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  • North Africa in Transition: Mobility, Forced Migration and Humanitarian Crises

    12 December 2013

    This report analyses the main themes arising from the presentations and discussions at the ‘North Africa in Transition: Mobility, Forced Migration and Humanitarian Crises’ workshop organized by the International Migration Institute and Refugee Studies Centre on 6 May 2011. The workshop provided a space for academics, practitioners and policy makers to critically engage with the evolving crises in North Africa, focusing in particular on the challenges surrounding the displacement of people in their wake, including: migrant workers from across the African continent, sub-Saharan African and Middle Eastern asylum seekers and refugees, and third-country nationals. The workshop consisted of two panels. The first examined how the revolutions and subsequent crises in North Africa are influencing different forms of mobility, displacement, and immobility in the region. The second explored the key protection and legal challenges faced by the international community in light of these large-scale displacements.

  • Dynamics of Conflict and Forced Migration in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

    12 December 2013

    At the end of November, the RSC hosted a two-day experts workshop on conflict and forced migration in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The event was generously funded by the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (DRC office) and DFID. Fifty practitioners, academics and policymakers from the DRC and beyond explored the relation between conflict, displacement, the return of populations and the interaction between armed actors and civilians. Policy suggestions to end the vicious cycle of violence, including sexual and gender-based violence and displacement emanating from FMR 36 and the workshop have been presented and discussed in a visit of RSC affiliates to the DRC in February 2011.

  • Dynamics of Conflict and Forced Migration in the Democratic Republic of Congo (French)

    12 December 2013

    At the end of November, the RSC hosted a two-day experts workshop on conflict and forced migration in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The event was generously funded by the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (DRC office) and DFID. Fifty practitioners, academics and policymakers from the DRC and beyond explored the relation between conflict, displacement, the return of populations and the interaction between armed actors and civilians. Policy suggestions to end the vicious cycle of violence, including sexual and gender-based violence and displacement emanating from FMR 36 and the workshop have been presented and discussed in a visit of RSC affiliates to the DRC in February 2011.

  • More labels, fewer refugees: remaking the refugee label in an era of globalization

    12 December 2013

    This paper revisits the concept of refugee labelling I elaborated nearly two decades ago. In radically different conditions, the contemporary relevance and utility of the concept are re-examined and re-established. Formulated at a time of regionally contained, mass refugee migration in the south during the late 1970s and early 1980s, the paper argues that the concept still offers vital insights into the impacts of institutional and bureaucratic power on the lives of refugees in a globalized era of transnational social transformations, mixed migration flows, and the continuing presence of large scale refugee migration. The core of the paper argues that the ‘convenient images’ of refugees, labelled within a co-opting humanitarian discourse in the past, have been displaced by a fractioning of the label which is driven by the need to manage globalized processes and patterns of migration and forced migration in particular. The paper re-evaluates the concept using the three original axioms—forming, transforming and politicizing the label ‘refugee’. The core argument is that in the contemporary era: a) the formation of the refugee label reflects causes and patterns of forced migration which are much more complex than in the past, contrasting with an essentially homogeneous connotation in the past; b) responding to this complexity, the refugee label is transformed by an institutional ‘fractioning’ in order to manage the new migration; c) governments, rather than NGOs as in the past, are the pre-eminent agency in the contemporary processes of transforming the refugee label, a process driven by northern interests; d) the refugee label has become politicized by the reproduction of institutional fractioning and by embedding the wider political discourse of resistance to migrants and refugees.

  • The struggle for belonging: forming and reforming identities among 1.5-generation asylum seekers and refugees

    12 December 2013

    Issues of identity can be tricky for refugees, asylum seekers and other immigrants in general. From an essentialist perspective, finding oneself dislocated from the place where one was born and grew up, from the community where one’s ancestors had deep connections and ties, and perhaps where one feels that one belongs, is difficult to deal with. The research question that is being investigated is as follows: in what ways do people of the 1.5-generation (particularly given to the Ethiopian 1.5-generation) in the diaspora represent themselves, and what are the ways in which they negotiate and construct their identities? As the first part of the question indicates, by asking ‘in what ways,’ it is evident that there is no single response. This paper argues that while the process of identity formation may in general be difficult, this process is intensified and becomes more complex in the case of the 1.5-generation of forced migrants, often leading to a painful ‘struggle for belonging.’

