Human Rights and Forced Displacement.

Author:Bahdi, Reem

Anne F. Bayefsky and Joan Fitzpatrick, Editors The Hague, Netherlands: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 2000 320 pages; ISBN 90-411-1518-8

Human Rights and Forced Displacement examines the complementarity of international human rights, humanitarian, and refugee law. The book consists of a collection of essays written by scholars and representatives of various institutions including the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), academic institutions, and others. The only major refugee-related organization that is not represented or mentioned is the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA). The essays were first presented at a conference held at York University in 1998 but they have been updated for publication. Collectively, they address the question of how complementarity or convergence can be achieved, seek to identify the institutional and normative barriers, and suggest the way forward.

Scholars and advocates have traditionally approached international human rights, humanitarian, and refugee law as discrete conceptual and operational concerns. Human rights, according to the received wisdom, govern during times of peace while humanitarian law regulates state conduct during times of war and occupation. Refugee law, for its part, protects those who face persecution. A network of treaty bodies oversees the international human rights system while institutions like the ICRC and the UNHCR are more closely associated with the implementation of humanitarian law and refugee law respectively.

Human Rights and Forced Displacement begins from the premise that the three regimes do not represent unique conceptual or institutional concerns. As Anne Bayefsky's introduction sets out, human rights considerations surface across the spectrum of the refugee problem: forced displacement is brought on by human rights violations; successful repatriation and resettlement of refugees turns on the realization of their human rights; and the transition from war to peace depends in the long term on the ongoing respect for human rights. At the same time, however, the three legal regimes are not simply pieces of a puzzle that can be seamlessly united in the creation of a coherent and perfectly rational whole. On the contrary, when the regimes are brought together they leave gaps, produce contradictions, and, more fundamentally, raise questions about the desirability of convergence...

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