Rites and Rights in Minority Repatriation
Refugee displacement is a global phenomenon that has uprooted millions of individuals over the past century. In the 1980s, repatriation became the preferred option for resolving the refugee crisis. As human rights achieved global eminence, refugees' right of return fell under its umbrella. Yet return as a right and its practice as a rite created a radical disconnect between principle and everyday practice, and the repatriation of refugees and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) remains elusive in cases of forced displacement of victims by ethnic conflict.
Reviewing cases of ethnic displacement throughout the twentieth century in Europe, Asia, and Africa, Howard Adelman and Elazar Barkan juxtapose the empirical lack of repatriation in cases of ethnic conflict, unless accompanied by coercion. The emphasis on repatriation during the last several decades has obscured other options, leaving refugees to spend years warehoused in camps. Repatriation takes place when identity, defined by ethnicity or religion, is not at the center of the displacing conflict, or when the ethnic group to which the refugees belong are not a minority in their original country or in the region to which they want to return. Rather than perpetuate a ritual belief in return as a right without the prospect of realization, Adelman and Barkan call for solutions that bracket return as a primary focus in cases of ethnic conflict.
Rich and erudite, this book raises basic questions about the role and desirability of repatriation, which is important for policy as well as ethics. Beautifully written and exhaustively referenced.
Astri Suhrke, senior researcher, Chr. Michelsen Institute
Blending analytical rigor with empirical acuity, No Return, No Refuge surveys an impressive range of cases in which the suffering of refugees promotes campaigns for the 'right of return.' Rather than embrace such demands or denounce them as illusory, Adelman and Barkan examine the varying contexts in which these demands arise. They then propose realistic ways of understanding these claims and alternative strategies for dealing with such situations. What is so remarkable about their book is its blend of theoretical sophistication with real-world political savvy. As such, it is of interest and importance to academics and those who contend, in a practical way, with the scandal of protracted refugee situations in the world today.
Michael R. Marrus, author of The Unwanted: European Refugees in the Twentieth Century
Howard Adelman and Elazar Barkan effectively defend a compelling if not disturbing argument. They conduct a comprehensive analysis of the genealogy of repatriation and then examine five case studies to demonstrate the right of return for minority refugees is not supported in international law or practice: that it is more rite then right. They further contend that adherence to this rite is in fact condemning minority refugees to a state of limbo. The authors challenge the international community to support other solutions, such as better funding for local integration and increased opportunities for resettlement. Their stated goal is to draw attention to the well-being of refugees and the rebuilding of their lives, so generations do not continue to languish. The thoroughness of their research deserves to command such attention. A major contribution to refugee studies.
Susan McGrath, director, Centre for Refugee Studies, York University
An extremely valuable historical overview of policies of expulsion and return from 1900 to the recent past lays the groundwork for an analysis of today's most protracted and difficult refugee situations. Adelman and Barkan's work is a must read for policymakers and scholars alike.
Susan Martin, Georgetown University
...It is a compelling read for government officials of host countries who are responsible for internal migration, UN workers engage in international migration, repatriation and return as well as academics, researchers and students with keen interest on exploring alternative routes of finding lasting solutions to the global forced migration problem.
The authors advance important and evidence-based arguments and identify issues that need to be disaggregated, considered and debated by those who care about the minorities who remain in a purgatory of the displaced.
... Political science at its best.
Lavinia Stan, St. Francis Xavier University