Modules Notes for Eighth Annual Winter Course on Forced Migration 2010
States, Partitions, Forced Migration and Issues of Citizenship
1. Partition has been accompanied by massive population movements that were both violent and eruptive in nature. The faultlines of this wruption took place along, regions, nations, localities, genders, ethnicities and families.
2. Partition resulted in new nationalisms and cultural boundaries that attempted to toe the line of territorial borders of the new nation.
3. With the movement of population comes displacements and relocation. This is accompanied by melancholia, nostalgia for the old homeland. Such melancholia shapes the cultural lives of new societies or run as an undercurrent in that society
4. Partition is gendered. It is perceived and experienced differently by men and women. Such perceptions get excluded from mainstream political discourses. Recent feminist writings on partition have sought to incorporate these notions back into history-writing.
5. Ethnicities and small nationalities get sidetracked too in considerations of nationalist history writing of partitions. Yet they too have been partitioned and especially those who live in borderland areas share common cultures across newly fashioned borders. Ecological disasters wreak havoc among such communities, who have had their traditional boundaries torn asunder. To many, such borders are a mere physical aberration to their continued existence and welfare.
Balibar, in Etienne Balibar and Immanuel Wallerstein, Race, Nation,
Class – Ambiguous Identities (Verso, 1991)
B.S. Chimni, International Refugee Law – A Reader (Sage Publications, 2003), section 5
Jasodhara Bagchi and Subhoranjan Dasgupta (ed), The Trauma and theh Triumph; Gender and Partition in Eastern India, Vol 1 and 2, Kolkata, Stree Publishers
Mushirul Hasan (ed) Inventing Boundaries:
gender Politics and the Partition of India,
Chakravarty ( translated and compiled) Crossings: Stories from Bangladesh and
Ranabir Samaddar (ed.), Peace Studies I (Sage Publications, 2004), chapters 7-8, 13-14
Ranabir Samaddar (ed.), Refugees and the State (Sage Publications, 2003), chapters 1-3, 6, 9
Ranabir Samaddar, The Marginal Nation (Sage Publications, 1999), chapters 1-4, 13
REFUGEE WATCH, “Scrutinising the Land Settlement Scheme in Bhutan”, No. 9, March 2000
REFUGEE WATCH, “Displacing the People the Nation Marches Ahead in Sri Lanka”, No. 15, September 2001
Menon and Kamla Bhasin, Women in
Yon Tang and Ganesh Kudaiysa, The Aftermath of Partition in South Asia,
Butalia, The Other Side of Silence: Voices from the Partition of
Displacing the People the Nation Marches Ahead in
2. RW.: Mohajirs : The Refugees By Choice
Gender Dimensions of Forced Migration, Vulnerabilities, and Justice
to the annual report of the UNHCR entitled "Global Trends" the number of people
forcibly uprooted by conflict and persecution worldwide stood at 42 million at
the end of 2009, out of which 16 million people are refugees and asylum seekers
and 26 million internally displaced people uprooted within their own countries.
More than eighty percent of the total number is made up of
women and their dependent children. An overwhelming majority of these women come
from the developing world.
The nation building
The partition of the
Indian subcontinent in 1947 witnessed probably the largest refugee movement in
modern history. About 8 million
Hindus and Sikhs left
Even today the
refugee women do not represent themselves. Officials represent them. Refugee
women from other parts of
After Rajiv Gandhi’s
assassination the politicians began to shun the refugees. As most of these were women they were
initially considered harmless but with the number of female suicide bombers
swelling there was a marked change in Government of India’s (GOI) attitude to
women refugees. Soon the government
turned a blind eye when touts came to recruit young women from the refugee camps
in Tamil Nadu to work as “maids” in countries of
Many displaced women
who are unable to cross international border swell the ranks of the internally
displaced. Even in IDP (Internally Displaced Person) camps women are responsible
for holding together fragmented families. For example, today roughly one-third
of all households in
It is pertinent to
point out in this context that, none of the South Asian states are signatories
to the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees or the 1967
The overwhelming presence of women among the refugee populations is not an accident of history. It is a way by which states have made women political non-subjects. By making women permanent refugee, living a savage life in camps, it is easy to homogenize them, ignore their identity, individuality and subjectivity. By reducing refugee women to the status of mere victims in our own narratives we accept the homogenization of women and their de-politicization. We legitimize a space where states can make certain groups of people political non-subjects. In this module we intend to discuss the causes of such de-politicization that often results in displacements keeping the refugees, IDPs and stateless women in mind and consider policy alternatives that might help in their rehabilitation and care.
Sabyasachi Basu Ray Chaudhury and Samir Das, Internal Displacement in South Asia,
Sage Publications, New Delhi, 2005.
(Please read chapter 9)
B.S. Chimni, International Refugee Law – A Reader,
Ritu Menon and Kamla
Bhasin, Borders and Boundaries: Women in
Urvashi Bhutalia, The Other Side of Silence: Voices from the
Ritu Menon (ed.), No Women’s Land: Women from
(ed.), Refugees and the State, Sage
Ranabir Samaddar, The Marginal Nation, Sage Publications,
Jasodhara Bagchi and
Subhoranjan Dasgupta, eds., The Trauma and the Triumph: Gender and Partition
The Trauma and the Triumph: Gender and Partition in
“Agonies and Ironies of War,” Refugee Watch, No. 2, April, 1998.
Basu Ray Chaudhury, “Violence, Victimhood and Minority Women: The Gujarat
Violence of 2002”, Lipi Ghosh (ed.), Political Governance and Minority Rights:
The South and Southeast Asian Scenario, Routledge,
“Women After Partition: Remembering the Lost World in a Life without Future” in
Navnita Chadha Behera (ed.), Gender, Conflict and Migration, Sage,
Cassandra Balchin, “United Against the UN: The UN Gender Mission Attitude Towards Afghan Women Refugees Within its Own Rank is Glaringly Hypocritical,” Newsline, April, 1998.
UNHCR Policy on Refugee Women
Select UNICEF Policy Recommendation on the Gender Dimensions of Internal Displacement
RW: Dislocated Subjects : The Story of Refugee Women
RW: War and Its Impact on Women in
RW: Afghan Women In
RW: Refugee Women of
RW: Rohingya Women – Stateless and Oppressed in
RW.: Dislocating the Women and Making the Nation
International, Regional, and the National Legal Regimes of Protection, Sovereignty and the Principle of Resposibility
Protection of refugee is a worldwide problem that international community have attempted to address since the early twentieth century. The Statute of the UNHCR adopted by the General Assembly in December 1950 established the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) that is the principal international agency concerned with the assistance and protection of refugees. Its primary responsibilities relate to ‘providing international protection and seeking permanent solution for the problem of refugees’. Among its key function is the supervision of the 1951 United Nations Convention on the Status of Refugees of which Article 35 requires State Parties to cooperate with it.
Refugee in international law is governed by a complex network of national, regional and international law. The 1951 United Nations Convention on the Status of Refugees and the 1967 Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees are the principal legal instruments established for the protection of refugees which have been ratified by 147 states. In fact, 1967 Protocol extends temporal and geographical application of the 1951 Refugee Convention. It is argued that 1951 Convention and 1967 Protocol failed to recognize the person whose migration is prompted by natural disaster, war or broadly-based political and economic turmoil. By mandating protection for those whose (western inspired) civil and political rights are jeopardized, without at the same time protecting persons whose (socialist inspired) socio-economic rights are at risk, the Convention adopted an incomplete and politically partisan human rights rationale.
The 1951 Convention elevates ‘the status of refugee protection as a matter of international concern’. It contains most widely accepted definition of the term ‘refugee’ and ‘principle of non-refoulement’.[i] There is increasing threats to the principle of non-refoulement recent years. The evolution of non-entrée policies in the industrialized world and interdiction in the high seas become a regular state practices.
The two main characteristic of the Convention definition are its strategic conceptualisation and its Eurocentric focus. The Convention is thus on the one hand restricted the scope of protection and on the other hand sought to create a right regime conducive to the redistribution of the post-war refugee burden from European shoulders. In this sense, the Convention was intended to distribute the European refugee burden without any binding obligation to reciprocate by way of the establishment of rights for, or the provision of assistance to, non-European refugees. It was not until more than fifteen years later that the Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees expanded the scope of the Convention definition to include refugees from all regions of the world.
Next to the almost entirely missing obligations and implementation criteria, one should note that the 1951 Convention and 1967 Protocol is not comprehensively enough to secure the protection of refugees, leaving some critical elements outside its otherwise generously defined scope of application. Some of these missing elements are related to the centrality of state sovereignty, which is intrinsic to the refugee protection. In this context it may be noted that states have consistently refused to undertake an obligation to accept a right of asylum enforceable at the instance of an individual. [ii]
Ever since the 1951
Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol, states have realized the necessity of
new rules, partly in order to fill gaps left by the present international
refugee regime, but also to tune the international protection regime system
better to cope with the rapid changes in refugee situations. At the end of 2009,
the total number of ‘persons of concern’ under the mandate of the Office of the
UNHCR had increased to 34,464,20. Several attempts to modify the international
protection regime of refugee have been made over the years. These include the
definition contained in the 1951 Convention on the Status of Refugee, the 1969
OAU Convention Governing the Specific Aspects of Refugee Problem in
Additionally, in 1966,
Asian-African Legal Consultative Committee (AALCC) adopted the principle
concerning treatment of refugees and later a Group of Arab experts meeting in
The increasing regionalisation of refugee problems and the growing membership of the United Nations have made it difficult to achieve the consensus required for the introduction of any new universal treaty on refugees. This has resulted increased gap between the responsibility entrusted to UNHCR and the obligations undertaken by the states. Numerous proposals are advanced to bridge the gap and to make refugee protection principles. One could group these suggestions (without claims for an exhaustive listing) into three categories:
(1) The first cluster of proposals suggests the insertion of supervision based on state reporting, advisory opinions or individual complaints to the international refugee regime similar to the ones existing monitoring mechanism in international human rights regime. This would arguably require the states to provide UNHCR with information concerning the condition of refugees, their implementation of the Convention and national laws relating to refugees, and thereby the states will get engaged in a ‘kind of dialogue of justification’. It is argued that, states already have a reporting obligation under Article 35(2) of the Convention. However, at present the application of this provision has not been regularized. Another option within this category, sketched by Professor Walter Kalin, is the creation of permanent Sub-Committee, possibly within the framework of the Executive Committee, responsible for Review and Monitoring. It is also conceivable that the Sub-Committee would be responsible for carrying out reviews of specific situations of refugee flows or of particular countries, which would be identified on the basis of transparent and objective criteria. Kalin has suggested, that these Refugee Protection Reviews would combine independent fact-finding and expertise with elements of peer-review (discussion of reports by other States Parties).
