Panel Discussions - Thursday, May 31, 2012
Guterres: New Crises Multiplying While Old Ones Persist
“We are witnessing the combination of two very worrying factors: crises are multiplying, old crises never seem to die,” António Guterres, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, told an IPI audience on May 31, 2012. Mr. Guterres focused his discussion on the new UNHCR publication, launched earlier that day, The State of the World's Refugees: In Search of Solidarity, which addresses key developments related to internal and cross-border displacement of people and the means by which to help states shoulder their responsibilities for the forcibly displaced.
Mr. Guterres said that the world today is neither unipolar nor multipolar. The uncertainty with this transition, he said, is making “conflicts pop up” that are “difficult to predict.” This situation is further complicated by the “enormous limitations in the international community both for the prevention of conflict and resolution of conflict,” he said.
“The number of new refugees that emerged last year was the highest in a decade. At the same time, we have more and more refugees in a protracted refugee situation,” he said. “Today more than 70 percent of refugees under the UNHCR mandate have been refugees for more than five years.”
He explained new trends in forced displacement that are not related to armed conflict. “We are seeing more and more people having to move for other reasons,” he said. The factors are what he termed the “interaction of global megatrends” such as “urbanization, population growth, food insecurity, water scarcity, climate change.”
In addition, humanitarian space is shrinking. “More and more…we have sometimes national armies, international forces, UN and others, we have rebel groups, we have ethnic militias, we have religious militias, and gangsters,” in crisis regions. “More and more areas are becoming totally lawless,” he said, which makes it difficult for humanitarian actors to deliver assistance. Further complicating matters is the blurring of the line between humanitarian and armed actors.
Mr. Guterres mentioned that the 1951 Refugee Convention only provides international legal protection to those fleeing conflict across international borders. As such, it becomes especially difficult if those who flee remain within their borders, where legally their governments are supposed to provide protection. Such protection is not always forthcoming, he said, because governments are often either unable, or in some cases unwilling, to help displaced populations.
On options to rehabilitate refugees, he said, “Resettlement is an instrument of solidarity, facilitates our work in guaranteeing that asylum space is maintained,” although the opportunities for resettlement today are far less than demand.
Other options such as “voluntary repatriation and local integration, are key from the point of view of solutions.” He cautioned however that, “voluntary repatriation and local integration in areas which are extremely poor are not possible without meaningful development programs associated.”
“There is never a humanitarian solution for these problems. The solution is always political,” he said, concluding that “solidarity is extremely important. There is no single, simple solution for these questions. They all now require, because of their complexity, the involvement of a number of actors.”
The event was moderated by Warren Hoge, IPI Senior Adviser for External Relations.
Listen to Global Observatory interview with António Guterres>>
The Global Observatory
Nelson Mandela: Man and Awesome Phenomenon
A former member of the South African Parliament reflects on Mandela's warmth and generosity.
Ordinary Fears, Extraordinary Man: The Legacy of Nelson Mandela
As a young South African diplomat during the apartheid-to-democracy transition, Cedric de Coning witnessed the humility and power of a flawed statesman.
Key Global Events to Watch in December
A list of key upcoming meetings and events with implications for global affairs.
Top 10 Issues to Watch in 2013: The Multilateral Arena
Ten key issues that are likely to impact global affairs in international peace, security, and development.
The Global Observatory, produced by IPI, provides timely analysis on peace and security issues, interviews with leading policymakers, interactive maps, and more.
December 02, 2013
Latin America Focus of Fourth ''Being a Peacekeeper'' Event
On December 2-3, IPI brought together 24 representatives from eleven Latin American countries with senior officials from the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the Department of Field Support to discuss the current state—as well as the future—of Latin American military and police contributions to UN peacekeeping operations.
November 28, 2013
Energy and Security in the Arctic: A New “Frozen” Conflict?
Is the Arctic a “region of cooperation,” or will competition for its potentially rich energy resources lead to conflict in the high north? This was the main question addressed during an expert workshop held in The Hague on November 28th by the International Peace Institute together with the International Gas Union and the Clingendael International Energy Programme.
November 22, 2013
Can Technology Play a Role in Drafting a Constitution?
The effects that new technologies can have on constitutional processes was the topic of this November 22nd IPI roundtable discussion. Approximately five new constitutions are written around the world every year, and their legitimacy is increasingly influenced by a new level of public participation in their drafting, not merely by a plebiscite on the final text. As rapidly advancing technology changes the way that governments and citizens interact, what role are new technologies playing in constitutions?
December 09, 2013
Heraldo Muñoz on Benazir Bhutto's Assassination
December 03, 2013
IPI Editor Adam Lupel Quoted on the Politics of Genocide [IRIN News]
November 26, 2013
Video: Addressing the Crisis in the Central African Republic