Address to Global Refuge Forum

Special Representative on Migration and Refugees 15 December 2023 Geneva

High-Commissioner, Excellencies, Esteemed Colleagues and partners,   Thank you, High Commissioner and congratulations for the organisation of the second Global Refugee Forum   I am honoured to address this Forum on behalf of the Secretary General of the Council of Europe.   Our Organisation,...

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‘Reception of women and children refugees in Europe’s cities and regions’

Address at the 43rd Session of the Congress

Special Representative on Migration and Refugees 25 October 2022 Strasbourg

Distinguished members of the Congress, Dear Ms VAIKLA and Mr VÖHRINGER, Dear colleagues, Ladies and gentlemen, Thank you for this invitation to join your debate on the reception of refugee women and children in Europe’s cities and regions. Congratulations for putting this topic high on your...

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Speech at the 73rd session of the Executive Committee of the High Commissioner’s Programme

12 October 2022 Geneva

Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, First of all, I would like to congratulate you, High Commissioner for your re-election. Thank you also for the invitation to participate in this session and for your personal commitment in the excellent co-operation between our two Organisations. The...

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Speech at the PACE Committee on Migration, Refugees and Displaced Persons Meeting in Athens

19 September 2022 Athens

Dear Chairperson, Dear Members of the Committee, Ladies and Gentlemen, First, I would like to thank the Chairperson, Mr. Rousopoulos, for his invitation to join you today in Athens in the premises of the Hellenic Parliament, for this opportunity to have an exchange with you and for the...

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SRSG on Migration and Refugees Leyla Kayacik

Speech at the the Event on “Age assessment of unaccompanied migrant children: promoting a human rights and multidisciplinary approach”

30 March 2022 Rome, Italy

(Check against delivery) Good morning to all participants, those present in this meeting room today and those connecting online. First of all, I would like to thank warmly our hosts: His Excellency the Minister of Health (Mr Roberto SPERANZA), the Director General of Italy´s National Institute...

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Speech at the 41st Congress Session

26 October 2021 Strasbourg

(Check against delivery) Dear esteemed members of the Congress, Dear Ms Dourou, Dear colleagues, ladies and gentlemen I am very grateful for your invitation to contribute to this debate on the continuing challenges for cities and regions in the field of migration. I appreciate such a focus of the...

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Statement on behalf of the Council of Europe – 72nd UNHCR Executive Committee session

7 October 2021 Geneva

(Check against delivery) Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, I would like to express my gratitude to High Commissioner Filippo Grandi for his invitation to this Executive Committee. First, let me praise the excellent relations and the ongoing cooperation between the Council of Europe and UNHCR....

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Speech at the Prague Charles University Commemorating 70 years of the European Convention on Human Rights

27 November 2020 Prague

Dear colleagues and friends, I would like to congratulate and thank the Faculty of Law of Univerzita Karlova for organizing this event to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the adoption of the European Convention on Human Rights. It is a pleasure and honour for me to join so many distinguished...

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Statement on behalf of the Council of Europe – 71st UNHCR Executive Committee session

7 October 2020 Geneva

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, Thanks Mr. Chair for the floor. Allow me first to express my gratitude to High Commissioner Filippo Grandi for the invitation. I was actually present in Geneva for the first two days of the session of the Executive Committee, but I had to come back to the...

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Kinga JENSEN - MAGYAR, Office of the Special Representative of the CoE Secretary General on migration and refugees

Speech at the HELP Annual Conference

8 July 2020 Strasbourg

Good afternoon dear Colleagues, ladies and gentlemen, participants of the 2020 Annual Help Network conference, Allow me first to apologise on behalf of Ambassador Drahoslav Štefánek, Special Representative of the Secretary General on migration and refugees for his absence this afternoon. Allow me...

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ECRI webinar on inclusive education in time of COVID-19 ith special focus on migrant and Roma children

30 June 2020 Strasbourg

While closing down school activities due to COVID-19 affected all children, the lives of refugee and migrant children were particularly touched. For them, going to school, meeting new friends and going out of the refugee camps brought them out of their secluded existence to a sense of normalcy...

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Conference of INGOs Webinar: Migrants and refugees facing the Covid-19 crisis, what lessons for the post-pandemic time?

