Bad Neighbors, Bad Neighborhoods: An Inquiry into the Causes of Refugee Flows
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BadNe-rs, BadNeighJmhoods An Inquiry into the Causes of Refugee Flows I Lberal democratic governmentshave sought to balance their humanitarian concern for the plight of refugees with a concern that a massive refugee influx may be a threat to the integrity,well-being, financialcapacityand politicaland socialstabilityof their own country.None of the optionsfor achievinga balancehas been satisfactory. Admittingall who seekprotection may place an unacceptableburden upon the country; rigid controls over entry and interdiction at borders may deny protection to those in genuine need. An alternative strategy is to attempt to influence countrieswhose internal conditionshave put people to flight and to enable those who have fled to return home. If governmentsand international institutions could successfullyprevent or resolve conflicts that create massive refugee flows, then the humanitarian principles that underlie the international regime for the protection of refuge- regime that works best when the number in need of protection is small-could be more easily sustained. What measuresby other statescould effectivelyinfluencethe conditionsthat generate a refugee flow? Are the costs of taking action in both material and human terms acceptable?Are the costs of non-interventionacceptable?What kinds of interventions are morally justifiable and consistentwith international law? These are some of the central questions under considerationby governments . Governmentshave given a great deal of attention to devising policies Myron Weiner is Ford International Professor of Political Science at the Mnssachusetts Institute of Technology,and Acting Director of the MIT Center for International Studies. He is the author of The Global Migration Crisis: Challenge to States and to Human Rights (Harpdollins,2995),co-editor of Threatened Peoples, Threatened Borders: World Migration and U . S .Policy (Norton, 1995),and editor, InternationalMigration and security (Westview Press, 2993). I would like to acknowledge support for thisstudy from theGerman American AcademicCouncil, which funded the Project of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences on German-American Migration and Refugee Policies. This paper was prepared for the Project's Working Group on P o l i c i e s toward Countries of Origin.I benefited from the comments of members of the Working Group at its m e e t i n g s at the House of the American Academy in Cambridge, Massachusetts,and in Ladenburg, Germany and from participants of the Inter-University Seminar on International Migration held at M.I.T. My thanks for researchassistance to StevenWilkinson,and for suggestions and comments to Klaus Bade, David Martin, Philip Martin, Rainer Munz, Bany Posen, Rosemarie Rogers, and P e t e r Shuck as well as suggestionsfrom the anonymous reviewers for International Security. Internatiaal Security, Vol. 21, No. 1 (Summer 1996), pp. 5-42 0 1996 by the Resident and Fellowsof Harvard Collegeand the MassachusettsInstitute of Technology. 5 Zntemational Security 21:1 I 6 to protect their own country against potential adversaries, policies that rest upon century-old assumptions and experiences as to how countries can provide for their national security.There are no such clear assumptions or experiences with respect to how a governmentor internationalinstitutions can affect the internal affairs of those govenunents that cannot prevent violent civil conflictsor are unable or unwilling to protect their own citizens.The confusion amongpolicy makers in how to think about, much less respond to, the internal crises in Rwanda, Burundi, Haiti, Somalia, Bosnia, and Russia’s Chechnya demonstrates how great is the intellectual vacuum. The fundamental question for governmentsand internationalinstitutions is, what can be done to change the conditionswithin countriesthat put people to flight across internationalborders?Any effort to formulateoptionsfor dealing with countriesthat produce refugees must begin with an understandingof the types of situations that lead people to flee. By categorizing the proximate events and conditionsthat led to refugee flows in the last quarter of a century and examining how these have changed during this period, we may be better able to devise policy options for national governments and for regional and internationalinstitutions concerned with preventing, reducing, and halting the violence and oppression that generate refugee flows. This article provides an overview of the global refugee situation since the end of the Second World War, categorizes the conflicts that have generated refugee flows for three selected years since 1969, and identifies the principal determinants for the increase in the...


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