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Geographies of displacement : gender, culture and power in UNHCR refugee camps, Kenya Hyndman, M. Jennifer 1996

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GEOGRAPHIES OF DISPLACEMENT: GENDER, C U L T U R E A N D POWER IN UNHCR R E F U G E E CAMPS, K E N Y A by M . JENNIFER H Y N D M A N B.A., The University of Alberta, 1988 M.A. , Lancaster University, 1989 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL F U L F I L L M E N T OF T H E REQUIREMENTS FOR T H E DEGREE OF DOCTOR IN PHILOSOPHY in T H E F A C U L T Y OF G R A D U A T E STUDIES Department of Geography We accept this thesis as conforming to the required standard T H E UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH C O L U M B I A September 1996 © M . Jennifer Hyndman, 1996 In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanced degree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make it freely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensive copying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of my department or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying or publication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my written permission. Department The University of British Columbia Vancouver, Canada DE-6 (2/88) Abstract The end of the Cold War marks a period of human displacement greater in scale than any other this century. The number of refugees in 1995 numbered over 16 million; a conservative estimate of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the same year was 26 million. Approximately 36% of the worlds' refugees and half of all IDPs are located in continental Africa, suggesting an uneven world geography of forced migration. This research analyzes the 'safe spaces' where displaced people seek protection from threats of persecution and violence. In particular, it examines the major humanitarian organization providing assistance to involuntary migrants, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), both at its headquarters in Geneva and in the context of refugee camps administered by the agency in Kenya. As resettlement targets in countries like Canada, the U.S., and Australia decline, many states hosting large numbers of refugees are less interested in allowing refugees to integrate or settle locally. In the case of Kenya, most refugees have the choice between returning home on a voluntary basis or staying in the camps. A few are resettled abroad and many more seek unofficial livelihoods beyond the borders of the camps. Questions of legal status, social and spatial segregation, and camp management constitute the major themes of this study. The legal framework which defines refugee status and entitlements originated after the Second World War and has, with few exceptions, become increasing irrelevant to crises of displacement in African locations. Ad hoc measures on the part of UNHCR to accommodate refugees who fall outside the 1951 definition have been flexible but insufficient. Camps have become more permanent, suspending refugees in 'safe spaces' without many political, social, cultural, and economic rights. The organization of the camps is scrutinized in detail for its relation to colonial administrations, the impact of its design and operations for refugee women and men, and the correspondence of UNHCR policy to practice in the field. The research contributes to the practice, politics, theory, and geography of humanitarian responses to human displacement. ii Table of Contents Abstract Table of Contents List of Tables List of Figures List of Acronyms Acknowledgments Foreword Introduction f t Part One Chapter One Chapter Two Chapter Three Chapter Four 6 Part Two Chapter Five Chapter Six Chapter Seven Chapter Eight Chapter Nine Epilogue Bibliography Appendix 1 Appendix 2 Appendix 3 ii iii iv v vi vii viii 1 31 The Formation of UNHCR 32 The Culture of UNHCR 48 'Race', Gendered Culture, & U N Humanism 79 • The Perils of Perfect Pluralism 96 •'Women Victims of Violence' 121 Displacement, Protection, & the 131 International Refugee Regime 150 Border Crossings 151 'F'is for Field 186 Reporting the Field 223 Never mind the Field, or Crossing Borders 256 Conclusions 274 296 302 Background on the Dadaab Camps 316 Interview Format with Refugee Women 318 Background on Interviewees from Camps 320 iii List of Tables 3.1 UNHCR Staff by Nationality 102 3.2 Major Donors to UNHCR, 1994 103 5.1 Annual Rettlement Ceilings for Government-Sponsored Refugees 180 iv List of Figures 2.1 Map of Geneva's Humanitarian City Centre 53 2.2. Gate to Geneva's Old City 55 2.3 Geneva: City of Refuge 55 2.4 UNHCR Headquarters, Geneva 59 2.5 The New UNHCR HQ: Panoptic Postmodern 60 2.6 The New HQ: Surveillance from the Atrium? 60 5.1 Map of Somalia and contested border area 152 5.2 Map of territory of ethnic Somali concentration 161 5.3 Map of the Provinces of Kenya 164 5.4 Cartoon of U N involvement in Somalia 175 5.5 Map of Refugee Camps in Kenya 178 6.1 Refugees arriving at Dagahaley Camp 192 6.2 An Unplanned Camp: dense refugee housing at Liboi 194 6.3 Map of Dagahaley Camp 196 6.4 Map of Hagadera Camp 197 6.5 Map of Ifo Camp 198 6.6 Shared housing for expatriates, UNHCR compound 200 6.7 Dining hall, UNHCR compound 200 6.8 Rendering translation visible: the interpreter 204 6.9 Refugee woman carrying firewood 206 6.10 Waiting for water 206 7.1 UNHCR at Dadaab: Aerial view of compound 229 7.2 Aerial view of Ifo Camp before refugees arrive: geometric order 229 7.3 The 'messiness' of refugee living in one camp 229 7.4 Drawing of a refugee enclosure to be used during headcounts 232 7.5 Drawing of a sample enclosure 233 8.1 Somali refugees at Utange Camp: Going home 260 8.2 Kenyan worker off-duty, Utange camp 265 8.3 Somali Women in Mogadishu rally against the US/UN 267 8.4 Somali Women in Bardera rally in support of the US/UN 267 10.1 Fantu at the UNHCR compound, Dadaab 297 10.2 Fantu in Vancouver, B.C. 297 v List of Acronyms CARE CARE International in Kenya (Canadian NGO) CIDA Canadian International Development Agency CMS Career Management System CUSO Canadian Universities Services Overseas DHA Department of Humanitarian Affairs DHRM Division of Human Resource Management GATT General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade GOK Government of Kenya ICRC International Committee of the Red Cross IFRC International Federation of the Red Cross ILO International Labour Organization IWGRW International Working Group on Refugee Women JPO Junior Professional Officer K R C Kenyan Red Cross MSF Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors without Borders) NATO North Atlantic Treaty Organization NGO non-governmental organization PCBS Program Control and Budget Systems POP People-Oriented Planning SSEP Social Services and Education Programme UNDP United Nations Development Programme UNHCR United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees UNV United Nations Volunteer WHO World Health Organization WIPO World Intellectual Property Organization WTO World Trade Organization W W Women Victims of Violence Project vi Acknowledgements This work would never have been undertaken nor completed without the encouragement and endurance of my supervisor, Dan Hiebert. Nor would it have taken many of the paths travelled without the contributions of committee members, Gerry Pratt, Wenona Giles, and Derek Gregory. The unconditional and significant support from my parents provided a crucial foundation for this project. While it was not always easy to explain why I wanted to do this where I did, they encouraged my work every step of the way. This dissertation is a composite effort. No one has made me more aware of this than Nadine Schuurman whose constructive comments, graphic contributions, and on-going support were invaluable. I would like to thank the funders of research and scholarship for their contributions to the project. The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) generously provided me with a doctoral fellowship. The Gender Unit of York University's Centre for Refugee Studies contributed a critical research grant to launch the project. The Canadian-based International Development Research Centre (IDRC) also provided significant funding for the Kenya component of the project under its Young Canada Researcher Award program. The research presented examines the workings of a large and dynamic U N organization. I am grateful for the cooperation of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) at so many levels. I would like to thank Mr. Carole Faubert, former Representative for UNHCR in Kenya, for his endorsement of this project from the beginning. In Geneva and Nairobi, other staff who assisted in organizing everything from interviews to transport and housing, include Annette Ludeking, Binod Sijapati, Viktor Nylund, and Nana Mallet. In the camps, I am indebted to Jacinta Goveas, Ann Carlson, and Gunther Scheske who made my stay in Dadaab both enjoyable and productive. The interpretation skills and contribution of Magala, social services assistant in Dadaab, were crucial to the interviews conducted with Somali refugees in the camps. I thank Fantu Tadesse and the rest of the UNHCR compound staff for their work during my months in the 'field'. For reasons of confidentiality, I cannot name but want tho thank the senior staff and other professional employees at UNHCR, NGOs, and government offices who took time to meet with me for interviews. I would also like to thank a number of others who made my contact with UNHCR a positive experience: Mrs. Guenet Guebre-Christos, Martin Staunton, Yukiko Haneda, Askali Benti, and Kristina Jonsson. The help of staff at C A R E in Dadaab and the Red Cross in Mombasa was also much appreciated. In Geneva, Bernadette Eygendaal was a gracious host throughout my stay. In between stops, the hospitality shown by the Perkins family in Kent was extraordinarily generous. The apartments of Laurence de Sury, now Chermont, in Paris provided comfortable refuge and great company on more than one occasion. On a final note, I thank my colleagues and the staff in the geography department at UBC for their support and mindful provocation. vii To my parents, Mary and Lou Introduction Refugees are perhaps the most obvious subjects of geographical inquiry. Forced to move from their homes to another country, they embody a visceral human geography of dislocation. The involuntary migration of bodies across space, however, is not passive nor facile. Nor can it be charted on a map as undifferentiated mass movement. Rather, refugees and other displaced people are transnational subjects. The question of mobility — who moves where and why, under such circumstances — is inherently geographical. The relations of power which invoke displacement and shape the mobility of those affected operate at multiple spatial scales. International responses to human displacement in the 1990s emphasize "managing migration." Who counts as a refugee varies across world regions, but most definitions depend on crossing an international border. In crossing a border, recognized refugees trade the entitlements of citizenship in their own country for safety on terms decided by host governments and humanitarian agencies. Strategies of managing displaced people in refugee camps and the ensuing cultural politics constitute a principal focus of this work. I explore the notion of 'culture' at several scales and in a historical context, accentuating its multiple and contradictory meanings as well as the relevant geographies of Western influence and cultural contest. The research presented here examines displacement in the Horn of Africa and responses to it, in particular by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). In this introduction, autobiographical 'motives' for the study are combined with anecdotes and finding of 'exploratory research' in Kenya and Somalia. Together, these point to a number of key questions and issues which are raised in the dissertation. 1 Getting Started In February 1992, large numbers of Somalians fled across the border into Kenya. Seriously affected by famine related to the civil war in Somalia, approximately 400,000 Somali refugees sought safety, food, and medical attention. During this period, I visited a refugee camp for the first time. The camp - Ifo - became the main site of my doctoral research almost three years later. In order to access the camps, I affiliated myself with a Canadian relief organization for which I volunteered briefly. In March 1992 I took a job with C A R E and was posted to Walda camp in Northern Kenya where I worked in response to a refugee emergency on the Kenya-Ethiopian border. Walda was wild. In January 1992 the camp housed some three thousand refugees, most of whom had fled Ethiopia after the coup which ousted President Mengistu from power in May 1991. The refugee population consisted of ex-militia from his army, students, and some civilians. By April 1992, more than 30,000 refugees had flocked across the border into the camp. Most were in desperate physical condition having walked to the border from various parts of the Sidamo region of Southern Ethiopia. In stark contrast to the original urban-based, and mostly Christian inhabitants of the camp, these newcomers were a nomadic group of Muslims from Southern Ethiopia. Mortality rates soared as exhausted refugees arrived by the truckload and the rainy season began. Walda camp was officially declared an emergency by senior staff at UNHCR headquarters in Geneva, and a team of experts was sent into the camps to address the unacceptably high death rates caused by severe malnutrition and disease. Conditions were debilitating even among UNHCR's own international staff in the camp, several of whom had to take sick leave after contracting hepatitus A. Deaths were counted by the number of shrouds — simple pieces of white cloth distributed on demand — and graveyards, marked only by adult and child-sized 2 bumps on the scorched desert floor at the foot of the Ethiopian Highlands, emerged at the edges of the camp. The corporeality of displacement was acutely clear. Officially, my job was to survey the camp and create a profile of who lived there. I was to conduct a 'needs assessment' of refugee needs relevant to the social services sector for CARE. Unofficially, I was made temporary manager of the C A R E operation in Walda. In conjunction with UNHCR staff, I developed a community-based network of refugee extension workers who were trained to identify, assist, and advise on certain problems and issues. Some refugees accustomed to a diet of predominantly milk and meat would mix wheat flour and suspect water together as a milk substitute. They fed it to their children whose dehydration was exacerbated by the uncooked dough. Identifying such problems and circulating information on 'dietary translations' of culturally foreign foodstuffs, as well as training workers in oral rehydration strategies, were part of my 'flexible' job description. In June of 1992, I returned to Canada to pursue the possibility of a more permanent position in the camp, stating my interest in person and on paper at UNHCR headquarters in Geneva and in a letter to C A R E in Ottawa. My other serious interest at that time was the Ph.D. program in geography at UBC where I had been accepted in economic geography, with a research interest in labour market analysis. By the time a job offer from C A R E came in late October of that year, I was enrolled and engaged at UBC, beginning to put together tools of cultural and feminist critique which were formative to my research. In December of 1992, the Office of UNHCR called, asking if I would be interested and available to work in Somalia on a nascent repatriation and rehabilitation project. The program, which became known as the 'Cross-Border Operation', aimed to return Somali refugees from camps in Kenya to their home areas in South Somalia on a voluntary basis. After discussions with departmental faculty who were sympathetic to my displaced interests 3 in refugee work, it was decided that I should go and use this opportunity to conduct exploratory research. I worked in Bardera, Somali from March until June 1993, opting not to renew my contract with UNHCR. The UN's peacekeeping mission in Somalia had already begun to go seriously awry. On June 5th, Mohammed Farah Aideed ambushed and murdered 24 Pakistani peacekeepers after provocation from U N forces that had entered his declared territory in Mogadishu. The US/UNOSOM II forces retaliated, acting under the authority of a U N Security Council resolution, to punish Aideed. The result was the death of many Somali civilians. The US would later lose 18 soldiers to the Somali cause, the greatest number of US servicemen killed on a peacekeeping mission ever, though this figure does not begin to approximate Somali deaths. Evidence of atrocities perpetrated by Canadian peacekeepers in Somalia continues to be uncovered. Members of the now disbanded Canadian Airborne Regiment have been charged with torturing a Somali teenager and shooting three civilians to death. The Canadian Government established an inquiry into the Somalia affair at which senior military officials continue to testify. The sustained violence of the peacekeeping mission in Somalia provoked me to consider my own position within the context of UN-sponsored humanitarian operations. Despite the political and administrative separation of military and humanitarian operations within the United Nations, the collaboration of UNHCR and U N peacekeepers 'on the ground' and in full view of the local population rendered the distinction meaningless. US marines, sometimes in armoured personnel carriers, would accompany me on trips to deliver seeds, tools, and food to nearby villages. While I never felt comfortable with the ratio of military hardware to humanitarian 'goods', it was the policy and indeed the very mandate of Operation Restore Hope to escort and protect all food and other commodities. 4 This US-led intervention was intended to provide the entire Somali population with the necessary humanitarian assistance to stabilize and begin rebuilding the country. A white Nissan Patrol with big blue UNHCR letters on the door would roll along at the same pace as the US military vehicles and run-down trucks hauling the agricultural supplies. Security was always an issue. On one occasion, a convoy of returning refugees accompanied by UNHCR personnel and vehicles was attacked at night by bandits. Radio contact with staff in one UNHCR vehicle ceased while staff in another reported gunfire. As the person in charge, I tried to make a non-event of the incident, refusing to deploy the American helicopter crew on stand-by, but requesting the assistance of the Botswani commanders who had armed vehicles at their disposal. In the end, the UNHCR employee escaped, the vehicle was recovered, and no one was injured.1 During this period I became cognizant of culturally specific notions of security in Bardera. Because I was outside the network of Somali clans and subclans, I was warned by locally-hired Somali staff working for UNHCR that I should not drive an agency vehicle alone. If it were stolen from me, there would be no means of retrieving it through clan-based authority structures. If, however, a U N H C R driver — all of whom were from the dominant Marehan subclan— were to lose a vehicle to theft, clan elders who were lead figures in this self-policing system could be counted upon to get it back. At the time, comprehensive exams seemed a much more productive and less compromising prospect, so I decided to return to Canada. Despite this decision to leave Somalia and UNHCR, my exploratory research proved constructive in several ways. I lived as a U N 1 The speed with which this news reached UNHCR headquarters in Geneva and the stir it created were impressive. Watchdog critics of the peace-keeping mission in Somalia were ready to jump on and publicize any error on the part of UN operations in Somalia, so senior staff at UNHCR in Geneva wanted 'full details.' 5 'international' staff member with relative privilege in what was considered a 'hardship' post. This meant that I could have creme caramel for dessert once a week while the locals served up postcolonial pasta at the local cafe, known as the Hotel Hilton Gedo. These perks were offset somewhat by sleeping in a tent too hot to occupy after 8 am and before 6 pm, located in a walled, barb-wired quasi-military compound. I learned international radio language and some of the 'UNese' lingo required to convey information within the organization. On one occasion, Somalia's two Marehan kings, a kindred pair, arrived at the UNHCR compound when I had been left in charge.2 They explained their importance, the territories they controlled, and how their people were still trying to recover a UNHCR vehicle that had been stolen some weeks before. Then they asked for two hundred litres of 'petrol', and in a gesture of amateur desert diplomacy, I gave them fifty and invited them to come again. Other visitors to the 'outpost' in Bardera included General Morgan, head of the Marehan militia in the region, and Cevik Bir, the Turkish general in charge of the UNOSOM II peacekeeping mission. Journalists, geographers working as consultants, and human rights activists also passed through; some stayed for a day, others for longer.3 Media desire for a hard news 'scoop' or sensational story became manifestly apparent during this period. One journalist flew home in a quat plane when there were no scheduled flights on the day she wanted to leave, only to write about her dangerous adventure later in the feminist Ms. magazine!4 This kind of grandstanding and adventure-seeking were common in the 'culture' of refugee work. 2 Marehan is the name of a subclan of the Darood clan. Former Somalian President Siad Barre is a Marehan; many subclans have their own militias, General Morgan being the head of the Marehan people in South Somalia. 3 Relief workers often distinguish between 'day-trippers' and 'the rest of us', a disparagingly reference to the parasitic economies of news and diplomacy that embrace the refugee 'industry.' 4 Quat planes are privately chartered from Nairobi to deliver a leafy green drug, also known as miraah. Because these aircraft carry cargo, they rarely have seats and belts installed for passengers. 6 Because the entire Kenya-Somalia border area was considered a security risk, I received US $20 per day in 'danger pay' during my contract. While it is undeniable that the border region has a long and complex history of conflict which I outline in chapter five, I felt safer in Bardera and the Kenyan refugee camps visited en route to and from this location than in Nairobi.5 The only exception was one stop in Liboi — a camp and town at the border itself— where my colleagues and I were stoned by youth as we disembarked. Incidents such as this one were, I think, random petty violence. Women, however, faced particular dangers in the camps. Early in 1992, a woman working for the French NGO, Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors without Borders), was raped in one of the Somali refugee camps which later became the site of my research. This was the first rape among expatriates whose safety mattered more at an official level than that of the refugees. Rape was nothing new to refugee women in the area, and questions of protection — legal and physical — and of its gender focus in the camp context were raised. Eventually CIDA, in conjunction with other funders and UNHCR, initiated the Women Victims of Violence project which aimed to improve women's security and assist refugees who had been affected by sexual violence. This issue is discussed in further detail and in the context of UNHCR policies pertaining to women in chapter three. The assymetries of power and cultural politics of distributing food, seeds, and tools to Somali communities troubled me, both professionally and personally. In particular, I found myself faced with the conundrum of whether I was imposing my cultural (Western 5 In Nairobi there is more violence than in the Northeast Province of Kenya, and it is more directed. At one level, it is an expression of the increasing economic apartheid in the city: luxury cars with red plates signifying UN or diplomatic status ply the streets of Nairobi with their windows closed. In September 1993 one UN employee, a Dane, was stopped on the road by thieves toting guns. He was asked to get out, and in refusing to hand over his keys to the vehicle was shot dead. A Cameroonian woman working for UNHCR, during my research visit, had a bracelet ripped off her wrist in broad daylight in a posh suburb of Nairobi. Nonetheless, a sizable and wealthy expatriate community supports everything from French bakeries and Kenyan-made brie to Danish feta and imported British jams. 7 feminist) values on Somali people. My job was to distribute fairly sorghum, sesame, and vegetable seeds as well as the tools and food needed for planting to villagers in the rural areas surrounding Bardera. This effort was part of a plan to get returning refugees and displaced people who had been reliant on free food aid during the peak of the civil war back to their home communities. The project was, admittedly, a bit of social engineering on the part of UNHCR, but one which aimed to restore normal life to these areas and give a kick start to local economies. My dilemma was often one of whether to give the seeds, tools, and food to the local elders, usually men, and trust them distribute the materials, or to give individual allotments to all adult women in the village.6 The rationale for the second option was that women planted the seeds and prepared the food, and that if a Somali man had more than one wife, this method would be fairest because every household would receive the materials. This option did, however, involve more work, and it often upset the male elders whose authority was not being respected. Refugee camp census exercises, more commonly known as 'headcounts', also crystallized some of my concerns about management practices in the camps. Postcolonial theories and criticism from my academic milieu in the 'Far West' had startling applications to the supposedly postcolonial, post-independence spaces of the camps.7 In particular, record-keeping procedures, disciplinary techniques, and other modes of reporting the field appeared similar to the strategies of control initiated by colonial administrations. I read these critical analyses at the same time that I submitted similar records and statistics to 6 The question of trust in places affected by human displacement and where powerful organizations were giving away valuable goods is different than in stable communities where social, political, and economic structures are more or less intact. 7 Timothy Mitchell, Colonising Egypt. (Berkeley/L.A.: University of California Press, 1988), paperback edition 1991; Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. (London/NY: Verso, 1983), second edition 1991; Trinh T. Minh-ha, Woman. Native. Other: Writing Postcoloniality and Feminism. (Bloomington & Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1989). 8 UNHCR as part of my job. My complicity in these practices, then, only complicates the multiple and contradictory locations and locutions that follow. If any one thing characterizes the camps and relief work generally, it is the grinding and constant state of displacement: of self, of refugees, of local people, and of language. Not only do refugees unsettle local people, but they frustrate the local, national, and international relief staff of organizations like UNHCR, C A R E , and Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) that ostensibly work for them. The international agencies apply their own rules regarding access to services and supplies in the camps, exacting certain performances — not always very palatable — from the refugees. In this opening section I have tried to weave myself into the sometimes surreal landscape of refugee camps and humanitarian operations there. In so doing, the antecedents of my research and my position in relation to the organizations and spaces I go on to study are made somewhat more explicit. This positioning shifted often over the course of my field work: I was allowed to be an insider at times, and asked to be a neutral outside observer on others.8 As a former employee of UNHCR many doors were opened to me. My imbrication in the relations of power which this dissertation critiques speaks as much about the researcher as about the researched. I made several friends at UNHCR as well as some enemies during the course of my work. On one occasion in Nairobi, a set of my field notes were plagiarized and made into an official UNHCR memo and policy directive before my eyes. At other times, I volunteered to assist in the drafting of memos and answering of phones in the UNHCR office, efforts which rendered me both insider and outsider at once. 8 In Nairobi, I shared a house with a Finnish protection officer trained in international law who worked for UNHCR. 9 I rarely experienced hostility during my visits to and walks through the camps. On one occasion I was facetiously asked if I was a tourist by an elder Somali man, a comment I took to be incisive given Caren Kaplan's warnings "against a form of theoretical tourism on the part of the first world critic, where the margin becomes a linguistic or critical vacation, a new poetics of the exotic."9 Another day, a young Somali man chewing quat grabbed me by the collar and angrily shouted something at me which the male interpreter, who was a camp elder, refused to translate. Among refugees, I was mostly met with curiosity: I was a foreigner who often walked within the camps, an odd habit given that most international staff and visitors move in white Nissan Patrols and Toyota Landcruisers. The driver of one such vehicle imparted snippets of local knowledge to me, as I assured him that wearing my seatbelt was simply a cultural habit and no comment on his driving. He explained that the UNHCR rules also require that he wear a belt, but that in this region of bandits, known as shiftas, it is more dangerous to 'buckle up' than not. If he were to be stopped at gun point, a fairly common occurrence in the area, and asked to get out of the car, reaching down to release the belt buckle might be perceived as drawing a weapon and cost him his life at close range. Both in the Nairobi office and in the camps, I encountered vast networks of informal and local knowledges which shaped my thinking at least as much as the formal lines of inquiry outlined below. Doing It For writing, like a game that defies its own rules, is an on-going practice that may be said to be concerned, not with inserting a "me" into language, but with creating an opening where the "me" disappears while "I" endlessly come and go, as the nature of language requires.10 9 Caren Kaplan cited in Kamala Visweswaran, Fictions of Feminist Ethnography. (London/NY: Routledge, 1993). p. 111. 1 0 Trinh T. Minh-ha, Woman. Native. Other: Writing Postcoloniality and Feminism. (Bloomington & Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1989), p. 35. 