Other, subtler proposal put forward by Kalin is in essence to introduce a thematic Rapporteur that would be handled by the Executive Committee.
(2) Other proposition in
this context, is introduction of a judicial body to encourage consistent
interpretations of the provisions in the Convention and the standards in the
Conclusions. Justice Tony North argued fervently for many years the introduction
of an ‘International Judicial Commission on Refugees’. [iii] Under this proposal, the Commission would be created under
the supervisory mandate of UNHCR contained in
(3) To fill some of the current gaps in the international protection regime, one possible means of influencing states can be to formulate and develop standards on International Protection through Conclusions adopted by the Executive Committee of UNHCR. Corinne Lewis suggested that ‘the although the Conclusions are not binding on states, Executive Committee is the only specialized forum for the development of international refugee law standards at a global level’. [iv] It is argued that the Conclusions therefore have the potential to have significant normative influence as an expression of the consensus of the international community on a specific protection matter. However, as Holborn quite rightly notes, despite this, they have generally been afforded relatively low status internationally. [v] In addition, Oscar Schachter, for example, believe that because international organizations are created to develop international norms, when states become members of those organizations, they accept an obligation to cooperate with each other to do so. Following the recommendations of such organizations therefore become a means by which states can fulfill this obligation. [vi]
However, all these proposals, besides the obvious difficulty of formulating them in a non-arbitrary and enforceable manner and of obtaining the states consent are not easy. Moreover, all of these suggestions are essentially ‘academic’ projects and not really politically driven ones that enjoy the support of the States Parties of the Convention. In fact, as the UNHCR/States Parties of the Convention clearly shows, the search for protection of refugee solutions within the UNHCR has largely given up. States are happy to maintain their low level of commitments and the escape to the forum of UNHCR offers security in this regard. Despite the impressive number of states that have ratified the Convention, and thus arguably committed to the objective of protecting the refugee, it is highly unlikely that a negotiating bloc would form within the UNHCR to push for some of the above ‘refugee’ solution. This is because when one looks at the political economy behind the adoption of the additional responsibility under the Convention, there is not only one voice. Different states have ratified it for different reasons following their own specific agendas.
Bayani introduced the subject of state responsibility for displaced populations. This issue has remained unsettled because of starkly different positions of the major states drivers, the European states, which also reflect pro-culture stances during the 1951 Convention debate. One proposition in this context is to introduce relevant international law norms and the evaluation of the past practices with reference to obligations owed by the state of origin to the receiving country. Another suggestion has been to create obligations owed by the state of origin to the international community. Tomuschat suggested the UNHCR has a right to recover the costs incurred in assisting refugees from the country of origin. Chimni raised question would the UNHCR has the legal standing to claim the costs of assisting refugees? [vii]
As a consequence of this
deepening discord, ‘sovereignty as responsibility’ discourse is becoming
increasingly attractive for politicians as the popularity of human rights
champions wanes, in particular in developed countries and as national values and
interests, especially after 9/11, gain prominence. Yet the politically driven
disconnect between sovereignty and responsibility, while easily justified before
the constituencies concerned, is not necessarily beneficial for either the
domain of refugee or that of protection/solution. Oscar Schacter argues that ‘it
is highly undesirable to have a new rule allowing humanitarian intervention, for
that could provide a pretext for abusive intervention’. [viii] The idea of ‘sovereignty as responsibility’ was first put
forward by the Sudanese scholar and Special Representative of the UN Secretary
General for Internally Displaced Persons, Francis M. Dang, particularly in a
publication by the Brooking Institute Sovereignty as Responsibility: Conflict Management in
Africa (1996). Here Deng believed the sovereign state as the primary
guarantor of human rights and human security. This document came after two major
defeats for the new interventionism, after following the ignominious withdrawal
of UN forces from
Issues for Discussion
The record of the refugee protection standards raise a number of general questions: Does the protection offered by the international, regional and national instruments sufficient to address the Refuge Problem? Whether the norms created by these instruments and state practice are coherent? Can the UNHCR provide guidance as to standards which must be maintained by states; and can the system be used to enforce these standards in order to provide an effective guarantee to refugees? To what extent present durable solutions available in refugee system be workable? A central issue in durable solution of refugee problem whether ‘voluntary repatriation’ is better than ‘local integration’ and ‘third state resettlement’, that is used rarely? Could it be possible to develop law of state responsibility in regard to refugee problem? The question of enforcement/compliance of refugee standards is certainly one of the most sensitive issues in international refugee law. Do we promote international human rights machinery to play a more active role in refugee affairs? To what extents are recent proposals enforcing obligations on states reflected in various meetings/symposiums become reality? By and large, would a reform in refugee system be viable?
The focus will also be on ‘sovereignty’: asylum and refugee; the implication of ‘sovereignty as responsibility’ and ‘responsibility to protect (R2P)’ on refugee problem. The basic question is; what did the opponents of R2P means when they argued that third world states should not accept the R2P because it ‘allows powerful states to intervene in poor countries for illegitimate purpose’. And what did the proponent mean when they said that such argument did not lead to the opponent’s conclusion.
B. S. Chimni (ed.), International Refugee
Law: A Reader (Sage Publications,
Vera Gowland and Klaus
Samson (ed.), Problems and Prospects of Refugee Law (The Graduate
Institute of International Studies,
Sadruddin Aga Khan, “Legal Problems relating to Refugees and Displaced Persons”, Recueil Des Cours, vol. I (1976), pp. 287-352.
E. Reut-Nicolussi, “Displaced Persons and International Law”, Receuil des Cours, vol. II (1948).
Ranabir Samaddar (ed.),
Refugees and the
State (Sage Publications, 2003).
[i] Article 33(1) of the 1951 Refugee Convention prescribes that ‘no refugee should be returned to any country where he or she is likely to face persecution or torture’.
[ii] The frequently cited Article 14 of the UDHR provides that ‘everyone has the right to seek but not granted asylum. The 1977 United Nations Conference on Territorial Asylum convened to consider such a possibility ‘was an abject failure’.
[iii] Anthony M. North and Joyce Chia,
“Towards Convergence in the Interpretation of the Refugee Convention: A Proposal
for the Establishment of an International Judicial Commission for Refugees”, in
Jane McAdam (ed.), Forced Migration, Human Rights and Security (Oregaon,
[iv] Corinne Lewis, “UNHCR’s Contribution to the Development of International Refugee Law: Its Foundations and Evolution”, International Journal of Refugee Law, vol 17, no. 1 (2005), pp. 66-67.
[v] Louise W. Holborn, Refugees: A Problem of Our Time: The Work of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees 1951-1972 (The Scarecrow Press Inc., Cambridge, 1975), pp. 110-111.
[vi] Oscar Schachter, International Law in Theory and Practice (Martinus Nijhoff, Dordrecht, 1991).
[vii] B. S. Chimni, International Refugee
Law-A Reader (Sage Publications,
[viii] Note 6.
with Special Reference to Causes, Linkages, and Responses
“The look of pure terror on the face of the little Korku tribal girl child said it all as the elephant razed her house in the pouring rain. Her parents pleaded with the Forest officials saying that they were living and cultivating the lands there for the past three decades. However, the officials said they had no alternative, since they had been instructed to evict all encroachers as ordered by the Supreme Court.”[i]
The eviction of indigenous people from their land is a
recurrent theme in South Asia. Be it Ranigaon, Golai, Motakeda, Somthana,
Ahmedabad, Bandarban, or Trincomalee, thousands of families are being evicted
from their homes either in the name of conflict or due to disasters or in the
name of modernization. They are being forced to stay in the open, in pouring
rain with a number of them suffering from malnutrition and starvation and they
are fearful for their lives at most times. The last two decades have witnessed an enormous increase in
the number of internally displaced people in
Contextualising Internal Displacement in South Asia
South Asia is cultural mosaic diverse cultures, languages,
customs, norms and other social practices which often over lap providing
continuities and idscontinuities in the region. The socio-cultural notion of
nation-state formation is not congruous with the politico-territorial formations
in the post-colonial period. So there is obvious scope for ethnic and religious
tensions in the intra-state level and inter state level. The South Asian situation on ethnicity and religious
tension resolution for future is inevitably somewhat nebulous and shrouded in
uncertainty. “It is also evident that religion and language as components of
ethnic identity are important in dividing as well as unifying groups in
The structural framework of the region—incorporating features such as close geographical proximity, socio-cultural linkages and inter-dependent politico-strategic relations of states—creates internal pressures for regionalization of ethnic conflict as an inevitable part of political life.[iii]
Besides being ‘potential refugees’ who might cross international borders, most of the IDPs living in these countries share ethnic continuities with the people of the neighbouring countries. The Pashtuns of northwest Pakistan for example, seem to harbour an active interest in the affairs of their ethnic cousins living in Afghanistan and vice versa. Similarly, much of what happens inside today’s Myanmar has its implications for the minorities of northeastern India and Bangladesh. Massive displacement and the resulting plight of the predominantly tribal populations such as, the Nagas of Myanmar continue to be one of the key running themes of the Naga rebel discourse across the borders and the ethnic cousins of Myanmar are described by it as, ‘the Eastern Nagas’. Insofar as the creation of national borders could not make many of these pre-existing ethnic spaces completely obsolescent, South Asia’s living linkages with West or South East Asia can hardly be exaggerated. Also national specificities notwithstanding South Asian IDPs are connected by their ethnicities, minority status and situations of extreme marginalisation. This portrays the reality that in so far as in South Asia IDPs cannot be regarded as a national category. It is essential to think of them as regional categories.
