The University of Oxford's Paul Collier discussed the complex issue of global migration and the refugee crisis with a Council audience on September 26. We sat down one-on-one with him to inquire what question he hoped the audience would ask. Find out what he said.
"You know, I wish I'd been asked: "What can I, as an ordinary American, do about this?" That's the question I hoped for. Because—I think this is going to fall to the task of ordinary people to get change. The refugee system is broken. Political responses have been, basically, populist. With the exception of President Obama who's done, actually, a fine job. But responses have been populist, because politicians have just tried to appeal to the concerns of ordinary people of the moment. And so ordinary people can play a big role in forcing politicians to be smarter. And because the refugee system is really, seriously broken, we need to get it high enough on the agenda, so that there is actually an impetus by politicians to say: "Whatever else we do, we've neglected this for too long." And so I expect—my coauthor and I have tried to sketch the case for, why we've got such a nightmare. It's an avoidable nightmare. But what we now need is momentum amongst ordinary people to push our politicians into doing something about it. This really is a fixable problem."