Centre for the Study of Democracy and Diversity

Centre for the Study of Democracy and Diversity
Centre for the Study of Democracy and Diversity

Three Queen’s researchers bring their expertise to the roundtable as experts discuss the situation in Syria

Friday October 2, 2015
By Anne Craig, Communications Officer, Queens Gazette

The Queen’s University Centre for the Study of Democracy and Diversity and the School of Graduate studies hosted a roundtable on the refugee crisis last week. Queen’s experts Charles Pentland, Zsuzsa Csergo and Keith Banting (Political Studies) were joined by Marie-Joelle Zahar, a researcher at the Université de Montreal and a senior mediation expert with the United Nations.

“I think that roundtables about significant events taking place in a different region of the world can help people to interpret the news and think about those events from new perspectives,” Dr. Csergo says. “They can also help people realize how connected things are in the world. A crisis happening in one part of the world can have huge consequences for another part and a major crisis can turn anyone into a refugee.”

Dr. Csergo has been studying Hungarian politics for more than 20 years. During the roundtable, she explained what is happening on the Hungarian border and how Hungarian state institutions, civil society organizations, and the general population have responded to the crisis.

“I am very concerned about the long-term consequences of the fear that this wave of asylum-seekers generates in European societies in the absence of adequate public information campaigns,” she explains. “I’m also worried that this combination of fear and populism will cause significant damage to already fragile democracies.”

Dr. Zahar has studied conflicts in the Middle East for more than 30 years and just finished a 30-month term at the United Nations where she worked on the Syrian, Libyan, Iraqi, and Somali files among others.

“I have a long-standing interest in the European Union, particularly with its neighbours to the east,” says Dr. Pentland. “I’m interested in EU’s foreign and security policies and that’s the perspective I brought to the table.”