09 January 2013

Violence & Armed Conflict: Causes of Displacement

A UNHCR expert meeting on the International Protection of Persons Fleeing Armed Conflict and Other Situations of Violence was hosted by the Refugee Rights Unit at the University of Cape Town, 13-14 September 2012.  Here is some background information that provides context for why the meeting was convened:
The second half of the 20th century saw an unparalleled number of armed conflicts and other forms of violent situations leading to mass displacement across borders. While the number of ‘traditional’ armed conflicts may have decreased since the mid-1990s, there have been changes in the causes, character and effects of these conflicts and the emergence of a range of other situations of violence. Armed conflicts are increasingly characterized by widespread violence leaving, at times, little distinction between combatants and civilians. They are pursued for a multiplicity of motivations – ethnic/nationalist, social, economic and political. In many countries, a perpetual cycle of violence and conflict has been part of daily reality. In situations such as in Central Iraq, Central and Southern Somalia, parts of Afghanistan, Colombia and Mexico, violence is also often protracted and intractable, both as part of armed conflicts as well as separate from them, and exacerbated by fragile governance systems.
     As a matter of morality, no one can contest that people should not be returned to dangers to their lives or freedoms, yet the international refugee protection regime is not open-ended and some gaps in the application of the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees (“1951 Convention”) and its 1967 Protocol have emerged to exclude from protection persons fleeing some of the major threats to human security in the 21st century. (Source: Concept Note)

The aim of the roundtable was to help "clarify the interpretation and application of international and regional refugee instruments to people fleeing armed conflict and other situations of violence across international borders, including foremost the application of the 1951 Convention and/1967 Protocol."  The ultimate goal will be to develop Guidelines on International Protection on this issue.

Documents from this meeting were recently posted on the UNHCR web site and include Summary Conclusions which will help to inform the development of future Guidelines.

Other publications that look at "non-traditional" causes of displacement and crises and appropriate responses:

Enhancing Protection Capacity: Policy Guide to the Responsibility to Protect and the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflicts (Griffith University, Nov. 2012) [text via ReliefWeb]

The Mafia's Shadow in the Americas: Refugees and Slavery (InSight Crime, Sept. 2012) [access]
- Special feature on organized crime and displacement in Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Mexico.

Mitigating the Consequences of Violent Conflict: What Works and What Does Not? (International Peace Institute, Oct. 2012) [text via ReliefWeb]

Moving to Safety: Migration Consequences of Complex Crises, International Dialogue on Migration, no. 20 (IOM, 2012) [text]
- Includes the "the report and supplementary materials of a workshop...which was held in Geneva, Switzerland on 24 and 25 April 2012."

New Dynamics of Forced Migration in Latin America (Refugee Law Initiative, 2012) [text]
- New research project.

Protecting Migrants during Times of Crisis: Immediate Responses and Sustainable Strategies, International Dialogue on Migration, no. 21 (IOM, 2012) [text]
- Includes the "the report and supplementary materials of a workshop...which was held in Geneva, Switzerland on 13 and 14 September 2012."

Responding to New Internal Displacement Challenges: The Displacement of Non-Citizens (Brookings-LSE Project on Internal Displacement, Dec. 2012) [text]

Social Protection and Basic Services in Fragile and Conflict-affected Situations (ODI, Oct. 2012) [text]
- See also related briefing note.

Stability: International Journal of Security and Development [info]
- New open access journal the objective of which is to "Foster an accessible and rigorous evidence base, clearly communicated and widely disseminated, to guide future thinking, policymaking and practice concerning communities and states experiencing widespread violence and conflict."

Stabilization in Situations Other than War: The Rio Experience, Copenhagen, 23 October 2012 [info]

Urban Violence: New Territory for Aid Workers (IRIN, Jan. 2013) [text]

Warfare, Political Identities, and Displacement in Spain and Colombia, HiCN Working Paper 124 (Households in Conflict Network, Oct. 2012) [text]

Related post:
- Urban Issues

Tagged Publications and Events & Opportunities.

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