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Tuesday, 10 December 2019

International BICC Conference 2019 \ Refugees and migrants between everyday conflict and peace processes

To conclude the research project “Between civil war and integration—Refugees and the challenges and opportunities of societal change in North Rhine-Westphalia”, the peace and conflict research institute BICC hosted the international academic conference “Refugees and migrants between everyday conflict and peace processes” on 5 December 2019 in Bonn.

State Secretary Klaus Kaiser, state NRW, (l.) together with Esther Meininghaus, BICC researcher, and Michael Dedek, BICC Director for Administration, before the opening the conference. Photo: BICC\S. Heinke

After a welcome address by Klaus Kaiser, State Secretary, Ministry of Culture and Science of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW-MKW), around 50 experts from academia and practice participated in discussions on three overarching themes. The first, “Diaspora and peace”, dealt with the effects of legal and academic distinctions between ‘refugees’ and ‘migrants’ on their respective access to civil rights and UN peace processes. The second overarching theme dealt with “Group conflicts’ in refugee and migrant communities in Germany and how they affect their integration and inclusion in peace processes. In the third overarching theme “Individual experiences”, the participants discussed what it means for everyday life and peace processes when on the one hand,  refugees seek to integrate themselves in Germany and maintain their ties to their countries of origin on the other—in part by personally engaging in peace processes.

Outcome of three years of research

As a concluding conference, it also reflected the research that the BICC researchers Dr Simone Christ, Dr Esther Meininghaus, Dr Katja Mielke and Tim Röing conducted in the framework of the MKW-supported project “Between civil war and integration—Refugees and the challenges and opportunities of societal change in North Rhine-Westphalia”. This included field research in NRW, where the BICC researchers have visited nine municipalities and 33 refugee shelters since 2016. In more than 200 interviews, they interviewed mainly refugees but also social workers, shelter staff, employees of security firms and public administration, staff from advisory organisations as well as volunteers.  

In the framework of the research module “Conflict prevention in refugee shelters”, the research team also published the BICC Working Paper 3\2017 "‘All Day Waiting‘—Konflikte in Unterkünften für Geflüchtete in NRW“ (english version: BICC Working Paper 3\2019). The policy recommendations on conflict prevention in refugee shelters are available in eight languages.

In the framework of the research module “(Dis)continuity of conflicts among refugees in NRW”, BICC Working Paper 6/2019Continuation of political conflicts or a new beginning? Turkish refugees in North Rhine-Westphalia” (German: „Fortsetzung politischer Konflikte oder Neuanfang? Türkische Geflüchtete in Nordrhein-Westfalen“) and BICC Policy Brief 6\2019 “On handling conflicts among refugees and migrant communities: Assuring equal treatment and enabling participation on equal terms” (German: „Zum Umgang mit Konflikten unter Geflüchteten und Migrantengemeinschaften in NRW: Gleichbehandlung sicherstellen und Partizipation auf Augenhöhe ermöglichen“) were published. 

The module “Successful integration? The life story of refugees” comprised, for instance, BICC Working Paper 5\2019„‚Gott sei Dank fühle ich mich jetzt nicht mehr als Flüchtling‘ – Alltagsleben und Integrationsprozesse geflüchteter Menschen“ (in German) and BICC Policy Brief 5\2019„Schlüssel zu einer erfolgreichen Integration Geflüchteter: Sprachkompetenz, Wohnen, Arbeit, gesellschaftliche Teilhabe“ (in German).

The module “Peace negotiations, refugee rights and resources in the Syrian and Afghan peace process” set an international focus and examined, amongst other things, the extent to which people from Afghanistan and Syria are engaged in peacemaking in Germany (BICC Working Paper 11\2019 “Beyond Doha and Geneva: Peacemaking engagement of Afghans and Syrians in North Rhine-Westphalia and Germany”).

A documentation of the conference “Refugees and migrants between everyday conflict and peace processes” will be published in early 2020 as a BICC Knowledge Note.

Conference Programme

Press release "Internationale BICC-Konferenz 2019 \ Geflüchtete und Migranten zwischen Alltagskonflikten und Friedensprozessen" (pdf, in German)