Protecting Civilians in Refugee Camps

Unable and Unwilling States, UNHCR and International Responsibility


Rather than serving as civilian and humanitarian safe havens, refugee camps are notorious for their insecurity. Due to the host state’s inability or unwillingness to provide protection, camps are often administered by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and its implementing partners. When a violation occurs in these situations, to which actors shall responsibility be allocated? Through an analysis of the International Law Commission’s work on international responsibility, Maja Janmyr argues that the ‘primary’ responsibility of states does not exclude the responsibilities of other actors. Using the example of Uganda, Janmyr questions the general assumption that ‘unable and unwilling’ is the same as ‘unable or unwilling’, and argues for the necessity of distinguishing between these two scenarios. Doing so leads to different conclusions in terms of responsibility for the state, and therefore for UNHCR and its implementing partners.

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Maja Janmyr, Ph.D. (2012), University of Bergen, is a Research Fellow of Public International Law at that university.
"...this book makes a significant contribution to our understanding of the responsibility of the key actors involved in providing protection to refugees and IDPs in camps and is a welcome addition to the growing literature on the accountability of States and international inter-governmental organisations for human rights violations in humanitarian situations. Practitioners, academics, and students will find this book useful."
-Zachary A. Lomo, York University
Excerpt of table of contents:
Foreword; Acknowledgments; Select List of Acronyms;
Part I - Introduction
1 Introduction;
Part II - Theoretical and Conceptual Framework
2 Theoretical and Methodological Underpinnings;
3 Key Concepts and Definitions;
Part III - Identifying Refugee Camp Responsibility: Host States, UNHCR and ‘Implementing Partnerships’
Introducing Part III;
4 The Host State;
5 United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees: Human Rights Obligations and Presence in Host States;
6 United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees: International Responsibility;
7 United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees: Implementing Partners;
Part IV – Conclusions
8 Concluding Remarks and Suggestions for the Future;
Select Bibliography; Index.
All interested in the practice of international humanitarian organizations and refugee camps, particularly researchers (students and academics), refugee law teachers, University libraries, and law practitioners (particularly UN).
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