Besides, conflict as source of displacement, naturural disasters are recurrent in South Asia, which at times are trans boorder impact oriented as well. It is witnessed as in the case of Indian ocean tsunamis of 2004 hitting Sri Lanka, India and Maldives, Kashmir earthquake of 2005 affected both Indian and Pakistan side of Kashmir, Aila cyclone in May 2009 affected India and Bangladesh. Recent flood has affected thousands of lives in Pakistan. It is partinent to ponit out in this context that, as a result of continuous environmental degradation; flood and river-bank erosion in the plains, and landslide in the hills have become endemic. This has caused innumerable deaths, destruction and population displacement. The intensity of flood, river-bank erosion and landslide has increased substantially over the years in terms of area and victims. Now the only few South Asian countries are in the process of setting up the legal-institutional framework to tackle disasters. India has taken the lead to constitute a national disaster management authority (NDMA) based on national disaster management act (2005). This is supposed to provide the national policies and guidelines not only to tackle post-disaster relief and response but also to promote proactive preparedness and mitigation measures. Other countries are also taking their own measures in the lines of Hyogo framework for action (2005).
Moreover, the heavy emphasis on large-scale projects for infrastuctural development of the country has led to the displacement of millins in South Asia. Development-induced displacement has been associated with the construction of dams for hydroelectric power and irrigation purposes but also appears due to many other activities, such as mining and the creation of military installations, airports, industrial plants, weapon testing grounds, railways, road developments, urbanization, conservation projects, forestry, etc. affecting multiple levels of human organization, from tribal and village communities to well-developed urban areas. Needless to say, establishment of the Special Economic Zones (SEZs) and Export Promotion Zones (EPZ) stipulate huge land requirements causing millions of people’s displacement from their ancestral land in era of globalization.
Why IDPs are more Vulnerable
Although all persons affected by conflict and/or human rights violations suffer, displacement and likely to increase the need for protection. Following are broad reasons why IDPs are considered more vulnerable due to:
In south Asian context the situation of IDPs seems
particularly more vulnerable when one considers that there are hardly any legal
mechanisms that guide their rehabilitation, care and protection. Since the
early 1990s the need for a separate legal mechanism for IDPs in
This has given us a framework within which rehabilitation
and care of internally displaced people in
The Guiding Principles on Internally Displaced Persons set out the rights of internally displaced persons relevant to the needs they encounter in different stages of displacement. The Guiding Principles provide a handy schematic of how to design a national policy or law on internal displacement that is focused on the individuals concerned and responsive to the requirements of international law. Similarly, governments (and particularly national human rights institutions where they exist), advocates, and displaced persons can use the Guiding Principles as a means to measure the compliance of existing laws and policies with international standards. Finally, their simplicity allows the Guiding Principles to effectively inform the internally displaced themselves of their rights. The Guiding Principles are thus part of a growing number of “soft law” instruments that have come to characterize norm-making in the human rights field as well as other areas of international law, in particular environmental, labor and finance. Although the Guiding Principles do not constitute a binding instrument like a treaty, they do reflect and are consistent with existing international law. They address all displacement—providing protection against arbitrary displacement, offering a basis for protection and assistance during displacement, and setting forth guarantees for safe return, resettlement and reintegration.[v]
One of the most important contributions of the Guiding Principles is to develop an acceptable definition/description of those who can fit within the category of internally displaced persons. They are defined as “persons or groups of persons who have been forced or obliged to flee or to leave their homes or places of habitual residence, in particular as a result of or in order to avoid the effects of armed conflict, situations of generalized violence, violations of human rights or natural or human-made disasters, and who have not crossed an internationally recognized state border.”[vi] The definition provided by the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement highlights two elements: (i) The coercive or otherwise involuntary character of movement; the definition mentions some of the most common causes of involuntary movements, such as armed conflict, violence, human rights violations and disasters. These causes have in common that they give no choice to people but to leave their homes and deprive them of the most essential protection mechanisms, such as community networks, access to services, livelihoods. Displacement severely affects the physical, socio-economic and legal safety of people and should be systematically regarded as an indicator of potential vulnerability. And (ii) The fact that such movement takes place within national borders. Unlike refugees, who have been deprived of the protection of their state of origin, IDPs remain legally under the protection of national authorities of their country of habitual residence. IDPs should therefore enjoy the same rights as the rest of the population. The Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement remind national authorities and other relevant actors of their responsibility to ensure that IDPs’ rights are respected and fulfilled, despite the vulnerability generated by their displacement.
Some 25 million people worldwide currently live in situations of internal displacement as a result of conflicts or human rights violations. Although internally displaced people now outnumber refugees by two to one, their plight receives far less international attention.[vii] The Guiding Principles also reflect on the rights of displaced people, the obligations of their states’ towards them and also the obligations of international community towards these people. It is pertinent to make such rights accessible to vulnerable people of South Asia who are already displaced or live in fear of displacement. This module overall attempts to nurture the dialogue and discussion on issues concerning internal displacement.
Many IDPs remain exposed to violence and other human rights violations during their displacement. Often they have no or only very limited access to food, employment, education and health care. Large numbers of IDPs are caught in desperate situations amidst fighting or in remote and inaccessible areas cut-off from international assistance. Others have been forced to live away from their homes for many years, or even decades, because the conflicts that caused their displacement remained unresolved. While refugees are eligible to receive international protection and help under the 1951 Refugee Convention and the 1967 Protocol, the international community is not under the same legal obligation to protect and assist internally displaced people. National governments have the primary responsibility for the security and well-being of all displaced people on their territory, but often they are unable or unwilling to live up to this obligation.
Salient Features of Guiding Principles
The Principles identify the rights and guarantees which, when fully observed and respected, can prevent arbitrary displacement and address the needs of internally displaced persons in terms of protection, assistance and solutions. In keeping with its focus on needs, the Principles are structured around the phases of internal displacement: They address protection against displacement (Principles 5 – 9); protection during displacement (Principles 10 –23); the framework for humanitarian assistance Principles 24 – 27); and protection during return, local integration in the locations where persons have been displaced, and resettlement in another part of the country (Principles 28 – 30).[viii] It is important to understand the context it is relevant and applicable as stated by Walter Kalin in his interpretative notes on Guiding Principles-Annotations: “The protection of internally displaced persons is complicated by the fact that internal displacement can occur in three different situations: (1) during peace, e.g., as a result of natural or man-made disasters or tensions and disturbances that fall short of internal armed conflict where human rights law applies; (2) during non-international armed conflict governed by some of the most important principles of humanitarian law and by many human rights guarantees; and (3) during interstate armed conflict where the detailed provisions of international humanitarian law become operative, and at the same time, many important human rights guarantees remain applicable.” The Guiding Principles cover all three situations and attempt to facilitate the invocation and application of relevant legal norms, as it is often difficult in practice to determine which norms apply to each of these situations. The Principles identify those guarantees that have to be observed in all situations.[ix]
What Types of Displacement are Prohibited by the Guiding Principles?
Principle 6 affirms that “[e]very human being shall have the right to be protected against being arbitrarily displaced from his or her home or place of habitual residence.” Support for this proposition can be found in humanitarian law and also in the right to movement, guaranteed by a number of human rights instruments, which can be reasonably expected to have as its corollary the “right not to move.”
It is important to note that the Guiding Principles do not claim that displacement is always prohibited. In both humanitarian and human rights law, exceptions to the general rule are available. Rather it is arbitrary displacement” that must be avoided and Principle 7 provides a sort of roadmap for avoiding arbitrariness. First, all feasible alternatives to displacement must be explored. In situations of armed conflict, this means that a determination must be made either that the security of the population or “imperative military reasons” require displacement before it can be carried out.
Where displacement is to occur outside the context of armed conflict, Principle 7 provides a list of procedural protections that must be guaranteed, including decision- making and enforcement by appropriate authorities, involvement of and consultation with those to be affected and the provision of an effective remedy for those wishing to challenge their displacement. These provisions are, of course, of particular interest to those facing displacement for development projects.
Moreover, in either context, “all measures” must be taken to minimize the effects and duration of the displacement and the responsible authorities are required to ensure “to the greatest practicable extent” that the basic needs of those displaced (e.g., shelter, safety, nutrition, health, and hygiene) are met. It should also be noted that Principal 9 articulates a “special obligation” to protection against displacement of a number of groups whose special attachment to territory has been recognized in international law, including indigenous persons, minorities, peasants, and pastoralists.
What Rights do Persons have Once Displaced?
Displaced persons enjoy the full range of rights enjoyed by civilians in humanitarian law and by every human being in human rights law. These include the rights to life, integrity and dignity of the person (e.g., freedom from rape and torture), non-discrimination, recognition as a person before the law, freedom from arbitrary detention, liberty of movement, respect for family life, an adequate standard of living (including to access to basic humanitarian needs), medical care, access to legal remedies, possession of property, freedom of expression, freedom of religion, participation in public life, and education, as set out in Principles 10-23.
In several instances, the Guiding Principles specify how generally expressed rights apply in situations of displacement. These should be of particular interest to those designing and assessing domestic policies on internal displacement. For example, Principle 12 provides that, to give effect to the right of liberty from arbitrary detention, internally displaced persons “shall not be interned in or confined in a camp” absent “exceptional circumstances” and that they shall not be subject to discriminatory arrest “as a result of their displacement.” Likewise Principle 20 provides that the right to “recognition everywhere as a person before the law” should be given effect for displaced persons by authorities facilitating the issuance of “all documents necessary for the enjoyment and exercise of their legal rights, such as passports, personal identification documents, birth certificates and marriage certificates.”
