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No Return, No Refuge

No Return, No Refuge: Rites and Rights in Minority Repatriation

Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 360
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  • Book Info
    No Return, No Refuge
    Book Description:

    Refugee displacement is a global phenomenon that has uprooted millions of individuals over the past century. In the 1980s, repatriation became the preferred option for resolving the refugee crisis. As human rights achieved global eminence, refugees' right of return fell under its umbrella. Yet return as a right and its practice as a rite created a radical disconnect between principle and everyday practice, and the repatriation of refugees and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) remains elusive in cases of forced displacement of victims by ethnic conflict.

    Reviewing cases of ethnic displacement throughout the twentieth century in Europe, Asia, and Africa, Howard Adelman and Elazar Barkan juxtapose the empirical lack of repatriation in cases of ethnic conflict, unless accompanied by coercion. The emphasis on repatriation during the last several decades has obscured other options, leaving refugees to spend years warehoused in camps. Repatriation takes place when identity, defined by ethnicity or religion, is not at the center of the displacing conflict, or when the ethnic group to which the refugees belong are not a minority in their original country or in the region to which they want to return. Rather than perpetuate a ritual belief in return as a right without the prospect of realization, Adelman and Barkan call for solutions that bracket return as a primary focus in cases of ethnic conflict.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-52690-6
    Subjects: Political Science, Law, History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Introduction
    (pp. ix-xx)

    The book coheres around the theme of “return home,” whether regarded as legitimate or illegitimate, realistic or unrealistic, when those seeking to return are refugees or internally displaced persons (IDPs) who fled or were forced to flee ethnic conflict. The notion of return focuses on return to a place memorialized as home. We concentrate on ethnic minority return in Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and Africa to ensure a wide spectrum of cases that include Jews and Palestinians, Kurds and Chaldeans, Sudanese and Somalis, Vietnamese and Rohingas, Kosovars and Bosniacs.

    Majority and minority repatriation indicate numerical relations in the specific...

  4. 1 The Rites of Rights
    (pp. 1-23)

    There are different kinds of return. The most contentious claim is put forth by an ethnic minority to return to a country or a territory and to homes from which they fled or were expelled as a result of a conflict. The claim is contentious because it is viewed as one or more of the following: a right; a moral policy; a necessary step to resolve an ongoing conflict. Whatever the perception, return of ethnic minority does not take place. Although the failure to repatriate is seen in each particular case as an exception and therefore a particular, egregious violation,...

  5. 2 The Right to Expel as an International Norm: 1900–1945
    (pp. 24-46)

    This chapter explores the genealogy of the right of return. Some claim the genealogy goes back a century and more. We explore this presumption as well as the claim that the right of repatriation is linked to the right not to be expelled in order to grasp how return came to be established as a right both in terms of policy and as an aspiration. Historically, we examine the claim that since expulsion is now considered wrong, it always must have been wrong; therefore, it must be reversed. We briefly trace the history of ethnic expulsions to show their wide...

  6. 3 Outlawing Ethnic Cleansing: Principles and Practices After World War II
    (pp. 47-73)

    Despite the ethnic violence and displacement at the time, the post–World War II years are etched in public memory as a period when the human rights regime became a global system: the Nuremberg trials, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the Genocide Convention, the Geneva Convention, the Refugee Convention. Each of these instruments is generally believed to proscribe the very violence in the midst of which these tribunals, conventions, and agreements were formulated. Furthermore, for our purpose, a widespread belief prevails that an international agreement on the remedy to displacement, namely, repatriation, both exists and was formulated as...

  7. 4 Reversing Ethnic Cleansing: Bosnia Versus Kosovo
    (pp. 74-96)

    The Dayton Peace Agreement (DPA) signaled the end of the war in Bosnia in 1995. An intensive international effort to reverse ethnic cleansing followed. The results were generally disappointing. Only after 2000 did the policies appear to bear fruit. According to UNHCR statistics, “the total of registered returns to and within BiH has risen to nearly 1 million people, including some 390,000 so-called minority returns.”¹

    This claimed success for repatriation of minorities, however, significantly overstated the reality. The majority of the 390,000 were those who only returned to reclaim their homes and promptly resell them. Despite the extensive promotion of...

  8. 5 Resettling Refugees from Asia
    (pp. 97-123)

    We now move from focusing on Europe and particularly the former Yugoslavia to refugees from ethnic conflicts across the world and the dilemma of privileging repatriation over other solutions. We cover five refugee/IDP situations in Asia, beginning with the Indochinese refugee movement, the pinnacle of resettlement in the postwar period. Advocates for the Bhutanese in Nepal and Burmese refugees along the Thai border pursued the abstract rights of refugees in the historical absence of return. In the name of principle, rights were divorced from context and not integrated into the specific historical or political situation. In contrast, advocates for Rohingas...

  9. 6 Force and Repatriation in Africa: The Right of Return in Africa
    (pp. 124-154)

    Africa, with almost a billion people in over fifty states and wide variations in composition and wealth within and among them, has been riddled with conflict and displacement. Of the seventy-three civil wars worldwide in the last third of the twentieth century, overwhelmingly most were in African countries dependent on the export of a few basic commodities. Our focus, however, is not on the causes—such as economic factors, colonial and neocolonial exploitation, or the political manipulation of ethnic differences—but on the results, especially of ethnic conflict. What is the prospect of refugee and internally displaced return in the...

  10. 7 From Jewish Messianism to the Law of Return: Antiquity to Modernity
    (pp. 155-188)

    Jewish repatriation to the Holy Land is both a messianic and a political project. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, non-Zionist religious Jews envisioned the return to Israel (Zion, Jerusalem) in metaphysical terms; the coming of the messiah was a prerequisite to return and national revival. In contrast, secular Jewish Zionists viewed self-determination as a political goal achievable by an act of collective human will rather than through divine intervention.¹ For secularists, the state, defended by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), provides the physical security as well as the salvation of Jews, not only Israeli Jews but Jewish...

  11. 8 Palestinians and the Right of Return
    (pp. 189-219)

    The Palestinian right of return and the current state of Palestinian refugees are at the heart of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Exploring the roots of the refugee problem in the 1948 war, this chapter discusses the Palestinian uprooting and the formation of the United Nations Relief Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) to depict the origins of the claim for a right of return for Palestinians, and then traces the evolution of the politics of the right of return into the present.

    As a redress of historical injustice, the demand for the return of the 1948 Palestinian refugees...

  12. 9 Rights and Return
    (pp. 220-236)

    Rights convey alternative and oftentimes inherently conflicting meanings. Moving from the case studies, this chapter focuses on the right to have rights.¹ Is there a universal responsibility we bear for others who are human concerning a right of return? If so, which entity is responsible for exercising that responsibility? This should alert the reader to the fact that we approach the discussion of rights from an empirical perspective. Since rights impose duties, some party must be assigned to implement the right. Thus, the right requires an entity to permit or make possible an action that the individual claims to have...

  13. 10 Ethnic Conflict and Nonreturn
    (pp. 237-258)

    Pursuing the abstract right of return for ethnic minorities may be a political strategy or may serve as a proxy for other concerns. It will not lead to a solution for those refugees. Two of the latest cases involving the United States (Iraq) and Russia (Georgia) provide evidence. In each case, the lack of return and even attention to return are the result of other policy concerns. Yet, while the refugees themselves remain largely invisible, the idea of return maintains a stronghold, both for the individuals as well the groups involved. There is no magic formula to redress the dislocation....

  14. Notes
    (pp. 259-322)
  15. Index
    (pp. 323-340)