Is Return the Preferred Solution for Refugees?

Is Return the Preferred Solution for Refugees?
Date
4 December 2019, 6.00pm - 7.30pm
Type
Seminar
Venue
Gordon Room, G34, Ground Floor, Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU
Description

The International Refugee Law Seminar Series, sponsored by the Refugee Law Initiative at the School of Advanced Study, University of London, provides a public space for discussion, promotion and dissemination of research between academics, practitioners, students and others with an interest in the refugee and forced migration field.


10th International Refugee Law Seminar Series

The 10th International Refugee Law Seminar Series is held jointly with UNHCR to present discussion and analysis of key issues in refugee law and policy.

This series will explore the future of refugee protection in a  global community. It will frame those discussions within the current 'blueprint' of the Global Compact on Refugees (GCR). Bringing together a range of speakers from academic, policy and lived experience, the series will present varied perspectives on the development of refugee protection and promote the visibility of, and engagement with, the GCR within UK academic and public audiences.



Is Return the Preferred Solution for Refugees?


Abstract:


Voluntary return is often hailed as the preferred solution to displacement. The Global Compact on Refugees, for example, states that “Voluntary repatriation in conditions of safety and dignity remains the preferred solution in the majority of refugee situations.” However, reasons for “preferring” return are rarely examined in detail, and given that returnees regularly face violence and impoverishment, many are understandably sceptical of this claim. Focusing on the right of return – the key principle underpinning repatriation movements – this talk identifies key obstacles to refugee repatriation. It then explores four interlinked senses in which return may be morally valuable and in some cases even normatively preferable as a durable solution for refugees: first, that the right of return may serve as a means of upholding housing, land and property rights; second, that it may affirm and advance the equal rights of all citizens; third, that it embodies opposition to ethnic cleansing; and fourth, that it may be an important form of redress for refugees. This suggests that under the right circumstances return can advance morally valuable outcomes that other approaches to resolving displacement do not. While some persuasive arguments may be made for promoting return as the preferred solution to displacement, this should not translate into restrictions on the claims of individual refugees to pursue other solutions, such as local integration in host countries. Even if refugees access other solutions, they retain a legitimate claim to return to their countries of origin. In this sense the possibility of return is essential to the resolution of refugee situations, even if it is not uniformly preferable.





Speaker:

Megan Bradley is an Associate Professor in Political Science and International Development Studies at McGill University.

Her research focuses on refugees and internal displacement, humanitarianism, human rights, and efforts to redress massive injustices. Her books include Refugee Repatriation: Justice, Responsibility and Redress (Cambridge University Press, 2013), and Forced Migration, Reconciliation and Justice (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2015).

Alongside her research and teaching, Dr Bradley has worked with a range of organizations concerned with development, human rights and humanitarianism. From 2012-2014, she was a Fellow in the Foreign Policy Program at the Brookings Institution. She has also worked with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), and served as the Cadieux-Léger Fellow at Global Affairs Canada.

She received her doctorate in international relations from the University of Oxford.



Photograph © UNHCR/Sebastian Rich


Contact

Refugee Law Initiative
rli@sas.ac.uk
020 7862 8668