Refugees, Media and International Law

This event, organised by the Media Governance & Industries Research Lab, is open to the public.

Press Release (EN)

Press Release (DE)

Media Governance & Industries Lab Blog

More than 10 million children in the world are refugees out of a total of 20 million, according to the latest UNHCR data (2014). Europe is witnessing a tiny part of this number of people on forced dislocations, yet the numbers are still high: 660.000 refugees and migrants have sought safe passage to Greece this year. On a dangerous journey towards central and northern Europe through the Mediterranean Sea, around 3000 people are reported dead or missing. In Spielfeld, on the Austrian border with Slovenia, data mentions 3800 refugees (recently per day) waiting for transportation means to move forward and another 3600 waiting for border crossing.

The "refugee crisis" is forcing Europe to come face to face with its strength to uphold Human Rights and European values of protecting the vulnerable and with its political will to confront hate speech and racist attacks.

The media play an important role in shaping public opinion, providing information and making diverse voices heard. They also have an important role to play in supporting society to deal with rapid social change by generating and fostering public debate, while upholding democratic values. But, do they fulfil their role and if so, how do they achieve that? Journalism’s duty is to present multiple perspectives and first hand experiences, acting as a positive force in these times of uncertainty and turbulence. Crucial to this process is the place of the editorial decisions on the way to approach the crisis.

Given the turn in the public debate from compassion to suspicion, it is important to keep an open and honest debate about one of the most pressing humanitarian crises of our times. Join us for this Round Table, as we seek to find answers, offer examples of positive change and put together the mosaic of truth.

Panel Discussants

Moderation: Univ.-Prof. Dr. Katharine Sarikakis

  • Prof. Gabor Halmai, Professor of Constitutional Law and Fundamental Rights Eötvös Loránd University Budapest, Senior Visiting Fellow Institute for Human Sciences (IWM) Vienna.
  • Tawanda Kanhema, MA, Al Jazeera, AJ+ producer in charge of digital content, San Francisco
  • Mag. Olivera Stajic-Fidler, Editorial Director, Der Standard
  • Dr. Birgit Wolf, InterEuropean Human Aid Association e.V., Lecturer in Communication and Gender, University of Vienna, Danube University Krems

Date, Time and Venue

  • December 2, 2015, 19:00

Informal reception will follow

Please register your attendance with: Dr. Olga Kolokytha

The event is organised by the Media Governance and Industries Research Lab, Department of Communication, University of Vienna.

Biographies of Panelists

  • Joanna Bostock, MSc, Chief Editor Reality Check FM4, ORF

A native of Edinburgh, Scotland, Joanna moved to Austria shortly after completing a degree in French and Sociology at King's College, London, joining the ORF in 1990. In 1995 she joined the English language news team as a writer, reporter and presenter after working as a producer on magazine programmes. In 2008 Joanna returned to Scotland for a year, obtaining an MSc in International and European Politics from the University of Edinburgh.  She has been editor of FM4’s midday current affairs magazine "Reality Check" since January 2011.

Gábor Halmai is professor of law at the Eötvös Loránd University/Budapest. Between 2011-2014 he was a visiting research scholar at Princeton University. Currently he is an EURIAS senior visiting fellow at the Institute for Human Sciences (IWM) in Vienna. Since 2003 he is the national director of the European Masters Program in Human Rights and Democratization in Venice. Between 2007-2010 he was member of the EU Fundamental Rights Agency’s Management Board, between 1990-97 as chief advisor to the President of the Hungarian Constitutional Court. His primary research interests are comparative constitutional law and human rights. He has published several books and articles, as well as editing volumes on these topics. Prof. Halmai's recent research among other things focuses on illiberal democracies in a comparative perspective, including their reactions to the current refugee crisis, and the European institutions' means enforcing Member States to comply with shared European values.

  • Tawanda Kanhema, MA, Al Jazeera, AJ+ producer in charge of digital content, San Francisco

Tawanda Kanhema, a producer at AJPlus, a digital news platform run by the Al Jazeera Media Network in San Francisco, is a Zimbabwean investigative reporter and documentary filmmaker with experience covering development, politics, human trafficking and resource conflict in Africa. Kanhema's reporting and research interests focus on illicit financial flows, immigration, resource governance and technology. Some of his work has appeared on ITN Channel 4 News (UK), The Wall Street Journal and The Times (of London).

Olivera Stajic was born in Vienna 1979 and grew up in Bosnia; she studied history and journalism and communication sciences in Vienna, where she lives since May 1992. While studying she did various internships in media and publishing companies. From 2005 to 2007 she was the editor at and from 2007 to 2009 editor at Telekom Press and the pfm magazine (finally as chief editor). Since December 2009 she is the Editorial Director of ( and since July 2012 Editor-in-chief for

Dr. Birgit Wolf has a PhD on the representation of gender-based violence in European anti-violence initiatives and an MII in Theory and History of Audiovisual Representation, with a Master’s Thesis on The Visual of Gender-Based Violence. She is an activist, volunteer and board member of the InterEuropean Human Aid Assosiation e.V. as well as member of the European Network on Gender and Violence. Dr. Wolf is a Gender- & Diversity Sensitive Researcher and Lecturer in Communication. Since March 2013 she is a Lecturer at the Department of Interactive Media and Education Technologies of the Donau-Universität Krems.