Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

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.


If you require special access or for any enquiries about this event, please contact:

Tel: +44 (0) 1865 281707

Related content

Annual Elizabeth Colson Lecture

The Annual Elizabeth Colson Lecture is held in Trinity term. It is named after Professor Elizabeth Colson, a renowned anthropologist.

Annual Harrell-Bond Lecture

The Annual Harrell-Bond Lecture is named in honour of Dr Barbara Harrell-Bond, the founding Director of the Refugee Studies Centre. It is held each year in Michaelmas term.

Public Seminar Series

Each term the RSC holds a series of public seminars, held on Wednesday evenings at Queen Elizabeth House. Click here for details of forthcoming seminars.

Connect with us

To keep up to date with our events and activities, sign up for email alerts from the RSC and Forced Migration Review, and connect with us on social media.