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  • International cooperation in the refugee regime

    13 December 2013

    Refugees lie at the heart of world politics. The causes and consequences of, and responses to, human displacement are intertwined with many of the core concerns of International Relations. Yet, scholars of International Relations have generally bypassed the study of refugees, and Forced Migration Studies has generally bypassed insights from International Relations. This volume therefore represents an attempt to bridge the divide between these disciplines, and to place refugees within the mainstream of International Relations. Drawing together the work and ideas of a combination of the world's leading and emerging International Relations scholars, the volume considers what ideas from International Relations can offer our understanding of the international politics of forced migration. The insights draw from across the theoretical spectrum of International Relations from realism to critical theory to feminism, covering issues including international cooperation, security, and the international political economy. They engage with some of the most challenging political and practical questions in contemporary forced migration, including peacebuilding, post-conflict reconstruction, and statebuilding. The result is a set of highly original chapters, yielding not only new concepts of wider relevance to International Relations but also insights for academics, policy-makers, and practitioners working on forced migration in particular and humanitarianism in general.

  • Historical lessons for overcoming protracted refugee situations

    13 December 2013

    Over two-thirds of the world’s refugees are trapped in protracted refugee situations, struggling to survive in remote and insecure parts of the world. This volume brings together a collection of eminent scholars and practitioners to explore the sources, nature and consequences of these situations and the record of the international community’s attempts to find durable solutions. On this basis, the volume presents new thinking to address protracted refugee situations that incorporates security and development—as well as humanitarian—actors and attempts to reconcile the policy difficulties which have obstructed progress for many years.

  • Rethinking durable solutions

    13 December 2013

    Report description: The majority of today’s refugees have lived in exile for far too long, restricted to camps or eking out a meagre existence in urban centres throughout the developing world. Most subsist in a state of limbo, and are often dependent on others to find solutions to their plight. Their predicament is similar to that of the tens of thousands of refugees who stagnated in camps in Western Europe in the 1950s and 1960s. The High Commissioner for Refugees at the time, Gerrit van Heuven Goedhart, called those camps ‘black spots on the map of Europe’ that should ‘burn holes in the consciences of all those privileged to live in better conditions’. If the situation persisted, he said, the problems of refugees would fester and his office would be reduced to ‘simply administering human misery’. The issue of displaced persons in Europe was finally settled some 20 years after the end of the Second World War; today’s protracted refugee crises, however, show no signs of being resolved in the near future.

  • Towards a soft law framework for the protection of vulnerable irregular migrants

    13 December 2013

    Since the 1980s, an increasing number of people have crossed international borders outside of formal, regularised migration channels, whether by land, air or sea. Policy debates on these kinds of movements have generally focused on security and control, to the neglect of a focus on rights. In a range of situations, though, irregular migrants, who fall outside of the protection offered by international refugee law and UNHCR, may have protection needs and, in some cases, an entitlement to protection under international human rights law. Such protection needs may result from conditions in the country of origin or as a result of circumstances in the host or transit countries. However, this article argues that, despite the existence of international human rights norms that should, in theory, protect such people, there remains a fundamental normative and institutional gap in the international system. Rather than requiring new hard law treaties to fill the gap, the article argues that a ‘soft law’ framework should be developed to ensure the protection of vulnerable irregular migrants, based on two core elements: firstly, the consolidation and application of existing international human rights norms into sets of guiding principles for different groups; secondly, improved mechanisms for inter-agency collaboration to ensure implementation of these norms and principles. The article suggests that learning from the precedent of developing the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement, and its corresponding institutional framework, could be particularly instructive in this regard.

  • Institutional proliferation and the refugee regime

    13 December 2013

    This article explores the impact of institutional proliferation on the politics of refugee protection. The refugee regime mainly comprises the 1951 Convention on the Status of Refugees and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Recently, however, new parallel and overlapping institutions have emerged in relation to two previously unregulated areas: internally displaced persons (IDPs) and international migration. This institutional proliferation has affected both state strategy and IO strategy in relation to refugee protection. It has enabled Northern states to engage in regime shifting. They have used the new institutions to prevent refugees reaching their territory, thereby avoiding incurring UN rules on refugee protection, and transferring burdens to Southern states. The resulting reduction in international cooperation in the refugee regime has contributed to UNHCR fundamentally redefining its strategy in order to become more relevant to Northern states. In particular, it has pursued states into the migration and IDP regimes into which they have shifted through a combination of stretching its mandate, engaging in the politics of the emerging regimes, and issue-linkage. The article's analysis draws attention to the potentially significant relationship between institutional proliferation and IO adaptation and change.

