In the mid-nineties the relief and development communities were able to draw on a series of examples to highlight the misgivings and the successes of their involvement in complex political emergencies. Especially the war in Bosnia and Hercegovina, the intervention in Somalia and the genocide in Rwanda, and, to a less visible extent, the ongoing war in Afghanistan, have determined the way humanitarian operations are perceived as performing a political function. Virtually all major humanitarian and development institutions have reflected on these experiences and therefore developed guidelines that should govern the approach to relief and development assistance in complex political emergencies as well as in a post-conflict context.[1] They have thereby reacted and contributed to the emergence of a new paradigm in which relief and development are seen as tools not only to save lives and to reduce poverty but "in so doing to prevent the renewal of conflict. In other words, it is an explicit strategy to influence the course of political violence, one based on a particular analysis of its causes and on the assumption that aid can effectively address them."[2] This paper argues that the paradigm of aid as a form of conflict prevention and resolution is closely related to, if not determined by another new paradigm: preventing migration through eliminating its root causes. The recent Action Plans of the European Union High Level Working Group on Asylum and Migration have to be seen in the wider context of these two paradigms and their misgivings in order to understand the meaning of its policies for both refugee protection and development cooperation.

Looking for the root of the causes

The problem of the world’s refugees – continuously escalating since decades – is primarily a direct consequence of the increasing number and intensity of wars and violent conflicts. [3]

What are root causes? This question has to be answered before we can try to assess the implications of the root cause strategy for relief and development cooperation. In short, root causes range as far as from poverty to bad governance. Recently, a series of expert papers presented to the First Preparatory Committee for the World Conference Against Racism have named racism as one of the root causes of refugee flows.[4] Seriously addressing root causes thus represents a formidable task involving a myriad of international, national and local actors whose responsibilities exceed by far the scope and mandate of any single relief or development program.

Bad or non-existing governance is indeed often presented as the core of all root causes – be it poverty, scarcity of resources, (national) inequality, chaotic and insecure living conditions, human rights violations, discrimination or violent conflict and even natural disasters as they often stem from exploitative and damaging environmental policies. This approach has been criticized for its emphasis on the internal aspects of root causes while neglecting external influences such as colonialism, unfair trade regulations, global inequality, the impact of transnational corporations on the local economy and the environment, arms trade and development cooperation itself, particularly the role of the International Financial Institutions and their structural adjustment programs.[5]

Policies to address root causes for refugee flows oscillate between the two aspects whose entanglement is seen as responsible for the complexity of political emergencies: poverty and bad governance. An analysis of the various factors responsible for the evolution and continuation of complex political emergencies might show that fighting poverty means also fighting bad governance practices. Joanna Macrae points out that an emphasis on poverty quickly brings development agencies to the foreground of conflict prevention. "In framing the causes of conflict in terms of poverty and the role of internal reform in its management, a role for development assistance quickly becomes apparent".[6] Indeed, in its latest outline of the EU development policy the Commission of the European Union argues that e.g. the conflicts in Africa are no longer caused by external influences but by poverty. It consequently points out the increasing importance of development cooperation and the necessity to place the fight against poverty at the heart of its development policy.[7]

The focus on development assistance as a means of preventing and solving conflicts also coincides with an increasing understanding of protracted complex emergencies as resulting from a profound structural change in the political economy of a society, and more often than not of entire regions (e.g. Barnett Rubin’s analysis of the transnational war in Afghanistan or Peter Lock’s account of the soldier-rebel economies in Africa).[8] Assuming the key role of governance in preventing further conflicts through development and capacity building efforts involves also a very sophisticated rethinking of what governance might mean outside the boundaries of traditional statehood. What if the so-called failed states or quasi-states – the former cause, the latter result of protracted conflict – will never become states no matter how much funds are invested into state-building and democratization?

For conventional wisdom this divisive trend [of institutional breakdown and fragmentation; B.S.] is a temporary phase in the process of development and transition toward liberal democracy. If this is wrong, however, and instability represents the emergence of new types socio-political formation [sic] adapted to exist on the margins of the global economy, then the implications are profound. Policy makers would not even be asking the right questions.[9]

It is of course beyond the scope of this paper even to attempt to answer this question, but I did raise it as an indicator of how little we know about the causes and the impact of complex political emergencies. An equally important question concerns the political and social impact relief operations have on local economies; this issue has been widely discussed and I will return to it later.

Yet even if we take good governance to be the crucial element a lot of questions remain unanswered: apart from the obvious inquiry into the elements of good governance many of the assumptions of how good governance might be attained lead into an argumentative circle: on the one hand, economic stability and social equality are undoubtedly essential elements of conflict prevention. On the other hand, dysfunctional, corrupt or otherwise deficient governmental institutions will hamper potentially positive effects of development cooperation programs that aim at achieving exactly the results necessary for a non-violent resolution of conflicts. One is left with the quite general conclusion that timing and a sophisticated comprehensive approach involving all elements of society – governmental and non-governmental, centralized and local, politically, culturally or socially oriented – are crucial for the success of conflict prevention and peace-building strategies.

