Monthly Archives: July 2011

Introducing the Journal of Internal Displacement

by Veronica P. Fynn

Veronica P. Fynn is the Editor in Chief of the Journal of Internal Displacement

Migration within borders has become a major global health concern as people are forced to leave their place of habitual residence because of war, internal conflict, development, poverty, natural disasters, modernization, climate change, poor governance and more. Providing protection and assistance to this unique yet complex group of people has become a topic of debate as the international human rights regime grapples with not only whose responsibility it is to protect but also whether the creation of a new internal displacement law is necessary and timely.

To date there is no journal existing to advance debates and scholarship on the plight of internally displaced people around the world, hence the birth of the Journal of Internal Displacement (JID). The JID aims to raise the profile of internally displaced persons by creating a platform whereby both scholars and non-scholars primarily interested in the topic can disseminate and exchange ideas on issues pertinent to this group.  Since its launch in July 2009, the JID has attracted a wide range of readership including (but not limited to) academics, researchers, lawyers, doctors, students, psychologists, journalists, advocates, policy-makers, individuals as well as members of diverse public and private institutions.

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Week in links – Week 30/2011

Discerning TN readers will have noted that the blog has now clearly gone into summer mode (even if its slightly workaholic administrator has, regrettably, not entirely managed the same trick). In any case, I’ve tried to keep track of a few interesting items, below, for what should now properly be called the ‘month in links’.

It’s also my pleasure to announce an upcoming guest-posting by Veronica P. Fynn, the Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Internal Displacement. Veronica will introduce the journal and highlight some of the property issues covered in its first edition (full disclosure: my recent NRC report on Liberia is under consideration for reprinting in a forthcoming edition).

And now, some HLP highlights from July 2011:

– Beginning with UN Special Mechanisms, UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Olivier De Schutter has published an article in the Harvard International Law Journal on “The Green Rush: The Global Race for Farmland and the Rights of Land Users“.  Mr. De Schutter introduces the piece with a nice summary in Opinio Juris, in which he suggests the need to move beyond decrying the global land rush phenomenon to seeking ways to minimize its negative impact on local communities. However, Katharina Pistor’s response in OJ highlights significant obstacles to such approaches, both at the level of politics and of theory.

– Meanwhile, UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Adequate Housing Raquel Rolnik recently followed up on her report on the right to housing in the wake of conflict and disasters (posted on here) with a trip to Haiti in which she appealed for an end to forced evictions and endorsed a proposal by UN-HABITAT for a “comprehensive strategy for reconstruction and return”. A further report on post-disaster housing issues is said to be shortly forthcoming.

– UNHCR recently called for the creation of “new tools” to address the effect of climate change-induced displacement. The agency also released a report noting the 80% of the world’s refugees now find themselves in developing countries and that protracted displacement is becoming the rule rather than the exception.

– Although the most recent coverage of Kyrgyzstan on TN related to the defensive and unconstructive reaction of the national government to a critical report by an international Commission of Inquiry on last summer’s violence in the country’s south, the local response apparently continues to deteriorate as well. EurasiaNet now reports that the authorities of the city of Osh, where the violence against ethnic Uzbeks reached its peak, have rediscovered their infatuation with an urban master plan from 1978. The failure of the authorities to stop a heavily armed mob from demolishing centrally located Uzbek neighborhoods, while regrettable, now presents an opportunity to build  high-rise housing, and reconstruction – even with the prospect of Asian Development Bank funding – is not on the agenda.

– Keeping on the theme of bad behavior, Israel gets the latest award for innovations in forced evictions (previous honors went to Cambodia for the use of dredging machines). BBC reports that Bedouins in the Negev Desert now not only face regular demolition of their homes but will also be expected to foot the bill for this important public service.

– On a more positive note, BBC has also reported on a recent decision by the Cuban government to allow open sales of homes and cars in Cuba. In a follow-up piece, the BBC described the pressing need for such reforms in a setting where the previous system of exchanges with government approval and without money changing hands fostered informality and corruption. As noted previously on TN, BBC coverage has not addressed the issue of historical claims by exile Cubans that may exist against some of the properties involved. Thus, it is only possible to speculate on whether Cuban privatization now may serve a similar dual purpose to Cambodian privatization in the late 198os, where investing current users with greater rights also served to dilute the claims of exiled historical owners.

IFRC meeting on post-disaster shelter issues

An invitation to TN readers that may find themselves in Geneva next Wednesday, July 20 – I’ll be co-facilitating an expert group meeting together with Geoffrey Payne on “addressing regulatory barriers to meeting the emergency and transitional shelter needs of people affected by disasters” and would welcome the participation of those of you have had occasion to work on and ponder these issues.

The aim of the meeting is to help the Disaster Law Programme at the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) to peer review both its current understandings of obstacles to post-disaster shelter and of practices proven to be effective in overcoming them in order to develop a set of recommendations for consideration at the 31st International Conference of the IFRC next November.

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Good morning South Sudan

Its official! The world’s latest country and one of its most hard-won and fragile can take its seat in the General Assembly. As background reading, my previous musings on the topic here, and a lyrical defense of a right to minority secession by Timothy William Waters here on EJIL Talk.

On an administrative note, apologies to TN readers for the long gap since the last posting. I wish I could say it was because I’d already gone on summer vacation but its actually because, in classic consultant style, I am currently consumed by the work I must finish before I can contemplate taking summer vacation! Please bear with me, some interesting postings and guest-postings forthcoming.