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A podcast of this lecture is now available. 

Tens of millions of people in nearly every inhabited corner of the planet face the challenge of life as refugees or internally-displaced people. Countries and organisations throughout the world often recognise that such displaced people (and particularly refugees) have legal rights and merit considerable attention. Nonetheless, the complex structures shaping the laws, organisations, and ideas in this domain – what could be called the 'architecture' of refugee protection – often fails to live up to its promise.

In his talk, Professor Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar disaggregated three dimensions of the 'architecture' of refugee protection. Specifically, the talk focussed on some of the architectural features of the humanitarian relief system, on the allocation of power and territory across nation-states, and on the physical architecture of refugee camps. Each of these domains reveals some of the key architectural features driving our response to refugees and internally displaced persons. By understanding the interacting effects of these different architectures, we can better appreciate how a mix of laws, organisations, and ideas help create the combination of neglect and opportunities for action that will shape the lives of displaced persons and the international system that defines our world.

About the speaker

Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar works at the intersection of law, public policy, and political science. A member of the Stanford Law School faculty since 2001, he has served in the Obama and Clinton Administrations, testified before lawmakers, and has an extensive record of involvement in public service. His research and teaching focus on administrative law, executive power, and how organisations implement regulatory responsibilities involving public health and safety, migration, and international security in a changing world. He is the Co-Director of Stanford’s university-wide Center for International Security and Cooperation.

From early 2009 through the summer of 2010, he served as Special Assistant to the President for Justice and Regulatory Policy at the White House. Among other issues, Cuéllar worked on stricter food safety standards, federal sentencing and law enforcement reform, civil rights policy, enhancing regulatory transparency, and strengthening border coordination and immigrant integration. Before working on the White House Domestic Policy Council staff, he co-chaired the Obama-Biden Transition’s Immigration Policy Working Group. During the second term of the Clinton Administration, he worked at the US Department of the Treasury as Senior Advisor to the Under Secretary for Enforcement.

In July 2010, the President appointed him to the Council of the Administrative Conference of the United States, an independent agency charged with improving the efficiency and fairness of federal regulatory programs. He also serves on the Department of Education’s National Commission on Educational Equity and Excellence, and the Department of State’s Advisory Sub-Committee on Economic Sanctions. In addition, he is a board member of The Constitution Project, a non-profit think tank that builds bipartisan consensus on constitutional and legal issues.

After graduating from Calexico High School in California’s Imperial Valley, he received an AB magna cum laude from Harvard, a JD from Yale Law School, and a PhD in political science from Stanford. He clerked for Chief Judge Mary M. Schroeder of the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, and is a member of the American Law Institute and the Council on Foreign Relations.

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