  • Negotiating childhood: age assessment in the UK asylum system

    12 December 2013

    Faced with rising numbers of undocumented asylum seekers claiming to be minors, age assessment is increasingly conceived as an integral part of asylum determination in Europe. Portrayed as a viable way to safeguard domestic asylum and welfare systems from adults posing as minors whilst concurrently ensuring that children are protected (Council of Europe 2005), age assessment has nonetheless been notoriously controversial in the UK. This paper therefore seeks to address the underlying issue of why age assessment is so politicised. This paper seeks to demonstrate how a range of domestic social, discursive, political and institutional factors impact and shape the seemingly technical process of assessing UASCs’ age. Importantly, these conditions of possibility do not necessarily relate directly to age assessment. Nonetheless, their intersection can open, exacerbate or close spaces for contestation around age assessment. Hence the politicised nature of age assessment might meaningfully be understood as a response to shifting issues of age and asylum resulting from a particular conflation of conditions in the UK.

  • Deportation, non-deportability and ideas of membership

    12 December 2013

    The purpose of this paper is to bridge the scholarships on deportation and citizenship and account for the “soft line” between aliens and citizens (Ngai, 2004) epitomised in the current dilemma on deportation enforcement. In particular, this paper explores the extent to which, and why, states are unable to enforce deportation orders and the concurrent creation of new forms of quasi-members of the polity. Building upon the emerging literature on the so-called ‘deportation turn’, whereby countries are seeking to deport an increasingly high number of undocumented migrants to their alleged countries of origin (De Genova and Peutz, 2010), this paper focuses on the constraints that states face in fully implementing deportation and the manner in which they respond to them. This paper suggests that the limited capacity of states to exercise efficaciously their power of coercion, such as deportation, can be understood as a function of the predicament of liberal democratic society.

  • The African Union, the United Nations and civilian protection challenges in Darfur

    12 December 2013

    This paper examines the relationship between the African Union (AU) and the United Nations (UN) in the protection of civilians in armed conflicts. The paper proposes that we can best understand the AU-UN collaboration for civilian protection from a perspective that takes seriously the value of legitimacy for state actors. The benefits of such an approach are illustrated by reference to the AU’s lead role in the Darfur conflict and its African Mission in Sudan. It concludes that since the AU-UN relationship for civilian protection appears to be ‘the only game in town’, and this state of affairs is becoming more institutionalised, it isnecessary that scholars comment on its political effects in terms of the quality of protection provided. The paper draws on a particular understanding of international legitimacy to increase our understanding of how UNSC has executed its responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security in Africa.

  • Civilian protection in Sri Lanka under threat

    12 December 2013

    The papers by Benson and Fonseka are based on presentations given at the September 2009 conference hosted by the RSC on Protecting People in Conflict and Crisis: Responding to the Challenges of a Changing World. The paper by Satkunanathan was presented in a follow-up roundtable discussion on Post War Future in Sri Lanka hosted by the RSC and the Centre for Research on Inequality, Human Security and Ethnicity. These papers contribute to the debate on humanitarianism and civilian protection. They discuss the contradictions, tensions, ambiguities and dilemmas of UN and international organisations in protecting civilians in times of conflict. Benson describes UNHCR's work on both needs and rights in Sri Lanka during the peace process, particularly with regards to IDPs, at a time when the organisation's mandate was expanding to cover more rights-based protection. Satkunanathan's paper describes the tension faced by the agencies between addressing protection and assistance needs of the displaced population. Finally, Fonseka's paper is a useful summary of the dilemmas and constraints faced by humanitarian workers and NGOs within the post-war situation, and highlights many of the problems faced by activists who are working inside Sri Lanka.

  • The securitization of asylum: protecting UK residents

    12 December 2013

    This paper examines the concept of the securitization of asylum and its potential effects on the human security of the resident population of the United Kingdom. By focusing on the effects of securitization on members of the host community rather than refugees, this paper represents a perspective that has not received a great deal of attention in the existing body of literature. While it is often assumed that security measures are undertaken for the good of the resident population, it is important to note that fear is also a risk that must be taken into account. This paper argues that the association of asylum seekers with terrorism in public discourse in the UK could potentially lead to a decrease, rather than an increase, in the human security of the resident population by exacerbating their fears of both asylum seekers and terrorism.