Academic journal article Refuge

The Indochinese Refugee Movement and the Subsequent Evolution of UNHCR and Canadian Resettlement Selection Policies and Practices

Academic journal article Refuge

The Indochinese Refugee Movement and the Subsequent Evolution of UNHCR and Canadian Resettlement Selection Policies and Practices

Article excerpt


The Indochinese refugee movement cast a long shadow over subsequent resettlement operations, UNHCR has since asserted greater leadership, with resettlement becoming more individually focused and globally diverse, but also more complex. Canadian policy has also evolved to become increasingly focused on protection and supportive of UNHCR's durable solution activities.

This article seeks to compare UNHCR and Canadian resettlement selection policy and practice in place during the time of the Indochinese movement up to mid-2015. It highlights key elements in the evolution of UNHCR and Canadian resettlement policy and the factors behind them. It also identifies aspects of the Indochinese movement that are relevant to contemporary refugee policy.


Le mouvement indochinois des refugies a exerce une influence profonde sur les initiatives subsequentes de reinstallation. Le HCR s'est affirme davantage a la suite en tant que chef de file dans ce domaine, avec une approche a la reinstallation de plus en plus individuelle ainsi que diversifiee a l'echelle mondiale, mais aussi plus complexe. Les politiques canadiennes ont egalement evolue vers la protection comme principe fondamental, ainsi que le soutien des solutions durables promulguees par le HCR.

Cet article a pour objectif de comparer les politiques et pratiques de selectionnement en matiere de reinstallation de la part du HCR et du Canada a partir de l'epoque du mouvement indochinois jusqu'a la premiere moitie de l'annee 2015. Il souligne les elements cles dans l'evolution des politiques et pratiques de reinstallation de la part du HCR et du Canada, ainsi que les facteurs qui les ont influences. Il identifie egalement les aspects du mouvement indochinois qui sont pertinents aux politiques contemporaines en matiere de refugies.


Importance of the Indochinese Movement for Resettlement Internationally and for Canada

Resettlement is an important part of Canada's response to the global refugee population. Canada has always been an immigration country, but the Immigration Act of 1976 for the first time explicitly included the goal of "upholding Canada's humanitarian tradition by welcoming refugees." (1) The structure of Canada's refuge programs was set out in the Act, which also ensured the engagement of Canadian civil society in resettlement through the establishment of a private sponsorship of refugees (PSR) program. However, Canadian resettlement has undergone a series of revisions and updates from the time it came into force in 1978 until mid-2015. The changes were sometimes linked to larger reform measures, but at other times made in isolation.

The refugee protection environment has undergone continuous change over this same period, with new challenges in forced displacement, a litany of new conflicts, entrenchment of conflicts that began decades ago, and the increased inability to find solutions. Resettlement has been presented as one means to address some of these challenges. It has also been presented in some schemes as a legal pathway to respond to mixed migration flows.

Resettlement functions as a tool of protection, providing a durable solution and international responsibility-sharing and is one piece within a broader protection regime. (2) Under the auspices of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), it has undergone refinement and reinvigoration since the time of the Indochinese movement. This article follows the evolution in both UNHCR and Canadian resettlement selection policy from the time of the Indochinese movement to mid-2015. It highlights key developments and notes how some elements from the Indochinese era are once again relevant.

The resettlement of Indochinese refugees was a defining movement for refugee resettlement, both internationally and for Canada. Almost two million Indochinese were resettled between 1975 and 1997 from countries of first asylum and through orderly departure programs (legal emigration from the source country). …

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