Refugees and arts at IWM


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02 February 2021
The Imperial War Museum has announced that former politician David Miliband is to be a key speaker at the inaugural Annual Lecture series.

Forming part of Imperial War Museums’ Refugees season, the IWM Institute has announced David Miliband, CEO at the International Rescue Committee (IRC), and Lyse Doucet, BBC Chief International Correspondent, as key speakers for its inaugural Annual Lecture series. The free lecture, streamed live via Crowdcast on Thursday 11 March at 5pm, will explore one of the 21st century’s greatest challenges – the ongoing refugee crisis.

From providing children with adequate education to granting refugees the right to work, a historical lens will help uncover how past precedents might be used to aid the record number of people uprooted by conflict, war and disaster. This 20-minute conversation between Miliband and Doucet, focusing on topics including how the global asylum system came into place after World War II and the IRC’s practical recommendations for addressing the contemporary refugee crisis, will be followed by an audience Q&A.

An opening lecture from Miliband will also draw on his own personal experiences as the son of refugees who fled Nazi persecution in World War II, as well as his career as former UK Foreign Secretary from 2007-10 before becoming President and CEO of the IRC, one of the world’s leading humanitarian relief organisations.

This is the first of a yearly series of lectures organised by the recently launched IWM Institute, inviting some of the world’s most prominent speakers to discuss and find solutions to the most pressing conflict-related issues. The Annual Lecture forms part of a brand new strand of museum programming which includes virtual festivals, a new podcast and online discussions.

David Miliband, CEO of the International Rescue Committee and former UK Foreign Secretary, said, “My parents came to the UK as refugees in the 1940s. If Britain had not admitted individuals displaced by the Second World War, I might not be here today. Refugees make up this country’s past, present and future. At a time when the world is witnessing the highest levels of displacement on record, looking to the past for guidance can equip us with ways to address the contemporary refugee crisis. I’m delighted to be exploring such an important issue with a museum like IWM.”

Gill Webber, Executive Director of the IWM Institute, said, “The IWM Institute launched last year to offer new, accessible and engaging ways to deepen public understanding of war and conflict backed by original research. The global refugee crisis is one of the most devastating consequences of contemporary conflict and through IWM’s programming we hope to increase awareness of its impact, past and present. We are thrilled to be joined by David Miliband and Lyse Doucet, two experts in this important field, to help us achieve this.”

This year’s Annual Lecture is part of IWM’s Refugees season of free exhibitions, artistic commissions and immersive events taking place across IWM London and IWM North in 2021. The IWM will focus on a virtual festival, Refugee Nights, hosted by the IWM Institute; site-specific commissions, like Ai Weiwei’s History of Bombs; major exhibitions, such as Refugees: Forced to Flee at IWM London and Aid Workers: Ethics Under Fire at IWM North; and installations, such as Life in a Camp, a partnership project with CNN exploring life in Moria refugee camp, and A Face to Open Doors, an immersive installation exploring the asylum seeking process by artists Anagram.

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