10 ...institutions are the more readily definable macro-objects, grosser instruments for the finer, more elemental workings of power. Power is the thin, inescapable film that covers all human interactions, whether inside institutions or out.... Institutions are the means that power uses, and not the other way around, not sources or origins of power.11 This dissertation analyzes the Office of the U N High Commissioner for Refugees at different locations. It addresses the geo-political context from which the agency emerged and examines some of the spaces in which it organizes human displacement. The proposals written to fund this research about UNHCR operations were another matter. One funder encouraged a focus on gender analysis in order to be eligible for grants. Another insisted that the project must produce policy applications for the field and implied that an empirical approach would be most acceptable. The culture of the department exacted a more theoretically informed performance. Incorporating these interests as well as my own into a preliminary approach, I submitted my methodology to the university ethics review panel which approved the research artifice. The proposal was literally produced out of the organizational exigencies of funders, the sensibilities of faculty and other students, the demands of university protocol, and personal objectives. The editors' remarks in one collection describe this process of preparation incisively: If the term 'institution' applies to 'all the field of the nondiscursive social' (as Foucault contends), 'the book' may be the dominant institution of discourse. This volume, too, is of that institution.... all this belongs to the institution of the book.12 While the research presented here examines one organization and its workings of power, it also addresses a range of subjectivities within these relations. The research proposals represented a compromise between funders' notions of gendered agents of social change 1 1 John Caputo, & Mark Yount, "Institutions, Normalization, Power" (Introduction), Foucault and the Critique of Institutions, (eds.) J. Caputo & M. Yount (PA: Pennsylvania State University, 1993), p. 4. 1 2 John Caputo & Mark Yount, 1993, op. cit, p. 20. 11 and geographical perspectives on governance, postcolonial and feminist critiques. Similarly, the subject positions and conceptions of agency written here represent a sometimes contradictory composite of these constructions. The text does not pretend to be definitive; it defies one reading by analyzing power, policy, and practice in a number of locations and at different scales. My research approach includes a simultaneously ascending (anti-foundational) and descending (tentatively foundational) analysis of power. It engages the cultures, commonalities and differences encountered through a number of interviews, meetings, informal discussions and observations. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak and bell hooks underscore the importance of 'talking back' and of dialogue — of speaking to, not of or for — in cross-cultural exchange.13 Donna Haraway insists that researchers must 'situate' their knowledge, and as James Clifford recognizes "there is no longer any place of overview... from which to map human ways of life, no Archimedian point from which to represent the world."14 To enact research Lila Abu-Lughod advocates 'ethnographies of the particular', instruments of a tactical humanism. Particularity should not to be mistaken for a privileging of micro over macro processes, but rather the effects of extralocal and long-term processes are only manifested locally and specifically, produced in the actions of individuals living their particular lives, inscribed in their bodies and their words.15 1 3 bell hooks, "Talking Back" and "marginality as site of resistance" in Out There: Marginalization and Contemporary Cultures, (eds.) R. Ferguson, M. Gever, Trinh T. Minh-ha, & C. West (New York: The New Museum of Contemporary Art, 1990). pp. 337-344; Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, "Can the Subaltern Speak?" in Marxism and the Interpretation of Culture, (eds.) Nelson and Grossberg, (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1988). 1 4 Donna Haraway, "Situated Knowledges" in Simians. Cyborgs, and Women: The Reinvention of Nature. (NY: Routledge, 1991), pp. 183-201; J. Clifford, "Partial Truths" in J. Clifford & G.E. Marcus (eds.) Writing Culture: The Poetics and Politics of Ethnography. (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1986), p. 22. 1 5 Lila Abu-Lughod, "Writing Against Culture" in Recapturing Anthropology, (ed.) R.G. Fox, (Sante Fe: School for American Research, 1991). pp.137-162. p. 150. 12 My research took me to Geneva, Nairobi, and seven refugee camps. The emerging research and analyses purport to trace and interpret the translation of UNHCR policy into practice, across space and in a specific geo-political context.16 To the 'Field' The 'field' is a diffuse and problematic term for geographers. As Cindy Katz contends, "I am always, everywhere, in "the field.""17 Katz challenges the marking off of "the field" as a separate time and space by asking what constitutes it. She employs a "politics of engagement" to meet her objective: The aim is not to bound a site of common culture and turn it into a museum/mausoleum, but to locate and pry apart some of the differences, not just between one site and elsewhere but within it as well. 1 8 Heeding her analysis, I nonetheless employ the notion of 'field' inescapably, but with an awareness of its partiality. My fields are comprised of Geneva where I conducted interviews and research at UNHCR headquarters, and Kenya where I divided my time between UNHCR operations in Nairobi and the camps. UNHCR has its own fields; the term is used frequently by staff throughout the organization to refer to many things. A Finn leaving headquarters to work for UNHCR in Nairobi was presented with a farewell card wishing him well in 'the field.' Although Nairobi is large city with many amenities, it is nonetheless a satellite of Geneva. In the Nairobi Branch office, staff often visited from 'the field', meaning a sub-office servicing refugee camps or a UNHCR outpost within the regional jurisdiction of the branch office. At the UNHCR office in Dadaab, a central 1 6 "It is fairly clear that personal narrative persists alongside objectifying description in ethnographic writing because it mediates a contradiction within the discipline between personal and scientific authority", Mary Louise Pratt "Fieldwork in Common Places" in (eds.) J. Clifford & G.E. Marcus, Writing Culture: The Poetics and Politics of Ethnography. (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1986), pp. 27-50. p. 32. 1 7 Cindy Katz, "Playing the Field: Questions of Fieldwork in Geography", Professional Geographer, vol. 46, no. 1, February 1994, pp. 67-72. p. 72. 1 8 Cindy Katz, 1994, op. cit., p. 68. 13 administration point serving three camps, field staff would often spend the day in 'the field', referring to the refugee camps. While Geneva is a 'field' for the purposes of my study, it is never 'the field' for UNHCR employees. Within the organization and depending on your post and location, 'field' has a multitude of meanings, most of which are predicated on geographical distance from a perceived centre. One can imagine series of linked maps: at once discontinuous, but connected as 'fields'. In Geneva, days were spent pouring through UNHCR's databases and library. This humanitarian capital, a city of refuge based on its political neutrality since 1815, was the site of interviews with seven senior managers at UNHCR, two junior UNHCR staff, an international NGO advocate, one Kenyan and one Canadian consular staff member. In Kenya, my time was split roughly in half between Nairobi (8 weeks) where UNHCR Branch Office provided a base and sometimes a desk, and the refugee camps (6 weeks).19 Of seven camps visited, five weeks were spent at the three Dadaab camps, located approximately 50 kilometres from the Kenya-Somalia border. The other four camps are located along the Kenyan coast near the cities of Mombasa and Malindi. They differ from the border camps in that the International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC) rather than C A R E is responsible for camp management, and UNHCR's role is much more 'hands-off at these locations. Time spent with UNHCR in Dadaab was particularly intense and productive because all staff and visitors are literally held 'captive' in a single compound.20 They take their meals in common dining hall, and generally work long hours given that there is little else to do. While not very rigorous as research methods go, probably the most productive way of 1 9 An appendectomy was the cause of an extra week spent in Nairobi. 2 0 The effects of restricted movement in this highly circumscribed space that I witnessed were rapid burnout, physical illness, and depression among UNHCR professional staff. 14 collecting information, obtaining interviews, and generating relevant questions was simply being there, available to listen, query, and watch what was going on. In Dadaab, this involved accompanying various UNHCR staff on their daily rounds when they went to the camps, sitting in on interagency staff meetings to which I was invited (because I was 'around'), and sipping a lot of coffee and tea despite the heat in order to extend lunch time conversations with visitors from the U.S. Embassy and State Department, media, and staff who felt like talking about various things. This latter habit affected my subjectivity as researcher: I commenced as outsider collecting information, expert opinions and experience; before long I was making arguments of my own and taking positions that flatly opposed those of certain UNHCR employees. Aware that this was happening, personal and political convictions could not nonetheless be hidden in the name of fictitious objectivity. The opinions of one staff member who maintained that refugees can never be trusted, that guns are the only real way to demonstrate authority in the camps, and that the camps themselves are 'war zones', motivated me to engage as interlocutor. This battle intensified the more time I spent in the Dadaab camps. It was, interestingly, a very gendered disagreement: my position was roughly the same as one taken earlier by a then resigned female staff, while several of the male staff held convictions similar to those noted above. However, just prior to my arrival, one male staff member had left Dadaab, criticizing these and other approaches to camp management at both the regional and headquarters level. My individual interviews with refugee women were organized in concert with regular UNHCR staff visits to the three camps, all of which are within a fifteen kilometre drive of Dadaab. During these regular visits, however, interviews were sometimes deferred if the opportunity to sit in on a UNHCR meeting with refugee elders arose. On one occasion, a 15 UNHCR field officer asked me to join a problem-solving session with a group of gudomiyas after a public demonstration among refugees had erupted in the camp.21 The issue related to religious expression in the camps, and refugees were angry with a sheik from the Saudi-based Muslim relief agency, Al-Haramein, for proselytizing unpopular Islamic beliefs in public when the refugees had mosques and their own sheiks with whom to worship in the camp. Insights into these more nuanced intra-camp issues were gleaned simply from being a warm body in the right place. The period of my research was sufficiently long in duration to cover one of the two annual cycles of rainy and dry seasons. The rainy season tends to generate more disease and higher mortality among the refugee population. One of the camps experienced flooding in November 1994, displacing refugees there to higher ground. As well, banditry is more common in the area during the rainy season because movement of vehicles is more difficult, making them easier to ambush, and there is more foliage to hide bandits and their stolen goods.22 The rainy season also has economic impacts. Food trucks often get stuck in the mud, and when they finally deliver their commodities which are distributed to refugees, the market prices for staples in the camps usually plummet because there is no way to transport food to town markets nearby, generating a glut of supply in the camps. The hot season commences in January, coinciding with Ramadhan and fasting among many of the refugees in the camps. Consequently, activity levels during this period decline significantly. Many of the ethnic Somali Kenyan staff, including the woman who interpreted the interviews for this project, found the combination of a regular work day, fasting, and heat difficult. 2 1 Gudomiya is a Somali term for elder. 2 2 During my stay, only one vehicle was stolen; my own opinion is that a radio handset stolen from UNHCR a week before assisted bandits, also known as shiftas, in identifying the vehicle's movement and planning their attack. This view was not popular with the UNHCR officer in charge who had not known about the stolen handset, despite it being public knowledge, and was driving the vehicle at the time it was ambushed. Note: the language of ambush, bandits, attack used here is common parlance in the camps. 16 Troubled Translations Translation and interpretation pose questions and raise issues of theory and politics that could well warrant an entire dissertation. Aware that translation is heavily invested with unequal power relations and a site for questions of representation, power, and historicity,23 my research nonetheless attempts to incorporate some two dozen interviews with refugee women, all of which were contingent upon the availability and skills of one translator. Sherene Razack tells of the "perils of storytelling for refuge women" in particular.24 She calls for an interrogation of the construction of subjectivity on the part of those who collect and use stories, as well as a more careful examination of how we come to know what we know given the relations of domination produced by white supremacy, capitalism and patriarchy. Interviews, as part of methodology, often serve to authenticate research findings by appropriating subjugated knowledges from essentialized 'native informants.'25 At least as problematic as cultural appropriation is the uncomfortable realization that the interview process reinscribes the power relations that I aimed to critique and contest from the outset. They exact the same kind of performances from refugees as do the relief agencies which organize access to food, medical services, and other needs. Consent becomes almost meaningless in the wholly unequal relationship between interviewer and interviewee. Conducting responsible fieldwork without reproducing these dangerously unequal relations of power was identified as an important, if unresolved, issue.26 2 3 Tejaswini Niranjana, Siting Translation: History. Post-structuralism and the Colonial Context. (Berkeley/LA/Oxford: University of California Press, 1992). 2 4 Sherene Razack, "The Perils of Storytelling for Refugee Women", Development and Diaspora: The Gender Relations of Refugee Experience, (eds.) W. Giles, H. Moussa, P. Van Esterik. (Dundas, Ontario: Artemis Enterprises, forthcoming 1996). pp. 271-289. 2 5 See Donna Haraway, 1991, op. cit. 2 6 Helene Moussa, Storm and Sanctuary: The Journey of Ethiopian and Eritrean Refugee Women. (Dundas, Ontario: Artemis, 1993). Helene Moussa's research with Eritrean and Ethiopian refugees addresses the "politics of research" and provided important background for my interviews with refugees. Her positioning as a researcher, however, differs significantly from my own. Her project of tracing the journeys of sixteen Eritrean and Ethiopian women from their homes in the Horn of Africa to Canada focuses on the experience of the women as refugees, rather than on UNHCR's strategies to manage refugee populations. 17 Language translation poses other difficulties in the camps. Translation is a critical activity for UNHCR and all other international agencies' daily operations.27 Almost all face-to-face interactions with refugees require a translator, and often discussions and disagreements occurred solely around the issue of whose translator, 'ours' or 'theirs', would interpret. On one occasion an incensed UNHCR local staff discovered that a rape incident had been translated to the police as 'spousal assault'. As Norma Alarcon notes, The act of translating, which often introduces different concepts and perceptions, displaces and may even do violence to local knowledge through language. In the process, these may be assessed as false or inauthentic.28 This example begins to illustrate the power relations and potential abuse of power inscribed in translations. In an effort to avoid obvious cultural disjuncture, if not epistemic violence, I 'tested' my proposed questions before commencing the interviews by having the translator review them to assess whether they were conceptually and culturally 'translatable.'29 Steeped in a few of the inherent problems of translation, Mikhail Bakhtin's words were among the most salient:30 2 7 The exception to this may be Al-Haramein, the staff of whom speak Arabic from which many Somali words are derived. However, only a few (male) elders and educated Somalis are conversant in the language. 2 8 Norma Alarcon, "Traddutora, Traditora: A Paradigmatic Figure of Chicana Feminism" in Scattered Hegemonies, (eds.) I. Grewal and C. Kaplan, (Minneapolis: Minnesota U. P., 1994), p. 113. 2 9 Many of the questions for refugees noted in Appendix B of my initial proposal were conveniently part of a comprehensive consultation process initiated by CARE at Dadaab. The findings of the subsequent "Report on Community Consultation", by Mary Hope Schwoebel and Mohamed Hassan Haji Mary Hope Schwoebel & Mohamed Hassan Haji, (CARE International Refugee Assistance Project, October 1994) is analyzed in chapter 7. I first met Mary Hope Schwoebel when I worked in Bardera, Somalia where she was employed by the American-based International Rescue Committee (IRC). 3 0 The articles included in Scattered Hegemonies, (eds.) I. Grewal and C. Kaplan (Minneapolis: Minnesota University Press, 1994) were the primary source of provocation at that time. The work of Tejaswini Niranjana is also helpful here: Siting Translation: history, post-structuralism and the colonial context. (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1992). 18 Language is not a neutral medium that passes freely and easily into the private property of the speaker's intentions; it is populated — over populated with the intentions of others. Expropriating, forcing it to submit to one's own intentions and accents, is a difficult and complicated process.31 Neither translation nor the differences in cultural and professional positions of the people involved were neutral, nor were the languages employed. During the interviews with refugee women, the main source of slippage in translation concerned the concept of time. Two basic questions were posed to each woman interviewed; the first asked "what did you do yesterday, starting in the morning, and how long did each activity take?"32 It was the latter part of this query which proved problematic because it assumed a fairly precise awareness of 'clock' time. The translator often had to explain what was meant in more detail, and how exactly she did this remains uncertain. By employing and working together over several months with one translator, my research approach revealed some of the problems and power differentials involved in our own relationship. The woman with whom I collaborated on this project is an ethnic Somali, Kenyan national from a town close to the Kenya-Somalia border. Unlike some of the other Somali staff hired in Kenya, she dressed in traditional attire, always wearing a scarf over her head and clothing down to her ankles. Her proximity to home and to 'her people', as she called them, affected her behavior and dress, as news of wrongdoing or exceptional activities could travel home quickly. In contrast to the cultural discipline to which she told me she felt subjected, one other Kenyan Somali woman on staff was from 'up country' and 3 1 Norma Alarcon, 1994, op. cit., p. 119. 3 2 The other related to the household economy and asked "what do you and other family members do when your ration runs out to earn extra income?" 19 exhibited all the trappings and savoir vivre of a Westernized Kenyan.3 3 She did not cover her head except with a safari hat, and although she wore clothes which covered her legs (we all did), they were stitched in more Western styles. At one point I asked her why she didn't feel so restricted by the norms of Somali culture. She said it was a question of distance; no one in the proximate area knew anything about her, no one was monitoring her actions, so she could do as she pleased. During the period of the research, the translator with whom I worked was also employed by UNHCR on a local contract. This complicated my status as a purportedly independent researcher because I was employing the skills of a woman who worked for the very organization I intended to study.34 One might criticize this decision as a means of drawing on the authority of UNHCR to solicit information, but practically speaking, this person was the only Somali woman available to do the work. In one sense, I chose a problematic institutional affiliation over a potentially more patriarchal one, given that more men were available as translators than women. Because the site of the interviews was the gendered space of refugees' houses, I felt it was important to approach women and discuss their work with a female translator. Nonetheless, serious concerns about the translator's 'choice' in the matter remain. She was encouraged to assist with my research by her supervisor, an international staff member, when she had completed her job-related duties. Her supervisor was supportive of my research, and as a Kenyan whose contract was up for renewal, the translator had little room to refuse the wishes of her boss who would recommend her for subsequent 3 3 'Up country' is a reference to Kenyans who live in or beyond (West) of Nairobi; the Kenyan coast seems to be the geographical referent here, although socially, 'up country' connotes a certain sophistication and higher levels of education. This particular woman's family lived in Nairobi and came from an area near Lake Victoria, in Western Kenya. 3 4 For this reason none of my questions touched upon UNHCR operations or staff. 20 employment. Despite these power differentials, I established a healthy working relationship with both the translator and her boss. The various discursive locations and findings of the interviews will be analyzed further by introducing political status as the basis of distinguishing between supra-citizen, citizen, and sub-citizen . An ironic aspect of my research which includes a critical gender analysis of UNHCR was my placement in a section of the organization conventionally coded as 'female.' In Nairobi, my main UNHCR contact was with the Social Services Division, the acting head of which was a Danish woman of considerable chutzpah who actively supported my work. In many ways, she was my intermediary and advocate in dealings with the big 'boss' at UNHCR in Nairobi, a man not terribly predisposed to the idea of researchers in 'his' office.35 In Dadaab, my assigned contact was the UNHCR Social Services Officer, a dynamic Canadian woman who was also extremely helpful. Thus, as an independent researcher addressing gender within this affiliated organization, my assigned locations in it were also gendered. As at UNHCR in Nairobi, my status as independent researcher at UNHCR in the Dadaab camps was not wholly acceptable to the officer in charge. He was prepared to include me in meetings and share information because of my position as a former employee (insider). But during our first meeting at which my purpose and project were explained, he said that other people didn't need to know of my position as university researcher (outsider) and that he would rather introduce me as an 'intern' with UNHCR. My response to the proposed deception was simply that research ethics stipulate that one must identify one's role and university affiliation. This attempt to hide my identity was never raised again. More of the office politics relevant to my research will be discussed in the chapter two. 21 What's the Problem? The findings of my research appear a decade after Barbara Harrell-Bond's landmark tome, Imposing Aid: Emergency Assistance to Refugees. Her study of Ugandan refugees in South Sudan was a "first attempt to make an independent study of an emergency assistance programme."36 While the findings of her case study cannot be generalized to all refugee emergencies, she argues that "they do raise profound questions concerning the role of relief, its link with development, the role of voluntary agencies and international organizations, and the impact of outside interventions and funds on the capacity of host governments to manage their own affairs."37 My own research focuses more specifically on the refugee operations of UNHCR and its partner agencies in one location, but also uses feminist and cultural theory in the context of refugee operations. The study takes place in a vastly altered geo-political landscape, yet in an adjacent state — Kenya — where Sudanese, Ethiopian, and Somali refugees have all sought asylum since the time of Harrell-Bond's research. Central and East Africa, including the Horn, continue to host literally millions of refugees. Within the discipline of geography, a number of scholars have published research pertaining to refugee displacement. Not surprisingly, much of this body of work relates to refugees in the Horn of Africa. 3 8 Within the social sciences more generally, increasing attention is being paid to issues of displacement and migration. In particular, cultural analyses of displacement, diaspora, and subjectivity in the context of people's movement across the globe have multiplied as the influence of postcolonial and feminist theory has 3 6 Barbara Harrell-Bond, Imposing Aid: Emergency Assistance to Refugees. (Oxford/New York/Nairobi: Oxford University Press, 1986). p. xii 3 7 Ibid. pp. xv-xvi. 3 8 Geographers in the English-speaking world who focus on refugee issues in the Horn of Africa include John Rogge, Jonathan Bascom, and Tomas Kulman. See also the collection edited in the UK by Richard Black and Vaughan Robinson, Geography and Refugees: patterns and processes of change. (London: Belhaven Press, 1993), including Richard Black's introduction, "Geography and Refugees: Current Issues", pp. 3-13. 22 crossed disciplinary borders.39 While anthropologists and literary critics have employed poststructuralist, feminist, and postcolonial readings of refugee displacement,40 these approaches remain relatively underdeveloped in geography. Accordingly, the research presented here aims to make a modest contribution to refugee research within the discipline. Geographers have not been well represented in the interdisciplinary pursuit of 'refugee studies', established some fifteen years ago. This seems surprising, given that the power relations which structure conditions in the home countries of refugees, their flight, and the camps into which they are received are material 'productions of space'. My research engages with feminist and postcolonial literatures, but geographical frameworks are among the most relevant in analyzing relations of forced migration. Beyond the discipline, in the refugee camps of Kenya and the pockets of warring factions in Somalia, geography matters. 3 9 See Gloria Anzaldua, Borderlands: The New Mestisa. (San Francisco: Spinster/Aunt Lute Press, 1987); Arjun Appadurai, "Global Ethnoscapes" in Recapturing Anthropology, (ed.) R.G. Fox, (Sante Fe: School for American Research, 1991), pp. 191-211; Angelika Bammer (ed.), Displacements: Cultural Identities in Question. (Bloomington/Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1994); Linda Basch, Nina Glick Schiller, & Cristina Szanton Blanc, Nations Unbound: Transnational Projects. Postcolonial Predicaments, and Deterritorialized Nation-States. (Langhorne, Penn.: Gordon and Breach, 1994); Homi Bhabha, The Location of Culture. (London/NY: Routledge, 1994); James Clifford, "Travelling Cultures" in Cultural Studies, (eds.) Grossberg, L. & C. Nelson, and P. Treichler, (New York: Routledge, 1992), pp. 96-116; Inderpal Grewal, "Autobiographical Subjects, Diasporic Locations" in Scattered Hegemonies: Postmodernity and Transnational Feminist Practices. (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1994), pp. 231-254; Akhil Gupta & James Ferguson, "Beyond 'Culture': Space, Identity, and the Politics of Difference" in Cultural Anthropology, vol. 7, no. 1, (Feb. 1992), pp. 6-23; Caren Kaplan, ""A World without Boundaries": The Body Shop's Trans/national Geographies" in Social Text 43. Fall 1995, pp. 45-66; Rajeswari Sunder Rajan, Real & Imagined Women: Gender, culture and postcolonialism. (London/N.Y.: Routledge, 1993); Edward Said, "Reflections on Exile" in Out There: Marginalization and Contemporary Cultures, (eds.) R. Ferguson, M. Gever, Trinh T. Minh-ha, & C. West, (New York: The New Museum of Contemporary Art, 1990). pp. 357-366; Trinh Minh-ha, Woman. Native. Other: Writing Postcoloniality and Feminism (Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1989). 4 0 Liisa Malkki, "National Geographic: The Rooting of Peoples and the Territorialization of National Identity Among Scholars and Refugees" in Cultural Anthropology, vol. 7, no. 1, (Feb. 1992), pp. 24-43; Rob Nixon, "Refugees and Homecomings: Bessie Head and the end of exile" in Travellers' Tales: Narratives of Home and Displacement, (eds.) G. Robertson, M. Mash, L. Tickner, J. Bird, B. Curtis & T. Putnam. (NY/London: Routledge, 1994), pp. 114-128. 23 In the chapters that follow, I set out to address the ways that humanitarian organizations deal with crises of human displacement in the 1990s. As noted, I limit the scope of humanitarian responses mainly to the work of UNHCR. Thomas Weiss and Larry Minear pose policy-based questions which serve to focus the analyses which follow: ...many of the world's principal humanitarian organizations still employ a predominantly Western approach and constituency. What are the operational implications of a more universal approach to humanitarian action for the culture of today's aid institutions? How can existing institutions become more attuned to the cultures in which major humanitarian crises are set?41 Weiss and Minear seemingly overlook the possibility that a more universal approach to humanitarian action may be less attuned to the cultures in which major crises are set. How, for example, are crises of displacement in the 1990s different from those of World War II? What has been the impact of geo-political changes, in particular the end of the Cold War, on UNHCR operations? More specifically, what are the salient strategies of humanitarian assistance for refugees and other displaced people in the Horn of Africa? The Office of UNHCR was established after the Second World War to attend to the millions of people in Europe displaced by the war. Events of history, politics, and law have generated significant geographical change and different movements of refugees since that time. How does an organization established in 1951 respond to forced migration forty-five years later? My research also concerns theoretical and political issues of mobility, citizenship, and the significance of borders. I contend that contemporary responses to forced migration involve the respatialization of refugee management. This involves an increasing geographical distance between donor and displaced because humanitarian assistance is provided in safe spaces near or at home, and a concomitant politics of distance. Increasingly, international bodies cross sovereign borders to assist displaced civilians. When people flee across 4 1 Thomas G. Weiss & Larry Minear, Humanitarianism Across Borders: Sustaining Civilians in Times of War, (eds.) T.G. Weiss & L. Minear, (Boulder: Lynne Rienner, 1993), p. 10. 