The rise and decline of a global security actor: UNHCR, refugee protection and security
Dr Anne Hammerstad (University of Kent)
Wednesday, 12 March 2014, 5pm to 6.30pm
Seminar Room 1, Oxford Department of International Development, University of Oxford, 3 Mansfield Road, Oxford OX1 3TB
A podcast of this seminar is now available.
In this presentation, Dr Hammerstad will discuss the rise and decline of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) as a global security actor. She follows the refugee agency through some of the major conflict-induced humanitarian crises and complex emergencies of the past two decades, including Afghanistan, Bosnia, Iraq, Kosovo and eastern Zaire/Congo.
In the 1990s UNHCR went through a momentous transformation from a small, timid legal protection agency to the world’s foremost humanitarian actor playing a central role in the international response to the many wars of the tumultuous last decade of the twentieth century. Then, as the twenty-first century set in, the agency’s political prominence waned. It remains a major humanitarian actor, but the polarised post-9/11 period, concern over shrinking 'humanitarian space', and a worsening protection climate for refugees and asylum seekers spurred UNHCR to abandon its claim to be a global security actor and return to a more modest, quietly diplomatic role.
Dr Hammerstad will investigate UNHCR’s response to this new international environment, and why it adopted, adapted and finally abandoned a security discourse on the refugee problem. Her presentation is based on the findings in her newly published book, The Rise and Decline of a Global Security Actor: UNHCR, Refugee Protection, and Security (Oxford University Press).
Refreshments will be provided after the event.
About the speaker
Dr Anne Hammerstad is a lecturer in International Relations at the University of Kent, and research associate of the South African Institute of International Affairs. The research on which this presentation relies was facilitated by an ESRC Global Uncertainties Fellowship (2009–2012). In addition to her new book, Dr Hammerstad has published on migration, refugees, conflict and security in, among others, Security Dialogue, Review of International Studies, and Conflict, Security and Development.
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