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  • Reluctant to return? The primacy of social networks in the repatriation of Rwandan refugees in Uganda

    19 August 2014

    Two decades after the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, tens of thousands of refugees remain in exile in Uganda. Since October 2002, the governments of Rwanda and Uganda, and UNHCR have been playing an active role in promoting the voluntary repatriation of Rwandan refugees. However, despite these attempts to return the post-genocide Rwandan refugees to their ‘homeland’, considerable numbers are reluctant to return. This paper critically analyses the role of social networks in the repatriation of Rwandan refugees with a focus on those living in Nakivale and Oruchinga settlements in south-western Uganda. The paper also highlights the influence of information networks in the repatriation process and how the information communicated by these networks about the country of origin affects repatriation decision-making.

  • Refuge: Transforming a Broken Refugee System

    27 March 2017

    Europe is facing its greatest refugee crisis since the Second World War, yet the institutions responding to it remain virtually unchanged from those created in the post-war era. As neighbouring countries continue to bear the brunt of the Syrian catastrophe, European governments have enacted a series of ill-considered gestures, from shutting their borders to welcoming refugees without a plan for their safe passage or integration upon arrival. With a deepening crisis and a xenophobic backlash in Europe, it is time for a new vision for refuge. Going beyond the scenes of desperation which have become all-too-familiar in the past few years, Alexander Betts and Paul Collier show that this crisis offers an opportunity for reform if international policy-makers focus on delivering humane, effective and sustainable outcomes - both for Europe and for countries that border conflict zones. Refugees need more than simply food, tents and blankets, and research demonstrates that they can offer tangible economic benefits to their adopted countries if given the right to work and education. An urgent and necessary work, Refuge sets out an alternative vision that can empower refugees to help themselves, contribute to their host societies, and even rebuild their countries of origin. [Published in the US and Canada as 'Refuge: Rethinking Refugee Policy in a Changing World' by Oxford University Press.]

  • Finding space for protection: an inside account of the evolution of UNHCR’s urban refugee policy

    27 March 2017

    This article examines the evolution of UNHCR’s urban refugee policy from the mid-1990s to the present. It focuses on the complex and contested nature of the policymaking process, analyzing the roles that internal and external stakeholders have played in it. At the same time, the article identifies and examines key developments in UNHCR’s operational environment that drove and constrained policymaking in this domain. The article is written from the perspective of a former UNHCR staff member who was substantively engaged in urban refugee policy.

  • UNHCR’s origins and early history: agency, influence, and power in global refugee policy

    27 March 2017

    This article assesses the role and functions of UNHCR during its formative years and explores its agency, influence, and use of power in global refugee policy. During most of the Cold War, UNHCR’s first four high commissioners employed delegated authority and expertise on refugee law and protection, thereby convincing states of the Office’s usefulness to international stability and ensuring its survival, growth, and power. It concludes by arguing that the Office should use the lessons of this early period of its history to explore ways to exercise similar attributes today.

  • Paradoxes of Resilience: A Review of the World Disasters Report 2016

    13 February 2018

    ‘Resilience’, wrote Mark Neocleous in 2013, ‘has in the last decade become one of the key political categories of our time. It falls easily from the mouths of politicians, a variety of state departments are funding research into it, urban planners are now obliged to take it into consideration, and academics are falling over themselves to conduct research on it’ (Neocleous, 2013: 3). This is one of the few points of agreement in the literature around resilience: it is a big word with big implications. In fact, Neocleous put it relatively mildly. Resilience has reached beyond politicians, state departments, urban planners and academics to capture the imagination of psychotherapists, child development experts, ecologists and security forces. ‘Much like the concept of globalization that rose to popularity in the 1980s and 1990s’, concluded a recent issue of Politics, ‘resilience seems to carry a productive ambiguity that both resists exact definition and allows for a spectrum of interactions and engagements between policy and the everyday’ (Brassett et al., 2013: 221; Pugh, 2014). One thing is clear: resilience has an extensive reach. It is perhaps unsurprising, therefore, that it has begun to penetrate the humanitarian system. The 2016 World Disasters Report (WDR) Resilience: Saving Lives Today, Investing for Tomorrow is a good illustration, making a sustained case for resilience.