The Guiding Principles provide for special consideration of the needs of women and children (including “positive discrimination” or affirmative activities on behalf of governments to model assistance and protection to their particular needs, consultation and involvement in decisions regarding their displacement and return or resettlement, protection against recruitment of minors and free and compulsory education), as well as for other especially vulnerable groups, such as the elderly and disabled.
What Rights and Obligations do Humanitarian Organizations Have?
The Guiding Principles also lay out a number of rights and obligations of humanitarian organizations in Principles 24-27. This section again stresses the point that “[t]he primary duty and responsibility for providing humanitarian assistance to internally displaced persons lies with national authorities” (Principle 25(1)). In carrying out this duty, national authorities must not “arbitrarily withhold” consent to international humanitarian organizations’ offer of services to the internally displaced, and must “grant and facilitate” their free passage to areas where assistance is needed. Humanitarian personnel, materiel, and supplies are not to be attacked or diverted for other purposes. For their part, humanitarian organizations must carry out their operations “in accordance with the principles of humanity and impartiality and without discrimination” and should “give due regard to the protection needs and human rights of internally displaced persons” and not just their needs for assistance.
What Help Should Displaced Persons Expect with Return, Reintegration and Resettlement?
In their final section, the Guiding Principles provide that competent authorities have “the primary duty and responsibility” to assist displaced persons by providing the means as well as by establishing conditions for return to their places of origin, or for resettlement in another part of the country (Principle 28). Any return or resettlement must be voluntary and carried out in conditions of safety and dignity for those involved.
As a corollary to the right to free movement, therefore, displaced persons have the right to return to their homes. Although the right to return or resettle is not expressly stated in any particular human rights instrument, this interpretation of the right of free movement is strongly supported by resolutions of the Security Council, decisions of treaty monitoring bodies, and other sources of authority.
Moreover, although the displaced have the right to return, Principle 28 carefully specifies that they must not be forced to do so, particularly (but not only) when their safety would be imperiled. The issue of the voluntariness of return or resettlement is recurrent in protracted displacement situations around the world. In many places, governments and insurgent groups have ceded to the temptation to use the return or resettlement of displaced persons as a political tool.
Principle 29 provides that authorities also have “the duty and responsibility” to assist displaced persons to recover “to the extent possible” their property and possessions, and where restitution is not possible to provide or assist the displaced persons to obtain appropriate compensation. Like the preceding principle, this one relies on general precepts of the right to property, the right to remedy for violations of international law, as well as a growing adherence in Security Council resolutions, treaties, national law and other sources of authority.
Are their Any Special Provisions for Women?
In the guiding principles a concerted attempt was made to prioritise gender issues. For example, while discussing groups that needed special attention in Principle 4 it was stated that expectant mothers, mothers with young children and female heads of households, among others, are people who may need special attention. In Principle 7 it was stated that when displacement occurred due to reasons other than armed conflict authorities should involve women who are affected, in the planning and management of their relocation. Principle 9 upheld that IDPs should be protected in particular against “Rape, mutilation, torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and other outrages upon personal dignity, such as acts of gender-specific violence, forced prostitution and any other form of indecent assault.” Special protection was also sought against sexual exploitation. Principle 18 stated that special efforts should be made to include women in planning and distribution of supplies. Principle19 stated that attention should be given to the health needs of women and Principle 20 stated that both men and women had equal rights to obtain government documents in their own names.
Apart from the Guiding Principles there are other international mechanisms that displaced women can access. They include the 1979 Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (hereafter CEDAW) and the 1999 Optional Protocol sets out specific steps for states to become proactive in their efforts to eliminate discrimination against displaced women. Article 2 of CEDAW clearly states that public authorities, individuals, organisations and enterprises should refrain from discrimination against women. Article 3 reiterated women’s right to get protection from sexual violence. Article 6 spoke against trafficking and sexual exploitation of women. Since most displaced women are particularly vulnerable to traffickers this article is of some importance to them. It must be noted that all the countries of South Asia are signatories to CEDAW with some reservations but not of the proportion that it negates the overarching principles and therefore the onus of being gender sensitive in their attitude and programmes is on them. Apart from these there are other international provisions that protect women’s human rights. Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949 calls for the halt of weapons against the civilian population and to protect all civilians, including children, women and persons belonging to ethnic and religious minorities from violations of humanitarian law. Article 29 of ILO 1930 Convention concerning forced or compulsory labour also impacts the situation of women. It calls for the end of violations of the human rights of women, in particular forced labour, abuse and torture of labourers including women.
Are the Guiding Principles Legally Binding?
Although the UN Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement is not a legally binding treaty it is formed of principles that are based on established legal mechanisms for aiding the human rights of the displaced people. Many of these Principles may gradually attain the status of customary international law. But as Francis Deng reminds us, “for the time being they serve as a morally binding statement.”[ii] A statement of this nature that promises to be ‘morally binding’ on a wide spectrum of primarily national governments and secondarily, other relevant international and non-governmental agencies must cut across the well-known divisions of the prevailing ethical and moral systems and elaborate itself in a way that it does not remain captive to any particular modality of moral reasoning. Plurality of such systems and modalities is helpful in building the much-needed ‘moral consensus’ around these principles.
While the Guiding Principles have already gained an impressive degree of recognition at the international, regional, and national level, more remains to be done to foster their use, particularly in South Asia, where many states with large displacement problems lack comprehensive policies or effective remedies for those. It is to be hoped that this module will itself encourage that process. South Asia has seen millions of people displaced both across borders and within borders – again both by conflict and by developmental projects, and in some cases by natural calamities. This module is intended to make a survey of how far the Guiding Principles on IDPs is relevant to each state of the region and how far they have been implemented and what remains to be done.
Whose Responsibility is it Anyway?
If the state-centric nationalistic approach has meant the exclusion of minorities and has produced large number of refugees in the post-colonial states in Asia and Africa, state-centric national security perspective and development paradigm have not done any better. The people displaced against this backdrop may have got some relief if they have been able to cross international boundaries. Crossing the international boundary may entitle them to “refugee” status, thus providing them at least a fig leaf of relief and rehabilitation in an alien land. But wretched are those who remain internally displaced. They remain at the mercy of the same state and administration whose policy might have sent them on the run. According to all estimates, the number of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) is rising compared to the refugees seeking shelter in another country. South Asia is no exception to this. But, so far, no systematic and comprehensive study was carried out. Only a few brief, and sometimes sketchy, reports and articles are available on the plight of the IDPs in South Asia. This module hopefully will fill that awesome and disturbing vacuum. The module is meant to explore the nature and the extent of displacement in respective countries of South Asia and provide recommendations to minimize the insecurity of the displaced by discussing mechanisms for rehabilitation and care. As for who takes responsibility for the displaced? The answer is primarily the state, although there are attempts on its part to abdicate its responsibility in this regard. None of the states of South Asia recognizes right against forced displacement as a non-negotiable right. We have to note that it is the policies of the state and the model of development and nation building that it has pursued since its birth that have caused and continue to cause displacement in largest numbers. It is primarily a failure of the state system. The module is meant to explore how far South Asian states are sensitive to the needs of the IDPs, how they can be made sensitive to these needs and whether the UN Guiding Principle are being adhered to, to any extent.
What is the way Ahead?
In their few years of existence, the Guiding Principles have in fact obtained a high level of recognition. When they were first presented in 1998, the Commission on Human Rights merely “noted” them and the intention of the Representative to use them in his dialogue with states. Over time, however, the language of regular resolutions in the Commission, the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and the General Assembly has grown increasingly warmer. In 2003, for instance, both the Commission and the General Assembly “welcome[d] the fact that an increasing number of States, United Nations agencies and regional and non-governmental organizations are applying them as a standard, and encourages all relevant actors to make use of the Guiding Principles when dealing with situations of internal displacement[.]” They have also been acknowledged at the level of the Security Council, at international conferences, and adopted by the U.N. and wider humanitarian community as their standard.
The Guiding Principles have been well received by multi-lateral organizations at the regional level. They have been welcomed in resolutions, declarations and statements by organs of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) (now known as the African Union), Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), Organization of American States (OAS), Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (CoE) and the Commonwealth.
Among states in South Asia, Sri Lanka has similarly relied upon the Guiding Principles in the formulation of its National Framework for Relief, Rehabilitation and Reconciliation. Likewise, civil society institutions have made increasing use of the Guiding Principles to assess domestic policy and practice concerning displaced persons. It is hoped that in the near future more states in South Asia will accept, adopt and adhere to the Guiding Principles regarding the internally displaced.
1.Paula Banerjee, Sabyasachi Basu Ray Chaudhury and Samir Das, Internal Displacement in South Asia, sage, New Delhi, 2005
2. Addressing Internal Displacement: A Framework for National Responsibility Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement
3. Erin Mooney, “The Concept of Internal Displacement and the Case for Internally Displaced Persons as a Category of Concern", in Refugee Survey Quarterly, Volume 24, Issue 3, 2005.
4. Report on ‘Protecting and Promoting Rights in Natural
disasters in South Asia: Prevention and Response’, Brookings
Institute-University of Bern, Project on Internal Displacement, 2009
1. Protection of Internally Displaced Persons: Inter-Agency Standing Committee Policy Paper
2. Sovereignty as Responsibility: The Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement/ Roberta Cohen
3. An Overview of Revisions to the World Bank Resettlement Policy
4. Walter Kälin, “Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement – Annotations”, Studies in Transnational Legal Policy, No. 32, published by The American Society of International Law and The Brookings Institution Project on Internal Displacement, 2000.
Additional Reading List
1. Sibaji Pratim Basu, (ed.) The fleeing People of South Asia, Selections from Refugee Watch, Anthem South Asian studies, 2009
2. Larry Maybee, Benarji hakka, (eds.) Custom as a Source of International Humanitarian Law, ICRC, AALCO, 2006
3. P.R. Chari, Mallika Joseph, Suba Chandran, (eds.) Missing Boundaries: Refugees, Migrants, Stateless and Internally Displaced Persons in South Asia, Manohar, New Delhi, 2003.
