Toby Roper '17 Office of the UN high Commissioner for refugees

Toby Roper '17
Office of the UN high Commissioner for refugees

 

 

Toby is a senior at Harvard studying Social Studies and Economics, with a particular focus on migration and ethnic conflict. Born in London, Toby is still proudly British despite being fortunate enough to grow up in Singapore and Vancouver. It is with this international spirit that Toby approaches Model United Nations, and that has led him to staff multiple conferences in Boston, India, and China as part of the Harvard International Relations Council. When he is not in the classroom or committee room, Toby plays scrum-half and sits on the board for the Harvard Rugby team. He is incredibly excited about joining the WorldMUN family, and cannot wait to get to Montreal and meet all the delegates.

 

Topic: Current Refugees Crises

While the annals of human history recount in much detail the great conflicts of centuries past -- the belligerents, the leaders, the soldiers, the battles, and the results -- they rarely tell the story of those whom are forced to flee their homes to escape the ravages of these conflicts. In 1950, when the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees was established, for the first time an international and non-partisan body existed to not just tell the story of those displaced by conflict and persecution, but also to agitate and advocate for their safety, wellbeing, and human rights. Throughout the second half of the 20th century, the UNHCR has had much to do, and the 21st century has been no different. Conflict, particularly in the Middle East, is leading to the daily displacement of people, families, and sometimes entire communities, and these people are seeking refuge sometimes in neighboring states, but also much further afield. The flow of refugees arriving in Southern and Eastern Europe has been a mainstay of mainstream western news outlets for the last year. These arrivals have raised a number of old and new concerns for the UNHCR to address in the coming years not least of which is how to distinguish exactly whom is refugee, and whom is an (far less politically popular) 'economic migrant'. The UNHCR will have to consider both ways to protect refugees as they make their way to safety, and how to keep them safe when they reach countries in which they seek to apply for asylum, as refugees worldwide have continually found themselves facing violence, abuse, and discrimination in countries they have escaped to. Perhaps most importantly, the UNHCR will need to think about how countries might do more to accommodate growing refugee numbers. This is a challenging time for the world for conflict resolution, and for refugees, and it is the UNHCR's mission to rise to that challenge for the greater good of those simply trying to escape the horrors of violence and persecution.