24 borders and become refugees, they often wait for a solution to their situation in conditions of isolation and exclusion. These conditions pose the problem of how to rethink notions of temporary citizenship for people living outside of their nation-state. Moving to a finer scale of analysis, I examine the significance of gender and cultural politics both within U N H C R and in Kenyan refugee camps administered by the organization. What does multiculturalism mean at UNHCR? How do women 'fit' within UNHCR structures and recruitment protocols as staff? How do Somali refugee women fair in camps established to meet their needs? How effectively do policies promoting refugee women work in the camp setting? The problem these questions underscore is this: has UNHCR 'fit' women and minority groups into its organizational structure, or has UNHCR significantly changed its current 'unity in diversity' approach in order to include fully the differences of these groups in more equitable ways? This corpus of questions relating to the management of displaced people vis-a-vis UNHCR provides the basis for discussions which follow. The questions span a number of scales, locations, and academic literatures. Rather than present a single literature review for the entire work, relevant debates, references, and citations will be reviewed where appropriate. Ordering Disorder: An Outline To organize the tremendous volume of field notes, information, and interviews, this work is presented in two parts. Part one focuses on Geneva and looks at the 'culture' of UNHCR: its history, geography, policies, and priorities. Part two moves to one location expressive of these priorities and practices. It examines the ways in which UNHCR applies its policies developed in Geneva to conditions of human displacement outside of 25 Europe, specifically in the Horn of Africa. The case of Somali refugees in Kenya constitutes the focus of the study, though the geo-politics of the larger region are, I will argue, critical to understanding the cultural politics inside and outside the camps. Chapter one introduces the object of inquiry: the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, its historical and political antecedents, and its mandate. It sets the stage for chapter two, a sketch of UNHCR's institutional culture and an analysis of the contradictory notions of 'culture' it embodies. Chapter three traces historical constructions of gender and 'race' within a framework of 'UN humanism'. Its focus is gender policy, and two specific UNHCR projects affecting women employees and refugees are examined within this context. In chapter four, the geo-politics of the post-Cold War landscape are explored in the context of international law pertaining to refugees, human rights, and immigration. International responses increasingly attempt to deal with displacement through containment. A politics of distance suggests that refugees are best assisted 'over there' rather than 'over here'; borders are fortified and gate-keeping is a major concern for most industrialized countries, particularly in Western Europe, where refugees from Eastern Europe are proximate. Emerging approaches to managing displacement on a global scale in the 1990s are elaborated. In part two, the location and scale of analysis shift. U N H C R 'culture', policy, and personnel procedures are translated to a postcolonial, post-Cold War landscape in the Horn of Africa. Moving from Europe to Africa, an historical geography of geo-politics and economic influence in the Horn is sketched in chapter five. I argue that discrimination against and containment of Somalis has its roots in the drawing of colonial borders and in 26 subsequent Cold War alliances, both of which were shaped by a pan-Somali nationalism. I also contend that money crosses borders more easily than bodies do; humanitarian aid moves to crisis locations more quickly than displaced people move from these locations, giving rise to a 'transnational geo-politics of mobility.' This is especially evident in the case of displaced Somalis to whom aid is channelled in remote desert areas where refugee camps have been established. Chapter five sets up a detailed examination of UNHCR's applications of humanitarian assistance in the camps. Chapter six, entitled "'F' is for Field," presents the layout, rationale, and operations of the refugee camps. The very design of the camps centres on the security of staff rather than refugee needs or accessibility. How this defines the daily routines of refugee women in three camps is discussed in the context of disciplinary and discursive productions of power. Chapter seven addresses 'the microphysics of power' — everyday practices which produce desired behaviours in colonial and post-colonial subjects.42 Refugees and displaced people are individuals who "are always in the position of simultaneously undergoing and exercising power."43 In refugee camps power is exercised through both coercion and discipline. Kenyan police guard the camps (one is never sure who is being protected from whom) while the 'humanitarian international' literally organizes the field:44 building camps in a grid style; generating systems to meet refugees' basic needs in an 4 2 Timothy Mitchell, 1991, op. cit.; Michel Foucault, Discipline & Punish: The Birth of the Prison. (New York: Vintage Books, 1977), pp. 81-82; Donna Haraway, 1991, op. cit. I agree with Foucault when he says, "rather than worry about the central spirit, I believe we must attempt to study the myriad of bodies which are constituted as peripheral subjects as a result of the effects of power" (p. 98); however, exploring the domain and discourse of the 'central spirit1, in the case the language of human rights and international law, informs the production and distribution of bodies. Foucault maintained that the very idea of power-as-right serves to conceal the fact of domination and all the effects of domination. Thus, a study of an institution both in the context of human rights and as a site of techniques and instruments 'on the ground' is potentially potent. 4 3 Michel Foucault, 1977, op. cit. p. 98. 4 4 The term'humanitarian international' refers to the cadre of international professionals — a cosmopolitan, liberal elite — who work in humanitarian organizations; see African Rights, "Humanitarianism Unbound? Current Dilemmas Facing Multi-Mandate Relief Operations in Political Emergencies", discussion paper no. 5, London, 1994, p. 9. 27 orderly way; and checking refugee cards to ensure a match between family size and their given rations. "To establish political authority over a population, there are two modes, one of suppression and one of tutoring."45 In the camps both techniques are deployed. Refugees are officially required to live in the camps, though not all of them do. "Never mind the field, or Crossing Borders" is the title of chapter eight which alludes to some of the experiences of Somali refugees who have avoided the destiny of the camps. It looks at the ways Somalians have engaged in various unofficial livelihoods: as entrepreneurs, gentrifiers, and nomads in search of improved status elsewhere. While difficult to trace, the paths they have taken point to more than simply resistance to the confines of camp life. Class position, economic means, and other variables suggest different patterns and possibilities of mobility. Some refugees negotiate the structures and arrangements of the camp, trading in identity documents and keeping one foot in the camps and the other in the local Kenyan market. Others take up residence in Kenya's two largest cities, ironically displacing segments of the local population through gentrification. Al l of these arrangements point to a micropolitics of mobility shaped by a more global geo-politics of mobility. Evidence that the camps are porous, temporary cities whose assigned inhabitants defy spatial containment and isolation is abundant. In the final chapter, the idea of camps as a temporary solution to human displacement is assessed. I pose the question, "at what point does a camp cease to be an acceptable solution?" In a climate of fiscal restraint and prevailing antipathy toward refugees in the industrialized countries of the global North, camps are one strategy of keeping displacement at bay. I argue that the politics of 'over there' combined with the technologies of control in the camps signal a shift from a humanist notion of humanitarianism based on 4 5 Timothy Mitchell, 1991, op. cit. p. 95. 28 principles of universal rights and equality among nations to neo-humanism and a regime of international assistance which serves to deepen the divide between the West and the Rest. In the absence of the Cold War, the dismantling of the welfare state and the use of neo-colonial methods of managing displacement constitute a historically contingent geo-politics of mobility. Laws, human rights instruments, and policies developed to manage involuntary migration have profound political and material implications for displaced subjects. At the finest scale of forced migration — that of individual refugee lives — questions about the operations of the international humanitarian regime have the utmost urgency and relevance. My study examines the relationships between theory, policies, and the material outcomes of this regime. In shifting scales and sites of analysis, I present a multifarious human geography of displacement. The discrepant and sometimes contradictory findings of my research project emerge from this approach. The stories told and arguments made, however, do not produce a coherent whole. Rather, they speak to the ironic, dynamic, and sometimes surreal dystopia of refugee camps. Humanist holism is the essential fiction of ethnography.... We would do well to remember Jean-Paul Dumont's declamation that "nothing seems more fictitious... than the classic monograph in which a human group is drawn and quartered along the traditional categories of social, economic, religious, and other so-called organizations, and everything holds together.46 The work presented below does not read as a single, continuous narrative; to construct such a text would be fictional. As West African novelist Chinua Achebe maintains, Kamala Visweswaran, 1993, op. cit. p. 81. 29 drawing from W.B. Yeats, things fall apart, the centre cannot hold. 4 7 What follows is a series of spatialized sketches — political, cultural, and economic — which examine UNHCR and its modes of managing migration in the Horn of Africa. 4 7 Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart. (New York: Astor-Honor, 1959). 30 P A R T O N E Part one provides a background sketch of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the geo-political context from which the office emerged after World War II, and the post-Cold War environment in which it now operates. On a finer scale, it examines the internal organization of UNHCR by analyzing some current trends, tensions, and policies which shape its direction. In presenting a critical analysis of the legal, historical, and theoretical foundations of UNHCR, part one sets the stage for the case study presented in part two. 31 Chapter One The Formation of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Once geographers accept that space is not a backdrop to political and social action but is, instead, a product of such action, the role of law becomes central to the analysis of space.48 Winner of the Nobel Peace Prize on two occasions, in 1954 and 1981, UNHCR has a considerable international presence based on its historic role of responding to crises of human displacement. This chapter traces briefly the historical geography and geo-political antecedents of the international refugee regime as it emerged after World War II. It provides both a context for the inquiry into UNHCR operations which follows and a basis for a critique of these operations. Refugees in this century emerged from events associated with the Cold War, as did the Office of UNHCR which was granted an initial mandate to assist refugees in Europe generated during W.W.II. Precursor organizations to UNHCR had emerged as early as 1921 as a response to involuntary migrants created after the Bolshevik Revolution 4 9 In articles 1, 55, and 56 of the United Nations Charter, a framework for the provision of political and legal protection to refugees, displaced persons, and other vulnerable groups is outlined. U N H C R is one of the international organizations charged with this responsibility.50 Formally established after World War II in Europe, the Office of the UNHCR was a response to the many displaced and stateless people who required legal protection and material assistance. It replaced the International Refugee Organization (IRO) which had been established immediately after the war. The Office of UNHCR was to 4 ° Nicholas Blomley & Joel Bakan, "Spacing Out: towards a critical geography of law" in The Osgoode Hall Law Journal, vol. 30, no. 3, 1992. pp. 661-690. p. 687. 4 9 Rosemary Rogers & Emily Copeland, Forced Migration: Policy Issues in the Post-Cold War World. (Massachusetts: Tufts University, 1993). 5 0 Francis M. Deng, "The International Protection of the Internally Displaced", International Journal of Refugee Law. Special Issue Summer 1995, pp. 74-86. 32 complement international law protecting refugees, namely the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees. Despite the fact that 125 states were party to the Convention in 1995, it remains both explicitly and implicitly Eurocentric. From its conception, the Convention clearly demarcated geographical and historical limits. It was designed to apply to refugees in Europe displaced by events that occurred prior to 1951. The Convention is characterized by its Eurocentric focus and strategic conceptualization.51 The Convention definition of refugee is spatially coded as European. Substantively, its emphasis on persecution based on civil and political status as grounds for refugee status expresses the particular ideological debates of post-war European politics, particularly the perceived threats of Communism and another Holocaust. In emphasizing civil and political rights, the Convention had the effect of minimizing the importance of socio-economic human rights. "Unlike the victims of civil and political oppression, ... persons denied even such basic rights as food, health care, or education are excluded from the international refugee regime (unless that deprivation stems from civil or political status.)"52 These features of the Convention, its European geographical focus and emphasis on civil and political rights, have generated an uneven geography of refugee asylum which, today, is the source of contentious debate. The Convention mandate includes anyone who ... as a result of events occurring before 1 January 1951 and owing to well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his (sic) nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country; or who, not having a nationality and being outside the country of his former habitual residence as a result of such events, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it. 5 3 5 1 James Hathaway, The Status of Refugee Law. (Markham/Vancouver: Butterworths, 1991). 5 2 Ibid., p. 8. 5 3 The Convention entered into force April 22, 1954; this excerpt is taken from note 27, Article 1(A)(1), cited in James Hathaway, 1991, op. cit., p. 6. 33 The definition implicitly promulgated a hierarchy of rights, privileging political and civil rights of protection from persecution over economic, cultural, and social rights and scales of violence broader than individual persecution.54 The definition was also an expression of a particular geo-politics. "The strategic dimension of the definition comes from successful efforts of Western states to give priority in protection matters to persons whose flight was motivated by pro-Western political values."55 The Convention refugee definition was based on an ideologically divided world, grounded in relational identities of East and West. The 1951 Convention was designed to facilitate the sharing of the European refugee burden: Notwithstanding the vigorous objections of several delegates from developing countries faced with responsibility for their own refugee populations, the Eurocentric goal of the Western states was achieved by limiting the scope of mandatory international protection under the Convention to refugees whose flight was prompted by a pre-1951 event within Europe. While states might opt to extend protection to refugees from other parts of the world, the definition adopted was intended to distribute the European refugee burden without any binding obligation to reciprocate by way of the establishment of rights for, or the provision of assistance to, non-European refugees.56 Assistance to non-European refugees was optional. Solutions to the displacement of Europeans after World War II were the focus of the Convention. Complementing this emerging state-based regime of international law, the role of UNHCR is outlined legally in UNHCR's Statute. The Statute defines UNHCR's mandate as one of protecting refugees, as defined by the Convention, and of seeking permanent solutions for refugees in cooperation with governments through their voluntary repatriation or 5 4 Fifteen years later, in 1966, two legally-binding human rights instruments were created to protect, on the one hand, civil and political rights, and on the other, economic, social, and cultural rights. The International Covenant on Civil and Political rights most closely expresses the emphasis of the Convention. It ensures respect for citizens regardless of language, religion, sex, political opinion, etc. as well as "the right to liberty of movement and freedom"; The State of the World's Refugees: The Challenge of Protection. (Toronto: Penguin, 1993), p. 164. The latter instrument, the Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights include provisions which are more applicable to the so-called developing world than to Western countries, such as the right to food, shelter, and basic medical and educational services. While the first covenant applies to individuals, the second refers to particular groups of people. 5 5 Hathaway, 1991, op. cit. p. 6. 5 6 Hathaway, 1991, op. cit. p. 9. 34 assimilation within new national communities. As well, "the work of the High Commissioner shall be of an entirely non-political character...."57 In contrast to the Convention, the Statute emphasizes that the work of the U N High Commissioner for Refugees will "relate as a rule, to groups and categories of refugees," not individuals.58 From the outset then, UNHCR faced the practical difficulty of a definition of refugee based on individual determination, yet the Statute outlined responsibilities for 'groups and categories of refugees'. This disjuncture has been identified by international legal scholars, one of whom notes the increasing slippage between UNHCR and state responsibilities: The disjuncture between the obligations of States and the institutional responsibilities of UNHCR is broadest and most clearly apparent in respect of refugees, other than those with a well-founded fear of persecution or falling within regional arrangements.59 (I)t was during this period (the early 1980s) that States' reservations as to a general widening of the 'refugee definition' began to confirm the resulting disjuncture between the functional responsibilities of UNHCR and the legal obligations of States.^ 0 The vehicle used to bridge the discrepancy between the Statute and the Convention mandates was the 'good offices' of UNHCR, first employed in assisting Chinese people fleeing to Hong Kong in 1957 and then made applicable to all potential situations of displacement not envisaged at the time the original mandate was established. UNHCR's 'good offices' were created by Resolution 1673 (XVI) of the U N General Assembly on 18 December 1961. The resolution provided a basis for action which aimed to be flexible, responsive, and meaningful in emerging refugee situations, and allowed the High Commissioner to define groups as prima facie refugees without normal determinations 5 7 Article 2 of The Statute of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (1950) in UNHCR, 1993, op. cit., p. 162. 5 8 Louise Holborn, Refugees: A Problem of Our Time - - The Work of UNHCR 1951-72, (N.J.: Scarecrow Press, 1975). 5 9 Guy S. Goodwin-Gill, "The Language of Protection", International Journal of Refugee Law, vol. 1, no. 1, 1989, p. 10. 6 0 Guy S. Goodwin-Gill, 1989, op. cit., p. 12. 35 procedures.61 Prima facie refugees referred to a new category of displaced person which was subordinate to the Convention definition and more likely applicable to crises outside of Europe. Historian Louise Holborn describes the deployment of UNHCR's 'good offices' in Africa as a just-in-time measure qualified by three observations: (1) the good offices would provide only material assistance; legal protection was not seen to be required; (2) refugees on this continent were considered too numerous, dispersed, and poor to make individual assessments necessary for Convention refugee designation; (3) Europeans considered it too difficult to establish a well-founded fear of persecution in Africa, compared to Europe.6 2 Many of these qualifications are, of course, Eurocentric and Orientalist constructions of African people and point to the hierarchy of cultures and continents at the time. The drawback of the 'good offices' provision of material assistance is that it can only occur where and for as long as governments invite UNHCR to assist.63 As well, because of the poverty of many African countries, material needs have been provided to refugees, arguably at the expense of legal status and protection.64 This institutional framework speaks from and to a period when African states were beginning to advocate for and gain independence. It created the basis for a hierarchy of refugee definitions later in the century. The Convention amplified the legitimacy of asylum from persecution related to Nazism and Communism: [T]he definition of the term 'refugee'... was based on the assumption of a divided world.... The problem of refugees could not be considered in the abstract, but on the contrary, must be considered in light of historical facts. In laying down the definition of the term 'refugee', account had hitherto always been taken of the fact that the refugees involved had always been from a certain part of the world; thus, such a 6 1 Louise Holborn, 1975, op. cit., p. 838. 6 2 Louise Holborn, 1975, op. cit., p. 440. 6 3 Louise Holborn, 1975, op. cit., p. 294. 6 4 Louise Holborn, 1975, op. cit., p. 837. 36 definition was based on historical facts. Any attempt to impart a universal character to the text would be tantamount to making it an 'Open Sesame '."65 The Convention definition was never intended, despite claims to the contrary, to be universal in character. In making the definition of 'refugee' geographically exclusive, it underplayed violence and material deprivation related to colonialism and imperialism, including affected populations only with the discretionary, ad hoc efforts of UNHCR's good offices. The 1967 Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees amended the 1951 Convention. While it rescinded the spatial and temporal restrictions of the Convention by lifting the Europe-based, pre-1951 stipulations, it merely created equal access for all member nations to a legal instrument that remained substantively Eurocentric in focus. Emphasis on the abrogation of individual civil and political rights, based on the outcomes of the Second World War, remains central to the Convention definition of refugee that is employed today. Technically, the 1967 Protocol made the definition geographically inclusive, yet the imagined geo-political landscape on which the basic premises of asylum were founded remained geographically exclusive and Eurocentric.66 Increasingly, a smaller and smaller proportion of refugees meet the formal Eurocentric post-World War II requirements. The legacy of this discrepancy between Convention and 'other' refugees is a distinctly unequal system of refugee protection and assistance. Hannah Arendt's warns that universal rights fall prey to such divides and that protection is imperiled in the absence of a nation-state: "The danger is that a global, universally 6 5 Statement of R. Rochefort of France, UN Doc A/CONF.2/SR.22 at 15, July 16, 1951, emphasis added; cited in Hathaway, 1991, op. cit., p. 7. 66 James Hathaway, 1991, op. cit. 37 interrelated civilization may produce barbarians from its own midst by forcing millions of people into conditions which, despite all appearances, are the conditions of savages."67 Arendt, writing during the aftermath of the Second World War, maintains that the rights of citizens as nationals are far more important that those accorded as human rights on a global scale precisely because they are both applicable and enforceable. The Convention definition is increasingly irrelevant to the majority of refugees today who face violence on a broader scale and for different reasons than those of post-war Europe. For no legal reason, political and civil rights have been underscored at the expense of economic, social, and cultural rights: "those impacted by national calamities, weak economies, civil unrest, war and even generalized failure to adhere to basic standards of human rights are not, therefore, entitled to refugee status on that basis alone."68 The definition continues to emphasize the importance of civil and political rights based on "fear of persecution", a concept based on ideological divisions of East and West in Europe, far more than the material, social, and political conditions in other world regions. In Africa, the perceived inadequacy of this pair of legal instruments resulted in the drafting of a legally-binding regional policy by the Organization for African Unity (OAU). The 1969 O A U Convention Governing the Specific Aspects of Refugee Problems in Africa not only broadened but also reformulated the definition of refugee. It included the 1951 Convention definition, but added the provision that the term refugee shall also apply to every person who, owing to external aggression, occupation, foreign domination or events seriously disturbing public order in either part or the whole of his (sic) country or origin or nationality, is compelled to leave his place of habitual residence in order to seek refuge in another place outside his country of origin or nationality (Article 1.2). 6 7 Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism. (Cleveland/New York: Meridian, 1958). 6 8 Ibid., p. 93. 38 The O A U definition thus incorporated generalized violence associated with colonialism and other kinds of aggression, including flight resulting from the serious disruption of public order "in either part or the whole" in one's country of origin, as grounds for seeking asylum. 6 9 James Hathaway explains the significance of this codification in the O A U Convention; his inherently geographical analysis is worth citing at length: This... represents a departure from past practice in which it was generally assumed that a person compelled to flight should make reasonable efforts to seek protection within a safe part of her own country (if one exists) before looking for refuge abroad. There are at least three reasons why this shift is contextually sensible. First, issues of distance or the unavailability of escape routes may foreclose travel to a safe region of the refugee's own state. Underdeveloped infrastructure and inadequate personal financial resources may reinforce the choice of a more easily reachable foreign destination. Second, the political instability of many developing states may mean that what is a "safe" region today may be dangerous tomorrow....Finally, the artificiality of the colonially imposed boundaries in Africa has frequently meant that kinship and other natural ties stretch across national frontiers. Hence, persons in danger may see the natural safe haven to be with family or members of their own ethnic group in an adjacent state?® The O A U definition translated the core meaning of refugee status to the economic and geo-political realities of the "Third World'. The definition also recognized in law the concept of group disenfranchisement and the legitimacy of flight in situations of generalized danger, not limited to individual persecution. In 1984, the Cartagena Declaration on Refugees was adopted by ten Latin American states. Written to address the forced migration of people fleeing generalized violence and oppression in Central America, it too represents a regional approach to recognize and improve upon the inadequacy of the Convention definition. The definition derived from the Cartagena Declaration goes further than that of the Convention to include claims based on internal conflicts and massive violations of human rights, and the idea of group designation. It does not extend as far as the O A U Convention, however, to protect people fleeing disturbances of public order which affects only one part of a given country. While 6 9 Ibid., p. 18. 7 ^ Ibid., p. 18-19; emphasis added. 39 the O A U Convention is legally binding, the Cartagena Declaration — on which the Organization of American States (OAS) definition is based — is not.71 The establishment of regional instruments points to an uneven geography of refugee definitions in international law. The Convention and Protocol definition speaks to the experience and prevailing conflict in Europe after W.W.II. The O A U Convention broke new ground by extending refugee status to groups affected by less discriminate violence and public disorder in Africa. While not legally binding on member states, the Cartagena Declaration addressed the distinct regional politics and related human displacement in Central America. On a more modest scale, the Council of Europe has also extended the definition to include de facto refugees, that is "persons who either have not been formally recognized as Convention refugees (although they meet the Convention's criteria) or who are 'unable or unwilling for ... other valid reasons to return to their countries of origin'."72 The 1951 Convention and 1967 Protocol, together with these regional instruments, constitute the major bases of refugee protection in international law. 7 3 Nonetheless, a sizeable class of refugees remains outside the scope of this legal codification. While most of these refugees are recognized as having legitimate protection needs, legal scholars have generated considerable debate over whether this international practice of granting protection has become part of customary international law or is simply an institutional practice of UNHCR which is not binding on states. The politics and funding of humanitarian activities provides the most compelling evidence that protection and assistance afforded those who fall outside the scope of international law is institutional and not part of 7 1 As international law, the OAU Convention is legally binding and applicable to all signatories states. The OAS definition is based on the Cartegena Declaration, which like the UN Declaration of Human Rights, is not binding. The ten states which signed the Cartegena declaration in 1984 basically agreed to a definition of refugee similar to that enacted by the OAU, though not quite as comprehensive in terms of protection. 7 2 Ibid., p. 21. 7 3 The Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Convention against Torture, as well as the Declaration of Human Rights and the two international covenants are also relevant instruments. 