4. Anuradha M. Chenoy, Militarism and Women in South Asia, Kali for women, New Delhi, 2002
5. United Nations Commission on Human Rights, Analytical Report of the Secretary-General on Internally Displaced Persons, UN Doc. E/CN.4/1992/23
6. Roberta Cohen, ‘The Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement: An Innovation in International Standard Setting,’ Global Governance, Vol. 10 (2004)
7. Putting IDPs on the Map: Achievements and Challenges, Forced Migration Review, Special Issue, December 2006.
8. Michael Barutciski , Tension Between the refuge and concept and IDP debate, FMR, December 1998.
9. Jon Bennett, Forced Migration within National Borders: The IDP Agenda, FMR, Jan-April, 1998.
10. Indian National Disaster Management Act, 2005, www.nidm.in
11. Draft Document on Sri Lankan National Framework for Relief, Rehabilitation and Reconciliation, 2008.
[i] Pradip Prabhu, “Tribals Face Genocide,” Combat Law: The Human Rights Magazine, Vol. 1, Issue 4 (October-November 2002) p. 73
[ii] P. Sahadevan, “Ethnic Conflicts and Militarism in South Asia” International Studies, 39,2 (2002) p.103.
[iii] Ibid. p.104
[iv] Walter Kalin, “Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement – Annotations”, 2000. p.xi
[v] Ibid. Francis M. Deng in his Preface note, p.xiii
[vi] Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement, Para. 2
[vii] Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, Norwegian Refugee Council
[viii] Walter Kalin, P.3
[ix] Ibid. p.7
Resource Politics, Climate Change, Environmental Degradation, and Displacement
Natural Resources are basic and essential for
survival of people. In contemporary
Natural resources are usually referred to as land or raw materials from economic point of view, which occur naturally in environments without human intervention. A natural resource is often characterized by amounts of biodiversity existent in various ecosystems. Natural resources are derived from the environment. Many of them are essential for our survival while others are used for satisfying our wants. Natural resources may be further classified in different ways. On the basis of origin, resources may be divided into: (a) Biotic resources are obtained from the biosphere, such as forests and their products, animals, birds and their products, fish and other marine organisms. Mineral fuels such as coal and petroleum are also included in this category because they formed from decayed organic matter; and (b) Abiotic resources include non-living things. Examples include land, water, air and ores such as gold, iron, copper, silver etc. Considering their stage of development, natural resources may be referred to in the following ways:
With respect to renewability, natural resources can be categorized as follows:
Natural Resource Management
Natural resource management is a discipline
in the management of natural resources such as land, water,
and animals, with a particular focus on how management affects the
quality of life for both present and future generations. Natural resource
management is interrelated with the concept of sustainable development, a principle that forms a basis for land management and
environmental governance throughout the world. There can be many examples to
show that natural resources are by no means purely economic matter but also have
political connotations, therefore resource politics is apt to be named. There is a strong
inter play between economic and political matters vis-a-vis resources. Basic
natural resources like water, fertile land, are about survival of people, where
as other natural resources like ore, oil, timber are about revenue therefore
political behaviour/ structures are also important.
In order to get the broader perspective one
may use ‘resource politics’ which brings in the multi-dimensional dynamics/
issues relating to political, socio-economical, cultural, legal issues in an
inter twined manner.
One has to understand how resource and politics are inter related in the
South Asian region.
With an overall
However, intervening factors, such as regional differences, climate variability, and human manipulation of ecosystems (1) generate a highly uneven distribution. (2) Population growth and increasing per capita demand with the latter growing twice as fast as the former, further limit the local availability of water (Gleick 1998). Extrapolating this trend, the United Nations fears that in 2025 two-thirds of the world population will suffer from water stress (United Nations 1997). "Water stress" as a category is part of the demographic index used to measure water poverty, marking the beginning of water stress at a per capita availability of 1,700 [m.sup.3] per year, chronic water scarcity at 1,000 [m.sup.3] and absolute water scarcity at 500 [m.sup.3] (Gleick, Chalecki, and Wong 2002).
It is important to see how one industrial
disaster could pollute the air, water and soil. Or how natural disasters could
affect natural resources, as in the case of tsunamis (agricultural land
salination, mangrove), cyclone (marine resources).
Climate change will inflict damage on every
continent, but it will hit the world's poor disproportionately hard. Whatever
hard-fought human development gains have been made may be impeded or reversed by
climate change as new threats emerge to water and food security, agricultural
production and access, and nutrition and public health.
“Climate Change and Global Poverty: A Billion Lives in the Balance?” draws on expertise from the climate change and development communities to ask how the public and private sectors can help the world's poor manage the global climate crisis. Increasingly, climate change and development are two sides of the same coin. Effective climate solutions must empower global development by improving livelihoods, health, and economic prospects, while poverty alleviation itself must become a central strategy for both mitigating emissions and reducing global vulnerability to adverse climate impacts.
Global warming and climate change are inter related issues. The anthropogenic input mainly through fossil fuel use, deforestation and industrial revolution, which releases about six billion metric tons of carbon into the atmosphere each year, has resulted in warming up of earth and has become one of the greatest threats facing the planet. Global surface temperature over the 100 years ending in 2005, has increased by about 0.74 ± 0.18 °C. The atmospheric CO2 concentrations has increased from the pre-industrial level of 280 parts per million to 379 parts per million in 2005. [ii]
Global warming has
effected a change in quantum and patterns of precipitation. The changes in
temperature and precipitation patterns increased the frequency, duration and
intensity of extreme weather events like floods, droughts, heat waves and
cyclones. Other effects of global warming include higher or lower agricultural
yields, further glacial retreat, reduced summer stream flows, species
extinctions and disease outbreaks. Deforestation also affects regional carbon
reuptake, which can result in increased concentrations of CO2, the dominant greenhouse gas. Land-clearing methods
such as slash and burn compound these effects by burning bio matter, which
directly releases greenhouse gases and particulate matter into the air.
The oceans play a vital role in the earth’s life support system through regulating climate and global biogeochemical cycles through their capacity to absorb atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2). But, the additional input has resulted in the reduction of ocean pH, which will have a subsequent effect on the carbonate chemistry through the reduction of the carbonate ions, aragonite and calcite, used by many marine organisms to build their external skeletons and shells. Ocean acidification has already increased ocean acidity by 30 % and could increase by 150 % by 2100. The increase in global temperatures are causing a broad range of changes like sea level rise due to thermal expansion of the ocean and melting of land ice, leading to inundation of coastal areas and displacement of substantial human populace.CO2 (Carbon dioxide) emissions belong to the most important causes of global warming. So, intervention is very much essential with the participation of people so as to mitigate the effect of the global warming. Awareness is very much lacking on among the public on the need to reduce dependence on fossil fuels, to follow energy saving methods etc.
The Kyoto Protocol is a protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC or FCCC), aimed at fighting global warming. The UNFCCC is an international environmental treaty with the goal of achieving "stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system."[iii]
The Protocol was initially adopted on 11 December 1997 in Kyoto, Japan and entered into force on 16 February 2005. As of November 2009, 187 states have signed and ratified the protocol.[iv]
Under the Protocol, 37 industrialized countries (called "Annex I countries") commit themselves to a reduction of four greenhouse gases (GHG) (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, sulphur hexafluoride) and two groups of gases (hydrofluorocarbons and per fluorocarbons) produced by them, and all member countries give general commitments. Annex I countries agreed to reduce their collective greenhouse gas emissions by 5.2% from the 1990 level. Emission limits do not include emissions by international aviation and shipping, but are in addition to the industrial gases, chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs, which are dealt with under the 1987 Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer.
The benchmark 1990 emission levels were accepted by the Conference of the Parties of UNFCCC (decision 2/CP.3) were the values of "global warming potential" calculated for the IPCC Second Assessment Report.[v] These figures are used for converting the various greenhouse gas emissions into comparable CO2 equivalents (CO2-eq) when computing overall sources and sinks.
The objective is
the "stabilization and reconstruction of greenhouse gas concentrations in the
atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference
with the climate system." The objective of the
The five principal concepts of the Kyoto Protocol are:
Case Study I: Bio-Diversity,
Fifty-year-old Bhuvan Pal Singh can barely read or write but for thousands of inhabitants of the Katghora forest reserve in the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh he holds a revered position as a traditional healer.
Bhuvan treats his patients with medicinal plants for free.
He believes he cannot charge for knowledge that has been passed down for
generations and for something that is after all from nature. Many of his
patients travel miles for treatment and his register reveals the diversity of
ailments he diagnoses, everything from backaches to
Changes in the
last few years however have begun to worry him. “Five years ago it used to take
me barely a day to find dhatu (an orchid commonly
used to cure rheumatism) today it takes me double the time,” he worries.
Bhuvan is not alone in his concerns about his forest’s diminishing wealth. An
estimated 10 percent of
growth and limitations in integrating environmental concerns into development
planning have put increasing pressure on biodiversity across
Home to 89,000
species of animals, 46,000 species of plants and nearly half the world’s aquatic
the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is supporting several
initiatives to conserve the country’s rich and diverse ecosystems and
demonstrate strategies to reduce poverty. The importance of such initiatives
cannot be underscored in a country where 47.2 percent of those living below the
national poverty line are members of scheduled tribes, the overwhelming
The links between the consequences of neoliberal globalisation and climate change, groups have come together to organise a Social and Climate Justice.
