The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR): The Politics and Practice of Refugee Protection Into the Twenty-first Century

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This is a concise and comprehensive introduction to both the world of refugees and the UN organization that protects and assists them.

Written by experts in the field, this is one of the very few books that trace the relationship between state interests, global politics, and the work of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Looking ahead into the twenty-first century, the authors outline how the changing nature of conflict and displacement poses UNHCR with a new array of challenges and how there exists a fundamental tension between the UN s human rights agenda of protecting refugees fleeing conflict and persecution and the security, political and economic interests of states around the world.

Key topics discussed include:

  • The UNHCR as an actor in world politics since 1950
  • Refugee definition and protection instruments
  • New challenges to the UNHCR's mandate
  • Institutional strengths and weaknesses
  • Asylum crises in the global North and global South
  • Protracted refugee situations and internally displaced persons
  • Key criticisms and continuing relevance of the UNHCR.

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About the author (2008)

Gil Loescher is Visiting Professor, Refugee Studies Centre, and Senior Research Associate, Centre for International Studies at the University of Oxford, and Emeritus Professor of Political Science at the University of Notre Dame, Indiana. He is the author of several books on refugees and international relations, including The UNHCR and World Politics.

Alexander Betts is Hedley Bull Research Fellow in International Relations at the University of Oxford, where he is Director of the MacArthur Foundation-funded Global Migration Governance project. He has worked at UNHCR headquarters and is author of the forthcoming book North-South Impasse: the International Politics of Refugee Protection.

James Milner is Postdoctoral Fellow at the Munk Centre for International Studies, University of Toronto, and will be Assistant Professor of Political Science, Carleton University, from summer 2008. He has worked with UNHCR in headquarters and the field, and is the author of the forthcoming book Refugees, the State and the Politics of Asylum in Africa.