40 customary law. "Developing states have conditioned their willingness to protect humanitarian refugees on the agreement of the international community to underwrite the costs of temporary asylum and to relocate the refugees to states of permanent resettlement."74 The current refugee crisis in Central Africa provides a clear example: the Zairian Government will not tolerate Rwandan refugees unless the UNHCR and its 'First World' donors are willing to pay for their support.75 To illustrate the regional geography of refugee determination in Africa, it is useful to distinguish between de jure and de facto status, and between prima facie and mandate refugees.76 There is no definitive application of these terms. They depend on the laws of individual countries, which countries are signatories to what conventions, and the policies of host government towards refugees. De jure refugees are those who are defined as refugees in law, either at national or international levels. National laws vary enormously: in some cases, countries may have no definition of refugees; in others, definitions may be wider than those outlined in the Convention. If there is no national legislation, but a country is party to the 1951 Convention and the 1969 O A U Convention, as in the case of Kenya, refugees in the camps — designated as prima facie — are de jure because they are recognized on the basis of the 1969 O A U Convention which is international law. De facto refugees are those "who are unable or unwilling to obtain recognition of Convention status, or who are unable or unwilling for valid reasons to return to their country of origin." 7 7 The term technically refers to people who have some kind of need for protection but do not strictly meet the eligibility criteria. De facto status can usually be withdrawn because it has no legal significance. 7 4 James Hathaway, 1991, op. cit., p. 26. 7 5 The Economist. "Get out, maybe", reprinted in The Globe and Mail, February 20, 1996. 7 6 Convention refugees, as noted, are those defined in law under the 1951 Convention and 1967 Protocol. 7 7 The source of this information is an e-mail transcript in response to request for clarification of UNHCR's interpretation of these terms in Kenya, June 12, 1996. 41 Mandate refugees are arguably de jure. They have their legal background in the UNHCR Statute which is not a legally binding instrument, but many legal experts argue that international customary law has developed in such a way that gives UNHCR mandate refugees legal significance.78 Others are of the opinion that this is not so, and that mandate refugees are de facto. In the case of de facto refugees, status is subject to change and interpretation at levels of national and international law. Prima facie refugees are defined in law by the O A U Convention, but may not be recognized as such by individual host states, such as Kenya, despite being signatories to this Convention. UNHCR is often called upon to determine status as well as to protect and assist refugees who do not meet Convention or regional definitions. In Kenya, a few are designated 'mandate' refugees; most are prima facie refugees. Mandate refugees are assessed on an individual basis and granted temporary protection by UNHCR. Prima facie designation is usually made on a group basis. Individual assessment is the norm for determining Convention status. Outside of the provisions of some international refugee laws but not others, these displaced people can claim some support from UNHCR in terms of material assistance and legal protection. Somali refugees in Kenya have prima facie status because they are in an African country that is a signatory to the O A U Convention. As a 'regional' class of refugees, however, they have no special claim to protection under the laws of the 1951 Convention and 1967 Protocol. As the preceding discussion suggests, there are several instruments, laws, statutes and bodies applicable to displaced persons in an international context. It is important to 7 8 Mandate refugees do not meet the eligibility criteria of the Convention definition, yet are designed as in need of protection by UNHCR on the basis of its mandate, as outlined in the Statute. Some countries may recognize their protection needs and designate their status as mandate refugees; some may not. 42 distinguish between humanitarian law, refugee law, and human rights instruments. Humanitarian law consists of the four Geneva Conventions of 1949 and the two Additional Protocols of 1977 and is applicable to civilians within their own country during conflict. While it codifies standards of conduct during war which includes protection for internally displaced people, "this provision applies only to persons displaced because of armed conflict.... It does not cover inter-communal violence or other cases of internal disturbances that create internal displacement."79 The existing law is currently under review precisely because it speaks to conditions of internal displacement in another time and place, rather than to the bases of conflict in African locations. International refugee law is comprised mainly of the 1951 Convention, the 1967 Protocol, and the 1969 O A U Convention in Africa. It institutionalizes and enforces the U N Declaration for Human Rights which declares that a person has "the right to leave", and return, to her or his own country, and "the right to asylum."8 0 Humanitarian and refugee law draw a clear distinction between the rights and entitlements of IDPs and refugees. These categories are, however, being challenged because they exclude significant numbers of internally displaced people, on the one hand, and because only marginal differences in time and space may distinguish a IDP from a refugee, on the other. Some policy-makers maintain that refugees and IDPs are often qualitatively part of the same group, divided artificially by a political border. 8 1 The question of whether IDPs should be included or excluded from an operational definition of refugee remains an issue of contentious debate. 7 9 Francis M. Deng, "The International Protection of the Internally Displaced", International Journal of Refugee Law. Special Issue Summer 1995, pp. 74-86. p. 82. 8 0 Articles 13.2 and 14 of the UN Declaration outline these rights. Article 15 states that (1) Everyone has the right to a nationality; (2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his [sic] nationality nor denied the right to change his [sic] nationality. See Anex II.3 in UNHCR's The State of the World's Refugees: The Challenge of Protection. Penguin, New York, 1993. 8 1 Interview, Senior Manager, UNHCR, Geneva, October 18, 1994. 43 Stating Human Displacement Themes of containment and exclusion with respect to migration are not new. Aristide Zolberg organizes economic and political migrations in three epochs: the first spanning the 16th to 18th centuries in Europe; the debut of the second corresponding to the industrial, democratic, and demographic revolutions of the late 18th century; and the last emerging in the final decades of the 19th century. "The emergence of powerful European states in the 15th century inaugurated a distinctive era in the history of human migrations: the conquest by the Europeans of the New World." 8 2 While the French Huguenots are generally considered the first group of modern refugees, legal formulations of refugee status are a product of more recent Western history. "Prior to this century there was little concern about the precise definition of a refugee, since most of those who chose not to move to the 'New World' were readily received by rulers in Europe and elsewhere.... This freedom of international movement accorded to persons broadly defined as refugees was adversely impacted by the adoption of instrumentalist immigration policies in Western states during the early twentieth century."83 This final period, Zolberg notes, has been marked by the development of a gap between a small number of wealthy, technologically advanced, and militarily powerful countries and a larger number of poorer states. As well, improved communication has rendered information about world conditions more available, and human mobility has increased through various technological advances. According to Zolberg, this enhanced mobility has given rise to perceived threats of invasion by the multitudes of poor strangers, providing a strong impetus for exclusionary measures and strict border controls.84 8 2 Aristide Zolberg, "Migrants and Refugees: A Historical Perspective", Refugees. (91) Geneva, December 1992, pp. 36-39. p. 37. 8 3 James Hathaway, The Status of Refugee Law. (Markham/Vancouver: Butterworfhs, 1991). 8 4 This impetus resonates with Canadian immigration law which only became exclusionary in the late 1870s and early 1880s. 44 Despite regional conventions and international protocols to protect refugees, the nation-state is the main unit of international law and the primary site of enforcement in relation to regional and international agreements, and civilian protection. Louise Holborn notes that "states are the subjects of international law; individuals are only its objects."85 At end of the Cold War and of European empire-building, a complex balkanization of some states has emerged, on the one hand, and the formalization of borders and regional blocs, on the other. The porosity of borders is historically and geographically contingent: "[t]he reaction among the receiving nations of the North... has been... to attempt to contain or 'regionalize' refugee problems; that is , to keep those in need of protection and solutions with their regions of origin."86 The modern institution of asylum is rooted in political geographies of displaced populations during W.W.II. Denial of asylum and strategies to contain forced migrants were part and parcel of this institution. Camps were the rule, not the exception, for dislocated groups in Europe: "if the Nazis put a person in a concentration camp and if he [sic] made a successful escape, say, to Holland, the Dutch would put him in an internment camp... under the pretext of national security."87 Arendt unwittingly anticipates the unequal outcomes of refugee law. The stateless person, without right to residence and without the right to work, had of course to transgress the law.... neither physical safety — being fed by some state or private welfare agency — nor freedom of opinion changes in the least their [refugees] fundamental situation of rightlessness.88 Arendt's clairvoyant reasoning points to some of the problems and dilemmas of humanitarian assistance in the international refugee regime today. Most refugees in camps 8 5 Louise Holborn, 1975, op. cit., p. 153. 8 6 Guy Goodwin-Gill cited in James Hathaway, "Reconceiving Refugee Law as Human Rights Protection", Journal of Refugee Studies, vol. 4. no. 2. 1991, pp. 113-131. p. 116. 8 7 Hannah Arendt, 1958, op. cit., p. 288. 8 8 Ibid., p. 286 & 296. 45 today are prohibited from seeking employment or establishing livelihoods independent of the international assistance provided in camps. The mobility of refugees and displaced persons remains constrained by borders of the nation-state. Asylum requires, by definition, an international border crossing. If successful in their crossing, refugees become wards of an international refugee regime which relies on the endorsement and financial support of individual nation-states. The primacy of the nation-state, both as the subject of international law and as a context for citizenship, has as its corollary the imagined global community — the perceived relationship among states and peoples of the world. UNHCR Then & Now Twenty years ago, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees consisted of some lawyers in Geneva revising and amending the international conventions concerning refugees. Now it is a global rapid-reaction force capable of putting fifty thousand tents into an airfield anywhere within twenty-four hours, or feeding a million refugees in Zaire.... The United Nations has become the West's mercy mission to the flotsam of failed states left behind by the ebb tide of empire.89 — Michael Ignatieff Pastoral nomadism does not fit easily into either the traditional model of refugee resettlement or the traditional UNHCR definition of its responsibility.90 —Netherlands Development Corporation The UNHCR operates today on a scale unimaginable at its conception. Its initial temporary mandate of three years, between 1951-54, has been extended repeatedly at five year intervals since that time. It is responsible for more refugees today than any other period since World War II.9 1 Annual expenditures of US$8 million in 1970 increased to almost US$1,167 million in 1994, signalling intense growth, much of which has occurred in the 8 9 The New Yorker, August 14, 1995, p. 36. 9 0 Netherlands Development Corporation, "Evaluation Report 1994 [of Humanitarian Operations in Somalia]", (Den Haag: Netherlands Development Corporation, 1994), p. 251. 91 Estimates of the number of refugees after the war range from 1.5 to 2 million; Holborn, 1975, op. cit.; UNHCR, The State of the World's Refugees: The Challenge of Protection. (Toronto: Penguin, 1993). In 1970 the figure was 2.5 million; in 1983 the number was 11 million; in 1993, 18.2 refugees were counted. 46 post-Cold War period. 9 2 Expressive of its Western origins and the colonial and superpower relations of power implied, the organization maintains an impressive global reach. As of October 1994, UNHCR employed over five thousand people both at its headquarters in Geneva and overseas in over one hundred countries. The advent of post-Cold War displacement and the responses it has generated have contributed to this transformation. The Office of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees continues to manage crises using the protocol and practices of the international refugee regime as it emerged after the Second World War. Western governments demonstrate unprecedented generosity in funding UNHCR's efforts which occur on a more massive scale than ever before. Today, however, more than 90% of refugees live in host countries in the developing world. 9 3 Increasingly, UNHCR is faced with economic and political pressures to re-think its terms of reference and operational mandate. The US Government, in particular, has wielded its power as the UN's largest funder by refusing to pay its U N bills. It maintains that the U N is inefficient and over budget. Other commentators note the U N does not support US interests as fully as it might. The distinctive geo-political landscape of the post-Cold War period combined with the rise of fiscal restraint as the mainstay of economic policy in many industrialized nations signal shifts both within UNHCR as an organization and within the internationally funded realm of humanitarian assistance. While the Gulf War reminds governments that international conflict has not disappeared in absence of superpower rivalry, the vast majority of refugee-producing conflicts today are civil, or internal, in nature.94 9 2 UNHCR, The State of the World's Refugees: In Search of Solutions. (Oxford/NY: Oxford University Press, 1995), p. 255. 9 3 B. S. Chimni, "The Meaning of Words and the Role of UNHCR in Voluntary Repatriation", International Journal of Refugee Law, vol. 5, no. 3, 1993, pp. 442-459. 9 4 Rosemary Rogers & Emily Copeland, 1993, op. cit. 47 Chapter 2 The Culture of U N H C R Culture never stands alone but always participates in a conflictual economy acting out the tension between sameness and difference, comparison and differentiation, unity and diversity, cohesion and dispersion, containment and subversion.95 — Robert Young The whole of public policy... is an attempt to reconstitute a culture, a social system, an economic order, that have in fact reached their end, reached their limits of viability. And then I sit here and look at this double inevitability: that this imperial, exporting and divided order is ending, and that all its residual social forces, all its political formations, will fight to the end to reconstruct it, to re-establish it, moving deeper all the time through crisis after crisis in an impossible attempt to regain a familiar world. So then a double inevitability: that they will fail, and that they will try nothing else.96 — Raymond Williams Raymond Williams' lament of public policy and its "double inevitability" foreshadows some of the dilemmas that United Nations organizations face some five decades after their establishment. The universal subject and international human rights were part of the discourse of humanism in the context of the aftermath of the Second World War. Still the basis of much international law and U N institutional practice almost fifty years later, the universal has always been qualified by the particular: the importance of distinctive cultures, national integrity and individuality, and most recently concern for gender equity. The particularities are, I argue, adding up to the extent that U N H C R has been forced to recognize and change its approaches to managing migration. In part, UNHCR has initiated changes which recognize formerly ignored issues of gender and cultural politics. The pervasive and, in some ways, persuasive discourse of human rights and universal standards of humanitarian assistance in the face of displacement remain, however, deeply 9 5 Robert Young, Colonial Desire: Hybridity in Theory. Culture and Race. (New York/London: Routledge, 1995), p. 53. 9 6 Raymond Williams cited in David Harvey, "From Space to Place and Back Again: Reflections on the condition of postmodernity" in Mapping the Futures: local cultures, global change, (eds.) J. Bird, B. Curtis, T. Putnam, G. Robertson, & L. Tickner, (New York: Routledge, 1993), pp. 3-29. p. 25. 48 embedded in the structures, policy, and practice of the organization today. The challenge of equitable representation among member states of UNHCR is complicated by the size of donor government contributions, recognition of major refugee-receiving states in Third World countries, and the underrepresentation of women in professional ranks. There are no easy answers to the dilemmas posed by these questions of representation and accountability at UNHCR, nor to the major changes in the geo-political landscape and international context within which the agency operates. This chapter focuses on U N H C R in a contemporary context and examines the organization's donor base, recruitment practices, mandate, and clientele that effectively constitute its institutional 'culture'. The term 'culture' has a broad range of meanings which warrant a brief discussion for the purpose of clarification and argument. Raymond Williams has argued that the word 'culture' is one of the two or three most complicated words in the English language.97 A recent discussion of transnationalism defines culture as: all human practice, understood to include both thought and action, since all human action is symbolically structured and representation is part and parcel of all human behavior. However, in treating culture, the 'empowering, authoritative dimensions' must be specified. Hence our analytical framework must address the link between 'culture and the relations of power and domination. Drawing from this definition and others, 'culture' refers to several things: a shared set of beliefs, practices, and language; the politics that these cultural relations invoke; and more specifically, a discourse which organizes large bureaucracies or firms and in which shared values and contested positions are embedded. This range of meanings embraces at least 97 Williams cited in Robert Young, 1995, op. cit., p. 30. Young's book is entirely devoted to the subject. 9% L. Basch, N. Glick Schiller, & C. Szanton Blanc, Nations Unbound: Transnational Projects. Postcolonial Predicaments, and Deterritorialized Nation-States. (Langhorne, Penn.: Gordon and Breach, 1994). 49 two different orders of the term 'culture', one evidently more macro and anthropological in perspective; the other more sociological and finer in scale. 'Cultural polities', the idea that "whole ways of life ranked hierarchically in relations of domination and subordination," retains a plural definition of 'culture' that focuses on both abstract 'maps of meaning' as well as concrete social practices and spaces." In using cultural politics as a frame of reference, the institutional culture of UNHCR — an agency comprised of staff from a variety of cultural backgrounds operating across borders and the cultures they demarcate— is examined. The cultural politics of the organization are complemented in later chapters by analyses of power among different cultural groups, including UNHCR staff, refugees, and locals 'in the field.' The Oxford English Dictionary cites 1764 as the date when the term 'cultured' was first used to denote 'refined', or civilized, a meaning that implies both cultural differences and the superiority of some cultural practices over others.100 Akhil Gupta and James Ferguson argue that space is a central organizing principle for cultural difference and that spaces of dominant and subordinate cultures have always been interconnected; "cultural and social change becomes not a matter of cultural contact... but one of rethinking difference through connection."101 Thus, the mix of cultures in a refugee camp operating under the aegis of UNHCR suggests more than a venue of potentially conflicting interests; difference is articulated through cultural relations of power. 1 0 2 Gupta and Ferguson avoid establishing a dialogical relationship between distinct, pre-given cultures, arguing instead that "the process of the production of cultural difference... occurs in continuous, connected space, y y Peter Jackson, Dictionary of Human Geography, (eds.) R. J. Johnston, D. Gregory, & David M. Smith, third edition (Oxford/Cambridge, Mass.: Basil Blackwell, 1994), p. 115. 1 0 0 Robert Young, 1995, op. cit., p. 31. 101 Akhil Gupta & James Ferguson, "Beyond 'Culture': Space, Identity, and the Politics of Difference" in Cultural Anthropology, vol. 7, no. 1, (Feb. 1992), p. 8. 102 Equally, "UNHCR is a hierarchical organization in which final responsibility rests with the Geneva headquarters", cited in Netherlands Development Corporation, "Humanitarian Aid to Somalia, Evaluation Report 1994", Den Haag, 1994, p. 250. 50 traversed by economic and political relations of inequality."103 A more concise description of the politics in a Kenyan refugee camp would be difficult to find. Returning to the idea of organizational culture, John Law traces the 'culture' of scientists employed in a British laboratory and the processes of 'ordering' their workplace. His definition of culture is concerned with the ways in which people organize their work. Law uses the verb 'ordering' rather than the noun 'order' to accentuate its dynamic and multiple possibilities. He understands the relational ordering of power as "forms of strategic arranging that are intentional but do not necessarily have a subject."104 While cultures, organizations, and philosophies are expressions of particular orderings, they are not permanent nor inexorable. Complementing his genealogical borrowings from Foucault, Law analyzes 'orderings' as particular configurations of history and geography, noting that they produce material effects, both positive and negative: ... it seems to me that we're balancing on a knife-edge. We want to order... But we don't want to do violence in our own ordering.105 Law's words offer a depiction of the dilemmas UNHCR staff face in responding to human displacement and disorder, and a direction for refugee research as well. The organization has the mandate, the money, and the managers to organize refugees in emergency situations. Yet, it also risks invoking neo-colonial and/or coercive measures in an effort to achieve order. This then is the rationale for making UNHCR the object of my inquiry, rather than the refugees it assists. Following the lead of a number of other scholars, I aim to examine critically the 'culture', practices, and policies of one powerful humanitarian 1 0 3 Ibid., p. 16. j o n n Law, Organizing Modernity. (Oxford: Blackwell, 1994), p. 21. 1 0 5 Ibid., p. 8. 51 organization, rather than focus simply on the people it serves.106 Refugee studies often focus on the specificity of places of asylum or particular refugee populations rather than on the central sites and relations of economic and political power, namely the well-endowed international agencies that organize refugees and camp operations. This chapter focuses on the contemporary organizational culture of UNHCR. Geneva, the home of UNHCR headquarters, is examined in terms of its symbolic and strategic location. The city represents the metropole of UNHCR's activites on a global scale. The chapter introduces the organization through interviews with senior managers based in Geneva. The research conducted provides the basis for a preliminary analysis of organizational pressures, dilemmas, and directions at UNHCR. The interviews identify current issues of strategic direction and leadership in a climate of rationalization and restructuring at UNHCR. Culture, as a concept, has always encompassed antagonism between culture as a universal and as a basis of difference. UNHCR embodies this and other tensions which shape its policies and fuel change within this dynamic organization. UNHCR Headquarters. Geneva: Core Control International humanitarian operations have a financial and administrative centre in Switzerland, a country which hosts a significant number of governmental and non-governmental organizations. Geneva, in particular, is both an international banking capital and a seat of power for the United Nations and other international agencies whose mandates include humanitarian and development assistance (see figure 2.1). An entire 1 U o See Lila Abu-Lughod, "Writing Against Culture" in Recapturing Anthropology, (ed.) R.G. Fox, (Sante Fe: School for American Research, 1991), pp. 137-162, and A. Pred & M. Watts Reworking Modernity. (New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 1992). This seems particularly current in the wake of a potential 'crisis of legitimacy' for some NGOs, as witnessed in CBC's 1995 investigation of CARE Canada's funding protocol in Somalia. 52 Figure 2.1 Geneva's Humanitarian City Centre credit: N. Schuurman Legend Canada Permanent mission to Office of U N ICRC International Federation of the Red Cross ILO International Labour Organization Kenya Country Mission Palais Office of United Nations WCC World Council of Churches W H O World Health Organization WIPO World Intellectual Property Organization W T O World Trade Organization Not to Scale 53 neighbourhood of these organizations exists northwest of the commercial city centre in which the United Nations Palais des Nations forms a humanitarian city centre. The concentration of international organizations forms a kind of hub which serves as the financial district and administrative centre of humanitarian assistance. Various countries have permanent missions to the Office of the United Nations, most of which vie for a space close to the Palais. The World Health Organization, the International Labour Organization, the World Trade Organization, the World Intellectual Property Organization, and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees — among others — share the neighbourhood with bilateral missions from individual governments and a range of international non-governmental organizations. The proximity and sociability of these organizations to one another, and especially to the Office of the UN, is critical to the politics of humanitarian funding which take place in Geneva.107 As an international financial centre for private and public capital, the city has both symbolic and practical value. It is the place of emerging news, expert views, and key meetings which determine the direction of financial decisions. Among the humanitarian organizations in Geneva is the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), perhaps the most reputable non-political organization, whose location in Switzerland is deliberate. Until recently, only Swiss citizens could work for this humanitarian organization, visiting political prisoners and entering into discussions with governments holding such prisoners in efforts to secure their release. Since 1815, Switzerland has remained a politically neutral state (see figures 2.2 and 2.3). It does not belong to the European Union or NATO, nor has it signed many of the human rights instruments and international legal conventions which would oblige it to act according to external international standards. It is no accident that the Geneva Conventions of 1949, 107 Nig ei Thrift, "On the Social and Cultural Determinants Of International Financial Centres: the Case of the City of London", Money. Power. Space, (eds.) S. Corbridge, R. Martin, & N. Thrift, (Oxford/Cambridge: Basil Blackwell, 1994). pp. 327-355. 54 55 outlining minimum standards for the treatment of civilians in countries at war, were written in Switzerland. Banking in Switzerland is also predicated on this reputation of neutrality. Geneva has a locational advantage over Luxembourg — where banking space is cheaper — because of Swiss neutrality. Bankers in Geneva are 'discreet'. They carry two business cards: one with the standard name of the employee and bank, full telephone number, and address; the other with only the banker's name and a local phone number without any country or area codes. The first is for people who aren't crossing borders or have no need to be concerned about such crossings; the second is for investors and people who want to bring money into Switzerland without being 'marked'. A French citizen, for example, can bring only 50,000 French francs (approximately US $10,000) into Switzerland after which s/he will be taxed. There is no information on the second card through which to trace the location of the person named. Bankers answer the phone at their offices with a familiar salutation, but no identifying information. Most banks offer named accounts and numbered accounts which, like the business cards, are used for different reasons, but both can be coded for increased privacy and can be 'declared' or 'undeclared' for tax purposes. All accounts are protected by the banking secrecy act, la lot Federal sur les Banques et les Caisses d'Epargne. Bank business cards and accounts disguise locations and identities in order to render the Swiss border fluid and friendly to incoming capital. For investors, borders are blurred by discreet business practices and Swiss laws which protect privacy: capital is welcome. The situation for bodies wanting to locate in Switzerland is considerably more restricted. While Switzerland is one of only ten U N member states to announce annual resettlement quotas for refugees — quotas which are shrinking in the major resettlement countries — asylum-seekers who arrive at the airport in Geneva are required to stay in an 'international 56 zone' where they are not considered to have entered the country until officials assess the validity of their claims and accept or deport them accordingly. While Switzerland accepts comparatively few refugees for permanent resettlement, it offers temporary protection to some and provisional status to others in refugee-like circumstances through 'special action programs'. In 1994, a bill was passed which gives the Swiss Federal Office for Refugees (FOR) the right to detain, for up to twelve months, any asylum seeker over the age of fifteen who does not have proof of identity or legal residence, regardless of whether she or he has committed a crime. 1 0 8 A complex hierarchy of designations and entitlements exists, and these are available to some non-Swiss residents, though work permits and permission for long-term stays are difficult to obtain. Two of Switzerland's specialties — banking and humanitarianism — have recently come face to face, creating somewhat of a crisis in both sectors. The reputation of Switzerland as a place of refuge and humanitarian assistance has been tarnished by fresh evidence that, prior to and during the Holocaust, Jewish money was welcomed but Jewish refugees were not. Heirs of the Holocaust are demanding access to Swiss bank accounts set up by their ancestors, some of whom were refused entry into Switzerland and unable to escape the Nazi executions. "Swiss banks had insisted heirs produce account numbers and death certificates, which were never issued by the Nazis." 