Aid in place of migration: [10] The emergence of the root-cause paradigm

The evolution of the root cause strategy

In their article on US and German foreign policy to prevent migration and refugee flows, Rainer Münz and Myron Weiner list three responses to movements of migrants and refugees.[11] First, there is the possibility to employ instruments of control of entry and stay on the territory of the receiving country. Second, there is the possibility of accepting refugees and economic migrants on the territory of the receiving state and coping with the political, social and economic issues resulting of immigration. Third, there is the possibility of addressing the situation in the countries of origin, trying to remove the reasons why people would want to leave their home countries.[12] This third strategy has become known as addressing the root causes of refugee flows and migration – assuming that a large number of the people who are part of migration flows are on the road involuntarily, the industrialized countries can help them stay at home by improving the economic, social and human rights situation in their countries of origin. In many instances the focus on root causes with regard to refugee issues resembles the analysis of push-factors in migration policy – what are the conditions in the countries of origin that push its citizens to leave the country as opposed to the pull-factors – incentives presented by immigration countries to choose them as destination for potential refugees and migrants. In the case of refugees who have the right to seek protection elsewhere, influencing refugee flows via pull factors (border regimes, restricted access to asylum procedure, limit of the right to stay) is limited at least theoretically by the provisions of the Geneva Convention. Efforts to influence the push-factors – ranging from poor economy, high unemployment rate, low wages over violations of political and civil rights to physical insecurity due to disrespect for human rights, inefficient and corrupt police and judiciary or due to violent conflict – have become increasingly popular as they offer an image of meaningful and durable solutions that at the same time provide Western Europe, the United States and Canada with an image of human rights or at least humanitarian concern.

The emergence of the root cause paradigm coincided with several developments related to a new orientation of international politics at the beginning of the nineties. Many scholars have emphasized the influence of the Cold War and the demise of most of the communist regimes on the attitude of Northern states to migration.[13] The end of the Cold War affected both migration and development policy in several ways: whereas the refugees coming out of the communist countries were openly welcomed as life examples of the evils of communism, the fall of the Iron Curtain also removed the major justification for accepting people from Eastern Europe as prima facie refugees from political oppression. With it an important impetus for development assistance vanished as Western Europe and North America had no longer to vie with the Soviet Union for influence in the Southern hemisphere – leading to a decline in official development assistance (ODA) at the beginning of the nineties.

But it also drew the attention of the international community to a myriad of smaller conflicts that had usually been interpreted as proxy wars of the super powers but would not go away with the end of the Cold War. Suddenly the world seemed full of collapsing states, secessionist rebel groups and so-called civil wars that – together with natural disasters caused by political and economic interests – affected Western Europe and North America primarily by causing the displacement of literally millions of people a very small part of whom reached and actually crossed the borders of the European Union.[14] These frequently protracted conflicts involving political, social and transnational issues that more often than not appear in an ethnicized manner became known as complex political emergencies[15] and called not only for short relief-oriented humanitarian assistance but for a sophisticated and self-reflexive approach to the political uses of aid. Yet with the focus on costly humanitarian operations the funds made available for development cooperation declined even more, sending development aid actors on the lookout for new roles.[16]

With regard to complex political emergencies, the combination of these three elements – change in the regime of countries that had produced immigration considered largely to be due to political repression, decrease in the political interest in development assistance, and an increase in emergency situations calling at the very least for a humanitarian response – have led to quite contradictory approaches to a policy of tackling root causes of refugee and migratory flows. Less politically motivated empathy with refugees together with an absolute increase in numbers of asylum seekers led to a more restrictive interpretation of the protection regime of the Geneva Convention. Prevention of migration to the European Union often seems the paramount political interest – if not the only interest apart from general security and/or economic concerns depending on the region, with South Eastern Europe and the oil-producing countries ranking far above of conflict regions in Africa and the intention of the United States to continue to play a role in European security politics. The high degree of financial involvement due to humanitarian reasons focused on short-term relief projects, neglecting long-term development policies evolving around issues of conflict prevention and resolution. Instead, the emphasis (probably an over-emphasis) was put on the political role of humanitarian agencies.[17] Relief assistance was assigned more and more responsibilities that were formerly considered to be in the realm of development cooperation or even foreign politics.[18] Development aid actors thus were looking for a new role, partly to attract donors that were more and more only interested in providing relief to conflict regions and containing conflict, partly because they were forced into this role in situations were nobody else would assume responsibility.

UNHCR and the root cause-strategy

Until the beginning of the nineties, UNHCR had to deal with the question of addressing root causes primarily with regard to repatriation – indeed the only "cause oriented durable solution“.[19] For UNHCR to promote voluntary repatriation, there has to be a sufficient improvement of the situation in the country of origin: the grounds on which a person had claimed Convention refugee status have to be no longer in existence. This prerequisite entailed usually a change in the regime and a distinct move towards democratization and respect for human rights. UNHCR mostly engaged in monitoring the change in the countries of origin, in advising refugees on the repatriation options and in assisting them once it was satisfied that repatriation could be undertaken safely. The very task of removing the root causes was essentially an internal one, part of foreign policy only to the extent good offices and aid conditionality were involved.