22 June 2020 Strasbourg

Collaboration with INGOs The SRSG recognises the pivotal role that INGOs play in the delivery of immediate and long-term humanitarian assistance at any stage of the migration process. Amid the restrictions imposed by the covid-19 crisis, many INGOs have continued to deliver aid in the field, and...

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Event organised by the Georgian Presidency of the Council of Europe

Statement at the online event "Justice in Europe - Participation and Restorative Justice"

12 May 2020 Strasbourg

Excellences, Ladies and Gentlemen, Thank you for the invitation to join you at this high-level event addressing a topic which remains pertinent in new contexts of migration today as well as in all interactions of children with the law enforcement authorities. International and Council of Europe...

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First meeting of the Steering Committee for the Rights of the Child (CDENF)

4 February 2020 Strasbourg

Ladies and Gentlemen, Thank you for the invitation to join you at this meeting of the new Steering Committee for the Rights of the Child. It is your first plenary meeting. And it is also my first exchange with an intergovernmental body since taking up duties as the Special Representative of the...

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Exchange of views with the PACE Committee on Migration, Refugees and Displaced Persons

30 January 2020 Strasbourg

At their last Ministerial Session, in Helsinki May 2019, Foreign Ministers emphasised the need to continue addressing the challenges arising from global migration. The Council of Europe’s engagement with the issue of migration should continue, taking into account the added value our...

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Statement of Ambassador Drahoslav Štefánek at the OECD Ministerial Meeting on Migration and Integration: Making migration and Integration Policies Future Ready

17 January 2020 Paris

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, Allow me first to express my gratitude to Secretary General Angel Gurria and Federal Councillor Keller-Sutter as the Chair on behalf of Switzerland for the invitation and congratulate them for the organisation of this ministerial meeting. The Council of...

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Speech at the Conference "Hand in hand to support refugees’ integration – education, training and recognition of qualifications"

1 March 2019 Strasbourg

Mesdames et Messieurs, C’est un honneur d’être parmi vous à l’ occasion de cet événement et de partager notre appréciation pour les résultats du projet Passeport européen des qualifications des réfugiés. L’intégration des refugies est un sujet d’actualité qui est au cœur des politiques du Conseil...

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Summary of the presentation of the draft recommendation on supporting young refugees in transition to adulthood at the GR-C

31 January 2019 Strasbourg

Many of the children who arrived in 2015 have become adults in the meantime. For them, their 18th birthday is the end of child-protection services, an abrupt and often unprepared change in accessing housing and support, such as welfare, education, health care, information. They are legally...

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Speech at the 2018 HELP Annual Network Conference “Good training for good judgments”

21 June 2018 Strasbourg

Presentation of the HELP course on refugee and migrant children Good afternoon, Ladies and Gentlemen, I am very honoured to attend this year’s HELP Annual Network Conference. It is my first occasion to join this event and please let me share my admiration and appreciation for what the HELP team...

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Speech at the International Round Table “Regulation of Migration Processes in Eurasian Space”

29 May 2018 Moscow

I am very pleased to be here today with you. But you may well be wondering what a man from an organisation aimed at upholding human rights, democracy and the rule of law can possibly have to say about the regulation of migration processes in Eurasian space. It is true that the Council of Europe...

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Opening speech at the Annual Diaspora Forum of the Parliamentary Network on Diaspora Policies of PACE

18 May 2018 Geneva

We live in a world where capitals, ideas, goods, services and people circulate ever faster and freer. We know for a fact that migrants’ contribution to development in both host countries and countries of origin is positive. Migrants bring new and sometimes scarce skills, innovative ideas and...

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Speech at the 34th Congress Session

28 March 2018 Strasbourg

Dear President, dear Secretary General of the Congress, dear Congress members, Thank you for inviting me again to your plenary session. It is always an honour and privilege to address such a respectable assembly. I appeared before you exactly one year ago when you were discussing another report...

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Opening remarks at launch event: Language Support for Adult Refugees: a Council of Europe Toolkit

22 November 2017 Strasbourg

Language support for adult refugees: a Council of Europe toolkit C´est un grand plaisir pour moi d´être ici avec vous pour le lancement de la boite à outils du Conseil de l´Europe sur l´accompagnement linguistique des réfugiés adultes. Pendant mes missions d´information au cours des derniers 18...