1 0 9 The Swiss Bankers Association has responded to pressure from Holocaust survivors and the World Jewish Congress by agreeing to set up a central registry to track dormant accounts. Archives in Eastern Europe, which were inaccessible during the Cold War, have come under recent scrutiny and point to transfers of money prior to World War II, including gold looted by the Nazis. Recent findings suggest that at least 10,000 Jewish refugees were turned away from the Swiss 1 0 8 U.S. Committee for Refugees, World Refugee Survey 1995. (Washington, D.C.: US Committee for Refugees, 1995). 1 0 9 Lila Sarick, "Swiss banks to assist Holocaust heirs", The Globe & Mail. December 30, 1995. 57 border; records of their exclusion were destroyed by the Swiss government just after the war. Fifty years later, the Swiss government has formally apologized for destroying the records of refugee applications. Geneva is the 'global locale' and seat of power for many humanitarian and U N organizations, including UNHCR. In 1995, UNHCR headquarters moved house. The new UNHCR office complex, just across the street from the Palais, was not yet complete during my visit of October 1994. What was finished looked stunningly similar to a postmodern panopticon (see figures 2.4-2.6). An atrium and skylight provide abundant natural light to the building's huge foyer. From the balconies and senior offices along one wall of the foyer, the inside of individual offices which are lit can be viewed through small windows. My surveillance reading of this design is perhaps an expression of how I view UNHCR practices outside Geneva, in 'the field'. Some UNHCR staff, however, do concur with my impressions of the building; one employee called it "the prison." The building is a potent metaphor for the monitoring role that staff at headquarters exercise over branch and field offices. The registration field kits used to count and number refugees in camps and border sites are stored at UNHCR in Geneva. The interviews cited in this chapter were initially sought over the telephone through former contacts with the organization and cold calls to people in posts relevant to my research. After meeting with particular staff members in Geneva, I was referred to others.110 Some more senior managers were approachable if referred by another UNHCR staff with whom they were familiar. On the whole, the staff I requested to interview were both willing to meet, despite busy schedules, and forthcoming in their answers to my questions. I found 1 1 0 Staff names are not included and gendered pronouns have been reversed in some cases to protect confidentiality. While actual dates are noted, more than one interview was conducted on most days. 58 Figure 2.4 UNHCR Headquarters, Geneva Architect: Carlo Stephen (Swiss) 59 Figure 2.5 New UNHCR HQ: Panoptic Postmodern their accessibility and candour rather exceptional, given my 'outsider' positioning as a researcher with academic affiliation. I had visited UNHCR headquarters on three previous occasions: once as a prospective employee, and twice as a short-term staff person assigned to work in Somalia. In terms of recruitment, very little happens in the field without headquarters first authorizing it. Employment prospects, donor contributions, and logistics are discussed here; briefing and training when a job is approved occur here; and in a crunch, the UNHCR staff working in the field call Geneva for advice. On a weekly basis, Geneva receives situation reports (sitreps) from all its field offices and regional desks at headquarters are among the most senior positions in management. I could not seriously study UNHCR operations in the Horn of Africa without interviewing senior managers in Geneva and analyzing the briefs and discussion papers coming out of their offices. To ensure fair representation and correct interpretation, I have subsequently contacted several interviewees in both Geneva and Kenya — by letter, e-mail, telephone — for clarification. Trends and targets at UNHCR: Preliminary Findings Despite pressure on most U N agencies to downsize and become 'leaner', more efficient organizations, UNHCR has recently experienced rapid growth in both its budget and its staff size. "Since 1989, UNHCR has grown dramatically: expenditures have tripled; staff has doubled.... We are working for the first time in war zones."111 Expenditures at U N H C R since 1992 have exceeded US$1 bill ion. 1 1 2 This increase can be partially explained by a shift in UNHCR's role in international relations. Much of this change is linked to emerging trends in managing large-scale human displacement since the end of the * 1 1 Interview, UNHCR senior manager, October 27, 1994. 1 1 2 UNHCR. The State of the World's Refugees: The Challenge of Protection. (Toronto: Penguin, 1993). 61 Cold War, the politics of which are analyzed in detail in the following chapter. "While the old rules of the game have evidently changed, the international community has found it extremely difficult to articulate a coherent set of principles and practices which are geared to contemporary circumstances."113 So has UNHCR. Considerable evidence points to an institutional culture in transition, one which is shaped by a donor environment of efficient management. In her opening statement to the Executive Committee (EXCOM) in October 1993, the High Commissioner for Refugees, Sadako Ogata, outlined one direction UNHCR is taking, My ultimate goal is to create an institutional culture where effective performance, efficiency and accountability are prized objectives.... It is imperative that a new culture permeate the office, beginning with senior managers themselves. The aim of this intensive managerial training is to develop an institutional culture, with shared values on effective performance, efficient management and accountability.... Without the establishment of a shared management culture, all else will fai l . 1 1 4 Such corporatism is nothing particularly new to large organizations, such as the World Bank and IMF, or private firms affected by policies of fiscal restraint that exact maximum efficiency and minimum management.115 At UNHCR, however, this discourse has only recently made its debut. Senior staff members in different sections of UNHCR headquarters noted that in terms of financial operations and attitudes towards women in the workplace, the organization was five years behind UNDP (the U N Development Program) and roughly twenty years behind C I D A . 1 1 6 "UNHCR in some ways is an overgrown NGO: loads of commitment, tremendous passion, an absolute abhorrence of doing anything in an organized, planned fashion. The adrenaline only comes when the crisis 1 1 3 UNHCR, The State of the World's Refugees: In Search of Solutions. (Oxford/NY: Oxford University Press, 1995), p. 115. 1 1 4 Note on Human Resource Management, UNHCR, Geneva, 7 June 1994, EC/1994/SC.2/CRP.20, pp. 1-3, 50. 1 1 5 See M. Hayes, The New Right in Britain. (London/Boulder: Pluto Press, 1994). * 16 Interviews, senior manager, October 27, 1994; senior manager, October 25, 1994. . 62 comes.... If we are to survive, if we are to keep coping, we must put in place the proper management systems... and we must learn to plan. It used to be the theory you couldn't plan; these are crises, you can't plan for crises. The fact of the matter is that if crises are your business, you can plan." 1 1 7 This attitude toward emergency assistance is a far cry from the accepted wisdom within humanitarian circles even ten years ago. Barbara Harrell-Bond wrote then that "humanitarian assistance is governed by compassion and compassion has its own mode of reasoning.... Western notions of compassion tend to be inherently ethnocentric, paternalist, and non-professional."118 Today, UNHCR in Geneva is under pressure to change its role from that of provider in an international welfare supra-state to that of responsible corporate citizen accountable to its 'clients' and its budget. One senior manager made this point exceedingly clear: "You know, we have two sets of clients. We have the donors who want us to do certain things, and we have the refugees. Now there are some people who think we only have the refugees...."119 "You have to know your clients in any business before you prepare services for them. And I felt the most palatable way of getting this issue (of gender analysis) across in this particular organization which is very emergency macho... oriented was to present it as an efficiency issue."120 These insights suggest UNHCR's strategic direction from a clumsy, if well-intentioned, refugee assistance agency to a more fiscally responsive, efficient, community-based and gender-sensitive organization. National governments are increasingly being taken to task by taxpayers and citizen lobby groups to rationalize their spending habits. On an 117 interview, UNHCR senior manager, October 27, 1994, Geneva. 1 1 8 Barbara Harrell-Bond, Imposing Aid: Emergency Assistance to Refugees (Oxford/New York/Nairobi: Oxford University Press, 1986), p. 26. 11^ Interview, senior manager, October 27, 1994, Geneva. In a previous interview, another senior manager noted that UNHCR, on the whole, is not as clear as the above cited quotation would suggest, but rather "UNHCR has been unable to define who are its clients.... many new layers (of bureaucracy) are being created rather than clarifying or defining the problem" (interview, October 25; 1994). l 2 u Interview, UNHCR senior manager, October 25, 1994, Geneva. 63 international scale, refugees and displaced persons are not, however, the same taxpayers who are funding U N agencies. There is little, if any, constituency overlap between those funding humanitarian relief and those receiving: between the donors and the refugees. In this respect, UNHCR is the transfer point of considerable power: it solicits funds and provides humanitarian assistance and protection, but with little direct accountability to refugees and other recipients. On one front, UNHCR is taking on a more corporate image, reflected in a management ethos called for by donors who, like the financiers of the World Bank and IMF, want increased 'transparency' and measurable, performance-based outcomes. TIME magazine has mimicked this thinking, noting that "by U N standards of bloat, the agency dealing with the displaced is relatively lean, perhaps even gaunt."121 The article goes on to outline the hardship UNHCR employees face: separation from "family and spouse", long hours on Sunday nights, and high divorce rates because of these. UNHCR donors, meanwhile, are also advocating the 'streamlining' of U N agencies so that duplication of mandates and services among different programs is avoided. At the same time, U N agencies try to maintain their functions and promote their role within the so-called 'UN family': "one thing about the U N family is that there is a lot of territoriality in it and there is a lot of publicity on the part of some U N agencies...."122 Under the leadership of its high commissioner, U N H C R has carved out a specialty niche for itself, declaring its indispensability based on its unique role. On another front, UNHCR has been influenced by lobbying, and its own experience of emergencies to the extent that programming places a much stronger emphasis on particular 1 2 1 Time. October 23, 1995, p. 41. 1 2 2 interview, UNHCR senior manager, October 25, 1994, Geneva. 64 refugee needs. Collaborative approaches to refugee camp management, accommodation of cultural specificity, and assessment of refugee needs and of the specificity of places in which UNHCR operates, all point to changes in the organization. UNHCR policies such as People-Oriented Planning (POP) and Guidelines for the Protection of Refugee Women were created in the early 1990s as a means of improving programming in this area. 1 2 3 These changes have not simply been generated from within UNHCR; advocacy by the International NGO Working Group for Refugee Women (IRGRW) and CIDA — which funded and provided an appropriate staff secondment for the position of Senior Coordinator of Women Refugees at UNHCR — have inspired many of these initiatives. Pressure from donor countries like Canada combined with advocacy by non-governmental coalitions, such as the IRGRW, have challenged gender-blind approaches to providing refugee assistance. Many senior staff at UNHCR have a large stake in the status quo, having spent most of their professional careers within the agency and knowing well the UNHCR manual, protocol, and rewards.124 "Senior managers here, with a few exceptions, have twenty-five years tenure on average with UNHCR; they have grown up inside the organization; they tend to be suspicious of people like me.... they know they need it (change)."125 One senior manager in Geneva explained how she had started with UNHCR in 1972 as a math teacher with an NGO in Africa. Now, she pointed out, her office is just across the 1 " This is a euphemism for gender training which aims not to alienate staff nor to marginalize gender issues within the organization. Critics of UNHCR's POP say it is 'too basic', but "you have to show people how to crawl before you can get them to walk or run" (Interview, UNHCR senior manager, October 25, 1994, Geneva). It should be noted that refugee consultation and planning as well as cultural sensitivity were also part of the UNHCR handbook in the early 1980s; see Barbara Harrell-Bond, 1986, op. cit. 124 Considered a bible of sorts to UNHCR staff, it is used as the 'rule book', particularly with respect to personnel matters. 125 Interview, UNHCR senior manager, October 27, 1994, Geneva. 65 corridor from that of the High Commissioner. This same manager spoke favorably of a senior U N H C R financial manager who was hired from "outside", saying that he had "modern ideas." His comment in response to this was, "yes, they're modern in relation to this place." Obvious tensions between those trained in business and management practices and those whose experience and commitment to refugees qualify them for senior positions at U N H C R emerged from the interviews. Compassionate approaches to refugee assistance are being restructured to meet new accountability measures. Strategic direction, however, is not limited to financial matters. Organizational image and leadership are largely the responsibility of the organization's head. The High Commissioner for Refugees since 1991, Dr. Sadako Ogata, was re-elected in 1993 for another term. A diplomat by experience, Ogata is an interesting expression of U N H C R culture in her own right. 1 2 6 She is 68 years old, has a doctorate in political science from the University of California at Berkeley and married relatively late in life to a influential banker in international financial circles. Her grandfather was Foreign Minister in Japan, her father a career diplomat. When asked about the leadership style and approach of the High Commissioner, staff made the following remarks: "The High Commissioner is a tremendous person, but a diplomat and an academic, not a manager." "One has to remember that she comes from a very special and highly connected family, and I mean the fact that her father pushed for her to get a strong education (in the U.S.), she didn't marry until she was well into her 30s... her family was the empire's son and stuff... she comes from a different world." 1 2 6 Before her position as High Commissioner, Dr. Ogata was Dean of the Faculty of Foreign Studies at Sophia University in Tokyo. She has also been Japan's delegate to the U.N. General Assembly, Japan's representative to the U.N. Commission on Human Rights. See Lawyers Committee for Human Rights, The UNHCR at 40: Refugee Protection at the Crossroads. (New York: Lawyers Committee for Human Rights, 1991). p. 16. 66 "Japan, a donor which has grown of course... the lady sitting down here just across the hall in the corner, Mrs. Ogata, is Japanese; and they could hardly have a Japanese High Commissioner and not be a donor... which is a point we never let them forget." (Has Japan's contribution increased since Mme Ogata's arrival?) "Yes, because of her arrival, yes." "I'm a partisan of Mrs. Ogata's." In an interview with one of these same staff at UNHCR, she noted that the stereotype of 'feminists' as man-hating radicals is still pervasive and that she as well as many other women are reluctant to associate themselves with this term "for fear of undermining our credibility, particularly in the conservative and multicultural climate of a U N organisation."127 She noted that the High Commissioner would not use the word feminist to describe her own position. Another senior manager also commented on the High Commissioner's approach to issues of 'women' and feminism. "True, women managers have very different notions (of management), but don't fall into the trap of thinking that because the High Commissioner is a woman that she's particularly promoting women; she isn't.... My personal belief is that she is a feminist, but that her definition of what feminism is.... obviously in Japan there has been some strange...as there has in many countries.... But... because of her own rather special background, she's not very aware of the need to promote others...." Generation, class privilege, cultural and diplomatic background no doubt shape the High Commissioner's, and others', position on feminism and issues of equality for women. More neutral, less overtly political approaches to women's well-being are couched within frameworks of gender equality, fair female representation among professional staff, and increased participation of refugee women in decision-making at the camp level. Officially, UNHCR aims to integrate women into the mainstream through gradual change. On a broad E-mail transcript interview, UNHCR senior manager Geneva, Oct. 20, 1995. 67 scale, this attitude expresses the prevailing liberalism of UNHCR culture. The High Commissioner, however, treats gender-specific policies aimed at promoting women's position as a temporary project. Lumped together with 'children' and 'the environment', short-term strategic staff positions have been created to address each of these areas as issues, rather than as relations of power embedded in historically-specific ways within the organization.128 Financing displacement management: new directions The High Commissioner has been politically astute in her efforts to distinguish UNHCR from other U N agencies. She is the first high commissioner to have been invited to address the World Bank as a guest speaker, and is well-connected in both financial and diplomatic circles. At a time of organizational and financial 'streamlining' within the so-called 'UN family', UNHCR has managed to set itself apart: first, based on its unique mandate of protection (in both legal and humanitarian contexts); and second, because of its distinctive voluntary funding. In contrast to most other U N agencies which are funded by a kind of intergovernmental tax base created by 'assessing contributions' to be paid by each donor government, UNHCR receives only a tiny operational budget from this general fund. Instead, it actively solicits donations for specific projects in particular places at appropriate times. Donors contribute voluntarily and on an ad hoc, project-by-project, emergency-by-emergency basis. When I expressed the opinion that voluntary funding would be more problematic than established revenues, particularly in planning, a senior manager corrected my erroneous assumption: Interview, UNHCR senior manager October 25, 1994, Geneva. 68 "Voluntary funding in the UN is not a bad thing....look at the UN itself which is funded through assessed contributions, and look at how much difficulty they're having getting their money.... do an analysis: the organizations that are doing better in the UN at the moment are those that are funded through voluntary funding. I think maybe it sets up a dynamic between the deliverers and the providers, which is a better one. You know, if I say to you I'm entitled — you owe me — because you're a member of this club, you know, at some stage you're going to say 'what do I get back?; Whereas if it's on a negotiated basis, and there's always that healthy dynamic of understanding that this is your funder." He pointed out that U N H C R and UNICEF are doing well through their voluntary contributions, while U N agencies dependent on assessed contributions — much the same as taxes — are less popular with donor states. This manager did argue that donors should make a 'commitment in principle'; that is to say, they should state what their contributions for a given year will be in advance. "We start the year with a commitment from our donors to less than one tenth of what we are going to spend in that year... and I've said this is nonsense. You can't work like that. You've got to be able to project further in advance; you've got to plan; you've got to put contracts into place. I mean, there are savings that will come out of this because you can do better stockpiling etc., if you have a commitment in principle.... That will make a big difference." Increased efficiency, according to this manager, requires strategic planning; such planning requires accurate revenue projections. He went on to say that more vision and less bean-counting is needed at UNHCR. Detail tends to obscure the bigger picture and hinder effective operations. "We're far too much into the details and not enough into doing analysis, variance analysis, comparative analyses that give us some idea of whether we're on track, off track, etc. And for an organization like this, you're never in a static environment.... To spend a vast amount of time on detail... is a waste of time." "That's my frustration. I think we have a strategic direction: protection, prevention, durable solutions; we go straight from there to budget. One quick leap, and I say hey, whoa, we need some kind of strategic plan... a projection for 5 years... Something that says look we've taken a look, and on the basis of various knowledge and understanding and links with a strategic analysis... we have a sense that these are the hot 69 spots in the world and these situations that we currently have are likely to continue in a certain fashion. We have to be able to make some kind of projections... we can't just say look, we don't know... You have to project...." He notes that in business detailed operation strategies are used to plan resource allocations two to three years in advance, and that UNHCR needs to do the same. One obstacle at UNHCR is the separation of budget and planning systems, a division that effectively precludes his influence on the way planning is done. A project staff working for UNHCR concurs: "The UNHCR status quo lacks any management milieu; there is no delegation, too much hierarchy, it's so centralized — in essence, there's no control.... PCBS (program control and budget systems) parallels in structure exactly the divisions of the regional bureaus for surveillance purposes; PCBS doesn't trust the bureaus."129 This UNHCR staff member suggested Rosabeth Moss Kanter's work as a useful analysis of organizational change and innovation of the kind he would like to see at UNHCR. Moss Kanter writes that: [One] style of thought is anti-change-oriented and prevents innovation. I call it 'segmentalism' because it is concerned with compartmentalizing actions, events, and problems and keeping each piece isolated from the others.... Companies with segmentalist cultures are likely to have segemented structures: a large number of compartments walled off from one another — department from department, level above from level below, field office from headquarters, labor from management, or men from women.1 3 0 The project manager contends that UNHCR 'countermanages', a point complemented later by a senior UNHCR employee in the Kenyan camps who argued that the organization does too much 'micro-management.'131 The first of the managers introduced in this section also concurs and argues that UNHCR's public image must convey an attitude of bullish 1 2 9 Interview, UNHCR Project staff, November 1994. 1 3 0 Rosabeth Moss Kanter, The Change Masters (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1983), foreword. 1 3 1 Interview, UNHCR staff member, Dadaab, Kenya, December 4, 1994. 70 confidence and strategic planning. This approach is an expression of the 'common sense' economics which also affect individual donor states. He put it this way: "Our major donors are always going to be governments... (they) are going through their own economic difficulties, so they better be sure that we really do know what we want to achieve and that we have prioritized it.... only when you get to that point do you move into the details of a budget... our systems at the moment require us to plan at a level of detail that is just ridiculous. There is very little value added to it." (emphasis in original) The fiscal restraint and cutbacks affecting the public sector in many donor countries are translated to a more global level as funders prescribe conditions of accountability to UNHCR. UNHCR has two categories of expenditures: those funded through the annual general program budget and those funded by the specific program budget: "Increasingly we find our donors want to give us money that is earmarked (for the specific program budget)... that's a trend; governments more and more have to explain to their taxpayers what's happening to their money (general things are not so popular; concrete things are).... Five years ago general programs comprised the majority of TJNHCR's budget; it is now less than a third. EXCOM reviews only the general programs.... You have a lot of people in this organization who wouldn't know a taxpayer if they fell over one." 1 3 2 This senior manager's sense of accountability to donors is clear evidence of a trend towards more fiscal considerations of funding humanitarian activities. I posed the question of whether the earmarking of funds could be viewed as donor hegemony. He commented that "In a very subtle way, you've picked up what is an interesting point, that by earmarking and giving us funds only to operate in specific areas, they are shaping our strategic direction — yes. And is that valid?... At the end of the day, you shouldn't have a situation where a refugee over here doesn't get dealt with because this is not a sexy program. Someone in Yugoslavia does get dealt with because it's not a traditional refugee program, but these people would become bona fide refugees under the Convention if they l i l The Executive Committee of UNHCR is comprised of forty-six member states, most of which are either important asylum countries or major donors to UNHCR programs. 71 were to find themselves in Germany, Austria, etc. and therefore Europe is very happy to fund and keep funding." (emphasis added) The financial contributions of UNHCR's donors — the handful of governments that fund refugee assistance and protection activities — are critical to the agency's continued operations in the field. Yet two trends can be identified from the ethnographic and documentary evidence presented so far: donor demands on management at UNHCR affect financial operations by demanding increased efficiency and accountability. They also influence the delivery of humanitarian activities through the funding of specified projects in particular places. This latter trend risks replacing multilateralism — the very raison d 'etre of the U N system — with bilateralism. By funding what donor governments demand, UNHCR risks introducing qualifying the provision of humanitarian assistance on the basis that it is politically popular. Such assistance is not based on explicit and consensual humanitarian principles, but on the politics of what might be thought of as neo-humanism. Neo-humanism, I argue, describes a political theory and sensibility whereby human well-being and development are qualified by the visibility and political popularity of people's need. In cases where the popularity of certain needs is lacking, the economic viability of meeting needs may become an argument for not taking action. Human need becomes politicized, and donors create relations of charity rather than protection of international human rights. While voluntary contributions may be the most popular way of raising humanitarian funds, UNHCR requires agreed upon principles of assistance and a certain degree of autonomy from donors to ensure that an uneven, ad hoc pattern of delivering humanitarian aid — divorced from actual needs — does not emerge. 72 Players and Personae in UNHCR Culture In introducing this research project, I outlined two main interests: the institutional culture of UNHCR, and refugee camp operations, including the management as well as politics among UNHCR and other cultural groups in the field. During my visit to UNHCR headquarters in Geneva, the first interest prevailed in terms of the questions I posed, but it also proved to be a cue and spontaneous source of personal theories from the staff I encountered. Several people offered typologies, continuums, and categorical descriptions of UNHCR employees which appear to have been clearly mapped out in their own minds prior to my interviews. These insights — somewhat incongruous 'snapshots' of professional approaches — are presented below and then woven through my own preliminary analysis. "UNHCR is not a visioning organization; it's a 'now' organization.... limitations are emphasized more than possibilities."133 "There are three levels, or layers, of culture for humanitarian intervention. 1. beneficiaries (or refugees, target population-) — the displacement of people into camps creates a unique situation and a new culture... 2. humanitarian and aid agencies ... 3. donor community — this culture is tied to the second... humanitarian concerns have never been devoid of political concerns. .. ."^^ While these comments say something of UNHCR as an agency, other staff shed light on the personalities that animate this large organization. Another staff member made the following lengthy but somewhat revealing analysis of UNHCR culture. Note that English is not her first language. 1 3 3 UNHCR staff member, Dadaab, Kenya, November 21, 1994. 1 3 4 Interview, UNHCR senior manager, Geneva, October 25, 1994. 73 "What I was saying is, you see, we have two extremes. One is very much hierarchical — bureaucrats who believe that everything has to follow rules and regulations, and they want to go through that process.... by the book, and it matters; there are people of that type. They speak to people of the appropriate level first through vertically defined lines of power. And there are other people who don't care, who want to have a ... horizontal relationship with whoever there are, you know; they want to have direct access. The latter type of leaders tend to create a group of people who can perform the job. So, then you informally form a team where you have like-minded people whom you know and with whom you have confidence, and you ask them to go [on mission to the field]. And that will completely destroy the hierarchy. These people have proven ability based on performance. Among these people [the performers], there are a set of people who are extremely dynamic, let's say even hyper-dynamic, who want things to happen and they don't care about, uh, the cost or benefit of what happens. They are there; they believe our mandate is to prevent these people (refugees, internally displaced persons) from dying, so they want to do it in any way.... Those people, they do not necessarily look at the pros and cons of what happens... Their objective is to send the refugees lists in if it's a repatriation program, so let's send it... their objective is to create a camp, let's create it. Their objective is to distribute the food; let's distribute it. You see, my feeling is in UNHCR we need that kind of people who are like the generals in the aggression mode. You know when you are really pushing, then you need that kind of commander. But, this isn't military war. And then, more and more, resources are getting scarce. Our budget is increasing, but the funds are [not].... We are living in the CNN revolution... wherever it focuses, we get the money, wherever it moves; the moment the camera moves or we are out of focus... we don't get the funds." The primacy of (tele)vision in raising funds for humanitarian emergencies is fascinating. UNHCR devotes significant staff and resources into its public information activities for this very reason.1 3 5 The global reach of refugee and other crises vis-a-vis optic technologies operates in two directions. She continues, "One year ago, two years ago, Somalia was a big deal. We had no problems; everyone was giving money to Somalia.... And then the events in Bosnia completely overshadowed Somalia... now events in Rwanda have completely overshadowed Bosnia. 