In 1993, at the peak of the forced displacement of civilians from Bosnia and Hercegovina, UNHCR tackled the "challenge of protection": it listed seven phenomena that had emerged in the nineties and posed specific challenges to the protection of refugees. First, many host countries (in the developing and in the industrialized world) have become less and less willing to welcome refugees. Second, refugees are part of complex migratory flows, where people fleeing for grounds recognized in the Geneva Convention mix with people from the same country of origin that are merely looking for a better life. In violent conflict situations, it is difficult to distinguish refugees from other people in need of humanitarian assistance. The way humanitarian assistance is delivered has become an increasingly important aspect of protection. Voluntary repatriation occurs more often in a persistent climate of conflict and insecurity and is often even seen as an essential aspect of transition and as a prerequisite to stabilization and sustainable conflict resolution. The refugee problem is essentially a human rights problem as human rights violations are one direct cause for refugees to leave their country of origin. Human rights advocacy and protection are therefore of major importance when it comes to looking for solutions to the refugee problem. UNHCR concludes, somehow disingenuously, that prevention is better than cure: putting up barriers against refugee movements should be discarded as an inadequate strategy. UNHCR calls upon the states to simultaneously deal with the root causes as well as with the immediate protection needs caused by refugee flows.[20]

In this analytic sequence the root cause strategy does not primarily flow from the idea that it is indeed better to prevent human rights violations from happening and thereby removing the necessity to flee but from the factual unwillingness of industrialized states to protect refugees and from the difficulty to clearly distinguish between Convention refugees and persons who have left their countries of other reasons. It is also interesting that in the same period when many states refused to act on their responsibility to protect Convention refugees the de facto responsibility of UNHCR was extended to civil war refugees, internally displaced persons and others that mingled with persons under UNHCR’s original mandate. This expansion has probably contributed as much to the blurring of the boundaries between the various categories of displaced persons as it reflected a new perception of the causes of refugee flows.

The increasing preference of temporary protection regimes over individual refugee status determination in situations of mass influx also contributed to the need of European Union member states to actively look for solutions faster than it was the case during the Cold War period. If temporary protection should make any sense, repatriation had to be made possible in the near future. "Resolving the conflict" became thus an essential part of the political and financial involvement of states participating in temporary protection programs.[21]

The temporary protection approach provides host governments with a tangible incentive to address refugee problems at their source, in their country of origin. Expressed more simply, if states want to see the speedy return of the people they have temporarily admitted to their territory, then they must use all of the means which they have at their disposal to create the conditions necessary in the country of origin for safe repatriation take place.[22]

Addressing the root causes is a means to an end that goes beyond conflict prevention and resolution. It is firmly linked to political interests that very often are at odds with the very goal the international community wants to achieve as long as the decision to repatriate depends rather on a certain political rationale in the host countries than on the actual improvement of the conditions the country of origin. So far, UNHCR concluded in 1997 – four years after introducing the root cause strategy and two years after elaborating on the various forms of addressing root causes – the efforts to generate conditions allowing for return in safety and dignity have been less than satisfactory:

Rather than returning voluntarily to countries where there has been a fundamental change of political circumstances, many refugee populations have in recent years gone home under duress and to countries which remain socially, economically and politically fragile, even if the fighting has formally come to an end. In such circumstances, it has been recognized, the limited forms and amount of assistance traditionally provided by UNHCR may not be sufficient to ensure the effective reintegration of returnees.[23]

This raises the question which other organization and which tools would be better prepared to assist refugees returning to countries in a transition from war to peace. Development agencies have proven to be too slow and long-term oriented to provide the fast stabilization needed in a situation where people have to return to potentially volatile conditions.[24] Humanitarian agencies who often were the first and only ones on the ground working with IDPs and refugee populations in neighboring countries were reproached for not considering the long-term effects and for neglecting the political impact of their work. UNHCR – with its two-fold task of protecting the rights of Convention refugees and monitoring the principle of non-refoulement, while at the same time assessing conditions for safe repatriation – found itself very much involved in issues of assistance in countries or region in conflict situations or transition.[25] The policy debate in the nineties focused on the relationship between relief and development and the role both can or should play with regard to conflict prevention and resolution as well as the building of sustainable political institutions.[26]

Assessing the role of relief and development assistance as tools in conflict prevention and peace-building

Changes in the perception of the function of relief and development assistance

The literature has paid much attention to the difficulties associated with the blurring of the boundaries between relief and development. Relief traditionally sees itself as strictly impartial and non-political, serving only the immediate needs of the suffering civilian population during an emergency. Once the crisis is over, bilateral or multilateral development assistance can resume its task of strengthening the economy and building capacities for democratic governance after a period of rehabilitation. This model – known as the "relief/development continuum" – has been rejected with regard to the complex political emergencies responsible for most of the refugee flows in the past decade.[27] Very often, relief and development tasks are performed simultaneously, in different regions of a war-torn country; in protracted conflicts, one rarely finds a clear line where relief work ends and development assistance can begin. Another negative aspect of the focus on humanitarian aid that is directly linked to the policy of addressing root causes "is the gradual replacement of development aid for the very poorest by funds for humanitarian assistance",[28] as it diminishes developmental funds for alleviating poverty – a major cause of conflict and crisis – and leaves the responsibility for short-term poverty reduction to agencies working with a different set of tools.

