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Rethinking internal displacement geo-political games, fragile states, & the relief industry

Laker, Frederick (2013) Rethinking internal displacement geo-political games, fragile states, & the relief industry. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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The aim of my thesis is to excavate and interrogate the history, structure, and impact of the new Global Internal Displacement Regime that seeks to apply international law and humanitarian relief mechanisms for the protection of vulnerable populations within their sovereign borders, from the effects of civil conflict and social breakdown. It will demonstrate that at each level of inquiry the IDP Regime has been a vehicle to secure the interests of the powerful. The Origins of the IDP Regime are a product of a geo-political game that has been played between UNHCR, Western states, and Third World states since the 1940s. Similarly the Evolution of IDP norms were designed to eclipse and replace the 1951 Convention in order to contain refugee flows from the Global South to the North. This history ran parallel to the wider history of internal displacement as a function of population control practiced by states in both war and peace, with humanitarian mechanisms now justifying and employing similar structures and rhetoric. The Structure of the IDP Regime reveals a series of discursive reproductions of power by the manner in which vulnerability, paternalism, and control are constructed and intertwined with IDPs presented as passive, voiceless, victims; NGOs as altruistic saviours; displacement as an endemic condition of crisis prone Third World states; and IDP protection mechanism promoted as solutions for balancing the rights and privileges of humanitarians with the predatory and coercive goals of fragile states. Finally the Impact of the IDP Regime was evident in the civil war in northern Uganda where the application of humanitarian protection mechanisms became incorporated into the political economy of violence with aid agencies legitimating the government’s precarious counter-insurgency campaign. By trapping displaced masses into IDP camps, a lucrative humanitarian economy emerged that turned northern Uganda into a permanent zone of crisis and relief under the Cluster Approach system, which had initially boasted greater aid agency co-ordination and efficiency. The consequence of which was that 1.8 million citizens who were existing under an alternate bureaucratic category, in an alternate territorial space, and governed by an alternate external entity, suffered and perished from starvation, disease, exposure, and unchecked rebel attack.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2013 Frederick Laker
Library of Congress subject classification: J Political Science > JZ International relations
Sets: Departments > International Relations
Supervisor: Meierhenrich, Jens

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