1 3 5 UNHCR, 1993, op. cit. 74 In the West, you know, there is this trend, you know, [the] Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan trend, you don't want to pay tax. The government who taxes least is the best government. No increase in taxes.... In that situation, the funds [here] are getting scarce. No matter how affluent the world is • becoming, the funds are getting scarce. And we use that fund, do we have a right or privilege to pursue that? When you have this macho-ist [sic] style of management, the chances of misuse of funds — waste of funds — misuse is the wrong word, wastage of funds, are high." This staff member was careful to point out that her description was not a typology but a continuum, "a wide spectrum" of people within the organization; she also noted a "hierarchy of nationalities." When asked who would be the best person to work with UNHCR today, she responded that the ideal person would talk about "effective ways of work, rather than the pleasure of helping people." A tension exists between the hierarchical 'do-it-by-the-book' dictum and the 'let's-get-the-job-done' people at UNHCR. When I mentioned possible continuities between camp practices and colonial administrations to one manager, he nodded and noted the Deputy High Commissioner's style as an example. He spoke also of the current UNHCR Representative (the most senior field posting) in Kenya as old school: As I was to meet this Rep within the next month, he offered advice: "Just make sure he knows that you know he is the most important person.... His ego is bit out of... he's old style.... Old style management, real concerned about status... but you have to learn to live with them. [The last Representative in Kenya] was a very different person." The last Rep(resentative) at Branch Office (BO) Nairobi in Kenya was a 'performer' — to employ the continuum described above. He was considered accessible and preferred direct access among professional staff. Many thought (and still think) he was effective. 75 The new Rep is more rule-conscious. He pays close attention to vertically-defined lines of authority and is more 'correct' in his approach. The current Representative is addressed as "Mr."; the former Rep was usually called by his first name. These nuances in leadership style illustrate how different personalities shape the structure and office cultures within UNHCR. The new Rep is cautious with respect to the budget, and in my view, he was chosen for the job because of this approach. Since his debut, several non-African UNHCR staff members made me aware of what they considered an informal policy towards the 'Africanization' of the office. By this, they meant that there was a trend toward African staff being hired to run UNHCR offices located in African countries — an approach many support and of which others are critical. While I had not noticed this, it was true that the top two managers in the Nairobi office were both Africans. The politics of location within an international organization, such as UNHCR, are important to this argument and to its operations.136 There is a case to be made that Africans should oversee and execute refugee relief operations in Africa, if this can be achieved without essentializing roles. While employees of the the United Nations technically give up their interests as nationals in their own country in order to serve international humanitarian interests, this does not mean that all staff are equally well-situated to work in all locations. Charges that 'Africanization' works against these principles of universal service for human good regardless of nationality, 'race', and gender operate in much the same way as conservatives criticize affirmative action because it potentially undermines the merit of the best candidate. If UNHCR is to avoid reproducing 1 3 6 The term 'politics of location' was first coined in the 1980s by Adrienne Rich. She used the idea to challenge racist and homophobic constructions of the word 'woman' through a series of essays. Caren Kaplan traces the transformation of this term through processes of cultural translation and transformation: "[a]t the present moment, it both functions as a marker of Western interest in other cultures and signals the formation of diasporic identities." This description applies to my use above. See C. Kaplan, "The Politics of Location" in Scattered Hegemonies: Postmodernity and Transnational Feminist Practices, (eds.) I. Grewal and C. Kaplan, (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1994), pp. 137-152. p. 138. 76 Eurocentric and potentially neo-colonial patterns of governance in non-European locations, however, hiring people with ample knowledge and experience of the people and places where humanitarian assistance is delivered demonstrates a certain political acumen. My concern is that the historically constituted hierarchical and quasi-military relations of power within the organization are not being challenged in this transition towards more African representation. By introducing senior managers of African nationalities, there is a potential and a capacity for changes in structure, operations, and direction. To the extent that staff uncritically accept existing UNHCR protocol and structure, this strategy risks reproducing the neo-colonial technologies of power, and accomplishing little more than a flawed European system staffed by Africans. This is not a question of either universal humanitarianism or essentialist Africanization. Rather, UNHCR is in a position to invoke a politics of location and to decide what variation will occur across space and how. The chapter has outlined a number of the tensions, new directions, and changes occurring with UNHCR as an organization. Legacies of hierarchical authority structures and the mentality of compassion towards refugees within an international welfare state are being challenged from within the agency. Although rigid structure and hierarchy can impede effectiveness and ignore competency at junior ranks, these observations are not intended as idle criticism. Given the organization's antecedents in the aftermath of war and its current status as an agency which assists refugees fleeing civil conflict in many cases, military structures are not so surprising. However, the example of most NGOs demonstrates that such a structure is not necessary to deliver humanitarian services. 'Quasi-military' is a designation used by a Dutch aid agency to describe UNHCR operations in Somalia. 1 3 7 The host states, in which UNHCR locates and establishes camps, are responsible for maintaining law and order. One tension is clear: there is some antagonism between vertical Netherlands Development Corporation, 1994, op. cit. 77 and more horizontal lines of authority, in terms of professional approach, within the organization. Another important tension exists between the organization's two sets of clients: government donors, who are increasingly calling for financial accountability and performance-based outcomes, and refugees, the agency's traditional focus. The geography of this clientele is interesting: donors are generally located in the so-called 'First World' and refugees in the 'Second' and 'Third Worlds'. The demands of both sets of clients are not always reconcilable and provide the basis for a politicized notion of need. Financial contributions are 'tied' to specific humanitarian projects in many cases, and this has increased donor hegemony at UNHCR. Insofar as notions of 'race' have been replaced by concepts of 'culture', there remains a tension between culture as an expression of universal humanism and as the basis of difference. On the one hand, culture is singular and shared; on the other, cultures are plural and distinctive. The issue of the 'Africanization' of employees at UNHCR offices located in African countries raises questions of who should staff jobs in these places. While any kind of essentialism which dictates that only Africans are fit to work in Africa is both politically precarious and impractical given the current nationalities of staff, there is room for a politics of location that analyzes the relations of power UNHCR produces and is produced by. If increasing African staff in UNHCR offices situated in Africa might unsettle, change, and recover power and control where there are abuses and inequalities, this may well be a viable and important political strategy. However, to be effective such a strategy would have to address not only staff composition, but also the existing structures of power within the organization which are heirarchical, authoritative, and based in UNHCR's metropole, Geneva. 78 Chapter 3 'Race', Gendered Culture, and United Nations Humanism Feminism, for me, is the struggle for the equality of women. But this should not be understood as a struggle for realizing the equality of a definable empirical group with a common essence and identity, women, but rather as a struggle against the multiple forms in which the category 'woman' is constructed in subordination.138 — Chantal Mouffe This chapter focuses on UNHCR policies and projects that are aimed at promoting gender analysis and equity. Following Chantal Mouffe's concern with the constructions of 'women' in subordination, Doreen Indra has invoked a feminist critique of the ways that liberal democratic politics have contained women, particularly in the context of refugee studies. Indra makes "a plea for greater cross-fertilization between feminist social analysis and refugee studies."139 My aim is to contribute to this cross-fertilization by grounding feminist analysis of UNCHR policy and of UNHCR operations in the camps. The chapter begins by examining some of the ways in which the categories of 'race' and 'woman' have been constructed in subordination within a discourse of 'UN humanism'. I note that historically racial equality preceded concerns for gender equality within the U N framework emerging after World War II. The advent of gender equity policies at UNHCR did not occur until the late 1980s. Since then a reasonably comprehensive set of policies and guidelines has been established. A cursory overview of UNHCR's gender policy on paper is followed by two case studies of UNHCR projects aimed at promoting women in practice. The close readings of these two projects illustrate some of the contradictions and 1 3 8 Chantal Mouffe, "Feminism, Citizenship, and Radical Democratic Politics" in Feminists Theorize the Political, (eds.) J. Butler & J. Scott, (New York/London: Routledge, 1992), pp. 369-384. p. 382. 1 3 9 Doreen Indra, "Ethnic Human Rights and Feminist Theory: Gender Implications for Refugee Studies and Practice" in Journal for Refugee Studies, vol. 2, no. 2, 1989. pp. 221-241. p. 221. 79 complications between policy and practice. The first addresses the gender and geographical implications of one recent UNHCR recruitment policy. The second introduces the Women Victims of Violence Project, an initiative to protect refugees from sexual violence which raises questions of gender policy and practice in UNHCR-sponsored refugee camps. In development circles, feminists have long challenged many of the assumptions aid organizations make with respect to gender and the roles of women in development. Using postmodern theory, several feminists scholars have pointed out that the approaches of 'women' and 'gender' in development are predicated upon assumptions which subsume, segregate, and essentialize the locations of women. 1 4 0 In some cases, development projects aim to treat gender as relational; women are considered partners in decision-making and are integrated fully into existing political, economic, and social structures. In others, women are cast as poor and vulnerable mothers with distinctive needs which must be recognized by humanitarian organizations. Women are explicitly included, but their agency is limited. Some projects are conceived by women for women and bypass the circuits of power and authority that the other two approaches rely upon. Al l represent what Mitu Hirshman calls "the be-all and the end-all of the humanist project: the improvement of the human condition."1 4 1 She does not simply dismiss these approaches because of their humanist assumptions, but aims to expose some of the problems these assumptions pose. Somewhere between Chantal Mouffe's poststructuralist feminist politics and the essentialist concepts of the 'Third World Woman', that Chandra Mohanty criticizes are the feminist policy makers and practitioners whose job is to invoke positive change and to persuade 1 4 0 See Marianne Marchand and Jane Parpart (eds.), Feminism/Postmodernism/Development. (New York/London: Routledge, 1995). 1 4 1 Mitu Hirshman, "Women and Development: A Critique" in Feminism/Postmodernism/Development, (eds.) M. Marchand and J. Parpart, (New York/London: Routledge, 1995), pp. 42-55. p. 44. 80 others of their projects.1 4 2 Given the sophisticated analysis and warranted criticism of 'aid' by feminist scholars and others, the delivery of emergency aid with a gender equity focus poses a seemingly insurmountable challenge. The discussion presented here raises these issues in the specific context of humanitarian assistance to refugees. Siting the Social I begin with a brief discussion of the gendered assumptions of public/private divides, drawing from humanist and poststructuralist viewpoints. While challenging the public/private dichotomy, I contend that what counts as 'public' and therefore as political is geographically and historically contingent. Assumptions that women belong to the private domain of the home have contributed to the depoliticization of their needs and their spatial separation from the public, or 'social' domain. "Distance... was to be the prime instrument used in isolating women not only from jobs but also from power and involvement in the body politic." 1 4 3 Nancy Fraser claims that subordination is constructed through contested discourses among various groups at the 'site of the social', or civic forum. Issues of 'race' and then gender were incorporated into U N discourse beginning in the middle part of this century, attesting to their location outside the 'site of the social' prior to that time. Fraser, who writes from an arguably post-humanist perspective, borrows the notion of the 'social' from Hannah Arendt's humanist work. Fraser is careful to distinguish her use of the term from that of the original author. Arendt and I both understand the social as a historically emergent societal space specific to modernity. And we both understand the emergence of the social as tending to undercut or blur an earlier, more distinct separation of public and private spheres. But she treats the emergence of the social as a fall or lapse, and 1 4 2 Chandra Mohanty, "Under Western Eyes" in Third World Women and the Politics of Feminism. (Bloomington/Indianapolis: University of Indiana Press, 1991); Chantal Mouffe, "Post-Marxism: democracy and identity" in Environment & Planning D: Society & Space, vol. 13, 1995. pp. 259-265; Chantal Mouffe, 1992, op. cit. 1 4 3 Susan Hanson & Gerry Pratt, Gender. Work, and Space. (New York/London: Routledge, 1995), p. 94. 81 she valorizes the earlier separation of public and private as a preferred state of affairs appropriate to "the human condition." I, on the other hand, make no assumptions about the human condition; nor do I regret the passing of the private/public separation.... Arendt and I agree that one salient defining feature of the social is the emergence of heretofore "private" needs into public view. Arendt, however, treats this as a violation of the proper order of things: she assumes that needs are wholly natural and are forever doomed to be things of brute compulsion. Thus she supposes that needs can have no genuinely political dimension and that their emergence from the private sphere into the social spells the death of authentic politics.144 Fraser, writing three decades after Arendt, refuses the idea of "the human condition" and views the emergence of a needs discourse from the private to the social as a positive development. Fraser's work is relevant here as a postmodern foil to humanism and its historical antecedents — in particular, the US Declaration of Independence and the French Declaration of the Rights of Man which emerged at the end of the eighteenth century. In the section which follows, I trace one expression of humanist thinking within international politics. Within academic circles, humanism has a long history as a project which gives human agency and awareness a central place, and as a general critique of positivist, structuralist, and Marxist perspectives.145 In geography, humanist theory has played a major role in the development of the discipline and its debates. I recognize that many academics, geographers in particular, eschew the 'vulgar' strand of humanism broached here for "it is now widely accepted that autonomous, neutered and sovereign subject at its core was a fiction, implicated in an ideology of humanism which suppressed the multiple ways in which subjects were constructed in order to promote a white, masculine, bourgeois subject as the norm, from which others were to be seen as departures 1 4 4 Nancy Fraser, Unruly Practices: Power. Discourse and Gender in Contemporary Social Theory. (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1989), p. 160. 1 4 5 Kate Soper, Humanism & Anti-Humanism. (London: Hutchinson, 1986). 82 or deviants."146 'UN humanism' might be considered an ideological construct which is past its prime. "The Birth of the U N Family' The legal and organizational protocols of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees are an expression of the larger liberal discourse of U N humanism. This brief account of the 'birth' of U N humanism elucidates constructions of 'race' and gender within United Nations discourse. Robert Young chronicles debates over 'race' in the nineteenth century and suggests that 'culture' has replaced 'race' in twentieth century debates, but remains otherwise much the same: "Culture has always marked cultural difference by producing the other; it has always been comparative, and racism has always been an integral part of it.... Race has always been culturally constructed. Culture has always been racially constructed."147 Young documents arguments about racial difference and superiority between monogenists, who believe that all human beings belong to one 'race' because they are the creation of a divine god, and the polygenists, who maintain that there are distinct 'races' hierarchically positioned in relation to one another.148 Throughout the nineteenth century, 'whites' — the interlocutors in these debates —were considered the superior race by the polygenists. Young briefly chronicles some of the intelligence tests of this period, including the size of the human cranium as an indicator of cleverness. In Colonial Desire, he concludes that "for two hundred years culture has carried within it an antagonism between culture as a universal and as cultural difference, forming a resistance 1 4 6 Derek Gregory, "Humanistic geography", The Dictionary of Human Geography, third edition, (eds.) R.J. Johnston, D. Gregory, & D.M. Smith, (Blackwell, Oxford: Blackwell, 1994),.pp. 263-266. p. 265. 1 4 7 Robert Young, Colonial Desire: Hybridity in Theory. Culture, and Race. (NY/London: Routledge, 1995), p. 54. 1 4 8 The word miscegenation first appeared in the Oxford English Dictionary in 1864, alluding to the polygenist position of distinct 'races' and the value of racial purity in contrast to 'mixed race'; see Robert Young, 1995, op. cit. 83 to Western culture within Western culture itself."149 UNHCR embodies this antagonism and embraces both humanism's universal subject and the concept of cultural difference as a means of accommodating difference. In 1948 the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was proclaimed, a declaration in which 'universal man' replaced 'international man' in a final amendment. Rene Cassin, who lobbied for this change, argued that "'universal' man is more easily extracted from the complications of history." 1 5 0 He did not consider the ramifications of these "complications", namely the importance of cultural and political geographies among nation-states and implications of gender for 'universal man'. Before long, the abstract, 'race'-neutral, gender-blind concept of humanity soon encountered its own limitations. In 1950 and 1951, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) published statements on the (scientific) nature of 'race' and racial differences. Donna Haraway spells out the connections between these statements and the construction of 'universal man' after the Second World War: ...the authority of the architects of the modern evolutionary syntheses was crucial to the birth of post-W.W.II universal man, biologically certified for equality and rights to full citizenship. Before W.W.II, versions of Darwinism, as well as other doctrines in evolutionary biology, had been deeply implicated in producing racist science as normal, authoritative practice. It was therefore not sufficient for social science, set across an ideological and disciplinary border from nature and natural science, to produce anti- or non-racist doctrines of human equality and environmental causation. The body itself had to be reinscribed, reauthorized, by the chief discipline historically empowered to produce the potent marks of race — Darwinian evolutionary biology. For this task, 'behavior' would be the mediating instrument.151 1 4 9 Robert Young, 1995, op. cit., p. 54. 1 5 0 Donna Haraway, "Remodeling the Human Way of Life" in Primate Visions. (New York/London: Routledge, 1989), pp. 186-206. p. 198 1 5 1 Donna Haraway, 1989, op. cit., p. 199. 84 Authorized by science, the 'birth' of a universal subject was timely. Poised between the victory over fascism and the horror of the Holocaust, the politically significant emergence of the 'united family of man' was legitimized by evolutionary biology and physical anthropology. Although differences among ethnic and cultural groups could not be denied, they were considered gradations among populations whereas human beings shared a single species status, that of homo sapiens: From the biological standpoint, the species Homo sapiens is made up of a number of populations, each one of which differs from the others in the frequency of one or more genes.... A race, from the biological standpoint, may therefore be defined as one of the group of populations constituting the species Homo sapiens.1 J Z The rallying point for humanists was that the scientific differences among individuals of the same so-called 'race' were greater than those among different 'races', the corollary of which was the 'birth of U N humanism.' A notable critic of this construct at the time was Roland Barthes, whose essay, "The Great Family of Man," describes a photo exhibit promulgating the "ambiguous myth of the human 'community', which serves as an alibi to a large part of our humanism."153 Barthes goes on to take apart this unity myth in a passage worth citing in its entirety: This myth functions in two stages: first the difference between human morphologies is asserted, exoticism is insistently stressed, the infinite variations of the species, the diversity in skins, skulls and customs are made manifest, the image of the Babel is complacently projected over that of the world. Then, from this pluralism, a type of unity is magically produced: man [sic] is born, works, laughs and dies everywhere in the same way; and if there still remains in these actions some ethnic peculiarity, at least one hints that there is underlying each one an identical 'nature', that their diversity is only formal and does not belie the existence of a common mould. Of course this means postulating a human essence, and here is God reintroduced into our Exhibition: the diversity of men proclaims his power, his richness; the unity of their gestures demonstrates his wi l l . 1 5 4 1 5 2 UNESCO Statement on Race, cited in Donna Haraway, 1989, op. cit., pp. 199-200. 1 5 3 Roland Barthes, Mythologies. (London: Paladin, 1973), p. 107. 1 5 4 Roland Barthes, 1973, op. cit., p. 107-108. 85 This unity was moralized and sentimentalized, argued Barthes, suppressing the differences and resulting injustices of history. Science was also used as a key legitimation device in creating 'UN humanism.' Ironically, U N discourse often reinforced that which it attempted to criticize: arguing against the concept of separate 'races', the term 'populations' or 'cultures' came to mean much the same thing. 1 5 5 Furthermore, this discourse was implicitly and explicitly gendered. The statements of the 1950s spoke of 'universal brotherhood', a language of exclusion and androcentrism. Haraway also points to the sexism of U N humanism, citing the 'Man-the-Hunter' image which was produced and institutionalized in part by scientific meetings such as the 1955 Pan-African Congress in physical anthropology held in Nairobi. Discussion of racial politics and of natural tendencies to cooperate was itself gendered, she argues: "Man the Hunter's and UNESCO man's unmarked gender were part of the solution to one kind of racism at the inherited cost of unexaminable, unintentional, and therefore particularly powerful, scientific sexism."156 In addition to the displaced notion of difference ushered in by the UNESCO Statement on Race, the cost of this solution was a kind of scientific sexism. The gendered dimension of these 'race' politics was perhaps less obvious to U N humanists than the exclusion of 'Woman' from the ranks of universal brotherhood. Women's questions, issues, and actions inspired the U N Decade for Women between 1975 and 1985; the decade was punctuated by the 1985 U N Conference on Women in Nairobi. "The U N had to respond to the manifestations of the revolution in gender that is occurring all Robert Young, 1995, op. cit.; Donna Haraway, 1989, op. cit. Donna Haraway, 1989, op. cit., p. 201. 86 over the planet in very homogeneous, contradictory, and internally contentious ways."1 5 7 The 1995 World Conference on Women in Beijing and the NGO Forum held in Hairou, China mark another decade of U N humanism that has incorporated a gender analysis. Espousing a human rights approach, the Beijing and Hairou forums did accomplish a number objectives. The concerns of women refugees, Tibetan exiles, and lesbians were heard and their human rights issues documented on a public stage. The conferences challenged assumptions of a 'universal brotherhood' at several levels. Despite these gains, the implementation of U N H C R policies and projects aimed at promoting women in the 1990s remains problematic. The next section briefly outlines these policies, including some of the assumptions and attitudes which serve as obstacles to implementation in refugee camps. Dual/Duel Feminisms and Gendered Cultures at UNHCR [the question of women refugees]: "this should be an integral part of any management decision ever made... UNHCR is, like many bureaucracies... I mean all the big bosses are men... there is a very traditional very male-oriented thinking...."158 Since the late 1980s, a number of different equity initiatives and gender analyses have been developed as part of UNHCR's policy on refugee women. Drawing on the tenets of humanism and universality, most, but not all, draw from the paradigm of liberal feminism -— emphasizing equality, integration, and 'mainstreaming'. The underlying principles of policy include "the integration of the resources and needs of refugee women into all aspects of programming, rather than creating special women's projects."159 Furthermore, 1 5 7 Donna Haraway, "Women's place is in the Jungle" in Primate Visions. (New York/London: Routledge, 1989), pp. 279-303. p. 286. 1 5 8 Interview, Consulate staff member, Permanent Mission of Canada to Office of the UN, Geneva, October 27, 1994. 1 5 9 UNHCR, "UNHCR Policy on Refugee Women", Geneva, August 1990, p. 4. 87 "becoming a refugee affects men and women differently and ... effective programming must recognize these differences" in a culturally appropriate manner.160 Such gender analyses remain intact as policy, but implementation and conflicting professional approaches introduce some serious dilemmas. If women are underrepresented within the organization, how can UNHCR increase their numbers? In the camps, are women in refugee situations equal partners in decision-making, or do they have 'special' needs which they cannot meet alone? Can women's needs be addressed by assisting the entire refugee population in a camp, or are designated programs and services targeted for women required? While these questions simplify the issues at hand, they point to selected dilemmas which I will explore in the course of this chapter. In an effort to illustrate these dilemmas more fully, each is situated within the relevant UNHCR policy and theoretical literature. I begin with the example of UNHCR recruitment strategies aimed at improving the representation of women among staff. The last part of the chapter analyzes one initiative, the Women Victims of Violence project, which addresses gender-based violence in the camps. It is prefaced by a brief survey of the development literature pertaining to women and gender which provides a context for understanding U N H C R policies to promote women. Gender Policy at UNHCR Promoted by the office of the UNHCR Senior Coordinator for Women Refugees, the 'People-Oriented Planning Process', or POP as it is called, is a euphemistic title referring to gender analysis integrated with culturally-sensitive community planning.161 Both POP and 1 6 0 Ibid., p. 5. 1 6 1 Mary Anderson, Ann Brazeau, and Catherine Overholt, "A Framework for People-Oriented Planning in Refugee Situations Taking Account of Women, Men and Children: A Practical Planning Tool for Refugee Workers", Geneva, UNHCR, December 1992. See also UNHCR, "Guidelines on the Protection of Refugee Women", Geneva, July 1991. 88 the 'Guidelines on the Protection of Refugee Women' identify the physical spaces in which refugee women live as important for reasons of safety as well as to ensure equitable access to basic services and supplies. UNHCR recognizes that women refugees are often more vulnerable in camp situations because family protection and traditional authority structures break down and economic support is less available.1 6 2 Camp layout and location are acknowledged as important factors at a general level. Historical context, geo-political factors, and cultural differences are left for field workers to 'fill in' once placed in the refugee camps. The UNHCR guidelines and POP processes are, then, generic tools which, in theory, are universally applicable to all refugee situations. This liberal sensibility, which acknowledges but incorporates cultural diversity and local conditions into a planning framework, remains part of a Western-based system of knowledge. The POP framework advocates a three-step approach to camp planning: preparation of a refugee population profile to analyze context; analysis of previous and existing patterns of activities among refugees, such as the gender divisions of social and economic responsibilities; and a comparative analysis of what resources refugees controlled and used before they arrived and what they control and use in the current context. These analyses are to be applied to the organization of food distribution, physical layout of camps, and medical assistance for refugees. The POP framework has much in common with 'gender and development' approaches to planning. It is a tool for planning which emphasizes gender without naming it. A more radical sensibility might mitigate the purported universality of this partiuclar humanitarian approach with analyses of social, political, economic, and cultural locations where people have been displaced. UNHCR has taken steps in this direction by offering POP training to African women who are community workers and encouraging them to 1 6 2 UNHCR, The State of the World's Refugees: The Challenge of Protection. (Toronto: Penguin, 1993). 