Although refugees are granted a set of specific rights under international law, there is no effective mechanism in the Convention for ensuring that those rights are enforced in each country. The dignity and human rights of refugees are made subordinate to the entrenched interests of the host state, other states, humanitarian actors and donors. Local integration is virtually always a contentious issue as it engages to varying degrees the interests of the refugee community, the host state, the host state population, the international community, and even the state of origin. The strength of legal empowerment lies in part in understanding that power is subject to law: enabling individuals to use the law mitigates the misuse of power by those who exercise control over them. Without ignoring the important role that economic activities can play in refugee assistance, what is needed is a definition of legal empowerment that is specifically tailored to the refugee context and that embodies a rights-based approach to refugee assistance. In addition to the general lack of resources and capacity that afflicts most such initiatives, four categories of obstacles are identified here: the shortcomings of the law, top-down resistance, lack of grassroots engagement, and obstacles specific to refugee contexts. Email alerts New issue alert.
major study of protracted refugee situations, with funding provided by the US State 2 In Decemberfor example, a ministerial meeting on protracted refugee situations in Africa was They are relatively resigned to refugees' overuse. A definition of protracted refugee situations should therefore include not only the In addition, a definition must recognize that countries of origin, host countries.
example, the UN's human rights machinery should do more to highlight the human rights . a definition of the nature and causes of protracted refugee situations. large number of senior Lhotsampa civil servants resigned.
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Proof of refugee status helps to protect individuals against refoulement and arbitrary arrest and detention, as well as facilitating their access to basic rights, services and assistance, including potentially the possibility of a durable solution UNHCR By using existing law and legal mechanisms to concretize the principles of human rights-based approaches, legal empowerment offers refugees and their advocates an opportunity to try to change the current discourse and achieve tangible improvements in the lives of refugees.
Similarly, a lack of funding and support for legal aid and the legal system as a whole may either weaken the authority of the law generally or at least make equality before the law impossible. Refugees are not citizens of the host state and cannot benefit from the rights and protections that citizenship affords.
Thanks are due to Megan Bradley and Roger Duthie for their valuable comments and assistance. This top-down approach is dominated by elite actors and leaves little room for the agency of disadvantaged groups.
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|The effectiveness of the law, and to some degree legal empowerment, depends substantially upon the applicable political and administrative systems: if the laws being applied are biased or unjust, or the legal institutions corrupt or incompetent then the benefits of the law will be lost.
While the legal empowerment of any marginalized group will face many obstacles, there are certain challenges that are particular to the situation of refugees.
As the objective of legal empowerment is to increase the capacity of disadvantaged people, decisions on the nature of these initiatives should belong to them. For refugees, the ability to use the law has the capacity to bring them more squarely into the realm of legality.
Legal empowerment strategies must begin by securing and fostering the voice of refugees. Third, this definition of legal empowerment gives centre stage to the individuals who are actually in need of empowerment; the focus is on what refugees are able to do and to achieve, not on what others can achieve on their behalf.
Unfortunately, refugees face many obstacles to participation in peace and transitional justice initiatives.
definition, nearly two-thirds of refugees . who resign completely, come down. Protracted Refugee Situations Sarah Deardorff Miller For example, interviewees seemed generally resigned to the fact that UNHCR would remain in Kenya for.
In many ways, protracted refugee situations are a form of social, political, legal and even economic purgatory for those trapped within them.
The first type of activity emphasizes education and training. Nevertheless, as legal awareness and access to justice increase, so do the capacity and willingness of individuals to claim their rights and demand justice and to hold the justice systems to account. By focusing more on grassroots, informal and quasi-legal mechanisms in addition to the formal legal institutions, legal empowerment has the potential to make progress even when in the context of highly defective justice systems.
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|Various factors can impede engagement.
Despite the clear human rights implications of prolonged exile, humanitarian interventions have historically focused on meeting the immediate needs of refugees, not on their rights.
The legal empowerment of refugees may also be impeded by their lack of formal identity or legal status. Published by Oxford University Press. In many protracted refugee situations, restrictions on employment, freedom of movement and other rights mean that refugees are not in fact economic actors within the host state, despite their potential to be.
In many ways, protracted refugee situations are a form of social, political, legal In the Burmese refugee camps in Thailand, for example, residents are . resigned attitude and lack of expectations among those who feel that. self-reliance projects for refugees in Uganda and Zambia, the Oflice attempted to For example, Convention Plus emerged with very minimal consultation, and was comprehensive approaches to overcoming protracted refugee situations was a Lubbers resigned as High Commissioner in February following.
Finally, legal empowerment initiatives can enhance the administration of justice by helping to improve the quality of justice provided.
All rights reserved. Article Navigation. Given these conditions and the vulnerability that results, refugees have a great deal to gain from any approach that will ensure and protect their human rights.
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Simply by increasing the number and depth of interactions between refugee communities and the official institutions and mechanisms of the host state, the level of integration on the ground may also increase.
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|Additionally, host states may be more willing to support needs-based activities as they are less threatening to the state than rights-based programmes that may be seen as a backdoor to local integration Loescher et al.
Download all figures. Ideally, assistance should be provided in a manner that is consistent with the human rights of refugees and respectful of their agency both as individuals and as communities.
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Although refugees are granted a set of specific rights under international law, there is no effective mechanism in the Convention for ensuring that those rights are enforced in each country. Close mobile search navigation Article Navigation. The issues and strategies that make up legal empowerment initiatives in a refugee situation should arise from a survey of the needs and preferences of the refugees themselves and be responsive to changes in those needs and preferences Golub