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Speech at the 11th European Forum on the rights of the child

7 November 2017 Brussels

Colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen, I will not start with a surprising statement, but just by saying the obvious - Detention is stressful and sometimes dangerous. It is synonym to physical, emotional and intellectual isolation. It is difficult for adults and even more so for children. With the...

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Speech at 2017 Exchange on the religious dimension of intercultural dialogue


Discussion paper on religion and migration prepared by the Office of the Special Representative Ladies and Gentlemen, Despite migration being in the spotlight for the last three years, a sustainable solution is not yet on the horizon. European governments and public opinion alike have been...

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Keynote speech at OSCE-ODIHR round table on local government and migrant integration

26 october 2017 Warsaw

Thank you very much for the invitation to join you today at this very topical round table. The question of migrants’ integration is increasingly central to my activities, so it is a great pleasure for me to speak to you at the opening of this forum to exchange some thoughts of the role of local...

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Speech on promoting social inclusion at UN Global Compact on refugees thematic panel discussion

18 October 2017 GENEVA

Esteemed chairmen, fellow panellists, ladies and gentlemen, I am very pleased to be here today to share some thoughts on how we might support the inclusion of refugees. I have been asked to focus my remarks on promoting social inclusion, an issue of increasing importance in Europe as states begin...

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Speech at #LockedInLimbo campaign event - Protecting stateless persons from arbitrary detention in Europe

11 October 2017 Strasbourg

It is my pleasure to be here to show my support to the #LockedInLimbo campaign run by the European Network on Statelessness, which focuses on the need to protect stateless persons from arbitrary detention in Europe. Statelessness disrupts the enjoyment of many human rights. Thanks to the terms of...

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The way forward! Remarks at the end of the Prague International Conference – Immigration Detention of Children: Coming to a close?

26 September 2017 Prague

Thank you all for these two days, so rich in discussions, emotions and above all cogent arguments. When I opened the first plenary session of the conference I told you the stories of some of the children whom I have met during my fact-finding missions as Special Representative of the CoE...

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Opening speech at the Launching Conference of the Parliamentary Network on Diaspora Policies

7 September 2017 Lisbon

It is my pleasure to be here at the launching conference of the Parliamentary Network on Diaspora Policies. Over the seventy years since the end of the Second World War, migration has steadily increased across the European continent. A number have migrated within Europe, while others have come...

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Speech at the Council of Europe Conference on Smuggling of Migrants

23 June 2017 Strasbourg

Dear participants, It is a pleasure to be with you today. Several of my fact-finding mission-reports refer to the issue of smuggling of migrants. If a lesson had to be drawn from all of them, it would be the following: restricting the right to seek asylum pushes more migrants into the hands of...

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Opening Remarks at the CJ-DAM consultation hearing on Conditions of Administrative Detention of Migrants

22 June 2017 Strasbourg

Dear Chair, dear participants, I would like to thank you for the opportunity to engage with you today. I had also been invited to open the first meeting of CJ-DAM last year, which I did with great pleasure. And I am happy to see how much progress has been made. So I would like to begin by...

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Speech at the International conference on “Children Victims of Armed Conflicts”

1 June 2017 Strasbourg

Ladies and gentlemen, War, armed conflict and terrorism have resulted in there being, today, more displaced people than ever. Nearly 34,000 people are forcibly displaced every day as a result of conflict or persecution. Children are among those worst affected by violence. The laws of war are cast...

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Speech at the High-level seminar Freedom of Religion in Europe: achievements and perspectives

28 April 2017 Strasbourg

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, The mass arrival of refugees and migrants in Europe has proved to be one of the most serious humanitarian issues of our times. It has ranked high on Europe’s political agendas in the last couple of years, often labelled as “the refugee and migration...

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Speech at the High-level meeting on Europe’s challenge to ensure a rights perspective for children in migration

24 April 2017 Stockholm

Ladies and gentlemen, I am honoured to be speaking at the Parliament of Sweden, a country known for its traditional welcoming culture and its generous immigration policies. During its history, Sweden has demonstrated effective leadership in helping those in need of protection and providing...