  • North-South cooperation in the refugee regime: the role of linkages

    13 December 2013

    This article explores the role of issue linkage in North-South relations in the global refugee regime between 1980 and 2005. It argues that North-South cooperation has been crucial for overcoming collective action failure in the regime. However, it suggests that because of the absence of a binding normative framework or overriding interest impelling Northern states to support refugee protection in the South, the prospects for overcoming North-South impasse have depended upon the ability of states and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to use issue linkage to connect the “refugee issue” to states' wider interests in other issue areas of global governance—notably migration, security, development, and peacebuilding. The article makes this argument by examining the four principal case studies of UNHCR-led attempts to facilitate North-South cooperation in order to address mass influx or protracted refugee situations in specific regional contexts: the International Conferences on Assistance to Refugees in Africa of 1981 and 1984; the International Conference on Central American Refugees of 1987–1994; the Comprehensive Plan of Action for Indochinese Refugees of 1988–1996; and the Convention Plus initiative of 2003–2005.

  • Convention plus as a norm-setting exercise

    13 December 2013

    This article reflects upon UNHCR's Convention Plus initiative, a multi-lateral process established in order to contribute to the development of a normative framework for global burden-sharing. Although the substantive achievements of the initiative have been limited, the article argues that Convention Plus has helped to develop significant new ideas relating to UNHCR's potential role in norm-creation within the refugee regime. Based on a regime theoretical perspective, and drawing on the wider literature relating to the role of norms in the refugee regime, the paper examines the procedural and conceptual innovations of Convention Plus, and how these might be adapted in future in light of the initiative's shortcomings. In particular, the article sets out two models for UNHCR's role in facilitating norm-creation, both developed in the context of the Convention Plus experience: firstly, a ‘top-down’ institutional bargaining model and, secondly, a ‘bottom-up’ good practice model. The former model emerges from the interests–linkages–norms approach implicit to the so-called ‘generic’ work of the initiative; the latter, from the situational work of the initiative, developed through the revival of ‘comprehensive plans of action’ and the use of pilot projects. The models are argued to be mutually supportive. The paper suggests that adapting these ideal-type models in light of the Convention Plus experience has implications for UNHCR's role in norm-creation, with regard both to developing a normative framework for global burden-sharing and also to developing other norms in response to other emerging challenges.

  • Towards a Mediterranean solution: implications for the region of origin

    13 December 2013

    The article considers the prospects for a ‘Mediterranean Solution’ to address European Union (EU) concerns with transit migration from Sub-Saharan Africa via the Maghreb states and the Southern Mediterranean. It highlights how, in focusing almost exclusively on exclusion and interdiction, the current transit country-focused proposals and approaches of the EU fail to address the underlying causes of transit migration. Furthermore, the existing Maghreb-focused approaches of the EU have exacerbated trafficking and smuggling, and led to human rights abuses and the refoulement of refugees. The article argues that in order to reconcile the EU's concern to reduce ‘irregular migration’ with ensuring access to protection for refugees and respect for the human rights of other categories of migrants, a comprehensive approach is required that engages with the underlying causes of irregular migration. Drawing upon the existing empirical research on transit migration via the Maghreb, which indicates which migrants are coming from where and why, the article attempts to sketch the elements of a comprehensive ‘Mediterranean Solution’. The article assesses the implications such an approach would have for EU policy towards countries of origin and host states of first asylum in Sub-Saharan Africa, the institutional and political obstacles to such an approach and how these might be overcome.

  • What does 'efficiency' mean in the context of the global refugee regime?

    13 December 2013

    The language of ‘efficiency’ has increasingly been used as a rhetorical device to legitimate new approaches to refugee policy; in particular, extraterritorial processing and ‘protection-in-regions-of-origin’. This article aims to explore what ‘efficiency’ might mean from the perspective of the global refugee regime in order to, firstly, expose the hidden assumptions implicit in the use of the ‘efficiency’ discourse in the current debate and, secondly, to explore what the concept might offer in defining the normative contours of a future regime structure. Although the concept is acknowledged to be inevitably political and to carry epistemological assumptions, reconstructing the concept by drawing on economic theory is argued to offer a means to improve the quality of debate on the allocation of resources within the refugee regime. Indeed, a critical application of the concepts of productive, allocative and dynamic efficiency is shown to offer far more nuanced insights for sustainable refugee protection than is implied by the contemporary debate's political manipulation of the term. The article assesses both the theoretical and policy implications that derive from a more rigorous conceptualisation of the meaning of efficiency.