The perils of humanitarianism: Refugee and IDP protection in situations of regime-induced displacement



While incidents of mass displacement have declined over the last decade, the proportion of such incidents in which governments deliberately use coercive force to displace their own populations – which I term regime-induced displacement – has risen substantially. Using an original qualitative dataset, this article argues that not only can such incidents occur in the presence or absence of civil wars and other conflict, but also that the international response has lagged this transformation. This is a critical problem, as incidents of regime-induced displacement challenge the ability of international and non-governmental organizations to provide refugees and, in particular, internally displaced persons with basic levels of protection. Yet, as will be briefly illustrated by the cases of Bosnia, Kosovo, and Darfur, the patterns of governance prevailing in humanitarian crisis, based around providing protection through humanitarian agencies and peacekeeping rather than through asylum – increasingly the default international response – fail to provide effective responses in such situations.

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