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Speech at the 32nd Congress Session

28 March 2017 Strasbourg

Dear President, dear Secretary General, dear Congress members Thank you very much for the invitation to take part in this very topical debate. Fourteen months have passed since the Secretary General of the Council of Europe asked me to be his special representative on migration and refugees. My...

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Speech at the 10th European Forum on the Rights of the Child

29 November 2016 Brussels

Distinguished guests, A great deal has been said today about the challenges of and opportunities for protecting migrants and children. Let me say a few words from the Council of Europe’s perspective and explain how we intend and will contribute to our common goal – the protection of migrant...

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Speech at the First meeting of the Ad hoc Committee for the Rights of the Child (CAHENF)

29 September 2016 Strasbourg

Thank you Chair, Dear CAHENF members, One out of four persons currently seeking asylum in the European Union is a child. This makes it 800 children seeking asylum per day. Of the 1 015 718 people who arrived there by sea in 2015, 31% were children. In one Council of Europe country alone, Turkey,...

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Speech at the Seminar on the fight against racism, xenophobia, homophobia and transphobia

25 July 2016 Barcelona, Spain

Ladies and gentlemen, it is a pleasure to participate in this conference today. The fight against racism and xenophobia is one of the key areas of action for the Council of Europe. You have already heard some of my colleagues address you on different aspects of the work that we do in this field....

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Discours lors de la rencontre d’Ombudsmans, Médiateurs et défenseurs des droits de l’enfant organisée par l’ENOC et le Défenseur des Droits

28 juin 2016 Paris, France

Mesdames et Messieurs, Je commencerai ma présentation en vous rappelant certains chiffres que vous connaissez tous : un tiers des 220.000 demandeurs d’asile et migrants qui ont traversé la mer Méditerranée en 2016 sont des enfants. Beaucoup d’entre eux étaient des mineurs non-accompagnés. Plus de...

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Speech at the Fundamental Rights Forum

21 June 2016 Vienna, Austria

Thank you Chair And thank you Michael for giving me the opportunity to participate in an event with such broad appeal and to comment on such a topical issue: EU asylum policy. As you know, the Council of Europe and the European Union have a lot to share. All 28 EU countries are Council of...

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Speech at the International Conference on the Protection of Asylum Seekers, Refugees and Migrants

28 May 2016 Nafplio, Greece

There can be no viable solutions to the ongoing migration and refugee crisis without concrete international cooperation. This is not a meaningless phrase. What it actually entails is that all of us here are jointly responsible. We cannot blame failure only on others; we must ourselves take our...

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Speech at the High-Level Conference launching the new Council of Europe children's rights strategy

5-6 April 2016 Sofia, Bulgaria

It has been two months since I was appointed Special Representative of the Secretary General on Migration and Refugees. The creation of this new position was one of the Organisation’s responses to the unprecedented migration flows our continent is confronted with today. I was initially asked to...

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Statement at the UNHCR High-level meeting on global responsibility-sharing through pathways for admission of Syrian refugees

30 March 2016 30 March 2016

It is a privilege to address you here today on behalf of the Council of Europe, the 47 member state organisation that promotes human rights in our continent. Like those before me, I would like to thank the UNHCR for hosting this event. Perhaps a natural starting point is to remind ourselves that...

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Statement on the risk of a new humanitarian disaster on another Balkan border - Tabanovce

11 March 2016 Strasbourg

Today, as part of my first fact-finding mission, after meeting the Minister of the Interior of "the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia", Oliver Spasovski, I visited the Tabanovce camp at the border with Serbia. Next to the camp, still on the territory of the "the former Yugoslav Republic of...

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Statement following the Special Representative's meeting with Greek Deputy Foreign Minister Dimitris Mardas

9 March 2016 Athens, Greece

I would like to thank the Greek authorities for their cooperation and for having prepared this visit at such short notice. I have been to various camps and a centre for unaccompanied minors in Athens; yesterday I went to Chios; I have also spoken with many government Ministers, local authorities...

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Speech at OSCE Security Days Conference on Refocusing Migration and Security: Bridging National and Regional Responses

4 March 2016 Rome, Italy

Let me begin by thanking the OSCE for organising this Conference. In my brief remarks here today, I would like to propose three basic premises. First, there can be no security without human rights. In public discourse, these two terms are often juxtaposed as opposites. We need to move away from...

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