The most characteristic environment for both relief and development assistance are transitional periods, characterized by the absence of large-scale armed conflict, often secured by international peace-keeping forces, but still too volatile to speak of sustainable peace. The transition from conflict to post-conflict is perhaps the crucial phase in any kind of assistance program and so far the least explored. A highly sophisticated combination of quick-impact projects fit into long-term programs that have sufficient funding and political backbone to be able to afford patience as well as flexibility is the strategy peace-builders dream of. The reality is still far from that goal; the Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe might be the first time such a comprehensive strategy is actually employed.[29]

There is a growing consensus that the so-called relief-development continuum is not a linear sequence consisting of relief, reconstruction or rehabilitation and development but represents rather a series of operations or aspects of operations that have to be coordinated as if they were executed simultaneously.[30] In reality, the experience was less one of cooperation between relief and development agencies but a gradual change in the role and tasks of humanitarian agencies. In discussing the link between relief and development the Department for Humanitarian Affairs (DHA)[31] recalled General Assembly resolution 46/182 that "gives an explicit directive that emergency assistance must be provided in ways that will support recovery and long-term development".[32] Relief work must be aware of the long-term effects they have on the community they serve and include the aspect of recovery and reconstruction while pursuing their aim of saving lives. It should be linked to capacity-building in order to avoid the creation of dependency or the strengthening of "flawed structures in the society, thereby perpetuating or even accentuating, the social, economic and/or political inequalities which triggered the conflict in the first place."[33]

The politization of humanitarian aid

By definition, relief work does not dispose of the tools for encouraging democratization and respect for human rights most commonly employed in development cooperation programs: conditionality and incentives. Its position in complex political emergencies is therefore infinitely more vulnerable. The role of supposedly impartial and neutral humanitarian agencies in prolonging or deepening the structures responsible for conflict or even in providing an incentive to continue a war was hotly debated throughout the nineties. Scholars of the "political economy of war" variety maintain that the peculiar economic rationale of complex transnational or civil wars feeds on the presence of humanitarian aid that can be used to gather support in local population groups, to blackmail the international community and the government (or the rebel side) as well as to finance one’s own troops.[34] The famous notion that relief aid should "do no harm"[35] derives from these insights into the way the presence of relief agencies changes the conditions on the ground. Others, among them the London-based Overseas Development Institute (ODI), argue that the failure in the response to the complex political emergencies in the nineties was overwhelmingly due to a lack of political will to act decisively on the part of the international community and cannot be attributed to humanitarian agencies neglecting to counteract the abuse of their work for political goals.[36]

Again, this paper can only refer to the existence of this debate without elaborating in any depths on the arguments. It does become clear, though, that a responsibility of humanitarian agencies for recovery and generally the post-emergency period – and this can perhaps be seen as a symptom for the tendency to discard donor responsibility for political action – entails an increasing politicization of the role of humanitarian agencies. It forces them to make choices about the way they work not only in terms of their immediate goal but also in terms of the effects it has on the possibility – and also the perceived success – of peace-building. Joanna Macrae notes UN involvement in peace-making as a possible impediment to flexibility on the ground: "Yet, as a UN agency, UNHCR’s ability to reorient its program and prepare for a major collapse in the peace process was limited, since this would have signaled the failure of the political process."[37]

The missing state

The major disadvantage of development cooperation with regard to transitional periods is considered to be its concentration on national government structures. Development assistance works with the government in power or refuses to work with it. But it traditionally does not circumvent government institutions perceived as illegitimate in order to strengthen structures as a more promising road to democratization.

An interesting example is Montenegro where the European Union has demonstrated an extraordinary interest in supporting the reforms of the republic’s current government. In terms of conflict prevention, the fragile position of Montenegro in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia increasingly endangers the internal democratization process, which should be strengthened by programs to build economic security and trust in the republic’s government; yet despite the EU’s Obnova program created to assist non-state entities EU officials are very reluctant to extend development assistance, and especially loans, to the not yet independent Montenegrin republic.[38] Since the end of last year it has received most of the European Union funds in form of food aid and humanitarian assistance channeled towards the reception of IDPs from Kosovo/a and refugees from Croatia and Bosnia and Hercegovina.[39] The mid-June pledge of 20 Million Euro for Montenegro indicates that the European Union might eventually be willing to tread new waters.

Even more difficult than the case of governments judged illegitimate is the choice of appropriate instruments dealing with the increasing number of so-called "quasi-states" where "’governments are often deficient in the political will, institutional authority and organized power to protect human rights or provide socio-economic welfare."[40] The complex political emergencies made responsible for mass refugee and migratory flows are often characterized by resulting from or resulting in the collapse of traditional statehood.[41] In a number of cases, the reality of repatriation means the return to a situation of ongoing-conflict in countries which lack a legitimate and effective government – which is, however, a necessary prerequisite for the appropriate use of the tools of development cooperation.

