Protection by Persuasion

Protection by Persuasion: International Cooperation in the Refugee Regime

Alexander Betts
Copyright Date: 2009
Edition: 1
Published by: Cornell University Press
Pages: 232
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  • Book Info
    Protection by Persuasion
    Book Description:

    States located near crisis zones are most likely to see an influx of people fleeing from manmade disasters; African states, for instance, are forced to accommodate and adjust to refugees more often than do European states far away from sites of upheaval. Geography dictates that states least able to pay the costs associated with refugees are those most likely to have them cross their borders. Therefore, refugee protection has historically been characterized by a North-South impasse. While Southern states have had to open their borders to refugees fleeing conflict or human rights abuses in neighboring states, Northern states have had little obligation or incentive to contribute to protecting refugees in the South.

    In recent years, however, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has sought to foster greater international cooperation within the global refugee regime through special conferences at which Northern states are pushed to contribute to the costs of protection for refugees in the South. These initiatives, Alexander Betts finds in Protection by Persuasion, can overcome the North-South impasse and lead to significant cooperation.

    Betts shows that Northern states will contribute to such efforts when they recognize a substantive relationship between refugee protection in the South and their own interests in such issues as security, immigration, and trade. Highlighting the mechanisms through which UNHCR has been able to persuade Northern states that such links exist, Protection by Persuasion makes clear that refugee protection is a global concern, most effectively addressed when geographic realities are overridden by the perception of interdependence.

    eISBN: 978-0-8014-5839-2
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-x)
    A. B.
  4. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. xi-xvi)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-22)

    Refugees are people who cross international borders to flee conflict and persecution. Historically, refugees have been one of the most visible human consequences of significant conflicts and atrocities. From the Second World War to the proxy conflicts of the Cold War to contemporary conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, people have been forced to leave their countries of nationality. Similarly, large-scale human rights abuses and repressive dictatorships have forced refugees to flee in search of international support. Once they leave their country of origin, refugees are in need of international protection—that is, the willingness of other countries to ensure that...

  6. 1 The International Politics of Refugee Protection
    (pp. 23-52)

    The causes and consequences of human displacement are highly political, and refugee issues are by definition international in scope. People who flee persecution by crossing international borders generally do so because of political causes such as conflict or internal repression. The influx of refugees into a state has implications for security and the distribution of resources within that state. Furthermore, refugees’ access to protection while in exile and long-term solutions to their plight are a consequence of political decisions and nondecisions.

    Nevertheless, despite the inherently political and international nature of refugee protection, there has been surprisingly little attempt by academics...

  7. 2 The International Conferences on Assistance to Refugees in Africa (1981 and 1984)
    (pp. 53-77)

    By the end of the 1970s, around 3–4 million refugees were living in rural areas in Africa, generally in large, spontaneously created settlements. During the 1960s and 1970s, African host states had been relatively tolerant about hosting refugees on their territory. There had been a widely held assumption that the African refugees mainly emanated from colonial liberation wars and, as such, would return home as soon as independence was achieved. But by 1979 it was clear that the majority of the African refugees had been displaced not by the liberation wars but by increasingly intractable civil conflicts that had...

  8. 3 The International Conference on Central American Refugees (1987–1995)
    (pp. 78-111)

    During the 1970s and 1980s, the civil conflicts in Central America led to significant levels of human displacement in the region. Of a total displaced population in the region of around 2 million at the end of the 1980s, some 150,000 were recognized as refugees and were therefore of direct concern to UNHCR. Toward the end of the Cold War, the prospect of a regional peace deal opened up possibilities for refugees to receive access to the durable solutions of either returning home or being locally integrated. The possibility of peace brought with it hope of a renewed commitment to...

  9. 4 The Comprehensive Plan of Action for Indochinese Refugees (1988–1996)
    (pp. 112-142)

    In the aftermath of the Vietnam War and the U.S. withdrawal from Saigon in 1975, Vietnam became a united socialist country. From 1975 onward, a significant numbers of refugees fled the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, as well as its neighboring socialist states, in search of asylum. The majority fled on small, insecure boats to the shores of other Southeast Asian states or to Hong Kong. These people, frequently referred to as the “Indochinese boat people,” received an inhospitable welcome from the states in the region, which often pushed back the arriving boats, refusing to allow the boat people access to...

  10. 5 UNHCR’s Convention Plus Initiative (2003–2005)
    (pp. 143-174)

    From the mid-1990s, it was widely acknowledged that there was a global crisis of asylum. In the context of increasing South–North migration, Northern states increasingly viewed the growing number of spontaneously arriving asylum seekers as a migration issue and a security threat. European states, in particular, began to impose a complex range of restrictionist measures such as carrier sanctions, interception at sea, surveillance, and deterrence measures to limit the number of asylum seekers claiming refugee status on their territory. On the other side, in the context of declining international burden-sharing and increasingly protracted refugee situations on their territories, many...

  11. Conclusion: Cross-Issue Persuasion and World Politics
    (pp. 175-196)

    The international politics of refugee protection cannot be understood by looking at the refugee regime in isolation. Although political science and IR tend to look at individual issue areas such as the environment, trade, and human rights as single discrete entities, this approach is simply inadequate to explain the international politics of refugee protection. To understand how states respond to refugees, when and why they contribute to refugee protection, and the conditions under which international cooperation has taken place in the refugee regime, it is necessary to look at the way in which refugee protection is interconnected with other issue...

  12. References
    (pp. 197-206)
  13. Index
    (pp. 207-214)