Case Study II: Sunderbans,
Firstly, it is an extremely fragile ecosystem affected by sea level rise @ 3.14 mm/year and in some places as high as 5.22 mm/year which is much higher than the global average. This has led to massive soil erosion and submergence of a few islands resulting to a few thousands climate/environmental refugees;
Secondly, between 86-90 sq. kms of land has been lost in the last 30 years and scientific data & field observation shows that the rate of loss is increasing;
Thirdly, according to Indian Meteorological department article published in the journal 'Mausam', there is a 26% increase in severe cyclones during the last 120 years in the Bay of Bengal and the Sunderbans, both in West Bengal & Bangladesh, which have experienced 4 super cyclones between 2006-09, including Aila Cyclone in 1998;
Fourthly, increasing salinity over the years has reduced crop productivity & fish catch, the main livelihoods of the people, as well as posing an increasing threat to the bio-diversity. In various scientific reports, loss of various flora, fauna & aquatic species have also been reported. There are also documented evidences that the Sunderbans is becoming increasing hostile for even migratory birds;
Fifthly, in the May 2009 Cyclone Aila in which more than 2.5 million persons & 194,000 families were affected, embankments were breached and the tidal surge made most of the cultivable land saline and destroyed most assets, all livelihoods equipment, fish & prawn farms, livestock, boats and most personal belongings. Most of the land continues to be unfit for agriculture, especially paddy. Even till this date, there is very little livelihoods options, except for some manual labour work being provided by the Government, civil society organizations for reconstruction & recovery work and by contractors & in the brick kilns; Sixthly, even before Aila, Sunderbans was becoming increasingly endemic to indebtedness, migration, child labour, women & child trafficking, very poor nutritional status especially amongst children & women, high incidence of TB, malaria & other diseases as a result of poor nutrition & sanitary conditions. These problems have exacerbated manifolds after Aila and have brought to the fore the increasing risks, vulnerability and poverty of the communities at risk.
And Seventhly, most of the affected blocks were
already selected under the UNDP-GoI & Govt. of
During the recent Copenhagen Climate Change
Summit, the voices of marginalised like, Tuvalu’s delegate, Ian Fry, calling for a
binding agreement, not the mere “political agreement” that has been widely
expected for weeks now—and asks for a new protocol that will limit climate
change to 1.5 degrees Celsius, not 2, the target of most negotiators, is never
heard outside. Mr. Fry’s speech gets an unusually hearty round of applause,
including from the NGO delegates but governments including
Disaster is defined as ‘the impact of an
event or phenomenon which is caused by nature or human induced, which result in
number of deaths and destruction of property where by affecting normalcy of
life, causing damage to society, economy and environment, which by and large is
beyond the coping mechanism of the community or society concerned’[viii]. Well in the recent years there has been series of
disasters globally. Notably in
Now linking climate change adaptation with disaster risk reduction is another major challenge because it needs fundamental change in government’s approach which has been using the prism of development from GDP alone. It needs to make community participatory and local specific approaches to succeed in tackling the issues of climate change, environment degradation, disaster and displacements.
There are several inter related issues like coastal zone
management, special economic zones formation, rehabilitation policy, etc. which
affect weak and marginalised sections. It is important to see the inter
relationship between resource politics, environmental
degradation, global warming, climate change, and natural disasters. Now we need to see
the link between Disaster Risk reduction (DRR) and Climate Change adaptation
Gandhi’s talisman is very useful here to conclude here “Earth has the natural resources to meet the needs of human
race but not its greed”.
1. Jean Elshtain, Democracy and the Politics of Displacement Response
2. Lael Brainard, Abigail Jones and Nigel Purvis, eds., Climate Change and Global Poverty A Billion Lives in the Balance? In Global Poverty, Climate Change, Development, Developing Countries, Foreign Aid, Brookings Institution Press, 2009.
3. “Uprooted Twice : Refugees from the Chittagong Hill Tracts”
/ Sabyasachi Basu Ray Chaudhury, in Refugee & The State, Ed. Ranabir
Samaddar, Sage :
6. “Agrarian Impasse and the Making of an Immigrant Niche” in
The Marginal Nation : Transborder Migration from
7. “Ethnic Politics and Land Use : Genesis of Conflicts in
8. “Globalization, Class and Gender Relations : The Shrimp
Industry In South-western
9. Report of Workshop on Engendering Resettlement & Rehabilitation Policies and Programmes in India, Mohammed Asif, Lyla Mehta and Harsh Mander, November 2002
Induced Displacement in
the Land Resettlement Scheme in
12. Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change Reports, 2007
13. Indian National Disaster Management Act, 2005
14. National Action Plan on Climate Change(NAPCC) 2008
Parivelan, Community Based Disaster Management Approaches, TNTRC, 2008
[ii] Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change Report (IPCC), 2007.
[iii] United nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, November, 2005.
[iv] Kyoto Protocol Status of ratification as per UNFCCC.
[v] Methodological issues relating Kyoto Protocol, UNFCC 1998.
[vi] see Annex B of the Protocol
[viii] As per Indian National Disaster Management Act, 2005
Research Methodology in Forced Migration Studies
Much of research depends on wit, particularly if the enquiry is sensitive in the eyes of the people enquired into. And there is no training in wit.
This lecture is
more in the nature of sensitizing ourselves about possibilities rather than
developing a blueprint, which is likely to become a straitjacket leading to
foreclosure. One should be open, and of course capable, of breaking the
1.In the social sciences methodology is taken to be a discipline, bordering on philosophy, whose function is to recommend and examine the methods, which should be used to produce valid knowledge. Methodology lays down procedures to be used in generation of valid knowledge and these procedures are justified or criticized by means of philosophical arguments. It is clear that methodology’s claim to prescribe correct procedures to social sciences presupposes a form of knowledge that is thought to be provided by philosophy. In this sense methodology presupposes a particular kind of relationship between philosophy and the social sciences where judgment and validation of the claim to knowledge is possible. Different philosophies may conceive of that relationship in different terms, and to that extent each discourse describes a different ‘regime of truth’, that is, the operation of criteria, norms and procedures for identifying or arguing about ‘true’ propositions in any given case.
2. For any
researcher on any problematic, the first thing to ponder over is the choice of
appropriate epistemology. The choice is a function of the nature of the issue to
be enquired into and of a researcher’s non-academic intent, even his or her
sympathy. This is assuming that the researcher is aware of his right to choose.
A well-written text book on methods of research, an articulate teacher and a
path-breaking text can produce closed minds, and thus stand in the way of
development of such awareness.
3. ‘Forced migration’ as a problematic demands a critical epistemology. It believes in value-determined nature of enquiry, unlike positivism and post-positivism interested in explanation only. Further, it wants enquiry to critique with an intention to transform social, political, economic, and ethnic and gender structures, which constrain and exploit woman and man. The inquirer becomes an instigator, a ‘transformative intellectual’ confronting ignorance and misconceptions.
4. Constructivism is another appropriate epistemological position, which envisages multiple realities. Constructivism enquires into people’s constructions about reality in order to understand these. The investigator is a ‘passionate participant’, engaged in enabling multivoice construction of his/her own as well as of other participants’ perceptions.
5. Both Critical epistemology and Constructivism want value-driven enquiry and its outcome ensuring empowerment of the marginal people. The forced migrants become marginal at the places of their arrival. In case they were already marginal in their original social location, they become doubly marginalised.
6. These two epistemological positions direct a researcher to qualitative approach to the problem. This is also perceived as a ‘humanist’ approach, because it keeps woman at the centre of enquiry.
7. Theoretical critique of positivism has encouraged in recent times a shift to qualitative methodology in social research. The basic assumptions central to this critique can be briefly stated as: (i) commonsense knowledge of social structures cannot be discounted in favor of the misplaced hope of achieving an objective knowledge; in an inter-subjective world both observer and observed use the same resources to identify ‘meanings’, (ii)Statistical logic and experimental methods are not always appropriate for the study of this inter-subjective world, (iii) In an inter-subjective world, policy interventions based on a stimulus-response model of change can neither analytically nor politically acceptable.
8. ‘Qualitative’ denotes an attention to processes and meanings that are not subjected to measurement in terms of quantity, amount, intensity or frequency. Qualitative analysis is best understood in terms of what it intends to do: bring out the distinctive attribute of a social phenomenon or relationship between phenomena which can not be represented by a quantitative indicator entirely or at all. The synonymous expressions for qualitative approach also imply its character. These are: ‘naturalistic’, ‘inquiry from inside’, and ‘interpretative’. Along with such labeling, there is a critical attribution that it is a paradigm meaning that it is a set of beliefs and imperatives concerning what should be studied and how. Qualitative research is multimethod in focus, involving an interpretative, naturalistic approach to its subject matter. This means that qualitative researchers study things in their natural settings, attempting to make sense of, or interpret, phenomena in terms of the meanings people bring to them. Qualitative research involves use and collection of a variety of empirical material - case study, personal experience, introspective, life story, interview, observational, historical, interactional, and visual texts----that describe routine and problematic moments and meanings in individuals’ lives. Qualitative research is bricolage and researcher is a bricoleur, a ‘jack of all trades’ ready to use any strategy, method or data. There is no prior commitment to any. A context sets a research question, which in turn suggests a research practice. Qualitative research is a call for openness for the sake of better understanding.
9. The attributes of qualitative research establish how it seeks to locate distinctiveness of phenomena. These are: an explicit commitment to examining events, activities, experiences and their underlying normative framework ‘through the eyes of’ a people being studied; a detailed descriptive attention to aspects of everyday life process likely to reveal specific contexts of behavior; locating wider historical and social as well as immediate and particular context; and an examination of inter-locking processes.
10. An enquiry is good if knowledge possesses: according to critical epistemology if it has the property of historical situatedness (care taken about social, political, economic, cultural, ethnic and gender specificities of the studied situation); according to constructivism, trustworthiness, criteria of credibility, transferability, dependability and confirmability, and authenticity criteria of fairness, ontological authenticity (enlarging personal constructions), educative authenticity (leading to improved understanding of others’ constructions), catalytic authenticity (stimulating action) and tactical authenticity (empowering action). These are set against proof of internal validity (isomorphism of findings with reality), external validity (generalizabilty), reliability (stability) and objectivity (distanced and neutral observer) for positivism and postpositivism.
11. The philosophy underlying the qualitative approach is best represented in the unobtrusive measures. These are so-called because these do not intrude into social settings, groups and individuals who are objects of investigation. Unlike interviews and observation these are ‘non-reactive’ since these do not involve interaction between the investigator and the people being studied.