The DAC Guidelines on Conflict, Peace and Development Cooperation

In its 1997 Guidelines on Conflict, Peace and Development Cooperation, the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) responded to the need for a conceptual framework to evaluate the function of development cooperation in conflict and post-conflict situations. The implications are far-reaching: planning development cooperation in the context of conflict prevention starts with understanding violent conflicts and their link to development cooperation; it has to tackle the enormous task of coordinating the various actors in the field and working with the donors as well as defining the appropriate role for relief and development agencies. The local community must be able to participate in order to foster democracy and strengthen civil society. In the post-recovery period, a working capacity for economic management is the foundation for support in various areas linked to long-term peace building, such as restoring the rule of law, elections, fostering the civil society, demobilization and reintegration of former combatants, the clearing of land mines, and, of course, reintegration of returning refugees.[42]

The lack of understanding of the circumstances that had initially led to the conflict, and of the way development and relief assistance influences these circumstances, as well as the absence of political coherence (that might also be due to different interpretations as to the root causes of the conflict) account for many of the flaws identified in a series of case studies commissioned by the DAC as a follow-up to the guidelines.[43] The evaluation is highly critical of the rationale and effectiveness of aid conditionality: experience has shown that it rarely works, and if it works, it does so only at the very high price of bypassing the need for political institutions on the ground to change attitudes by imposing principles from outside. In protracted conflict situations with fragmented political institutions aid conditionality will not be successful. It can be useful if there is domestic support for the policy goal, i.e. a peace agreement or the presence of a strong civil society. Yet without the necessary comprehensive framework and principled behavior on part of the donors its uses are very limited.[44]

The reintegration of displaced populations and their participation in the reconstruction process is considered to be paramount to its success. Apart from securing the participation of the population that is to be reintegrated, peace-building programs have to ensure that all segments of the local population profit from the reintegration funds; it is primarily the state’s responsibility to protect the reintegrated population, but it can be helped by alleviating the material needs of returnees and by capacity-building in the field of human rights protection and rule of law. The DAC states that a large part of the funds is usually dedicated to repatriation programs, with little money left for the actual reintegration process.[45] At the same time, as Stewart Patrick points out with reference to Rwanda, the potentially divisive effects of the different time-frames of humanitarian aid and recovery assistance have to be taken into account when one has to deal simultaneously with large influx of refugees in host countries and the population that remained in the country of origin.[46]

The DAC does not miss its opportunity to refer to root causes which have to be addressed by "coherent, comprehensive, integrated [...] conflict prevention and peace-building approaches. The close cooperation of all policy instruments (diplomacy, military, trade, and development co-operation), based on their respective comparative advantages, is required."[47] Political coherence, and especially donor coherence, is an important aspect in the comprehensive approach needed for development programs aimed at conflict prevention and/or resolution.[48] In situations of complex displacement, the urge for governments to repatriate as quickly as possible can hamper the implementation of reintegration provisions in the peace agreements brokered and monitored by the very same governments. The DAC case study on Bosnia names the repatriation policy of Germany which contravened Annex 7 of the GFAP as it resorted to sending returnees to places where they did not live before the war, but where their ethnic group constituted a majority.[49]

In particular, ECHO was influenced by Germany to emphasise repatriation programmes to expedite the removal of refugees on its territory. Repatriation is the zeitgeist of the rehabilitation process. Paradoxically by its very nature it is destabilising because the policy of minimum security to assist returns does nothing to calm minority fears, sort out property entitlements or reduce the leverage of extremists. Nor is it a component of a broad and strategic rehabilitation or peacebuilding process. Rather it has become a stripped down goal of EU domestic interests, a goal that requires post-conflict regeneration to build the conditions necessary for returns. Indeed conditionality also creates a shortage of funding because it has been linked to returns: these have been disappointing as refugees overwhelmingly join majorities rather than where municipalities are offered incentives to attract minorities[50]

Despite this initial negative impact of this return policy we can now, more than four years after Dayton, observe substantial minority returns – mostly of internally displaced persons to their pre-war homes. Ironically, at this very moment reports also indicate that there is an acute lack of emergency and reconstruction funds to support the returnees and the community they return to.[51]

The EU Action Plans on Asylum and Migration: Aid in place of protection?

The European Union, as many other donors, has been criticized for lack of political coherence and operational decisiveness in addressing the root causes of conflict. There is still reluctance with regard to a closer cooperation between the respective institutions responsible for humanitarian assistance and development cooperation (ECHO and the DG1A – assistance to Central and Eastern Europe, which has mostly been involved in finding solutions to transitional periods – and the DG Development). As many other actors in development cooperation, the Commission has published a briefing note on linking relief, rehabilitation and development in 1996, in which it asserted that "’peacebuilding’ must be an intrinsic element of development cooperation strategies" and identified "structural stability" as the encompassing policy goal for humanitarian assistance and development cooperation in conflict and post-conflict situations.[52]

In October 1999, the first summit of the European Council on Justice and Home Affairs adopted the Action Plans of the European Union High Level Working Group on Asylum and Migration. These plans had been announced as "the first attempt by the European Union to define a comprehensive and coherent approach targeted at the situation in a number of important countries of origin or transit of asylum-seekers and migrants".[53] The Council had selected Afghanistan, Albania and the neighboring regions (i.e. Kosovo/a), Morocco, Iraq, Sri Lanka and Somalia. Four of the six plans thus deal with some form of complex political emergencies; in three of the countries chosen, war is being led in at least some part of the country.

The plans contain a variety of measures in the field of diplomacy, trade relations, humanitarian assistance, development cooperation, as well as border control mechanisms, readmission agreements, information campaigns and exit monitoring in the countries of origin and support for host countries in the conflict region. Unspecified measures to integrate legally resident aliens and repeated assurance of refugees’ and asylum-seekers’ right to protection paled next to the obvious rationale of the plans: seek solutions to refugee and migratory flows, seek them fast, and seek them as far away from the borders of the European Union as possible. Many of the measures proposed, however, result from the specific understanding of the role of humanitarian and development assistance in resolving conflict situations that this paper has set out to explore.

