International Politics of Forced Migration, Department of Political Science, Carleton University – 2009


The International Politics of Forced Migration (2009 session)

James Milner

Department of Political Science

Carleton University


Course objectives:

The prolonged presence of sprawling and insecure refugee camps in Africa and Asia, the plight of ‘boat people’ seeking refuge in Europe and North America, and controversies surrounding asylum seekers in Canada and elsewhere are but three examples of the tensions between human rights principles and domestic, regional and international politics. While a UN Agency was established in 1950 to ensure protection for refugees and to find solutions to their plight, these objectives are frequently frustrated by political constraints. How can this tension be reconciled?


The objective of this course is to introduce students to the major themes and tensions that currently affect the international refugee protection regime. Through the course, students will be expected to develop an understanding of the elements of the international refugee protection regime, current issues it is seeking to resolve, the significance of these issues in the resolution of contemporary refugee situations, and the role that local, national, regional and international global politics play in the origins and development of these issues.


Working through a series of lectures, seminars and case studies, the course will present a history of the international refugee protection regime, focusing on its functions and components, before considering issues that currently confront the regime. The course will conclude by applying these concepts to contemporary refugee situations and examining the local, national, regional and international obstacles to ensuring the protection of refugees and to finding a solution to their plight.


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