On safe zones

An interesting juxtaposition —

From J. Dana Stuster at Foreign Policy,

The United States and Turkey, working in concert with Syrian rebels, will create a “safe zone” in Syria, according to new reports. […]

The proposed area of the safe zone would extend along a 68-mile stretch of the Turkish border and would reach 40 miles into Syrian territory. The area is currently held by the Islamic State, but borders two regions of Syria currently held by Kurdish militias.

From Emma Haddad in The Refugee in International Society,

The response of the EU to the mass movements of persons that took place in Kosovo in 1999 was the first real experiment in external refugee policy in practice. Such large-scale movements had of course already occurred on the EU’s doorstep in the former Yugoslavia in the early 1990s, and the international community responded with the creation of ‘safe areas’. Much has been written on the intervention that took place, but what is of interest here is the very concept of attempting to offer protection to the displaced populations on the territory of the former Yugoslavia, and what this experiment meant in normative terms. In fact, intervention can be seen as interference in the state-citizen-territory trinity for the sake of preserving the trinity. Without intervention, mass flows of refugees may have arrived in EU Member States. Seen from this perspective it had a very pluralist flavour. However, intervention also aimed to protect the displaced, thus bringing the solidarist element into the picture at the same time. The same happened when mass movements of Kosovar Albanians began to occur in 1999, and the international community pushed once again for protection in the region, with little use being made of the durable solution of resettlement. The use of ‘safe areas’ was therefore an early experiment in the externalisation of refugee protection policy (p. 178).

[…] By offering protection outside the territorial confines of EU international society, protection has in effect been decoupled from sovereignty. Current practices of controlling refugees in Europe are strategies that attempt to place refugees in areas of ‘protection’ that are no longer dependent on state borders. The borders of the EU Member States now extend further than ever, far from the state’s territorial jurisdiction and its physical borders, and the state attempts to exercise its sovereignty away from its territory. Protection has effectively been deterritorialised. This points once again to the arbitrary nature of international borders as physical symbols of sustaining political communities, suggesting instead that the contents of substantive sovereignty could, in theory, be divided from territory. With this decoupling of sovereignty and borders, the concept of international protection has been transformed. Refugee protection was traditionally something to be found far way from the source of persecution. It was the territory of the host country, the sovereign space within its territorial borders, that was the necessary element for offering asylum. Now protection has become something states believe they can guarantee close to a refugee’s home. With this change, the idea of protection in EU international society becomes something external to the EU. At the same time, and in clear contrast, security remains internal. A securitarian ethic is promulgated within the EU, while a protection ethic is spread outside the EU in countries or regions of origin. Or, to take this further, to maintain security inside protection is exported. This points to a tight link between the control agenda and the prevention agenda and, instead of having given way to the other, rather the two go hand in hand but occupy different spaces. In other words, the externalisation of protection clearly underlines the links between the desire to increase control and security inside and the fostering of a more liberal, humanitarian approach to the outside. Once again, the international society demonstrates itself to be a complex and overlapping space of both pluralism and solidarism. Note the dichotomy: flows of refugees into the EU are posited under a security ethos, while intra-EU movement of persons is found under a liberalisation ethos with internal borders having been abolished.* Accordingly, ‘security’ becomes a given: the state, or in this case the EU, is the given norm, the refugee the given other, and security the given threat that exists in the relationship between them. If refugee flows are kept in their regions of origins, not only will the EU remain safe and stable, but the safety of the refugees can be guaranteed via the promulgation of extra-territorial protection norms by EU Member States (p. 186-7).

* Dora Kostakopoulou, ‘The “Protective Union”: Change and Continuity in Migration Law and Policy in Post-Amsterdam Europe’, Journal of Common Market Studies 38, 3 (2000), 506.


On interruptions

From Bonnie Honig in Antigone, Interrupted,

I am one of those people who finishes other people’s sentences. Some people see such interruption as impolite and resent the institution. Others appreciate it and see it as a part of a kind of conversational co-stewardship. You can tell pretty quickly which are which. With those who resent the intrusion, I hold back and try not to let them hear my foot tapping as I wait for them to finish making their point in their own way.

Although often offered in the spirit of mutuality, interruption can be a sign of power. In the parental injunction “please do not interrupt me; let me finish my sentence” which I have had occasion to utter from time to time, I hear the power I disavow elsewhere. And to my kids’ response “but you interrupt us all the time!” I can only laugh and shut up. (I think everyone should have a kid in their life — you don’t have to have one, just have one in your life — so you too can learn to laugh and shut up.)

As a social practice, then, interruption postulates both equality, as when two people interrupt each other to knit together a conversation in tandem, and inequality, as when one party must yield the floor, as it were, to the other (p. 13).

On summer school

From 29 June to 3 July, I attended the University of Essex’s Human Rights Centre’s five day summer school on Human Rights Research Methods.


From their description of program learning outcomes,

All sessions will address research design, methodology and impact and will draw heavily on examples and case-studies. The programme also includes dedicated sessions on particular projects to develop the themes of research design, methodology and impact in greater depth. The summer school will be interactive, affording students many opportunities to apply the theory they have learned, including through dedicated sessions in which students will be given a problem ahead of the class and asked to prepare the research questions, methodology and impact strategy. Students will have the opportunity to receive feedback on existing research plans in one-on-one clinics throughout the school.

In taking this course, students will:

  • have a strong understanding of the key methods used in human rights research and the way in which they can be used on their own or in combination (mixed methods);
  • learn to design research projects with a strong methodology, including for grant applications and to have optimal impact on policy and in practice;
  • have a strong understanding of how to ensure that the research meets ethical standards including in NGOs without ethics committees;
  • gain a strong appreciation of qualitative interviewing techniques including issues involved with interviewing victims and affected communities and carrying out research on sensitive human rights topics;
  • learn how to interpret data gained through interviews;
  • become ‘literate’ in carrying out quantitative research and collecting, processing and using data;
  • understand how to do research in different countries and researching in closed and challenging societies;
  • how to design and carry out comparative country research; and
  • how to measure the impact of policies and practices based on human rights.

Crazy intense experience; crazy worth it. Bonus learning outcome: Dr. Todd Landman is a magician.