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REFUGEES AND THE COLD WAR. Estimated number of refugees by region, 1950-1990.

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Presentation on theme: "REFUGEES AND THE COLD WAR. Estimated number of refugees by region, 1950-1990."— Presentation transcript:

1 REFUGEES AND THE COLD WAR

2 Estimated number of refugees by region, 1950-1990

3 INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS AND COLD WAR HISTORY Did they matter? Did they matter? Cold War historians: state-centered beasts Cold War historians: state-centered beasts Students of international organizations: non-historical creatures – with a few exceptions! Students of international organizations: non-historical creatures – with a few exceptions!

4 REFUGEE PROBLEM, MAY 1945 40 million refugees/displaced people in Europe 40 million refugees/displaced people in Europe Plus 13 million Germans expelled Plus 13 million Germans expelled 11.3 million forced laborers in former German reich 11.3 million forced laborers in former German reich Beyond Europe: China, Indochina, Korea etc – approaching 100 million mark Beyond Europe: China, Indochina, Korea etc – approaching 100 million mark

5 EARLY EFFORTS UN Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) founded in 1943 UN Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) founded in 1943 Emergency assistance Emergency assistance Repatriation Repatriation Many to labor camps Many to labor camps International Refugee Organization (IRO), July 1947 International Refugee Organization (IRO), July 1947 European refugees European refugees Resettlement (US, Canada, Australia, Israel, Latin America) Resettlement (US, Canada, Australia, Israel, Latin America) US: 70% funding US: 70% funding

6 UNHCR AND THE EARLY COLD WAR Created in 1949-50 to replace IRO as of January 1951 Created in 1949-50 to replace IRO as of January 1951 1951 Refugee Convention defines ‘refugee’ 1951 Refugee Convention defines ‘refugee’ Hungary 1956: 200,000 refugees Hungary 1956: 200,000 refugees UNHCR helps resettlement in 30 countries UNHCR helps resettlement in 30 countries

7 UNHCR: A WESTERN ORGANIZATION? “The Hungarian operation demonstrated the important diplomatic role that the High Commissioner could play in events at the center of world politics. … [The] UNHCR played an essential mediating role between East and West involving the repatriation of nearly 10 per cent of the Hungarian refugees.” -- G. Loescher, UNHCR and World Politics

8 1960S AND 1970S: BEYOND EUROPE Decolonization in Africa Decolonization in Africa Algeria Algeria Congo Congo Great Lakes Great Lakes Portuguese Colonies (Angola) Portuguese Colonies (Angola) Conflicts in Asia Conflicts in Asia Bangladesh 1970-71: 10 million refugees (largest UNHCR operation to date) Bangladesh 1970-71: 10 million refugees (largest UNHCR operation to date) Vietnamese « Boat people » Vietnamese « Boat people » Victims of Khmer Rouge Victims of Khmer Rouge

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10 PROXY WARS in the 1980s Horn of Africa Horn of Africa Afghanistan Afghanistan Central America Central America In 1975: 2.8 million refugees, UNHCR budget U$ 76 million In 1975: 2.8 million refugees, UNHCR budget U$ 76 million 1989: 15 million refugees, UNHCR budget U$ 580 million 1989: 15 million refugees, UNHCR budget U$ 580 million

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12 THE COLD WAR AND REFUGEES Growing numbers, crises exacerbated by the Cold War Growing numbers, crises exacerbated by the Cold War With refugee flows, instability grows With refugee flows, instability grows Protracted refugee situations created fertile ground for militarization of camps, recruitment for liberation movements Protracted refugee situations created fertile ground for militarization of camps, recruitment for liberation movements Refugee situations as time bombs Refugee situations as time bombs

13 Research Project UNHCR and the Global Cold War 1971-1984

14 GOALS ARCHIVAL PROCESSING ARCHIVAL PROCESSING RESEARCH RESEARCH DISSEMINATION DISSEMINATION Project started in summer 2006 Project started in summer 2006 End of project Conference, October 2007 End of project Conference, October 2007

15 The Archival Work Preservation of the archives: Move documents from original binders to acid free folders/boxes Move documents from original binders to acid free folders/boxes Withdrawing documents copied/produced using chemicals. Withdrawing documents copied/produced using chemicals. Creation of a database: Listing of files following the UNHCR classification. Listing of files following the UNHCR classification. Basis for an “archive catalogue” for the UNHCR web site. Basis for an “archive catalogue” for the UNHCR web site. Review process: 2 objectives: “Restriction Policy” and “Research” “Restriction Policy”: “Restriction Policy”: Documents with “intrusive” information on refugees are “withdrawn” or “modified”. When necessary, a full file can be withdrawn. “Research”: “Research”: Note taking process: highlight well covered themes for research

16 Types of Documents Communications between HQs and UNHCR delegates on the field. Communications between HQs and UNHCR delegates on the field. Period covered: 1971-1984, with gaps and documents going further back (1960s). Period covered: 1971-1984, with gaps and documents going further back (1960s). Language: vast majority in English and French; some in Spanish; a few in other languages such as German, Finn, etc. Language: vast majority in English and French; some in Spanish; a few in other languages such as German, Finn, etc. Heterogeneity (not only UNHCR documents) Heterogeneity (not only UNHCR documents) “Action Sheets”: Attached to the documents; registers HQ’s advice, opinion, order. Often reveals interesting comments by UNHCR staff. “Action Sheets”: Attached to the documents; registers HQ’s advice, opinion, order. Often reveals interesting comments by UNHCR staff.

