On past as prologue [3]

From: Gil Loescher, “Refugees as grounds for international action” p. 36-37 in Edward Newman and Joanne van Selm (eds.) Refugees and Forced Displacement: International Security, Human Vulnerability, and the State (2003) —
There has been increasing recognition that massive refugee flows do in fact constitute a threat to international peace and security, and that they therefore invoke the enforcement powers of the United Nations. As a threat to peace and security, the imposition of refugees on other states falls under Chapter VII of the UN Charter and therefore legitimizes enforcement action not subject to limits of purely humanitarian action. This link has been recognized for at least the past 15 years. As early as 1986, the report of a Group of Governmental Experts on International Cooperation to Avert New Flows of Refugees recognized the “great political, economic and social burdens [of massive flows of refugees] upon the international community as a whole, with dire effects on developing countries, particularly those with limited resources of their own.” Accordingly, it recommended intervention by the international community through the good offices of the Secretary-General, refugee prevention actions by appropriate UN bodies (including the Security Council), and better use of aid programmes to deter massive displacements. The report was subsequently endorsed by the UN General Assembly, which explicitly defined such flows as a threat to peace and security, thus opening the door to action by the Security Council under Chapter VII several years later. It should be pointed out that Article 2(7) of the UN Charter, protecting the domestic jurisdiction of member states, specifically exempts from this protection enforcement actions taken under Chapter VII. In short, a country that forces its people to flee or to take actions that compel them to leave in a manner that threatens regional peace and security has in effect internationalized internal affairs, and provides a cogent justification for policy makers elsewhere to act directly upon the source of the threat.

This argument was also made over six decades ago by James G. McDonald, the League of Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, when he resigned in frustration at the lack of international action to halt the persecution in Germany, which was causing refugee flows to neighbouring countries. In his dramatic letter of resignation of 27 December 1935, McDonald write that “it will not be enough to continue the activities on the behalf of those who flee from the Reich. Efforts must be made to remove or mitigate the causes which create German refugees.” Such efforts, declared McDonald, fell under the League’s authority to deal with any matter affecting the peace of the world, since “the protection of the individual from racial or religious intolerance is a vital condition of international peace and security.” The argument is also made by contemporary analysts of refugee issues: “When there is aggression by a state against its own minority such that the domestic issue becomes an international one and is perceived to threaten peace and security because the minority begin a mass flight, then defensive military intervention is justified.” Others point out that, if refugee flows constitute an “internationally wrongful act” or “international crime” under the principles of state responsibility, this is also a violation of the Charter and therefore responses to it are not intervention in a state’s domestic affairs.

[notes 13-16 not transcribed]


On emergency

Held on 5 February, the Foreign Policy program at Brookings hosted the American Academy in Berlin for the 2016 Richard C. Holbrooke Forum focusing on the global refugee crisis. I finally got around to watching the interesting exchange between Leon Wieseltier, Michael Ignatieff, and Martin Indyk.

Worth watching for Wieseltier’s brief discussion about emergency; of his current research on the 1939 Evian conference; and, debates about security, nation states and refugees, cosmopolitanism vs. communitarianism, and universalism vs. particularism.

See also: Lawfare podcast #158 with Leon Wieseltier for a discussion of the absorptive capacities of states

On implementing EU-Turkey agreement

On Memphis and REP

What is going on in the US right now is utterly frustrating to watch from abroad. Major love to Ruth, Cam, and the rest of the REP family in Memphis.

Via Kelli Cook at Local Memphis, TN lawmaker calls for round up of Syrian refugees —

Ruth Lomo fled the South Sudan and was brought to the United States from a Kenyan refugee camp.  She’s been in the United States since 2001.

“I was forced to flee my country because of war. I didn’t plan to leave. I was just fleeing for the safety of my children,” said Lomo.

Lomo was the inspiration for the Refugee Empowerment Program in Memphis. She fought to help people just like her from war-torn countries to get much needed resources as they transition into their new life in the Bluff City.

Mohamud Hilowle has been participating in R.E.P since he was in the 5th grade after his family gained refugee status from Somalia.

“Growing up, I used to come here like everyday after school. They make sure I did my work and made sure I was doing good,” said Hilowle.

While all refugees are accepted at this program, that may not be the case if  Republican Tennessee lawmaker Glen Casada gets his way.

“I am going to protect your family and mine by making statements that no terrorists get into the state,” said Casada of Williamson County.

Representative Casada said Wednesday during a press conference he not only wants the National Guard to round up recently settled Syrians in Tennessee and take them back to federal immigration officials, but he also wants the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation to keep an eye on any refugee in the state.

(click through for video coverage + interviews @ REP)

On refugees after Paris, et al.




On Paris

Hoping for cool heads and warm hearts in the coming days.

From German Lopez at Vox

Although the perpetrators of the Paris attacks remain unknown, Jeff Duncan, a Republican congressman from South Carolina, took to Twitter to say that the tragedy shows Europe and America shouldn’t let in Syrian refugees because it might lead to more attacks.

@RepJeffDuncanHow’s that Syrian refugee resettlement look now? How about that mass migration into Europe? Terrorism is alive & well in the world.

As Dan Holloway tweeted earlier tonight, this assumption is misguided.

