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Volume 17

Forced Migration

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Rights in Exile

Janus-Faced Humanitarianism

Guglielmo Verdirame and Barbara Harrell-Bond with Zachary Lomo and Hannah Garry
With a Foreword by Justice Albie Sachs

416 pages, bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-57181-526-2 $120.00/£85.00 Hb Published (April 2005)

ISBN  978-1-84545-103-5 $34.95/£24.00 Pb Published (April 2005)

eISBN 978-1-78238-726-8 eBook

Hb Pb   Request a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format) Recommend to your Library Buy the ebook from these vendors


“[the authors] are refreshingly open about their lack of objectivity and bias towards the interests of the refugees, and Rights in Exile is stronger as a result, their clear identification with their subjects having produced some fascinating interview material, which forms the bulk of the book.”  ·  JRAI

“The greatest strength of Rights in Exile is clearly its combination of hard data accompanied by stinging critique... Rights in Exile should be read by scholars, advocates and policy analysts for its revealing look at the unsettling shortcomings of refugee protection services and the real-life consequences of encampment in two African states.”  · Journal of Refugee Law


"This book has a ... disregard for orthodoxies and sacred cows. It is harsh, for example, on the role of many NGOs in delivering assistance - and failing to protect the rights of refugees... More obviously, the UNHCR's reinterpretation of its own mandate - away from refugee protection, towards "humanitarian assistance" - is exposed as a betrayal of the whole purpose of the international refugee regime"  · Richard Carver, Pambazuka News

"Detailed, direct and at times passionate, this book should be required reading for anyone who wants to know what is really happening to refugee protection. It should also require a response." Mike Kagan, Journal of Refugee Studies

"Brace yourself. This is a painful book. Not only is the information in it extremely distressing, the main targets of its critique are the 'good guys.' The central argument is that the international and humanitarian organisations that are in charge of looking after refugees are responsible for extensive and avoidable violations of the rights of those dependent upon them." From the Foreword


Of the estimated 12 million refugees in the world, more than 7 million have been confined to camps, effectively "warehoused," in some cases, for 10 years or more. Holding refugees in camps was anathema to the founders of the refugee protection regime. Today, with most refugees encamped in the less developed parts of the world, the humanitarian apparatus has been transformed into a custodial regime for innocent people. Based on rich ethnographic data, Rights in Exile exposes the gap between human rights norms and the mandates of international organisations, on the one hand, and the reality on the ground, on the other. It will be of wide interest to social scientists, and to human rights and international law scholars. Policy makers, donor governments and humanitarian organizations, especially those adopting a "rights-based" approach, will also find it an invaluable resource. But it is the refugees themselves who could benefit the most if these actors absorb its lessons and apply them.

Guglielmo Verdirame is a Lecturer in Law at the University of Cambridge and a Fellow of Corpus Christi College. He is also the author of a forthcoming book on the accountability of the United Nations.

Barbara Harrell-Bond, Founding director of the Refugee Studies Centre, University of Oxford, has, after retirement, been Visiting Professor at Makerere University and at the American University in Cairo. In 1996, she received the Distinguished Service Award of the American Anthropological Association. She is the author of Imposing Aid (Oxford, 1986).

Subject: Refugee & Migration Studies Development Studies General Anthropology


Justice Albie Sachs

List of Abbreviations

The setting
Main movements of refugees into Kenya and Uganda
Aims and objectives of the research
Assumptions underlying the research
Research methods
Main findings
A research and advocacy agenda for the future

Chapter 1. Refugee Law and Policy in Kenya and Uganda
The Legal Framework in Kenya
The Legal Framework in Uganda
Refugee policy in Kenya
Refugee policy in Uganda
Refugee law-making in fits and starts

Chapter 2. Getting In
The influence of donor countries
The OAU Convention and group recognition
Admission: standards and procedures
Legal hurdles to admission
Ordeals of arrival
New arrivals and local people

Chapter 3. Status-Determination Procedures: ‘… and when you go to UNHCR, pray’
Procedural standards in status determination
Who is in charge?
The role of NGOs
Standards of evidence

Chapter 4. Civil and Political Rights
Right to Life
Freedom from torture and from cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment
Freedom from slavery and forced labour
Liberty and security of the person
Freedom of movement
Access to courts and right to fair trial
Privacy and family life
Freedom of expression, thought, conscience and religion, and freedom of assembly and association

Chapter 5. Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights
An adequate standard of living
The highest attainable standard of physical and mental health
Cultural rights

Chapter 6. Refugee Protection: What Is Going Wrong?
Host countries
Donor countries



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