  • Protection in Europe for refugees from Syria

    11 August 2014

    This report considers the response of European countries to the refugee crisis in the Syrian region. We provide an overview of the European reaction generally, brief summaries of the responses of selected countries (Germany, Sweden, Norway, Bulgaria, Greece and Italy), and a more in-depth case study of the UK. Whilst we applaud both the humanitarian efforts to assist refugees and the resettlement that is ongoing, we believe that the primary aim of the European response – to contain the crisis in the countries neighbouring Syria and to reinforce Europe's borders – is unsustainable. We recommend that European countries implement a Comprehensive Plan of Action for refugees in the countries neighbouring Syria, comprising three main components: activation of a regional temporary protection regime, expanded resettlement, and the development of other legal routes of entry into European countries. This publication was supervised by Professor Dawn Chatty.

  • Displacement and dispossession through land grabbing in Mozambique: the limits of international and national legal instruments

    7 July 2014

    A debate exists regarding the limits of international law to influence state behaviour. Some attribute these limits to the inability of law to compel states to incorporate norms into domestic legal frameworks. Others maintain that even if institutionalised, the incapacity of states to put those norms into action is where the problem lies. In examining displacement and dispossession through land grabbing in Mozambique, the author investigates what limits the ability of international and national law to address displacement and dispossession. She argues that the limits of law to address displacement and dispossession are not due to a lack of institutionalising international good governance norms into domestic-level legal frameworks. Rather, the limits of law lie within the norm implementation process, wherein norms are conditioned by the local Mozambican governance context to serve domestic interests. As such, the other frequently cited reason of lack of state capacity is not to blame. The author explains the gap between law and practice by examining the role that a decentralised land governance structure has had upon shaping the norm implementation process. The evidence points to a state that devolves power over norm implementation to local actors, who frequently interpret them to their advantage. This co-option cannot be attributed to a lack of state capacity, as the material benefits the state accrues in the process point to a state that is disinterested in seeing the norms implemented and has devised decentralisation as a strategic governance strategy to accumulate these benefits.

  • Contesting fraternité: vulnerable migrants and the politics of protection in contemporary France

    12 November 2013

    This paper analyses the délit de solidarité debate through the discourse of politicians, NGOs and citizens. Through this it seeks to answer the following questions: (i) what role has the republican principle of Fraternité played in debates over vulnerable migrants in contemporary France? (ii) to what extent does the political instrumentalisation of the principle of Fraternité and the related concept of Solidarité reflect a broader tension in the way French citizens understand their responsibilities towards “outsiders”, between particularism and universal obligation? The argument proceeds in four parts. Chapter 1 traces the tension between particularism and universalism historically to the foundation of the French nation-state and its republican philosophy of citizenship. Chapter 2 offers an empirical analysis of the délit de solidarité debate as a case study for the ambiguity outlined in Chapter 1. It examines legislation and policy in light of critiques advanced by various institutional and civil society actors in order to explain the issue’s politicisation and elevation to a matter of national concern. Chapter 3 analyses the discourse of the government and opposition throughout the debate whilst Chapter 4 considers the shortcomings of the nationalist framing outlined in Chapter 3 through an examination of the marginalisation of non-citizens as well as alternative discourses of solidarity. On the basis of this analysis it is argued that the délit de solidarité debate politicised concerns regarding the protection of vulnerable non-citizens in France, reducing the issue to a debate over the rights and reputation of French citizens and the scope and substance of Fraternité.

  • Integration in a divided society? Refugees and asylum seekers in Northern Ireland

    12 November 2013

    In refugee and asylum debates in the UK, Northern Ireland is at best referenced in passing and, more often, omitted entirely. While this has been historically rooted in the empirical reality that almost no refugees seek asylum in the region, changing realities mean that this omission is no longer justified. The sectarian divide in Northern Ireland poses a particularly dramatic challenge to the assumption within integration policy and theory that host communities are socially cohesive entities for which generalisations about values and practices can be broadly applied as standards for refugee and asylum seeker integration. This paper explores how an empirical understanding of the situation helps in rethinking assumptions of homogeneity widespread in integration theory.

  • Engendering faith-based organisations

    11 February 2014

    Book description: The Routledge Handbook of Gender and Development provides a comprehensive statement and reference point for gender and development policy making and practice in an international and multi-disciplinary context. Specifically, it provides critical reviews and appraisals of the current state of gender and development and considers future trends. It includes theoretical and practical approaches as well as empirical studies. The international reach and scope of the Handbook and the contributors’ experiences allow engagement with and reflection upon these bridging and linking themes, as well as the examining the politics and policy of how we think about and practice gender and development.