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  • 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.

  • The politics of rights protection for environmentally displaced people

    31 May 2017

    Drawing on empirical evidence from Bangladesh and Ethiopia, the paper challenges the largely apolitical and ahistorical conceptualisation of the nexus between climate and environmental change and population displacement. Focusing specifically on rights protection, the paper argues that the rights discourse reveals how environmental variables shaping mobility decisions are strongly mediated by national (macro) and local (micro) level structures of political and social power and disempowerment. Both current politics and migration histories shape the way in which migration policy regimes are conceived and framed, and how rights are articulated for those susceptible to displacement in a context of environmental stress and climate change. By analysing these political conditions we can better appreciate the dominant ”hinge points” of power and the paradox that governments of highly impacted countries resist the provision of legal and normative frameworks to protect those who are displaced.

  • Why they are not refugees – Climate change, environmental degradation and population displacement

    31 May 2017

    Increasing attention is given to the potential for environmental degradation and climate change to be instruments of population displacement. Those susceptible to displacement have been labelled “environmental refugees”. Whilst recognising the importance of protecting livelihoods, societies and human rights of people who might be displaced, the paper challenges this label. First the paper examines the derivation and origins of the label “environmental refugees”. Second the paper challenges the conceptual, normative and empirical basis for this terminology. The final section highlights the three “Rs” of “rights”, “resilience” and “resettlement” as a more proactive and comprehensive framework for responding to the impacts of climate change and environmental degradation and the challenges of displacement.

  • Getting by or getting ahead: resettlement inputs and social capital in involuntary resettlement

    31 May 2017

    This study goes beyond the conventional evaluative measurement of involuntary resettlement impacts by utilizing the institutions interventions perspective and social capital theory as tools for understanding the extent to which resettled populations in the Philippines and Indonesia are able to restore their socio-economic well-being. The paper outlines how the interplay between the resettlement inputs and social capital changed from the first year in the relocation site to several years later and how the changes provide evidence of the evolving well-being of the households. The cases examined in the study reveal that resettlement inputs and social capital work hand in hand in fostering improvement in the households’ living conditions. The research also demonstrates that the value and relevance of household social ties could be context-specific. While the Philippine case presents a ‘getting by’ picture of households’ well-being, the Indonesian case illustrates a combination of ‘getting by’ and ‘getting ahead’.

  • The Myth of Self-Reliance: Economic Lives Inside a Liberian Refugee Camp

    14 June 2017

    For many refugees, economic survival in refugee camps is extraordinarily difficult. Drawing on both qualitative and quantitative research, this volume challenges the reputation of a ‘self-reliant’ model given to Buduburam refugee camp in Ghana and sheds light on considerable economic inequality between refugee households. By following the same refugee households over several years, The Myth of Self-Reliance also provides valuable insights into refugees’ experiences of repatriation to Liberia after protracted exile and their responses to the ending of refugee status for remaining refugees in Ghana.

  • Realising the right to family reunification of refugees in Europe

    19 June 2017

    This issue paper examines family reunification for refugees as a pressing human rights issue. Without it, refugees are denied their right to respect for family life, have vastly diminished integration prospects and endure great additional unnecessary suffering, as do their family members. The Commissioner for Human Rights calls on all Council of Europe member states to uphold their human rights obligations and ensure the practical effectiveness of the right to family reunification for refugees and other international protection beneficiaries. To do so, states should (re-)examine their laws, policies and practices relating to family reunification for refugees. This issue paper contains 36 recommendations to that end.

  • Shelter in displacement

    21 June 2017

    All displaced people need some form of shelter. Whatever the type of shelter which is found, provided or built, it needs to answer multiple needs: protection from the elements, physical security, safety, comfort, emotional security, some mitigation of risk and unease, and even, as time passes, some semblance of home and community. Thirty articles in FMR 55 look at the complexity of approaches to shelter both as a physical object in a physical location and as a response to essential human needs. This issue of FMR also contains seven ‘general’ articles on other topics of forced migration.

  • Resettlement

    21 June 2017

    This issue of FMR looks at some of the modalities and challenges of resettlement in order to shed light on debates such as how – and how well – resettlement is managed, whether it is a good use of the funds and energy it uses, and whether it is a good solution for refugees. It contains 33 articles on Resettlement, plus a mini-feature on Post-deportation risks and monitoring and four articles on other forced migration topics.

  • The humanitarian-architect divide

    30 June 2017

    Humanitarians and architects can fail to find a common language, characterising each other in schematic terms. It is time to bridge the divide and encourage greater collaboration between these professions. By learning from each other’s way of thinking they may also become more relevant to displaced people seeking shelter.

  • The changing borders and borderlands of Syria in a time of conflict

    14 July 2017

    This article aims at a better understanding of the changing nature of borders in warring Syria. Contrary to much media commentary, the Syrian uprising and the subsequent conflict have not been about territorial claims. In 2011, the borders of Syria were de facto pacified and, with the important exception of the border with Israel, were accepted as the legitimate boundaries of the Syrian state. This, however, does not contradict the fact that the unfolding of the Syrian uprising has had deep transformative effects on the borders of the country. Their nature, functions and management have significantly evolved since the uprising first broke out. In 2017, these borders no longer delineate a coherent territory under the control of a unique and somehow cohesive actor: the state. The ongoing territorial and political fragmentation of the country into territories controlled by different armed parties has given rise to multiple forms of control over the Syrian border that reflect the outcome of the armed confrontation. This article analyses the transformations of the borders from the outer boundaries of a state that exercises its sovereignty over its territory and delivers state functions and public goods to its citizens to a spatial envelope in which competing internal legitimacies operate. It also explores the new dynamics of the borders in relation with Syria's neighbours and the international order.