Term Paper: Global Refugee Regime

Pages: 40 (10399 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1+  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Government  ·  Buy This Paper


[. . .] There are those who manage to get away from their native lands but do not attempt to cross their national borders and such people are termed "internal refugees." The UNHCR tries to cope with such refugees too, for instance, those who had to leave, due to the tension in 1992, from Transdniesteria. The UNHCR indulges in other activities too. Besides providing a secure place and help to such people it joins hands with the many aid agencies and non-governmental organizations to bring to the attention of the world the hindrances and problems faced by internal and international refugees.

The UNHCR supports and helps millions of refugees. The number of refugees keeps increasing by the day and the various crises have done nothing but to add on to these statistics. The problems in Kosovo rendered approximately a million people homeless and displaced. The Afghanistan crisis too affected many Afghans, as news reports have indicated. As one considers this international phenomenon of migration, realization reveals that this kind of coerced abandonment of homes and lands "in the nineties" has been caused by "a succession of civil wars and inter-community conflicts." All the tension and turmoil has resulted in millions being pushed out of their own homes. The functioning of the UNHCR in over "120 countries" is a stark reminder of the unhealthy state the world is in.

The UNHCR carries out a role that can be said to be truly life giving because of the operations it undertakes and in many countries, it plays a pivotal role in saving and nurturing human lives. The very convenient mix of political as well as humanitarian goals way back in the 1950s enabled the UNHCR to frame appropriate rules and regulations for ensuring the safety of refugees in various host countries. As the 1960s began, movements of immigrants changed as they started abandoning their lands in large droves. Most were from Africa because it is there that the "process of decolonization" had an enormous impact. Countries received these refugees from Angola, Zaire, Zambia and other affected regions because they were victims of "national liberation wars."

The UNHCR helped them seek refuge and also assisted them in going back to their homelands once independence was won. Conditions got worse because Cold War enemies transformed into a "polarized and heavily armed Third World" bringing in tension and conflicts. The fights that followed led to huge numbers of people being displaced "in and out of Mozambique, Ethiopia, Sudan, Somalia, Liberia, Angola, Indochina, Central America, and Afghanistan."

By the year 1991, refugees numbered more than "17 million." Most of them were fearful of fights, repression, poverty and famine and not all of them faced "political persecution" back home. The Cold War resulted in a total withering of foreign relations between countries and this hindered the act of finding a solution to the refugee crisis. The consequence was that millions of people hurdled together in camps in nations that did not want them and were not financially prepared enough to "absorb" them. Aid agencies could only provide for the basic needs of such people.

The objectives of the UNHCR

The organization functions under "the authority of General Assembly." It undertakes the responsibility of protecting people who "fall within its competence as defined by the Statute." It is an international organization and so, can reach every nation on earth. It looks out for stable or "temporary" answers to the worries faced by millions of refugees and is assisted by government's worldwide and the non-governmental organizations too.

The basic need of refugees is the "right to asylum," whereby they are ensured of a place to stay and ensured that they are not coerced into going back to their lands where they might face the threat of being killed. Other than protection and security, they also need other things such as "social and psychological assistance" and education for their children. Some of these refugees may be "repatriated" whereas some may be assisted in dwelling amongst people of the "host community."

Mixing with natives and being one among them would raise the need for "access to the labor market" and some kind of legal document that would help them be recognized by the land, for instance, a permit. There are problems in certain regions regarding such authorizations. Like in Moldova, no legislation exists that would help the people in charge there to fulfil "international standards." The UNHCR, therefore, has to help the region establish a "legislative and administrative framework" that would help "ensure the exercise of basic rights." The First World War was responsible for many changes including the wiping away of "the autocratic empires of Prussia, Russia and Austria-Hungary" and underlining the need to carry on with international relations as per international law. The Second World War brought about a great many "political changes" that initiated the establishment of the UNCHR and nations across the world began to work together with new objectives in mind.

A convention, in 1951, was based on the status of refugees and an organization was brought into being for proper implementation of the Convention. One of the main tasks of the organization was to create good modes for employing the vast number of refugees in Europe so that they could begin their life anew. These refugees were in camps, but camps soon disappeared till huge movement of refugees started again because of the Bosnian War.

Though they were always present, the tension in Bosnia made millions abandon their homes and run from their countries, coercing the UNHCR to establish enormous camps for these people again "in the heart of Europe." The count of people entering Europe from Kosovo, too, has burgeoned lately. The most recent numbers stood at 900, 000 of them or even more and these numbers keep increasing as days go by. The numbers are so huge that it is becoming quite a task for the members of the UNHCR to find them a place to stay. There are those who have been taken in by families in "Montenegro, Albania and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia." More than "50,000" of them have been sent to other nations and more than half their number remain in camps.

Though refugee camps were hoped to have been wiped out, and the UN did not want them to be revived again, the huge numbers of people coming in have left organizations with no choice but to establish refugee camps. It may be said that after more than fifty years of handling refugees, agencies and aid organizations find themselves right back on square one, that is, Europe. (2)


Humanitarian emergencies usually happen because of a "weak" state and because the richer class keeps occupied in looking after their own lives and interests. A powerful leader rules the country and helps his network of "cronies" who happen to be in "civilian and military bureaucracies." Those who get to be in places of power get there through force and "clientelism" that form the essential traits of "most peripheral states." (V yrynen in Nafziger et al. 2000, 2;437).

Vayrynen carries forward this hypothesis to explain the link between the "political and economic" fields through a mode of "state predatory and rent seeking activities." The consequences of these are looting, exploitation of the weak and total anarchy. It also leads to the system depending upon force and planned "state-sponsored" fights against those in the opposition.

Those who work out solutions for such conflicts should keep in mind the above-mentioned basic realities. Otherwise, it is possible that they might keep devising ideas that create "peaceful illusions on unjust and untenable institutional bases." Good conditions do not seem possible in places that experience a total "subversion," by those in power, of the "coercive power of the state and the exchange power of the market." It may help if agencies try and bring together communities of such countries by functioning "in and through other civil society institutions" and this might be useful with regard to relief and aid, but it cannot guarantee long-term peace. Any progress may face the risk of being "subverted" by corrupt people in power and the "increasing criminalization of politics." (11)

Statement of the problem

The one good way of showing a nation's will to "defend human rights and uphold humanitarian values" is to be successful in handling appropriately the problems of those who have run away from their lands and homes to escape being killed or being subject to abuse. However, though the UNHCR was created by nations that were interested in providing protection to refugees, the states that were in the forefront then seemed to have forgotten their principles. In short, the refugee regime the world over seems to be "under serious threat."

Forced displacements

The UNHCR is more than fifty years old and it has… [END OF PREVIEW]

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