89 'interpret' the planning framework within an appropriate cultural context. While this is a positive development, it nonetheless attests to a liberal idea of accommodating difference. A more radical approach might also recognize that, in practice, human rights do not have the same meaning in all places, nor do they include all groups nor have equal outcomes, despite the universal application of such rights in principle. The POP initiative does attempt to include the specific features of people and place, but conditions and relations such as intercultural politics, host government sentiments towards refugees, and the geo-politics giving rise to displacement cannot simply be added to such a framework. Expressive of U N humanism, UNHCR policies pertaining to refugee women and to refugees of other cultures do not recognize the ways in which 'women' and 'culture' are constructed in subordination. In an examination of gendered culture, Tani Barlow notes that the term 'woman' was not part of terminology in China until after Western influence and that it came into use partly as an instrument of control on the part of the state.163 Inderpal Grewal has argued that international institutions like the World Bank and the IMF contribute to the interpellation of female subjects in varied ways in many parts of the world: ... while the term 'woman,' as a political category, cannot be dismissed so easily, what needs to be remembered is not only Simone de Beauvoir's notion that 'woman' is a social construct, but that first, women are constructed differently within different social categories such as class, caste, and so on.... even while it is important to critique an ahistorical category of 'woman,' it is just as problematic to seek authentic versions of women's locations within societies. ^4 1 6 3 Tani Barlow, "Theorizing Woman: Funii, Guojia, Mating (Chinese Women, Chinese State, Chinese Family" in Scattered Hegemonies: Postmodernity and Transnational Feminist Practices. (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1994), pp. 173-196. 1 6 4 Inderpal Grewal, "Autobiographical Subjects, Diasporic Locations" in Scattered Hegemonies: Postmodernity and Transnational Feminist Practices. (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1994), pp. 231-254. pp. 243-4. 90 Faced with crises of displacement which require practical responses to assist refugees regardless of gender or culture, U N H C R is also confronted with the need for a transnational, or transcultural, as opposed to multicultural analysis. A multicultural framework incorporates differences of gender and culture as expressions of diversity. It includes differences but does not allow them to alter the master plan or narrative of which it is a part. The deconstruction of the master narratives of power and reconstruction of subject locations comprise a strategy by which UNHCR can resist inserting 'woman' and 'culture' within a Western economy of difference. Transnational practices break down authoritative power relations by making connections across cultural and gender differences, not within planning frameworks based on Western notions of community development. At a practical level, transnational practices involve discussions with refugees, not discussions of refugee planning and management. Refugees have to become part of the 'we' in the 'us'-'them' equation in order to take apart the paternalist narratives, frameworks, and planning policies which organize their difference. On paper, UNHCR's gender-based initiatives are an impressive collation of feminist analyses and recommended action.1 6 5 They include liberal and other feminist sensibilities which address issues of discrimination, violence, and systemic material inequality affecting women. 1 6 6 The lack of attention paid to cultural differences and to the hierarchical positioning of cultures in the camps is one shortcoming in UNHCR's programming.167 On one hand, the frequent use of the category 'woman' by UNHCR as a primary 1 6 5 For a comprehensive review of UNHCR policy, EXCOM conclusions, and legal protocols regarding women, see Refugee Survey Quarterly. "Special Issue on Refugee Women", vol. 14, Summer 1995 published by UNHCR, Geneva. 166 IJNHCR, "Note on Certain Aspects of Sexual Violence Against Refugee Women", Executive Committee, A/AC.96/822, October 12, 1993; UNHCR, "Making the Linkages: Protection and Assistance Policy and Programming to Benefit Refugee Women", Joint Meeting of Sub-Committees of Administration and Financial Matters and of the Whole on International Protection. Document EC/1993/SC.2/crp.l6, May 1993. 1 6 7 Akhil Gupta & James Ferguson, "Beyond 'Culture': Space, Identity, and the Politics of Difference" in Cultural Anthropology, vol. 7, no. 1, (Feb. 1992). pp. 6-23. 91 organizing concept essentializes and reinforces the primacy of female difference over ethnic, clan, and other axes of identification.168 On the other, this usage seems contrary to the basic liberal principle articulated in U N H C R policy, namely "mainstreaming and integration." While certain groups of women refugees are listed as 'vulnerable' and requiring special assistance in the camps, 1 6 9 other planning documents insist that women be equal partners in decision-making processes and that they have equitable access to services and resources.1 7 0 The two are not mutually exclusive, although they begin to illustrate some of the contradictions and complications of refugee programming at UNHCR with respect to gender and cultural differences. U N H C R ' s approach to women refugees cannot be viewed as coherent, unitary, or internally consistent. Nor should it. The main purpose of U N H C R policies to promote women is to guide and encourage change within the organization. Given the substantial differences among and within the various constituencies of displaced people U N H C R assists, it is unlikely that any one U N H C R policy would have the same outcome. As well as differences among constituencies, however, professional standards differ dramatically within the organization. This was confirmed in interviews with U N H C R staff in Geneva. One senior staff member underlined the obstacles to introducing an 'empowerment approach' in delivering programs for refugee women in an environment which had been dominated for decades by a traditional social welfare approach, focusing on vulnerability, private need, and the legitimacy of 'traditional' culture as a rationale for particular practices 168 j n 1993 M E UN Relief and Rehabilitation Programme for Somalia outlined specific objectives as well as "funding requests by sector" to finance the initiative. The sectors requiring funding noted in Table II of the document include — among others— civil administration, food security, logistics, potable water, education, health & nutrition, and Somali women. While it is true that the document was partly designed to appeal to potential funders, the separation of women from the other activities noted here also contradicts UNHCR's 'mainstreaming' policy. See "United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Programme for Somalia — Covering the Period 1 March - 31 December 1993", United Nations, 11 March 1993. 1 6 9 UNHCR, "Country Operations Plan — Kenya", Nairobi, October 1994. 1 7 0 Mary Anderson, Ann Brazeau, and Catherine Overholt, 1992, op. cit.; UNHCR, 1990, op. cit.; UNHCR, 1991, op. cit. 92 of violence towards women, in contrast to the promotion and protection of universal human rights. He confided to me that "[UNHCR] policy is clear that women are not considered vulnerable except vulnerable to exploitation... more vulnerable than others."171 The line drawn here is fine. Women are to be empowered as equals, but may require special protection given their susceptibility to economic, sexual, and possibly cultural exploitation. Is genital mutilation gender-based persecution, or is female circumcision a legitimate cultural tradition? Some critics maintain that UNHCR's policies to promote women are weak. Training modules, such as the POP framework, avoid the use of the term 'gender' per se and aim to invoke attitudinal changes that are too basic. In a submission to the Executive Committee of UNHCR on October 12, 1995, the International NGO Working Group on Refugee Women in conjunction with the NGO Refugee Caucus in Beijing noted problems of implementation with respect to gender policy: "According to our membership, despite the introduction of People Oriented Planning (POP) training, the gender perspective continues to be largely ignored by UNHCR and their implementing partners." A senior UNHCR staff member notes that "Bilateral development agencies such as CIDA have many years of experience in developing and implementing women in development and gender policies and programmes. Humanitarian organisations such as UNHCR which have a need to focus immediately on life saving activities, neither have the organisational culture nor historical experience in such activities, so that introducing this type of programming in 1990 was similar to the beginnings of gender programming in the early 70s in CIDA." 1 7 2 1 7 1 Interview, UNHCR senior staff, Geneva, October 25, 1994. 1 7 2 Ibid. As a matter of fair representation, I sent a draft of our interview transcript to this interviewee and discussed it over the telephone. This excerpt is drawn in part from a 'revised' transcript received by fax, dated October 20, 1995. 93 The implementation of such policies and guidelines, which require attitudinal and organizational change as well as professional competence, is a much more complex, longer term project. This same senior staff member added that "introducing gender concerns is not like introducing technical changes in the way we deliver water and sanitation programmes, for example. They require consensus building, awareness raising, and organisational commitment. This is a message which is starting to permeate UNHCR and indeed the UN generally as underlined in the recent Joint Inspection Unit Report on implementing gender issues in multilateral organisations." UNHCR's commitment to gender analysis and planning processes on paper is clear, but in the field it is less certain. "One of the key issues ... is implementation of policy . We have a policy, but we have no way of ensuring that people respond to that policy. [We] have no way of holding people accountable for not implementing the policy.... That's a major barrier... and one which is acknowledged."173 The barriers to organizational change which promotes gender equity are significant. One NGO representative based in Geneva suggested some organizational obstacles to developing gender policy expressive of a feminist politics at UNHCR: "You have to look at many feminisms. I think the UNHCR approach will not use feminism as its terminology... Like for instance, their training program, they call it people-oriented training.... Though if you follow the different stages of the resolution, after the Vienna Conference you see that the statement that it's 'sexual violence' against women; now never before was there that... that it is a power issue. ...[those promoting gender equity at UNHCR don't] want to use feminism or these terms.... the culture just refuses to deal with anything of the sort. ... and even though [UNHCR's] calling it 'people-oriented', [it's] getting the backlash....it's not easy. It's easy to critique a person's efforts, but once you're in it's not easy. Like here, I haven't yet said openly that 1 7 3 Ibid. 94 I'm a feminist — I have with the women and certain groups, but there is an image of feminism, people don't recognize that there are feminisms.... " 1 7 4 Taking gender equity and the provision of refugee assistance grounded in a sustained analysis of gender to mean 'feminist' at UNHCR, the struggles to integrate feminist policies are complicated by the challenge of preventing alienation or dismissal on the part of other less receptive staff.175 In refugee camps, one of the most difficult challenges to overcome for UNHCR staff— who are professionally trained and assigned to implement policies attentive to gender relations and cultural politics — is their junior status in relation to older, often more conservative senior staff. During the period of my research, I observed that new staff often faced insurmountable barriers to change within the organization if their immediate superiors resisted or were indifferent to the idea. I witnessed several junior rank UNHCR staff become depressed, get sick, lose hair, and — in two cases — leave the organization. Most, but not all, of these employees were women. Many employees attributed their dissatisfaction to their immediate supervisor, though many cited the containment and isolation of living on a guarded compound as a contributing factor. In this study, there was no way to assess systematically the effects of hierarchical chains of command at all U N H C R field locations. However, the often gender-blind, authoritative, status quo 1 7 4 Interview, senior NGO staff member, Geneva, October 28, 1994. 1 7 5 My own understanding of feminism focuses on the unequal relations of power across lines of culture, sexuality, nationality, class, and other differences as well as gender, and emphasizes the construction of subordinate categories and identities. It also includes a politics of difference attentive to cultural location and gender relations similar to those advocated by UNHCR. The difference between my position and that of UNHCR is that UNHCR policy applies across cultures unproblematically. Cultural difference is subsumed within a single framework of emergency planning. My position, drawing from concepts developed in Caren Kaplan's work, promulgates a linking of these locations across cultures and other social/political locations within specific contexts of displacement. The connections and affinities would still be based on common goals, namely the safety of involuntary migrants. 95 operation at my research location was one of the most salient sources of personal and professional stress. The section which follows illustrates some of the recruitment considerations for professional staff at UNHCR. In particular, it analyzes the implications of one hiring strategy aimed at increasing the representation of women on staff. The strategy also proposes a distinctive geography of employment in which some staff rotate through time while others rotate through space. The Perils of Perfect Pluralism We have to transform the field of social institutions into a vast experimental field, in such a way as to decide which taps need turning, which bolts need to be loosened here or there, to get the desired change; bearing in mind that a whole institutional complex, at present very fragile, will probably have to undergo a restructuring from top to bottom.176 — Michel Foucault United Nations agencies have the unsavoury challenge of trying to represent all their members states without discrimination, to meet donor demands, and to select a competent staff to run the various organizations. UNHCR, in particular, has to embrace change without compromising the needs of those whom it serves. The organization maintains that its mandate is a preventive one: "to manage ethnic diversity in a way that promotes tolerance within and beyond national borders."177 Likewise, its recruitment philosophy aims to select and manage a workforce which promotes tolerance within the agency and in external relationships with others, most obviously refugees. 1 7 6 Michel Foucault cited in Mark Yount, "The Normalizing Powers of Affirmative Action" in Foucault and the Critique of Institutions, (eds.) J. Caputo & M. Yount. (PA: Pennsylvania State University, 1993), pp. 191-229. p. 227. 1 7 7 UNHCR. The State of the World's Refugees: The Challenge of Protection. (Toronto: Penguin, 1993), p. 22. 96 But whose tolerance defines the norm and what is an acceptable degree of deviation? While feminist and postcolonial subjectivities seek to deconstruct and recover voiceless refugees, the still univeral humanist subjects of a multicultural United Nations remain intact. The U N 'family of man', 'family of nations', and 'international community' are weak concepts for feminist, postcolonial, and poststructuralist theorists concerned with deconstructing the universal subject. Each is an expression of the overarching narratives of nationalism and humanism. 1 7 8 As Caren Kaplan has also noted in different contexts, "debates about 'tradition' and the role of national culture in liberation struggles are often invested with contested notions of gender."179 Liisa Malkki explains how ritualized evocations of common humanity are constructed and celebrated as an egalitarian diversity among peoples and nations. In particular, she identifies the 'family of nations' and the 'international community' as discursive practices which serve "to reproduce, naturalize, legitimate and even generate 'the nation form' all over the world." 1 8 0 Her main point is that terms like 'international community' obfuscate the unequal power relations among states, especially the hegemony of European nations. Differences among countries are constructed as plural and are valued as a part of a diverse whole. In Malkki's analysis, difference is domesticated and contained within a liberal-humanist discourse of 'cultural diversity'. UNHCR recruitment practices are a clear expression of this discourse. Two processes often occur together: "a creation of cultural diversity and a containment of cultural difference."181 There are at least five thousand ethnic groups organized within roughly two hundred independent states globally. Just as cultural and political differences 1 7 8 See Akhil Gupta & James Ferguson, 1992, op. cit., pp. 6-23. They also note that 'sub-culture' is a weak concept because it too is subsumed under an implicit cultural dominant. 1 7 9 Caren Kaplan, ""A World without Boundaries": The Body Shop's Trans/national Geographies" in Social Text 43, Fall 1995, pp. 45-66. Kaplan cites the work of Cynthia Enloe and Hazel Carby here. 1 8 0 Liisa Malkki, "National Geographic: The Rooting of Peoples and the Territorialization of National Identity Among Scholars and Refugees," Cultural Anthropology, vol. 7, no. 1, (Feb. 1992), pp. 24-43. p. 42. 1 8 1 Homi Bhabha cited in L. Malkki, 1992, op. cit., p. 60. 97 among states are distributed within a contained order, so too are differences within large organizations such as the UN. Like criticisms of multiculturalism, Malkki's argument challenges the idea of cultural containment within a hegemonic, overarching framework of power in which 'the North' dominates 'the South'. The tension between culture as a basis for universal human experience and culture as a set of criteria of difference forms a resistance to Western culture within Western culture itself. UNHCR as an organizational culture is an expression of this tension today, embodying an antagonism between the tolerance of plural cultures and universal human rights. In one of UNHCR's most recent public relations posters, issued ostensibly to promote tolerance of refugees, dozens of different toy LEGO® people are pictured — conveniently all in yellow; the text states You see, refugees are just like you and me. Except for one thing. Everything they once had has been left behind.... we are asking that you keep an open mind. And a smile of welcome. This plea for acceptance and understanding of difference on the basis of a shared humanity is constructed as part of a European cultural dominant. While its intentions are laudable, its politics are predicated on minimizing differences. UNHCR buttresses this effort to promote sameness with some of the t-shirts it sells which read, "Einstein was a refugee." bell hooks makes a parallel argument: Their (white people's) amazement that black people watch white people with a critical "ethnographic" gaze, is itself an expression of racism. Often their rage erupts because they believe that all ways of looking that highlight difference subvert the liberal conviction that it is the assertion of universal subjectivity (we are all just people) that will make racism disappear. They have a deep emotional investment in the myth of "sameness."182 1 8 2 bell hooks, "Representing Whiteness in the Black Imagination" in Cultural Studies, (eds.) L. Grossberg, C. Nelson, & P. Treichler, (New York/London: Routledge, 1992), pp. 338-346. p. 339. 98 UNHCR's approach to 'managing diversity' falls prey to the same critiques as liberal humanism in general and multiculturalism in particular. Multiculturalism acknowledges difference in relation to a cultural dominant. It implies that cultures co-exist, but minimizes the importance of relations of power among cultures. A number of theorists have argued against these positions, offering alternative politics and subjectivities of their own. Chantal Mouffe argues for an anti-essentialist politics of nomadic hybrid identity as the basis for radical pluralist democracy. While she does not a priori specify the values or structures which would govern people of different cultures and contends that these would be historically contingent, her Eurocentric recipe for identity in radical politics remains problematic.183 Mouffe claims a poststructuralist position, and yet retains one of the most conventional structures of politics: the nation-state. As the assumed venue of her radical politics, she employs an essentialist notion of 'nation.'1 8 4 This move effectively precludes transnational political practices and the possibility of reconstituting public for political struggles across borders. The conflict, debate, and politics of difference are geographically circumscribed within the national public sphere. However radical, Mouffe's arguably poststructuralist politics reinscribes the nation-state as the site of power and reduces the idea of difference to diversity. Another proposal for radical multiculturalism is that of Ella Shohat and Robert Stam who call for "a profound restructuring and reconceptualization of the power relations between cultural communities" in which minority communities are linked in an effort to challenge 1 8 3 Chantal Mouffe, "Post-Marxism: democracy and identity" in Environment & Planning D: Society & Space, vol. 13, 1995. pp. 259-265.; and "For a politics of nomadic identity" in Travellers' Tales: Narratives of Home and Displacement, (eds.) G. Robertson, M. Mash, L. Tickner, J. Bird, B. Curtis & T. Putnam, (NY/London: Routledge, 1994), pp. 105-113. 1 8 4 Matthew Sparke, "Rethinking Radical Democracy in the Public Spaces of Transnational Neoliberalism", presentation to the American Association of Geographers, Charlotte, N.C., April 13, 1996. 99 the existing hierarchy of cultural communities.185 They call their project 'polycentric multiculturalism', and suggest that no single community or part of the world, whatever, its economic or political power, should be epistemologically privileged. Ironically, Shohat and Stam acknowledge the dominant epistemological position from which multiculturalism is constructed, yet they simply pronounce that 'polycentric multiculturalism' will bring this privileged domain to an end by granting epistemological privilege to those who have been historically marginalized. Little evidence as to why or how this might be accomplished at the end of the twentieth century is offered, yet the authors do analyze cultural history in relation to social power and link the transformation of subordinate institutions and discourses to its redistribution. Angelika Bammer criticizes what she calls the "postmodernistically hip version of the universal subject" as part of an approach that appropriates the historical experience of difference based on socially constructed categories of discrimination such as race, class, gender, sexuality, religious, ethnic or cultural affiliation. 1 8 6 She implicitly raises the question: can there be a radical politics of multiculturalism or universalism? This question introduces a more transnational approach to understanding difference. If one approaches relationships among cultural groups and the spaces they occupy not as harmonized 'us' and 'thems' living together, but as a series of unequal and uneven links between different subjects, then the question itself changes. Difference is not a question of accommodation but of connection. In North America, transnational feminist and labour lobbies make connections across borders, languages, and industrial sectors based on shared political goals. 1 8 7 Transnational economic connections have been forged where 1 8 5 Ella Shohat & Robert Stam, Unthinking Eurocentrism: Multiculturalism and the Media. (NY/London: Routledge, 1994), p.47. 186 Angelika Bammer, "Introduction" in Displacements: Cultural Identities in Question, (ed.) A. Bammer, (Bloomington/Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1994). p. xiii. 1 8 7 Matthew Sparke, 1996, op. cit. 100 shared interests are identified. In a more cultural context, the diffusion of cultural diasporas in various geographical directions generates the possibility of shared interests across cultures at a given location, as well as connections across space and culture where people have similar political objectives. Caren Kaplan points out that one danger of blurring the divisions between different groups is that identity politics can be undermined.188 Nonetheless, it will become clear from the discussion which follows that the status quo at UNHCR is even more problematic. Recruitment practices which groom and select staff at UNHCR continue to operate within a framework of liberal humanism, immune to many of the critiques of multiculturalism noted above but hyper-attentive to gender and nationality breakdowns of the workforce. Emphasis on the representation of historically and geographically excluded or underrepresented groups and on the reformulation of job descriptions to allow inclusive positions which were formerly inaccessible to certain groups is part of the organization's image. United Colours and Genders: Staffing the stats and status quo at UNHCR UNHCR is under considerable pressure to meet a number of different interests and targets, including the hiring of a staff of competent professionals that represent the agency's donor base and major asylum countries (see tables 3.1 and 3.2). Fortunately, both UNHCR's donor and asylum countries are among the forty-six member states of UNHCR's Executive Committee: a strategic overlap of interests which is reflected in a breakdown of staff numbers by nationality. Qualifications and appropriate experience are 8 8 Caren Kaplan, 1995, op. cit. 101 Table 3.1 U N H C R Staff by Nationality (permanent & short term) % of total staff USA 10.5 France 7.5 U K 5.9 Italy 3.3 Netherlands 3.3 Canada 3.1 Germany 3.0 Sweden 3.0 Switzerland 2.9 Japan 2.8 Australia 2.1 Belgium 2.1 Pakistan 2.0 N.B. Countries with staff representation between 1% & 2% of the total include: Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia, Spain, Denmark, Ghana, Thailand, Bangladesh, Philippines, Norway, Uganda, Sri Lanka, and Austria. Source: "Nationality Breakdown: Regular and Project Personnel Staff, UNHCR, 03.10.94. 102 Table 3.2 Major Donors to UNHCR, 1994 US$ million USA 232 European Commission 225 Japan 121 Sweden 81 United Kingdom 68 Netherlands 60 Norway 45 Denmark 38 Canada 26 Switzerland 21 Germany 17 Italy 15 France 11 Australia 11 Finland 11 Other governments 15 NGOs. U N and private sector 38 Total contributions 1,065 Source: UNHCR. The State of the World's Refugees: In Search of Solutions. (Oxford/NY: Oxford University Press, 1995). p. 255. scrupulously assessed by an influential board which meets regularly in Geneva to check applications, review candidate dossiers, and select recruits. How the qualified candidate is ranked has much to do with geography. Most evident is UNHCR's tendency to hire employees who reflect the donor base. In 1993, the US provided $299 million to UNHCR, almost one third of its budget. As of October 1994, UNHCR employed more US citizens than those of any other single country, followed by staff from France and the U K . Of all regular UNHCR staff, 54% come from European and North American countries, an indicator that the donor base is concentrated among a few industrialized states.189 "We have basically a fairly narrow donor base, unfortunately."190 In 1993, all but US$91 million of $1,129 million donated to U N H C R was provided by thirteen countries and the European Union (EU). 1 9 1 At the end of 1994, 95% of total contributions to UNHCR were received from fourteen states and the EU. Staff from countries of first asylum, which host significant refugee populations, are also represented among agency personnel. For example, Pakistan's hosting of Afghan refugees over the past fifteen years has 'earned' it 2% of the 1994 staff total — almost as many staff members as Belgium or Australia on the UNHCR payroll. Ethiopia, Ghana, and Thailand are other examples of refugee host countries represented by a noticeable percentage of UNHCR employees. Two sets of UNHCR's donors are represented: those who fund refugee assistance and those who provide the land and consent to host them. UNHCR is a predominantly Western-funded organization with a prevalence of staff from these same countries. All but 1 8 9 For short term staff, the proportion is 58%. 1 9 0 Interview, senior manager, October 24, 1994. 1 9 1 Several European nations gave directly to UNHCR as well as through the EU contribution (fundraising document, 05/94, HO. 10). 104 one of my interviews were with staff of Scandinavian, European, and North American nationality. The one staff member who did not hold these passports, provided insightful comments on her positioning within the organization. She maintains that UNHCR doesn't discriminate on the basis of nationality if one is good at one's work: "I have always believed in this theory of the marginal value of productivity of labour: as long as you justify your ways, you are employed.... whether you are born in Canada or Katmandu." Nonetheless, she situates herself as "weak" and "little", working in a "den of tigers" (she didn't say which nationalities counted as tigers), and argues that a graduate of a non-Western education system does not have the same chance to succeed professionally as one from a Western school. She explained the lack of critical pedagogy taught in schools in her country, even after colonialism ended: "I knew the mathematics [by rote memory] but I couldn't do [derivations from] them.... the education which we receive ... is an education system which the British had introduced ... to produce clerks to work under them." 1 9 2 One legacy of colonialism is raised here by a person of considerable privilege about her own country. 