The HLWG Action Plans are certainly novel in assuming concerted framework of action for all the relevant EU institutions. The quality of the analysis of the reasons for flight – the core part of the Action Plans – varies; with the exception of Iraq, the focus is on migration for economic reasons, even if the preceding section on the political and human rights situation lists many deficiencies in the countries of origin. While the plans propose a mix of diplomacy and humanitarian as well as development assistance as measures to eliminate root causes, their most concrete ventures are into the realm of readmission agreements (with countries of origin and with transit countries) and securing protection in the conflict region. These policies are clearly problematic with regard to both displaced persons in need of protection and conflict prevention and resolution. It has been noted that complex political emergencies very often have a transnational character (this is certainly true for Afghanistan and Somalia) where large numbers of refugees in the neighboring countries come only at the price of risking the prolongation of the conflict. It is hard to see how measures like returning rejected Kurdish asylum-seekers from Iraq to Turkey or cooperation with the Central Asian republics with regard to travel routes of Afghani nationals could promote structural stability. Funds for humanitarian and development assistance are scarce; their impact on eliminating root causes is still very little explored. In this context, refugee protection needs more than the lip service the High Level Working Group is willing to pay for it and it should not be clouded by daunting projects to address root causes of conflict.

UNHCR and refugee rights advocacy organizations such as ECRE and Amnesty International have repeatedly emphasized the importance of balancing control and protection concerns within the European Union policy vis-à-vis asylum-seekers and migrants. The European Parliament, in a working document published on 24 November 1999, has criticized the inconsistency with which the plans propose measures to curb immigration as such and measures to address root causes of refugee flows. It laments also the evasive character of the plans with regard to the financial implications of the proposed measures, indeed an obvious weakness of the plans. While addressing the root causes of refugee and migratory flows is by no means a policy to be discarded, the Action Plans show that the coherence and peacebuilding orientation of development cooperation can hardly gain from starting out with a migration policy perspective.

So far, it seems that one of the pillar stones of meaningful conflict prevention – donor coordination – is still missing when it comes to the implementation of the Action Plans. ECRE reports that the HLWG is still on the lookout for ways to allocate funds. The European Parliament has proposed a separate budget line for the implementation of the plans that can only be adopted for 2001.[54] Against this background, it will take a while until coordinated and comprehensive action by the European Union institutions takes off the ground. If the Action Plans are implemented, however, and if further Action Plans are to follow, they will serve to consolidate the link between migration policy and comprehensive development cooperation, especially in the field of conflict prevention and peace-building. Care has to be taken, however, that the emphasis on refugee and migration flows does not stop at addressing the symptoms rather than the roots of conflicts. The DAC case studies show how difficult it is to achieve sustainable results even if all available means of peacebuilding are at disposal. Detailed research would be needed in order to assess the balance between funds dedicated to repatriation and those available for reintegration. The case studies also show that placing repatriation as such at the top of the list of priorities of donor countries is hardly the way to build peace – especially if few resources are allocated to both the short- and the long-term reintegration process. In view of the three possible responses to movements of migrants and refugees listed by Rainer Münz and Myron Weiner the EU Action Plans present a mix between the first response – immigration control – and a half-hearted commitment to the third response of addressing the root causes in order to avoid tackling the third way, a search for solutions to the realities of an immigrant society.

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*The author is a country analyst at the Austrian Centre for Country of Origin and Asylum Research and Documentation (ACCORD) in Vienna. This paper was initially prepared for a seminar held by Professor Manfred Nowak at the University of Vienna. Comments are very welcome.

[1]See for example Development Assistance Committee (DAC) (1997). Guidelines on Conflict, Peace and Development Cooperation, Paris: OECD; UNDP (1996). Building Bridges Between Relief and Development. A Compendium of the UNDP record in crisis countries; European Commission (1996). Linking relief, rehabilitation and Development. Communciation from the Commission of 30 April 1996; European Commission (1998). The role of development cooperation in strengthening peace-building, conflict prevention and resolution, Council Conclusions adopted 30 November 1998 World Bank (1998). Post-conflict reconstruction. The role of the World Bank. Washington D.C

[2]Joanna Macrae. (1999) Aiding peace… and war: UNHCR returnee reintegration, and the relief-development debate. New Issues in Refugee Research UNHCR Working Paper N° 14, December 1999. 2.2.2

[3]Roland E. Richter (1995) "Rückkehr in die Heimat – Repatriierung und Reintegration von Flüchtlingen und Vertriebenen" in: Volker Matthies (Ed.) Vom Krieg zum Frieden. Kriegsbeendigung und Friedenskonsolidierung, Edition Temmen: Bremen 1995, pp. 128-145, p. 128

[4]UN General Assembly (2000). Report of the Expert Seminar on Racism, Refugees and Multi-Ethnic States (Geneva, 6-8 December 1999), A/Conf.189/PC.1/9, 15 March 2000