12. Unobtrusive methods take a variety of forms: Textual analysis, Content Analysis, Discourse Analysis, and Analysis of visuals, Semiotics, Translation, and Analysis of existing statistics.
13. Because more than one method can be necessary, the need for triangulation arises. The expression ‘triangulation’ is a metaphor drawn on trigonometry, a branch of mathematics. It means originally a method of surveying in which an area is divided in to triangles, one side (the base) and all the angles of which are measured and the lengths of the other lines calculated trigonometrically. Social scientists are seldom conversant about trigonometry. Hence we may be excused trying to make sense more of the suggestions thrown up by the specialist definition. These are: ‘area’, ‘angle’ which implies sides---three, that is, more than one, ‘survey’ and ‘calculation’. Central to this exercise is dividing in triangles and then relating them for a survey. For the social scientists, the area is the phenomenal world or a part thereof, which is sliced up, comprehended and then ‘sewn up’, again for comprehension. If the slices are different in nature, their comprehension involves use of different methods. In social sciences, triangulation means employment of a number of different methods in the belief that the variety facilitates achievement of validity of an observation. This is according to the positivist position. In post-modernist eyes, triangulation or use of multiple methods is useful for ensuring ‘rigor, breadth, and depth to any investigation’. Triangulation refers to the use of more than one approach to the investigation of a research question in order to enhance confidence in the ensuing findings. Since much social research is founded on the use of a single research method and as such may suffer from limitations associated with that method or from the specific application of it, triangulation offers the prospect of enhanced confidence.
12. Triangulation can take five forms
(i). Data triangulation, which entails gathering data through several sampling strategies, so that slices of data at different times and social situations, as well as on a variety of people, are gathered.
(ii). Investigator triangulation, which refers to the use of more than one researcher in the field to gather and interpret data.
(iii). Theoretical triangulation, which refers to the use of more than one theoretical position in interpreting data.
(iv). Methodological triangulation, which refers to the use of more than one method for gathering data.
(v) Interdisciplinary triangulation, which refers to triangulation of different disciplines.
A distinction is also possible between
within-method and between-method triangulation. The former involves the use of
varieties of the same method to investigate a research issue; for example, a
self-completion questionnaire might contain two contrasting scales to measure
emotional labor. Between-method triangulation, involved contrasting research
methods, such as a questionnaire and observation. Sometimes this meaning of
triangulation is taken to include the combined use of quantitative research and
qualitative research to determine how far they arrive at convergent
Hesse-Biber, Sharlene Nagy and Leavy, Patricia. (2004). Approaches to Qualitative Research: A Reader on Theory and Practice,
Bryman, Alan (1992) Quantity and Quality in Social Research, Routledge.
Giles, Judy and Middleton, Tim (1999): Studying Culture: a practical introduction. Blackwell Publishers.
Kripendorff, Klaus (2003) Content Analysis: an introduction to its methodology, Sage Publications
Denzin, Norman K
Denzin, Norman K
Denzin, Norman K
Hall, Stuart (2002): Representation: Cultural Representations and Signifying Practices.
Hammersley, Martyn and Atkinson, Paul (1995): Ethnography: Principles and Practice.
Chaplin, Elizabath. (1994): Sociology and Visual Representation.
Paradigms of Qualitative Approach
Hesse-Biber, Sharlene Nagy and Leavy, Patricia. Approaches to Qualitative Research: A Reader on Theory and Practice (2004).pp 1-14,15-38, 62-78.
Bryman (1988) Quantity and Quality in Social Research, pp 45-71, pp95-97, 112-113.
Denzin, Norman K
Denzin, Norman K
Giles, Judy and Middleton, Tim (1999): Studying Culture: a practical introduction. pp 56-80.
Hall (2002) Representation: Cultural Representations and Signifying Practices pp 1-74.
Hesse- Biber and Leavy (2004) Approaches to Qualitative Research: A Reader on Theory and Practice pp 79-129,142-146, 303-315, 334-365.
Denzin, Norman K
Hall S (2002): Representation: Cultural Representations and Signifying Practices. pp 75-150.
Hammersley, Martyn and Atkinson, Paul (1995) Ethnography: Principles and Practice.
Chaplin, Elizabath. (1994): Sociology and Visual Representation.
Use of computers
Hesse-Biber and Leavy (2004) Approaches to Qualitative Research: A Reader on Theory and Practice (pp 535-545).
Bryman, (1988) Quantity and Quality in Social Research pp 27-156.
Ethics ofCare and Protection
Why should we care for and protect the victims of forced displacement? The “we” here refers to those who have not had experienced displacement themselves, yet harbour some form of an ethical commitment to the victims of forced displacement. The ethical language therefore is expected to establish some form of a connection between us and them, between those who are not forcibly displaced and those who are. Ethics in other words cannot but be dialogical. Its language in no way denies agency to the victims. CRG’s studies in the partition ‘refugees’ in the east, for example, underline a plethora of self-help initiatives undertaken by them. Ethical language therefore is a language of universality that cuts across the given boundaries of the victims’ groups and communities. While ethical language has to be universal, the phenomenon of forced displacement is not. It is true that the incidence of forced displacement has alarmingly been on the rise – thanks to the forces and processes of globalization, their number is still considerably smaller than that of the world’s settled population. Much of what the displaced persons do for themselves will not be construed as ethical practice. Ethics is essentially about the self caring for and holding itself responsible to the other. Ethics, as Levinas reminds us, ‘will never in any lasting way be the good conscience of corrupt politics’ (Levinas 1989:295). Caring the other however may be the means of caring for the self.
As the ethical connection can only be established through dialogues, that is to say, through arguments and reasoning between the parties involved in them, the terms of such arguments and reasoning need not be identical. We care for the displaced persons and our practices of care and protection may have been issued from diverse foundational principles. That we differ on the ethical principles does not put an obstacle to the very act of caring and protecting others. The dialogue must cut across the established divisions of ethical and moral systems and elaborates itself in a way that it does not remain captive to any given modality of ethical practice. While plurality of such systems and modalities is helpful in building the much-needed ‘consensus’ around these principles, rigour and coherence in our arguments and reasoning may more often than not turn out to be a liability for those who feel committed to the care and protection of the displaced persons. That is the reason why scholars like Peter Penz argue for more self-consciously uncertain and middle-level theories of ethics.
The importance of ‘moral reasoning’ in initiating organized responses can hardly be exaggerated. That the principles underline the necessity of organized responses does not mean that there are no unorganized (like, the reflexive and instinctual) responses at all to the problem under review. But we must keep in mind that the organized and unorganized responses take on two rather distinct ethical trajectories. Most of the empirical studies on unorganized, altruistic responses in general (not necessarily towards the displaced persons) seem to indicate their un-self-conscious character. That is to say, those who care for and protect are not at the same time bothered about the fact that they are actually involved in any ‘extraordinary’ act that otherwise begs ‘moral reasoning’ (Monroe 1996:197-215). On the other hand, responses get organized, ordered and orchestrated precisely through an act of self-consciousness. It is by way of consciously entering into some form of argumentation and reasoning with others that we evolve the principles that are ‘binding’ on us. Mere abstinence or abhorrence will not do. Ethical writings are elaborated in the spirit of self-consciously deciphering the ethical basis of our responses to the problem.
Organized responses face the perpetual challenge of excising power from the ethics of care and protection. The challenge is perpetual because we hope to meet it only unsuccessfully, notwithstanding our best endeavours. There is no denying that what we do in the name of care and protection is structured in the power relations prevailing in the society. The question of care and protection in that sense can never be disentangled from that of power. Foucault shows how our care for others involved some form of self-empowerment and subjectivity on our part (Foucault in Rabinow ed. 1994:269-80). Samaddar for example, points out how our humanitarian responses geared to the objective of protecting life are scripted in and thereby reproduce, the imperial ‘power of death’ (Samaddar 2002). But the irony is that we as ethical agents always refuse to conflate what we do in the name of care and protection with what we ought to do and seldom confer moral recognition on the former. The ethics of care and protection imposes on us the painful obligation of denying the existence of power in the public sphere while at the same time being shaped and structured by it. The attempted, albeit tragic, erasure of power is a precondition of the functioning of public sphere as well as ethics. It is important to see how we effect the erasure through the language of ‘argumentation and reasoning’ in our attempts at making the ethical principles ‘binding’ on us.
What we see is the presence of a wide variety of argumentation and reasoning offered by us in justification of our advocacies for care and protection of the displaced persons. First of all, there is the rights-based argument. Care and protection according to this argument, will be construed as our ‘duty’ insofar as the ‘well being’ of the displaced persons becomes ‘a sufficient reason for holding us to be under this duty’ (Raz 1986: 166-8). The problem recognized by almost all the exponents of this argument is that the right against displacement is not an end in itself and cannot per se be regarded as the ‘sufficient reason’ for holding us under this duty. Sufficiency of reason does not reflect itself in the same way as in the two advocacies for the right against displacement and say, the right to life. If one’s displacement becomes a necessary condition for another’s enjoyment of the right to life – often understood as decent life, we can say that the former is derogable and the latter is not. Thus, the right against eviction routinely carried out in the metropolitan cities of South Asia – whether in Dhaka, Kolkata or Islamabad or elsewhere, has to contend with the argument for development and decent life defined everywhere as a ‘collective goal of the community as a whole’ (Dworkin 1977:82-5). The successful assertion of the right against displacement therefore entails some form of abrogation of ‘the collective goal’. Many of those who were evicted from the banks of the Beliaghata circular canal of north Kolkata had been living there for more than one generation. Yet all of them were the illegal occupants of land. In the absence of any legal title, they are unlikely to sustain their claim to land in the first place, in any court of law. The UN Guiding Principles (1998) too revise the right as only a limited right against arbitrary displacement. While we cannot compromise with the ‘collective goal’ we can certainly reduce the sufferings of the displaced through compensation, relief and rehabilitation. Conversely and by the same logic, we should be prepared to accept that the importance of the same right will vary if it ever becomes a necessary condition for the enjoyment of one’s non-derogable rights including that to life. What if it becomes impossible to carry out displacement without simultaneously violating ‘the rights to life and freedom from cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment’? What if displacement involves violation of the victims’ right to life and livelihood? Displacement in that case is bound to be illegal for it leads to derogation of an otherwise non-derogable right enshrined in the Constitution or law. By basing itself on the rights-based argument, the ethics of care and protection remains beholden to the contingent nature of the relationship between the right against displacement on one hand and any of the non-derogable rights recognized by the court of law on the other. An argument is often made to locate the rights of the displaced persons within ‘a radical democratic perspective’, bravely redefine the lines of derogability and non-derogability and thereby extend the sphere of their rights beyond the given limits of law by constantly waging and organizing political struggles (Jayal 1998). This in fact turns the rights-based argument by its head by basing rights on ethics and ethical reasoning and not vice versa.
