhabha serves on the board of the Scholars at Risk Network, the World Peace Foundation and the Journal of Refugee Studies.  She is also a founder of the Alba Collective, an international women’s NGO currently working with rural women and girls in developing countries to enhance financial security and youth rights.