[5]Neil Middleton and Phil O’Keefe. (1998). Disaster and Development. The Politics of Humanitarian Aid. London/Chicago: Pluto Press; Macrae 1999. Astri Suhrke recalls that the 1985 report of one of the first UN working groups on root causes of migration placed much more emphasis on external factors and "reflected the group’s large developing country representation." He also points out that it was indeed an earlier analysis by the High Commissioner for Refugees Saddrudin Aga Khan which considered both national conditions as well as global inequality as essential for an assesment of root causes. (Astri Suhrke (1994). "Towards a comprehesive refugee policy: Conflict and refugees in the post-Cold War world" in: W.R. Böhning and M.-L. Schloeter-Parades. Aid in place of migration?. Selected contributions to an ILO-UNHCR meeting. Geneva: International Labour Office, pp. 13-38, p. 15)

[6]Macrae 1999, 2.2.1

[7]Commission of the European Union (2000). Communication of the Commission to the European Parliament. The development policy of the European Union. COM(2000) 212

[8]Peter Lock (2000). "Söldner und Rebellen: Zur Rolle der Gewalt in afrikanischen Ökonomien", in: Internationales Afrikaforum Vol. 36, 1, pp. 63-74; Barnett R. Rubin (1999). The Political Economy of War and Peace in Afghanistan. [Internet] <www.soros.org/> [accessed 02/05/00]

[9]Mark Duffield. (1997) "NGOs and the New Aid Paradigm" in: Third World Quarterly, Vol 18. N° 3 pp, 527-542, p. 529

[10]"Aid in place of migration?" is the title of a compilation of papers presented at a joint meeting of UNHCR and the International Labor Organization that took place in Geneva in 1992. W.R. Böhning and M.-L. Schloeter-Parades. Aid in place of migration?. Selected contributions to an ILO-UNHCR meeting. Geneva: International Labour Office 1994

[11]As to the terminology used in this paper I want to note that the common distinction made between migrants and refugees should not be disregarded. The paper, however, deals mostly with movements of persons caused by violent conflict and human rights violations – I will therefore, employ the use of the term "refugee" when dealing with these kinds of movements. UNHCR itself has many times emphasized the difficulty of distinguishing between Convention refugees and other persons fleeing circumstances that are not covered by the Geneva Convention in situation of mass influx due to violent conflicts and has, correspondingly, taken on responsility (probably as much as it was conferred upon the agency) for civil war refugees as well as internally displaced persons. Therefore my use of the term " refugee" when referring to persons in situations of forced displacement does not express a conclusion as to their status as Convention refugees.

[12]Myron Weiner and Rainer Münz. (1997) "Migrants, Refugees and Foreign Policy: prevention and intervention strategies" in: Third World Quarterly, Vol 18, 1, pp. 25-51, p. 26

[13]Suhrke 1994; Macrae 1999; B.S. Chimni. From Resettlement to involuntary repatriation: towards a critical history of durable solutions to refugee problems. New Issues in Refugee Research UNHCR Working Paper N° 2, May 1999

[14]UNHCR usually juxtaposes the approximately 4 million persons (plus an additional 1.2 to 1.7 million IDPs in the former Yugoslavia) who applied for asylum in Europe between 1988 and 1998 (roughly 700.000 in 1992 alone) to about 15-16 million refugees and IDPs in the developing world, a large part of them in some of the poorest countries of the world which themselves are often countries of origin. Even if the number of forcibly displaced persons on the territory of European Union member states is relatively low compared to the number of refugees and internally displaced persons in Africa and Asia, the increase of the number of asylum seekers and other migrants in the industrialized countries has given rise to alarm. It is generally considered to be at the heart of the EU member states difficulties in dealing with immigration and the presence of foreigners from poorer countries. Especially the ongoing crisis in the former Yugoslavia which so far has produced more than 3 millions of forcibly displaced persons is said to push the very limits of the willingness of the citizens of European Union member states to support a liberal asylum policy.

[15]For a definition see e.g. Third World Quarterly Vol. 20, 1, 1999

[16]Duffield 1997, p. 539

[17]The ICRC still represents the best known example of the principles of impartial humanitarian aid, rejecting any kind of political agenda.

[18]For an account of these changes see Overseas Development Institute (ODI) (1994) Aid in Transition. Briefing paper 4/94; Duffield 1997

[19]Richter 1995, p. 128. Apart from repatriation, UNHCR considers local integration and resettlement as durable solutions.

[20]UNHCR (1993). The State of the World’s Refugees. The Challenge of Protection. (UNHCR REFWORLD CD). There are, of course, many other statements and publications made by UNHCR on the issue of prevention. Ever since 1991, the High Commissioner for Refugees has addressed the Executive Committee of UNHCR in the Notes on International Protection with regard to UNHCR’s and the international community’s role on preventing refugee flows through dealing with root causes. I have chosen this particular section because, in its condensed way, it illustrates the rhetorical trap of the root cause argument once one is willing to take the increasing reluctance of host countries (inside and outside of the European Union) to accept refugees as granted.

