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  • Burma: refugees and regional relations

    17 December 2013

    For nearly sixty years, the regime in Rangoon has remained in power by preventing democratic change and waging war against the country's numerous ethnic nationality parties. This is the oldest ongoing conflict in the world. At the end of May, in response to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's appeal to free Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel Prize winning prodemocracy activist, the military regime extended her house arrest for at least another year. This step is the latest demonstration of the unwillingness of the military regime to share power. As a direct consequence of the fighting and in response to sustained and widespread human rights violations throughout the country, hundreds of thousands of civilians have been displaced and huge numbers of refugees have fled to neighbouring countries.

  • The UNHCR and World Politics: A Perilous Path

    17 December 2013

    Over fifty years ago governments established the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to protect the world's refugees. The UNHCR was created to be a human rights and advocacy organization. But governments also created the agency to promote regional and international stability and to serve the interests of states. Consequently, the UNHCR has always trod a perilous path between its mandate to protect refugees and asylum seekers and the demands placed upon it by states to be a relevant actor in world politics. This is the first independent history of the UNHCR. Gil Loescher, one of the world's leading experts on refugee affairs, draws upon decades of personal experience and research to examine the origins and evolution of the UNHCR as well as to identify many of the major challenges facing the organization in the years ahead. A key focus is to examine the extent to which the evolution of the UNHCR has been framed by the crucial events of international politics during the past half century and how, in turn, the actions of the eight past High Commissioners have helped shape the course of world history.

  • The Palestinian Diaspora in Europe: Challenges of Dual Identity and Adaptation

    3 April 2014

    The papers which make up this book were presented at a workshop held at the Middle East Centre at St. Anthony’s College, University of Oxford, between 5th and 6th May 2000, but were later revised and updated. The papers by H.Schulz and S. Shawa were added later. The workshop on ‘Palestinian Communities in Europe’ was organised jointly by the Refugee Studies Centre (RSC) at the University of Oxford and the Palestinian Refugee and Diaspora Centre (Shaml) in Ramallah. I would like to express my gratitude to the Organising Committee members for their efforts and invaluable help. In particular, I am thankful to Dr. Eugene Rogan of St. Anthony’s, Dr David Turton, the ex-Director of the RSC, Dr Dawn Chatty of the RSC, Dr. Nadje Al-Ali of Exeter, Dr. Nick Van Hear, Paul Ryder and Dominique Attala of the RSC. Also to Dr. Sharif Kanaana, the cofounder and ex-Director of Shaml and Judge Eugene Cotran, the Chair of the Board of Trustees of Shaml. To Said Kamal and Ghayth Armanzi of the League of Arab States (LAS) and to Ford Foundation in Cairo, for the financial assistance which made the workshop the success that it was. I would like to extend my thanks to the indefatigable researchers who contributed to this groundbreaking workshop, to the translators: Ramsey Amin, Ihsan Al-Kharouf, Rami Cheblak and to Genevieve de Winter who went through the English text and made useful stylistic changes.

  • Local Politics and the Syrian Refugee Crisis: Exploring Responses in Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan

    24 November 2017

    In order to explain responses to Syrian refugees, it is important to understand politics within the major host countries. This involves looking beyond the capital cities to examine variation in responses at the local level. Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan followed a similar trajectory as the crisis evolved. Each began the crisis in 2011 with a history of relative openness to Syrians, then increased restrictions especially around October 2014 with the growing threat of ISIS, before agreeing major bilateral deals with the European Union in early 2016. These common trajectories, however, mask significant sub-national variation. To explore this we examine three local contexts in each of the main countries: Gaziantep, Adana, and Izmir in Turkey; Sahab, Zarqa, and Mafraq in Jordan; and predominantly Christian, Shia, and Sunni areas in Lebanon. In each country, some governorates and municipalities have adopted relatively more inclusive or restrictive policies towards Syrian refugees. The main sets of factors that appear to mediate this relate to identity and interests, but also to the personalities of individual heads of municipal authorities. The report argues that political analysis – across all levels of governance – matters for refugee protection. There is a need to enhance the capacity for political analysis within humanitarian organisations.

  • The Common European Asylum System – Where did it all go wrong?

