Letter from the Editors

By Barron, Owen; Kovacevic, Natasa | Harvard International Review, Fall 2009 | Go to article overview

Letter from the Editors


Barron, Owen, Kovacevic, Natasa, Harvard International Review


In 1951, a post-World War II United Nations bent on protecting human rights adopted the landmark Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. The document defined a refugee as an individual who, "owing to a well-founded fear of persecution ... is outside of his or her country of nationality." A half-century later, the Convention's original framework--even its original definitions--demand reevaluation. Indeed, the political and economic structures of our globalized world suggest that the international community rethink its entire appoach to protecting the forcibly displaced.

In this issue we address the crisis of refugees worldwide, examining both the legal issues of recognition and responsibility, and practical issues of protection and relief. Jeremy Hein and Tarique Niazi from the University of Wisconsin draw on ecological metaphors to delineate refugee "fault lines," and emphasize resource exploitation as a major source of today's refugee crises. Oxford University's Gil Loescher argues that UNHCR must preserve a careful balance between engaging in the political interests of its donors and allowing them to shape its agenda. Constance Anthony of Seattle University examines Africa's refugee crisis in light of state-building conflicts which have produced an alarming rise in forced migration and internally displaced people. Geoff Gilbert, Professor of Law at the University of Essex, discusses the expansion of UNHCR's mandate given the evolving nature of displacement worldwide, and presents concerns that increased inclusivity could lead to an unsustainable strain on the agency's resources. The symposium ends on a more positive note, with a report from Thubten Samphel on the remarkable success of the Tibetan community in exile, and the productive, vibrant culture it has built.

In our Perspectives section, former Indian Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon contemplates the origins of India's troubled relationship with Pakistan and possible avenues for the resolution of hostilities. European Parliament Member Daniel Hannan questions the viability of the European Union as a democratic body capable of representing the European states. …

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