@RFCdan To people blaming refugees for attacks in Paris tonight. Do you not realise these are the people the refugees are trying to run away from..?

Again, we still don’t know who’s to blame for the Paris attacks — so we don’t know if a jihadist group was involved, or even what the motives were. But if a jihadist group is the culprit, these kinds of terrorist organizations are exactly the kind of danger that many Syrian refugees are fleeing from. It is ISIS, after all, that has terrorized Syria — and forced people to flee their home country to find refuge from the violence.

(links and emphasis in original; embedded Tweets didn’t copy as in original.)

See also: How to politicize a tragedy by Sam Kriss; The Paris attacks will make things even harder for Europe’s refugees by Cassie Werber; Opponents of Syrian Refugee Resettlement Seize on the Paris Attacks by David Francis and Siobhan O’Grady; the Islamic State’s trap for Europe by Harleen Gambhir; “You won’t read about this in the media, but…” by Martin Belam; on croquembouche via John Oliver.

On conferences: Guterres @ 12th Annual Immigration Law and Policy Conference

On 29 October 2015, António Guterres gave the lunchtime keynote lecture at the 12th Annual Immigration Law and Policy Conference (video available).

The High Commissioner echoes many of his statements from his Georgetown lecture; the quotes I’ve transcribed dive deeper into securitization, resettlement + US influence —

On the US [@ :23:20] —

Guterres: You have a very important resettlement program (by far, the largest in the world). I can only hope that as debates that now exist in relation to resettlement can move in the right direction, which means more resettlement opportunities. I saw in these days people asking for more resettlement, and also people asking for ‘be careful, don’t bring us Muslims because they can be terrorists!’ and the only thing I can say about that is that if that is entirely true then there are 7000 potential terrorists entering Germany every single day, and I don’t think that we have seen the impact. So, with very careful screening, methodology that is what is inherent to the US resettlement process, I don’t think that terrorists will be so stupid to be so effectively scrutinized and to wait 18 months to come to the United States. I think they will try to fly one of the airlines that exist with a nice passport, a good visa that they can obtain probably in a much easier way than through resettlement.

I think the same in relation to Europe. I don’t see terrorists being so stupid: instead of flying Turkish Airlines from Istanbul to Berlin to get into the hands of a smuggler, cross into Greece, pay $5000 instead of $50 in a low-cost, risk to die in the crossing, and then spend one or two weeks painfully going country by country one after another until finally they have some chance to Germany. I think we are dealing today with a global network of terrorist organizations that are well organized and have much easier instruments to become a danger than through what it is, I believe, one of the safest processes in place which is the US resettlement process. So, again, hoping for also good news in relation to resettlement in the US, I am very encouraged by these three days of visits that I had in Washington and am hoping that the US will remain the leading country in the world in relation to refugee protection: inside the US, resettling from outside, and supporting protection and humanitarian activities all over the world.

Q: On the impact of US leadership on resettlement [@:27:25] —

Guterres: First of all, I am a fanatic supporter of resettlement. I know that it is not the only solution and its probably not the only solution for the overwhelming majority of refugees; voluntary repatriation in safety and dignity is obviously the most common, and for many clearly the best choice. Local integration in many cases – we had recently success in Tanzania with the Burundian in ’72 gaining nationality. But, I mean, when we come to the US… I remember a visit to Chicago, visiting several resettled families; or, to Canada, I had that opportunity also several times in Ottawa and Montreal; or, to Australia I had that opportunity in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne; and several European cities. And you see a resettled family coming from one of these dramatic situations — like Somalis from Dadaab, or Eritreans from Sudan, or Syrians from Zaatari — and see them with the children in school, with the good job or sometimes a business, good perspectives for life, and you compare with what was their life without a meaning in many of the refugee situations — I think we can only consider that even if it is just for a little, a small percentage of the refugees, resettlement is a fantastic instrument, changing completely the lives of people. So, I’ve always said that resettlement for us should not only be a protection instrument, but a strategic solution.

In these contexts, resettlement today, in relation to Syrians, has two very important consequences. First, it’s a form to show to Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey that we also want to assume their responsibility and co-assume their responsibility. I remember with the Iraqis, the resettlement of Iraqis, that was a very important program a few years ago, was an excellent tool gave us enormous leverage with the negotiations with Syria and Jordan to preserve the asylum space for the Iraqis in those countries. The same applies today in relation to the Syrians. In the other hand, it is a very important tool to make sure that the European borders remain open for Syrians. The debate in Europe is becoming a very difficult debate. And, to show that other part of the world — fortunately we had Australia offering 20,000 opportunities, Canada.. I had yesterday contact with the Canadian government and the new government wants to have 25,000 [?] spots by the end of the year which I sincerely don’t know exactly how they are going to manage, but shows a commitment. Obviously, 70% of the resettlement opportunities in the world come from the United States, so whatever the United States does defines the rules of the game. So the importance of a bold US approach to resettlement of Syrians, in the attitudes of other parts of the world, in particular in Europe, will be enormous. So I can only encourage that bold initiative, and I am very hopeful that the internal debate with all its complexities that is normal in a democratic society, will lead to a positive result.

(In the absence of an official transcript the quotes above were transcribed; emphasis added.)