17 Types of Information Statistics Statistics Legal issues (mainly about eligibility and UNHCR mandate) Legal issues (mainly about eligibility and UNHCR mandate) Progress reports on UNHCR projects (resettlements, refugee camps, etc.) Progress reports on UNHCR projects (resettlements, refugee camps, etc.) Information on political situation and conflicts in countries/regions Information on political situation and conflicts in countries/regions Relations with governments and other political entities (ex: independence movements) Relations with governments and other political entities (ex: independence movements) Countries’ refugee policies, legislation and programs Countries’ refugee policies, legislation and programs Mechanisms to answer specific refugee/humanitarian crises Mechanisms to answer specific refugee/humanitarian crises Relations and cooperation with other UN agencies, IOs or NGOs Relations and cooperation with other UN agencies, IOs or NGOs

18 Obstacles and Readjustments Manage all 3 objectives (Archival processing; Dissemination; Research) Manage all 3 objectives (Archival processing; Dissemination; Research) Files Contents: Files Contents: Some documents from the 1960s but no post-1984 documents (stories go beyond); Missing documents? Some documents from the 1960s but no post-1984 documents (stories go beyond); Missing documents? Issue of Cold War related research topics: Issue of Cold War related research topics: Very few topics purely linked to the US/Soviet confrontation Very few topics purely linked to the US/Soviet confrontation Nevertheless, some Cold War related topics: Jewish refugees from the USSR; Superpowers’ proxies in independence/civil war (Angola) Nevertheless, some Cold War related topics: Jewish refugees from the USSR; Superpowers’ proxies in independence/civil war (Angola) Confirmation that Cold War years were not just about the bipolar struggle Post-colonial issues well covered: Post-colonial issues well covered: Situations prior and just after independence: Eligibility criteria; UNHCR relations with new governments and military groups, etc. Situations prior and just after independence: Eligibility criteria; UNHCR relations with new governments and military groups, etc.

19 Possible Research Themes Transversal topics: Transversal topics: Militarization of camps Militarization of camps Metropoles and their former colonies (UK-Rhodesia, 1970s) Metropoles and their former colonies (UK-Rhodesia, 1970s) UNHCR relations with other IOs and NGOs (Palestinians/UNWRA) UNHCR relations with other IOs and NGOs (Palestinians/UNWRA) More focused topics More focused topics Focus on “Receiving” (Botswana) and “Generating” country (Vietnam) Focus on “Receiving” (Botswana) and “Generating” country (Vietnam) Specific crisis (Refugees from Burma in Bangladesh, 1978-1979) Specific crisis (Refugees from Burma in Bangladesh, 1978-1979) Specific programs (Anti-Piracy Program) Specific programs (Anti-Piracy Program) Focus on a specific group of refugees (Afghans; Tibetans) Focus on a specific group of refugees (Afghans; Tibetans) Other topics well covered: Other topics well covered: Refugees from El Salvador Refugees from El Salvador Refugees from Nicaragua Refugees from Nicaragua Refugees from South Africa; Apartheid; ANC Refugees from South Africa; Apartheid; ANC Refugees from Western Sahara in Algeria Refugees from Western Sahara in Algeria

20 3 Ongoing Research Topics Refugees from Afghanistan in India, Iran and Pakistan Refugees from Afghanistan in India, Iran and Pakistan El Salvadoran Refugees in the 1970s and early 1980s El Salvadoran Refugees in the 1970s and early 1980s The United States and Vietnamese Refugees, 1975-1984 The United States and Vietnamese Refugees, 1975-1984

21 DOCUMENT EXAMPLE: AFGHANISTAN- PAKISTAN BORDER, 1980

22 1984: BORDERS AND INSTABILITY

23 THE COLD WAR AND REFUGEES Growing numbers, crises exacerbated by the Cold War Growing numbers, crises exacerbated by the Cold War With refugee flows, instability grows With refugee flows, instability grows Refugees used, instrumentalized Refugees used, instrumentalized Protracted refugee situations created fertile ground for militarization of camps, recruitment for liberation movements Protracted refugee situations created fertile ground for militarization of camps, recruitment for liberation movements Refugee situations as time bombs – ‘blowback’ phenomenon Refugee situations as time bombs – ‘blowback’ phenomenon

24 LAST: THE ADD January 1, 2008: Programme for the Study of Global Migration, Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies January 1, 2008: Programme for the Study of Global Migration, Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies


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