[21]UNHCR (1995) The State of the World’s Refugees. In Search of Solutions. Oxford: Oxford University Press 1995, p. 47

[22]UNHCR (1995) The State of the World’s Refugees. In Search of Solutions. Oxford: Oxford University Press 1995, p. 47

[23]UNHCR (1997) The State of the World’s Refugees. A Humanitarian Agenda. Oxford: Oxford University Press, p. 165

[24]UNHCR 1997, p. 166

[25]UNHCR 1997, p. 167; Macrae 1999

[26]I will not refer to state-building as it is by no means clear whether this will really be a realistic and sensible goal for development cooperation in conflict and post-conflict situations. On the one hand, the example of Somaliland suggests that sustainable peace-building might be viable without the classic features of statehood (notably international recognition), on the other hand, many relief and relief/development agencies work in conflicts where the emergence of sustainable political institutions might be a question of supporting features of civil society and local forms of government rather than engaging with high-level decision makers.

[27]Macrae 1999

[28]Middleton and O’Keefe.1998, p. 30

[29]It is far too early to assess the impact of the Stability Pact as an overall strategy. Recent criticism, however, points to the delay with which EU funds are (not) being disbursed – a delay that might prove to be critical in the light of the current election schedule for Montenegro and Kosovo/a. A policy paper by Oxfam also notes the consistent neglect of local NGOs and the experience of the local population in the implementation of the EU policy. Oxfam (2000). Winning the peace? Some lessons from the EU’s aid to Sout Eastern Europe, June 1999-June 2000

[30]For a critical assessment of the relief-development continuum debate see Macrae 1999; DAC 1997, para 32; International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (1994). Linking relief and development: the Federation perspective [Internet] <www.ifrc.org/> [accessed 01/05/00]

[31]The Department for Humanitarian Affairs was founded in 1992 in a response to the increasing need to coordinate the many actors involved in humanitarian operations and succeeded by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in 1997 as part of Secretary-General Annan’s 1997 reform plan for the United Nations.

[32]United Nations Department for Humanitarian Affairs. (1997) Humanitarian Report 1997. The link between relief and development [Internet] <www.relief.int/ocha_ol/> [accessed 01/05/00]

[33]DHA 1997

[34]See for example David Keen (1994). The benefits of Famine: A Political Economy of Famine and Relief in Southwestern Sudan, Princeton: Princeton University Press; François Jean and Jean Christophe Rufin (eds.). (1996) Economie des guerres civiles, Paris: Hachette

[35]Mary Anderson (1996). Do no harm: Supporting local capacities for peace through aid. Boston: Collaborative for Development Action. Local Capacities Peace Project

[36]Overseas Development Institute (1998). The State of the International Humanitarian System. ODI Briefing Paper 1/98; Macrae 1999

[37]Macrae 1999, 4.2.1

[38] International Crisis Group (2000). Montenegro: In the Shadow of the Volcano, 21 March 2000, p. 17

[39]Staff member with ECHO Podgorica, personal communication, 7 April 2000; European Commission (2000). Montenegro: the European Contribution, 20 March 2000 [Internet] <www.europa.eu.int/external_relations/see> [accessed 05/05/00]

[40]Joanna Macrae (1999) borrows the term "quasi-states" from R. Jackson (1990). "Quasi-states: sovereignty, international relations and the Third World. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, p. 31. In addition to Macrae’s arguments in favor of this term, I prefer "quasi-states" to similar concepts such as failed states, or weak states, because it seems to me to reflect a certain novelty and peculiarity of the institutions encountered in a "quasi-state"; it also suggests the presence of institutions that can be likened to state institutions instead of their absence or weakness, something which might prove useful with regard to refugee claims grounded in so-called "non-state agent persecution".

[41]Lionel Cliffe and Robin Luckham. (1999) "Complex political emergencies and the state: failure and the fate of the state", in: Third World Quarterly, Vol. 20, 1, pp. 27-50

[42]Development Assistance Committee 1997

[43]DAC Informal Task Force on Conflict, Peace and Development Cooperation (1999a). The Influence of Aid in Situations of Violent Conflict, by Peter Uvin, Paris: OECD. Case studies were prepared for Sri Lanka, Bosnia, Rwanda and Afghanistan.

[44]DAC 1999a, para 52-61

[45]DAC 1997, para 227

[46] Patrick 1998

[47]DAC 1997, para 19

[48]For a presentation and an assessment of the efforts to coordinate donor activities see Stewart Patrick (1998). The Check Is in the Mail: Improving the Delivery and Coordination of Post-Conflict Assistance. New York: New York University, Center on International Cooperation [Internet] <www.nyu.edu/> [accessed 01/05/00]

[49]DAC 1999b, para 98-102

[50] Michael Pugh (1998). Post-Conflict Rehabilitation: The Humanitarian Dimension. (3rd International Security Forum and 1st Conference of the PfP Consortium of Defense Academies and Security Studies Institutes "Networking the Security Community in the Information Age" 19 — 21 October 1998, Kongresshaus Zurich, Switzerland) [Internet] <http://www.isn.ethz.ch/securityforum/Online_Publications/WS5/WS_5A/Pugh.htm> [accessed 12/05/00]

[51]International Crisis Group (2000). Bosnia’s Refugee Logjam Breaks: Is the International Community Ready?, p. 15ff.; Institute for War & Peace Reporting (2000). Donor Fatigue Threatens Repatriation, 6 June 2000 [Internet] <www.iwpr.net/> [accessed 07/06/00]

[52]European Commission 1996

[53]European Union High Level Working Group on Asylum and Migration. Final report. Annex, para 10.

[54]European Council for Refugees and Exiles (ECRE). (2000) ECRE Documentation Service N° 2, March 2000, p. 27

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