This takes us to
the heart of our second argument. According to it, care and protection always
follow the established lines of community and kinship. Organizing responses
beyond these lines proves particularly difficult especially in
The limits of the community-based argument are sought to be overcome by what we call, the humanitarian argument. A somewhat old-fashioned version of the argument looks upon care and protection as a form of ‘moral exercise’ that we require for making our individual selves ‘pure and perfect’. Helping others according to this version is a form of self-help, of achieving one’s higher moral self. The objective of self-help does not however rule out the necessity of organized responses. Learning to work with others is also a means of helping oneself and the proponents of this argument recognize the importance of institutions and organizations in accomplishing this objective. Today however, the humanitarian ethics seldom turns on one’s own self. It instead considers others as equal ethical agents in the sense that they are as much entitled to ‘purity and perfection’ as we are. Viewed in this light, our care and protection are a tribute to their ethical entitlements, of which they are otherwise deprived.
ethics thus has two presuppositions: first, displacement in
Secondly, should a conflict arise between our and their moral entitlements, humanitarian ethics always settles for a minimalist course. Those of us who have the commitment to and power of taking care and protecting the displaced persons will be under any moral obligation if and only if by taking care and protecting them we ‘do not sacrifice anything of comparable moral importance’, that is to say, our own right to life and livelihood (Singer in Markie ed. 1998:800).
The variations in the tenor and accent of our ‘moral reasoning’ can hardly escape our attention. But they should not be blown out of proportions either. The rights-based argument may well be subsumed under the humanitarian argument or for that matter, the community-based argument, though of course it will be difficult to accommodate the community-based and the humanitarian arguments within the same ethical philosophy. In many ways, the arguments cut across each other and can hardly be considered as mutually exclusive. While in our ‘moral reasoning’, we face the challenge of extricating ethics from power, most of the studies in this respect point out how the practices of care and protection continue to be governed by power and security considerations. The camps and shelters built for the displaced persons represent sites where war is continued ‘by other means’. The budgetary allocation is paltry and irregular. The camp-dwellers are deprived of the non-derogable freedoms, the Guiding Principles propose to secure. Life is poor and insecure. Search for any durable solution ironically makes us confront power and negotiate its terms. Our attempts at disentangling ethics from power too are a power game.
How do we bring our ethics of care and protection to bear on power that circulates within the society? Answer to this question has taken on two clearly divergent courses: On the one hand, the state as the most concentrated form of power in any society is sought to be reformed in a way that it becomes sensitive to this necessity. Now that the interior of the state is hardly dense as Herder would have believed and is ‘invaded’ by many who are not natives but complete strangers, foreigners or migrants – many of whom are illegally settled, the state has also to recognize the new multicultural reality. According to Habermas, this “will sap the resources of civil solidarity unless the historical symbiosis of republicanism and nationalism can be broken, and the republican sensibilities of populations can be shifted onto the foundation of constitutional patriotism” (Habermas 2001:76). His writings underscore the importance of translating the new ethical principles into the core of the Constitution and body of laws that govern us. For him, it implies by and large a Constitution-making project.
This also calls for a certain reconfiguration of citizenship in a highly citizenized world. Francois Crepeau in course of his valedictory address to the Winter Course (2009) suggests: “As they are an integral part of the city, immigrants should be considered as citizens. They would be citizens with a small “c”, as they are not nationals. They can however be considered locally as citizens, on an equal footing with everyone who also lives and works in the city” (Crepeau 2010:46). In other words, what is at issue here is the nuanced and graded nature of citizenship.
On the other
hand, a group of writers has shown how people find it imperative to recognize
this new reality by way of practising ‘cosmopolitanism’ defined by Appiah as ‘a
new way of life’ and ‘a temperament’. While he does not rule out the necessity
of switching over to what Habermas calls ‘postnational ethics’ – which will be a
grand design the implementation of which will take time that we cannot wait for,
he draws our attention to how people negotiate and make compromises while living
in the society and
therefore living together with others without having to bother about the
rigour and consistency of their ethical principles. For theorists of
cosmopolitanism, care is built in the ‘way of life’ rather than in any fully
blown ethics that we aspire to be guided by. Social life is all about the way we
negotiate and make compromises – our way of life and temperament – and not
ethics. Social life in other words is far less ethically demanding than what we
take it to be. Are we then entering into a phase where there will be withering
away of ethics? Will ethics of care and protection be replaced by politics of
everyday negotiation and compromise?
Anthony (2006): Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers
Sabyasachi Basu Ray Chaudhury & Samir Kumar Das eds. (2004) Internal Displacement in South Asia: Relevance of UN’s
Bose, Pradip Kumar (1999): ‘Trust and the refugee experience’ in Refugee Watch, June 1999.
Crepeau, Francois (2010): ‘Dealing with Migration: A Test for Democracies’ in Refugee Watch: A South Asian Journal on Forced Migration, 35, June.
Das, Samir Kumar ed. (2008): Blisters on Their Feet:
Tales of Internally Displaced Persons of India’s Northeast.
Dworkin, Ronald (1977): Taking
Foucault, Michel (1994): Ethics:
Essential Works of Foucault 1954 – 1984, Vol. 1, ed. Paul Rabinow.
Habermas, Jurgen (2001): The Postnational
Constellation: Political Essays, translated, edited, and with an
introduction by Max Pensky.
Herder, Johann Gottfried von (1968): Reflections on the
Philosophy of the History of Mankind, abridged with an introduction by Frank
Jayal, Niraja Gopal (1998): ‘Displaced persons and discourse of rights’ in Economic and Political weekly, XXX (5), 31 January.
Levinas, Emmanuel (1989): The Levinas Reader,
ed. Sean Hand.
Monroe, Kristen Renwick (1996): The
Heart of Altruism: Perceptions of a Common Humanity. Princeton:
Penz, Peter (2000): ‘Development, displacement and international ethics’ (mimeo.)
Raz, Joseph (1986): The Morality of
Samaddar, Ranabir (2002): ‘Caring for the
refugees: Issues of power, fear and ethics’ in Three Essays on Law,
Responsibility and Justice, SAFHR Paper 12. Kathmandu:
Samaddar, Ranabir (2003): ‘In life, in death: Power and rights’ (mimeo.).
Singer, Peter (1998): ‘Famine, affluence, and morality’ in
Stephen Cahn & Peter Markie (eds.), Ethics: History,
Theory and Contemporary Issues.
 Peter Penz (2002) describes it as ‘middle level analysis’ that situates itself between boundary-conscious ethical and philosophical systems on the one hand and simple and boundary-blind ‘moral intuitions’ on the other. He also calls for ‘engaging different theoretical perspectives in a “dialogue” with each other’.
Media and Forced Migration
In the recent
upsurge of violence in
At the outset, it needs to be mentioned that the media (with all its attendant diversity and differences) has something definitive to say about all conflicts that lead to human tragedies such as forced migration. Sociologically, the media has generally looked at such events as those that occur within societies bounded within definite and discrete territorial units. Hidden behind this apparently universal definition of what society is, are two specifically European philosophical preoccupations. The first is the preoccupation with social order, arising in the sociological tradition with anxieties about the impact of mass proletarianisation and industrialization. Secondly, European philosophical tradition also shaped a very specific conception about the ‘state’.
Amongst an array of philosophers who theorized on the state, Max Weber’s concern with identifying the distinctive features of the modern state – which he defined as a type of political community possessing a monopoly of the legitimate use of force in addition to the association with a territory – is important to consider. In non-European/Northern societies where state formation had a different history, the need to extend the discussion (on conflict) to include “non-state”, segmented societies is of extreme importance. For greater part, the media has followed the political organisation of modern societies as its baseline and set up typologies of other cultures according to the categories thus defined.
clearer when one considers the fact that nearly one fourth of humanity inhabits
the region we call
Media Managers and the
It is a fact that social representation often falls short of actual representation and the media has a lot to do with perpetuating the illusions of democratic participation. Interactive television programmes, complete with a sample audience and well-dressed host, typify the remote, impersonal nature of modern democracies. While it is true that in most people share an orientation to the public world, where matters of common concerns are addressed, the public connection is focussed principally on the mediated versions of that public world.
The 20th and 21st century public spheres are actually conscious of status differentials, where alternate and opposing cultures are not readily accommodated. Hence it is worthwhile to examine four dimensions of the media that go on to create a public sphere: (a) media institutions, where one can specifically look at ownership patters; (b) media representation, where representatives and experts stand in for citizens; (c) general social structure with its multiple public spheres and (d) face-to-face interaction. In the interplay between the four dimensions, one can have a fairly accurate understanding of the nature of the public sphere, vis-à-vis issues of conflict and forced migration of vulnerable people.
In the South Asian context, the media is party to sustaining the fear of the outsider and driving home the “need” to drive out undesirable people from the land. There is a perception of anarchy amongst different sets of actors, where the reality of undocumented and (often) forced migration is seen as a sign of weakness on the part of the parent state, to police its borders and effectively control its population.