    20 December 2016

    Chapter in 'The European Union as an Area of Freedom, Security and Justice' (editors, Maria Fletcher, Ester Herlin-Karnell, Claudio Matera). The Common European Asylum System (‘CEAS’) is neither common nor a system. This chapter outlines the content of the legal measures that fall under the CEAS, and the fissures that these measures create in the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice (‘AFSJ’), and indeed in relations between the EU Member States. In Part I, we begin by sketching the legal contents of the CEAS, providing a chronological account of their development. While many important questions concerning process, status and rights both during and after recognition or rejection as a refugee have been harmonised, as asylum processes remain national, many divergences in outcomes and treatment of refugees persist. In Part II, we identify the main structural shortcomings, namely (1) the lack of legal access routes to the EU to claim asylum, (2) tensions between legal duties at borders (such as non-refoulement, the prohibition on collective expulsion and other human rights obligations) and political framings of the nature of ‘effective border controls’ and (3) the pathologies of the Dublin System. This part explains how the fissures in the CEAS became fractures and schisms in 2015, when the EU was faced with large numbers of protection seekers, predominantly arriving irregularly in Greece. The CEAS, as currently designed, makes responsibility-sharing less likely, exacerbating the crisis for those seeking protection. Part III examines the legal responses adopted thus far to deal with the crisis. These include (1) a range of unilateral measures, some legal, some blatantly illegal under EU and international law, and (2) various attempts to respond to the crisis at the EU level on an ad hoc basis, including EU relocation, resettlement and the EU-Turkey ‘deal’; and (3) in May 2016, a package of proposals for harmonisation and centralisation of the CEAS. Our concluding observation is that as yet the EU has not addressed the structural problems identified in Part II.

  • Zimbabwe's New Diaspora: Displacement and the Cultural Politics of Survival

    12 August 2014

    Zimbabwe’s crisis since 2000 has produced a dramatic global scattering of people. This volume investigates this enforced dispersal, and the processes shaping the emergence of a new "diaspora" of Zimbabweans abroad, focusing on the most important concentrations in South Africa and in Britain. Not only is this the first book on the diasporic connections created through Zimbabwe’s multifaceted crisis, but it also offers an innovative combination of research on the political, economic, cultural and legal dimensions of movement across borders and survival thereafter with a discussion of shifting identities and cultural change. It highlights the ways in which new movements are connected to older flows, and how displacements across physical borders are intimately linked to the reworking of conceptual borders in both sending and receiving states. The book is essential reading for researchers/students in migration, diaspora and postcolonial literary studies.

  • Safe country? Says who?

    4 January 2017

    Part of a Special Issue in Honour of Professor Guy S Goodwin-Gill. In 1991, Professor Guy S Goodwin-Gill reflected on the emerging safe country of origin (SCO) practices in an editorial in the International Journal of Refugee Law, entitled ‘Safe Country? Says Who?’. This article reflects on developments regarding SCO practices since his prescient editorial, focusing on both Europe, where they originated, and Canada. The article first explores how SCO practices have developed in European law and practice since their inception, including the role of European courts in assessing their legality. This European experience is then contrasted with Canada’s short-lived experiment with its analogous Designated Country of Origin (DCO) system, which, in 2015, was deemed unconstitutional by the Federal Court of Canada.

  • Repatriation through a trust-based lens: refugee-state trust relations on the Thai-Burma border and beyond

    1 December 2014

    This paper puts forward the argument that substantive attention to the phenomenon of ‘trust’ constitutes a surprising missing chapter in contemporary repatriation policy and theory. In particular, the paper highlights the need for repatriation theorists and policy-makers to foreground trust relations between refugees and their states of origin in dominant frameworks. It argues that emphasis on these refugee-state trust relations presents a logical development, both of contemporary theory on the political content of repatriation and of due consideration of the formidable barrier to repatriation posed by refugees’ distrust of their state of origin. The paper puts forward a trust-based lens, suggesting that we recognise repatriation as, at least in part, a process of trust-building between refugee-citizens and their state of origin. This lens is then applied to the possible future repatriation of Karen refugees in the Thai-Burma border camps, drawing directly on the broad framework developed, and also on historical and cultural dimensions of trust specific to this case. The paper concludes that in this context dominant strategies currently undermine prospects for successful refugee-state trust-building, emphasising the need for fundamental political reform of the Burmese state in terms of its ethnic minority political representation if refugee-state trust is to be won.