1 9 3 "Once I came to this jungle (UNHCR Geneva), I cannot afford to say my educational background was poor. I have to compete with you and prove that I am equally good.... for us coming from [the] Third World, it should be much more difficult because all the standards set for the UN are the standards set according to Western values and Western systems." While anecdotal as evidence, this testimony suggests that staff of non-Western nationalities have to meet Western standards and pass through Western institutions before working at 1 9 2 Interview, October 28, 1994. 1 9 3 See also Nanda Shrestha, "Becoming a Development Category" in Power of Development. (NY/London: Routledge, 1995), pp. 266-277. Shrestha argues that the South Asian mind was colonized through the introduction of'development' discourse, beginning in the 1950s. 105 UNHCR. As an umbrella organization, the U N may all be inclusive of all the 'united nations' which comprise its membership, but the links between them are unequal and uneven. Access to education in one of the wealthier, more powerful nations — defined by privileged social class in most less developed countries — is much less inclusive. When asked if UNHCR is a multicultural organization in terms of recruitment, one senior manager replied that "We're certainly multinational, we're multicultural but not completely.... The whole basic administrative structure of the United Nations is based upon certain Western concepts. Now these tend be rather universal, I mean most cultures embrace these concepts to some degree or another.... But it is a fact that many of the administrative structures, practices of the UN are based on Western concepts."194 He continued candidly: "I'm not saying that one set of values is better than the other.... But you see this type of thing happening in international organizations, where often people are talking past each other because they're ... coming at problems from entirely different ways." Another UNHCR staff commented upon the difficulties of running an organization that encompassed a plethora of cultures: "in CIDA the group is relatively homogenous; UN agencies are huge challenges."195 When asked how gender and nationality are figured into the recruitment equation, the first of these two managers remarked that "gender is important. Traditionally UNHCR has been a male domain; it reflects the world around it.... [but there is] a slogan you'll hear over and over again 'most refugees are women and children' (80%); why? because they're 80% of the refugee population — a truism which no one analyzes." Interview, senior manager, October 25, 1994. Interview, senior manager, October 25, 1994. 106 The second of the two managers acknowledged that it was a problem and defended it only insofar as "it was a technique to wake up the people working here." The adage, "80% of refugees are women and children", plays on and reinforces the paternalist notion that women and children are relatively helpless. It is a statistic which blends the categories of women and children together; it can serve to reproduce a particular gender division of labour, namely that child care is women's work. This construction of women, in fact, has the potential to contradict some of UNHCR's own policies of 'mainstreaming' refugee women. Continuing his gender analysis, the first manager stated that there is a move to put women in charge of food distribution in the camps. "Dominant males grab more than their fair share.... But at the same time... you must be careful about social engineering.... there are societal structures here. Are you going to challenge the leadership role of [indigenous] leaders... by saying, 'you're not allowed to distribute the food; you do at home and you will when you go back home, but right here you can't; we're going to empower the women... that's a terrible word, empower." He resumed his gender analysis: "This is what worries me a bit, now...there is a valid point that we need female staff to deal with female refugees in certain societies, for example Muslim societies — women spend their entire lives behind a set of walls, from family's home to husband's home, so you need female staff to have contact with these people. Equally, male leaders in a camp often won't work with female UNHCR staff. So, you have to balance gender to ensure access to the camp population and influence politically on the other." His concern "to balance gender" here is explained in terms which fall prey to a narrowly essentialist pragmatism: women help women; men deal with men. While practical at one level, his analysis does not speak to power relations constructed across gender and culture within the organization. 107 Despite the practical demands of refugee operations, UNHCR policy still tries to sculpt perfect pluralism. A new proposal for staff recruitment is presently being reviewed, one which highlights gender, nationality, age, and qualification. I asked the same manager, "who would get recruited in this new system?" "On the intake we have two considerations: gender and geography — preference for women; our target is at least 35% women; so recruitment target is 45%; recruit from widest possible geographical base.... a female French logistics officer will have a hard time, even though she's a woman, because France is heavily overrepresented; a male logistics officer from Mongolia would probably have a better chance; qualifications are still very important... a female candidate from Mongolia is golden, and if that female candidate from Mongolia speaks fluent English and French and has had two years of study at Exeter University, so has an international experience — terrific — that's the kind of person we should grab, so the geography of gender comes into this." (emphasis added) "A female candidate from Mongolia is golden," but does she exist? And if she does, how did she learn to speak fluent English and French? Is she not the product of Western imagination, of a perfect pluralism in which the statistically significant former subaltern speaks? As a culturally distinct female with the qualifications of a universal subject, she embodies the multicultural tension between difference amid sameness. When pressed further about selection criteria, he argued that "the best recruits will be those with experience, ideally with NGOs." I asked whether the children of diplomats would meet the mark for recruitment: "Frankly, I'm skeptical about recruiting the offspring of diplomats... we probably need to recruit the children of the diplomat's drivers.... They [the offspring of diplomats] bring sophistication and language skills...but they may not have had the focus on the nitty gritty of life...." Meritocracy rather than aristocracy should be the basis of UNHCR recruiting, I was told, a philosophy that supports the UNHCR strategy paper on staff recruitment elaborated upon 108 later in this section. "How important is Western education?", I asked. "Do most people working here have a Western education?" "I don't know [about the education of those working here]; probably.... It's not a Western education, it could be Eastern, but an international experience [that matters]. The question of East and West is less important than that of provincial versus international. It's not a question of being Mongolian, but being exposed." Questions of class, gender, and geography remain unanswered: "is the child of the diplomat's driver likely to have an international experience?" and "where does the golden Mongolian have to go to get an 'international' experience and fluency in English and French?" The interview, as others later would, made clear that 'Third World' institutions do not produce the same subjects, or employees, as Western-based ones. In a "Note on Human Resource Management" prepared by UNHCR, several critical observations pertaining to gender distribution within the organization are made. 1 9 6 Some of these are worth reviewing briefly. 1. As a member of the UN system, UNHCR needs to conform to system-wide norms.... For example, there are requirements for appropriate staff representation by gender and nationality.197 2. ...Much remains to be done to reach the present UNHCR goal of women representing 35 per cent of the Professional staff. At 30 June 1993, 29 per cent of the Professional staff were women. As of 5 May 1994, the percentage had increased to 29.8 per cent, a figure that rises to 30 per cent in the field. During 1992, 34.2 per cent of the Professional staff recruited were women. During 1993, the figure had reached 37.8 per cent.... In addition, DHRM adopted two strategies in April 1994, in order to reach the overall United Nations goal of 50 per cent female staff by the year 2000: (i) whenever DHRM is asked to identify external candidates for recruitment, DHRM review qualified applicants and presents three candidates, two of whom must be women; 1 9 6 UNHCR, Note on Human Resource Management, Geneva, 7 June 1994, EC/1994/SC.2/CRP.20. 1 9 7 Ibid., p. 20. 109 (ii) DHRM set a target for women to represent 40 per cent of all qualified candidates on the roster. (There are difficulties in some fields such as logistics, where there are limited numbers of qualified female candidates).198 3. In order to improve the representation of women in senior grades... [1993] guidelines had been prepared... and include, inter alia, modified seniority requirements for eligibility for promotion by taking into account the time a woman has spent at a previous level. Women are thus able to move higher on seniority lists, thus enhancing promotion opportunities. In addition, percentage targets for the promotion of women were set. While these measures are positive, they have not yet produced the desired result: the 1993 exercise found it impossible to meet the targets for the percentage of women to be promoted as there were insufficient women eligible even under the revised seniority guidelines.199 The percentages have been meticulously calculated, and yet the document implies that female staff at UNHCR have somehow not cooperated. This approach implicitly pitches female employees at organizational targets, rather than promoting and fully including them as productive contributors to the organization. In so doing, it produces a subtle form of sexism. Without minimizing the gains of affirmative action nor contesting its objectives, this new sexism is a product of equity policies and practices. It implies questions such as, "why, with all the extra measures and special allowances for female employees, don't women meet the mark? What is their problem?" This reasoning exists outside the binary opposition of liberal versus conservative arguments and points to what Mark Yount calls a "new sexism."2 0 0 Yount contends that old sexism rested on essentialized notions of women workers as inferior to their male counterparts. These notions of sexism were actively challenged by affirmative action programs which gave women and underrepresented minorities greater access to jobs from which they were excluded, but for which they were qualified. New sexism and its corollary, "new racism", are effects of 1 9 8 Ibid., p. 11. 1 9 9 Ibid., p. 12; emphasis added. 2 0 0 Mark Yount, 1993, op. cit. 110 affirmative action initiatives targeted, literally, at women and other groups. The new sexism speaks from the view that women were given the chance to prove themselves vis-a-vis such equity initiatives, and yet they have still not succeeded in increasing their representation. If women and minority groups don't meet the mark when given the 'extra' chance, the blame falls on them. These arguably new kinds of prejudice stem from good intentions of liberal equity policies which aim to include underrepresented groups, but often end up in a quagmire of statistical distributions and bureaucracy. Recent arguments against affirmative action, particularly in the US, can be read as expressions of these new versions of sexism and racism, couched within a rhetoric of 'political correctness.'201 With respect to UNHCR my concern is not so much with new forms of sexism and/or racism, though the implications of these are important, but rather the agency's emphasis on the 'perfect distribution' in terms of recruitment. Historically, politically constructed notions of purity have proven fiercely violent. Today ethnic nationalisms remain a major source of conflict and displacement. Could more nuanced violence result from aspirations toward a nuanced liberal perfect pluralism? Ironically, U N H C R and its antecedent organizational incarnations have largely been responsible for assisting and protecting people fleeing political regimes which purge 'others'. Nonetheless, there are potential dangers in an nominally inclusive 'perfect pluralism' at UNHCR. Perfect pluralism is the basis of an internationalist discourse which incorporates 'otherness' under a Western cultural dominant, machinery, and distribution. This is the apotheosis of multiculturalism. Trinh Minh-ha argues from an anti-humanist and non-Western vantage point that 2 0 1 Arguments against affirmative action are also expressed as traditional liberalism, i.e. equality for everyone. The irony that traditional liberalism was created at a time when 'universal' equality applied only to white men is lost in this characterization. I l l Maintaining the intuitive, emotional Other under the scientific tutelage of the rational, all-knowing Western Subject is an everlasting aim of the dominant which keeps on renewing itself through a wide range of humanistic discourses. It is difficult for her, she who partakes in theoretical production — albeit as a foreign worker — not to realize the continuing interested desire of the West to conserve itself as sovereign Subject in most of its radical criticism today.2 0 2 The 'golden Mongolian' is the "intuitive, emotional Other" tutored in the rational, all-knowing ways of the West. She is a projection of 'bean-counting' whose employment in the organization is desirable precisely because she represents the organization's target. UNHCR is a rational institution, uniting colours and genders, and at the same time renewing itself through a wide range of humanistic discourses. The privileging of the category 'women', as one example, eclipses other more critical considerations. As Judith Butler notes, As much as identity terms must be used... these same notions must become subject to a critique of their own production....203 Regardless of numerical gender and nationality targets, the organization of work and eligibility criteria for employment posts are the key issues of access and inclusion. Without their consideration, targets are unlikely to be met and the point of the exercise missed altogether. "Genealogy exposes lines of conflict that traverse all relationships; it disrupts both liberal and conservative optimisms and makes us wary of facile solutions and facile surrenders."2 0 4 In the case of UNHCR, assumptions about employees' geographic mobility, household composition, and willingness to conform to UNHCR norms that are 2 0 2 Trinh T. Minh-ha, "Cotton and Iron" in Out There: Marginalization and Contemporary Cultures, (eds.) R. Ferguson, M. Gever, Trinh T. Minh-ha, & C. West, (New York: The New Museum of Contemporary Art, 1990). pp. 327-336. p. 332. 2 0 3 Judith Butler, Bodies that Matter: on the discursive limits of 'sex'. (New York: Routledge, 1993). p. 227. v 2 0 4 Mark Yount, 1993, op. cit., p. 227. 112 often exclusivist and problematic. The limits of its perfect pluralism, however, are exposed below. Consider the UNHCR rotation system. This system refers to the standard practice among professional staff whereby everyone must geographically shift locations (and posts) every three to five years. "I call it the 'share the pain system'.... Promotions will increasingly be attached to willingness to be placed in the field."2 0 5 According to one senior manager, this considered a fair policy because it applies to everyone and rewards staff for taking remote field positions, but does it apply to all employees in the same way? A "share the pain system" implies a kind of macho martyrdom on the one hand, but more importantly, is such a system not gender-blind? If promotions are based on 'willingness' to be posted at non-family duty stations in the field, does this note assume an availability based either on 'single' status or someone who can look after the kids? Hardship posts, as these field positions are often called, are not necessarily gender-neutral. If an employed couple shares parental responsibilities, job and geographical considerations of both partners is important. There was no evidence of such coordination at UNHCR during my fieldwork. Only married couples are eligible for support and benefits. Common law relationships and same-sex households are nowhere mentioned in UNHCR's human resource policy, according to two UNHCR staff in administration and personnel. A UNHCR personnel policy outlines "family considerations in the rotation system": The conflict between family responsibilities and UNHCR's demands affects many staff members. This is especially true of women, who often find family responsibilities incompatible with the rotational requirements of their careers. Resignations by women who have acquired the skills and experience for promotion to senior levels represent a serious loss of essential expertise, and also impede the progress 2 0 5 Interview, October 25, 1994. Within this system, there are some exceptions for specialist and semi-specialist posts, as well as special consideration given to families with children in secondary education. 113 towards UNHCR's goal of increasing the percentage of women both in the Professional category and at senior levels.2 0 6 This commentary does not analyze why women find rotational requirements incompatible with their careers. Moreover, it couches female staffs choices as a "loss" of expertise and one which impedes its progress towards perfect pluralism. Agency loss might be instead replaced with the idea of women employees' displacement; "displacement is that which is excluded or marginalized by the construction of a subject position," argues Butler. 2 0 7 Little consideration is given to families in which two professionals are working. The notion of 'family' at UNHCR is still very much based on a single income earner whose family, if s/he has one, can simply follow her or him (usually) to the next duty station. It is unlikely that UNHCR's assumptions reflect household composition in the 1990s, yet there is little formal recognition of this in human resource policy. According to UNHCR staff, there is no UNHCR policy which actively attempts to place two qualified staff who are married in the same location. While reasonable restrictions on the placement of married staff at the same duty station prevent direct lines of supervision between them, no pro-active policy of placing couples together exists. What is more interesting is the family support for UNHCR staff working in remote locations. There are several measures to ensure that immediate family members are not too far away, if it is a non-family duty station staff who have sole responsibility for children.2 0 8 There are means for women to maintain a UNHCR career while raising children, but they involve costs of a personal and/or professional nature. One African woman working for UNHCR in Dadaab is a single mother with a daughter whom she supports financially but 2 0 6 UNHCR, 7 June 1994, op. cit., pp. 7-8. 2 0 7 Judith Butler, 1993, op. cit., p. 155. 2 0 8 Spouses who are not employed are eligible for a dependant's allowance. Education allowances for children and travel grants for their visits home are also available. 114 who lives with her sister in London. Because UNHCR Dadaab is a non-family duty station, she was hired on a contract that precludes support for dependents. She finds the separation and the general social dislocation of Dadaab extremely trying. Her European boss, on the other hand, works at a more senior level, and as a married man with two daughters, is entitled to house his family in Nairobi at UNHCR's expense. Another strategy, employed by a female field officer who is a single mother of four children at UNHCR in Mombasa, is to apply only for posts in family duty station locations (i.e. safe places with access to appropriate schools). However, this involves professional costs in the long term, given that promotions are attached to service in difficult, "share the pain," non-family duty stations. A major feature of UNHCR's work in the field in recent years has been the growth in the number of non-family duty stations. This has placed additional strains on the rotation system and staff members for whom there is a conflict between personal and professional obligations.209 This singles out, in particular, female staff members for whom there is more likely to be a conflict between personal and professional obligations. While these employees may be men who would rather not be separated from their families and/or who require international schools for their children once they reach a certain age, they are more probably women who have child care responsibilities and who may have their partners' jobs to consider as well as their own. I encountered no debate of the UNHCR rotation system nor of its conception of 'family'. The category of 'family', the gender bias of the rotation system, and the multicultural distributions of'women' and 'country' are all critical sites for potential policy changes, if UNHCR is serious about including women within its ranks. Incorporating women's 2 0 9 UNHCR, 7 June 1994, op. cit., p. 7-8. 115 socially and culturally constructed subject positions is a more difficult task than hiring large numbers of young professional women on short term contracts to improve the staff distribution. Rotating Through Space and Time UNHCR has proposed serious changes in its training and recruitment procedures. "Our staff is aging, and this is a reality which has to be faced by the organization. What happened is that the organization grew very quickly in the 1970s, early 80s, and as a result they recruited people of the same age The aging of the staff contradicts directly the concept of the rotation of staff... "210 Accordingly, proposed changes in staffing focus upon age and family/household criteria. There are no obvious changes that would affect the sizable baby-boom bulge of middle managers which UNHCR currently employs. Upon closer examination, the proposed reforms will likely serve to maintain existing jobs at UNHCR and create a generation of less attractive and less permanent jobs. Under the direction of the Division of Human Resource Management, its Career Management System (CMS) is defined as "a participatory and continuous process, involving a shared responsibility between the staff member and the organization, and is designed to achieve an alignment of employees' abilities, competencies and interests with the needs of the Office." 2 1 1 The functionalism of this definition — that alignment will occur in accordance with the needs of the Office — becomes plainly evident in the new proposed human resources management system, one which follows the familiar strategies of the flexible firm or 'flexible specialization' in terms of its labour supply. Fairly 2 1 0 Interview, senior manager, Geneva, October 25, 1994. 2 1 1 UNHCR, Geneva, 7 June 1994, op. cit., p. 3. 116 extensive consultations were held with UNHCR staff of various ranks in Kenya and elsewhere as part of the CMS process, after the "Broad Outline of a Revised and Expanded Human Resources Management System" was prepared in June 1994 by the Director of DHRM. It provides the basis for the following discussion. The outline suggests that UNHCR professional staff will consist of two categories: career staff and field operations staff. Career staff, it would seem, are those already permanently employed by the organization. Field operations staff, on the other hand, would fill posts in "difficult, remote and non-family duty stations."212 They would be appointed on three to four year contracts, but told "that they have no long-term career prospects with UNHCR." The advantage to such staff will be the acquisition of 3 or 4 years of professional experience in a rewarding job with challenges not available in most entry-level positions, and a chance for some travel and "adventure". Individuals will be motivated to take such posts for the same reasons that people accept JPO and UNV contracts.213 This professional approach may be well-intended, but it is naive and arguably masculinist to assume that younger staff are simply looking for "adventure" and a few years of experience. More importantly, there is a distinct geography to this strategy: young people who are qualified, willing, and mobile enough to pursue short-term work prospects are more likely to come from industrialized countries than from the 'Second' or 'Third' Worlds. If NGO experience is considered the most appropriate background for potential UNHCR field staff, as noted earlier, such candidates are far more likely to be nationals of a Western country that hosts and funds such NGOs, thus excluding candidates from places 2 1 2 Ibid., p. 44. 2 1 3 JPO (Junior Professional Officer) and UNV (United Nations Volunteer) posts are not necessarily filled for the reasons cited here; rather, they are viewed by many as a 'foot in the door' for chances at a more permanent job at UN agencies, as they have traditionally been. At the present time short-term staff, JPOs and UNVs are emloyed as a type of temporary labour force; the proposed formalization of this labour force as explicitly temporary represents more a change in professional structure and organizational direction than a change in practice. 117 — such as Mongolia — where such qualifications are more difficult to access. UNHCR risks, then, reinscribing the historical dominance of 'First World' employee representation in its proposed personnel policy. Excerpts from the outline are worth quoting at length because they pull together many of the arguments made in this chapter, in particular the privileging of senior UNHCR staff, especially male employees in single income families, at the expense of women and younger workers. The same "Broad Outline of a Revised and Expanded Human Resources Management System" explains that: 44. In this new scheme, UNHCR Career Staff will rotate through space, moving from duty station to duty station in senior roles. Many of these duty stations will be capital cities, where schools, etc. are generally available, making it easier for older staff members with family responsibilities to rotate.... At the same time, the requirement that staff serve in hardship or non-family duty stations for a period before promotion to the P.5 level will encourage staff to rotate such posts and provide their experience to the Field Operations Staff assigned under their supervision. 45. UNHCR Field Operations Staff will rotate through time, with some departing each year as their 3 or 4 year period on 300 series appointments expire, and with others joining each year to replace those leaving. 46. This two-tier staffing pattern is for the future, but can be started now.... 48. Recruitment by DHRM to the non-career Field Operations Staff will take fully into account UNHCR policies, guidelines and targets concerning the recruitment of women until the target of 35% of all professional staff is achieved or surpassed, and the recruitment of staff on an equitable geographical basis, including weight given both to donor countries and countries of asylum with large refugee populations. 51. In must be emphasized that the 300 series of appointments, as described above, would not apply to any staff member currently holding a 100 series or 200 series appointment. There is no question of giving 300 series appointments to anyone already holding a fixed-term or intermediate term appointment, nor — obviously — to anyone with an indefinite appointment.... (original emphasis). Permanent and semi-permanent employees are guaranteed job security under this scheme. Young recruits on 300 series contracts are assured none. Female staff, preferably those from Mongolia and with NGO experience, will be hired in accordance with UNHCR 118 targets. Senior staff, who "rotate through space" will be assured international schools for their children. Such a transparently self-serving flexible labour strategy is hardly innovative or change-oriented, and inconsistent with the management culture outlined earlier in this chapter. UNHCR maintains that this two-tiered system of permanent and temporary staff will make it adaptable to an unpredictable external environment, which is one of the organization's main challenges, but it also aims to preserve the status quo for those who have jobs, rotating them through space, while hiring a temporary and ultimately disposable staff who are euphemistically "rotated through time."214 The gendered outcomes of such policy are also worth noting. Implications for female professional staff at UNHCR, who are overrepresented at junior levels as compared to their female peers at senior levels, are likely to be negative. While women represented 17.2% of professional staff at the most senior levels as of May 1994, they comprised over 25% at the next, more junior rank. 2 1 5 Given that the organization's overall proportion of women professionals is 30%, they are most highly represented in the lower ranks, including clerical and support staff. In some cases, female staff are more likely to work in the field, as compared to Headquarters, than their male counterparts. An examination of the posts of Protection Officer and Legal Officer at Headquarters and in the field... shows that... 66% are occupied my males, and 34% are occupied by females. A closer examination... reveals that 83% of the female Protection/Legal Officers occupy posts in the field whilst only 50 per cent of the male staff in this group are outside Headquarters.216 2 1 4 See the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights for further discussion of the UNHCR dilemma of 'investing in preparedness' (a financial risk) versus 'waiting and seeing' (an operationally weak option); Lawyers Committee for Human Rights, The UNHCR at 40: Refugee Protection at the Crossroads. (New York: Lawyers Committee for Human Rights, 1991). 2 1 5 The table presented on page 12 of the Note on Human Resource Management, UNHCR, Geneva, 7 June 1994, EC/1994/SC.2/CRP.20 strategically omits the most junior ranks which would highlight the highest representation of women at the lowest professional grades. 2 1 6 UNHCR, 7 June 1994, op. cit., p. 13. Emphasis added. 119 UNHCR efforts to increase female protection staff in the field are motivated by gender-specific problems, such as rape among women refugees. Nonetheless, any policy which discriminates against young field staff will have a disproportionately greater effect on women than men at UNHCR because female staff are more likely to be represented among junior ranks and in the field. This trend will only be augmented by gender recruitment targets and the organizational goal of 35% women employees. This section has illustrated some of the dangers of recruiting staff according to standards of 'perfect pluralism'. The outdated assumptions of household structure and the organization of jobs at U N H C R are pressing issues, if women and younger employees are to be included, and not simply represented, in the organization. UNHCR's new proposal to employ a temporary (young and female) labour force to work in isolated areas clearly contradicts the professional participation of women and people from less developed countries. Given that these groups represent the truly ideal type of employee at UNHCR, the policy is bitterly ironic. According to plan, only qualified and outstanding candidates will be selected according to 'objective and transparent' criteria, but those select recruits who do get temporary jobs will, after five years, be left 'out standing in their field.' As temporary workers, they are less likely to enter permanent professional ranks at UNHCR. A close reading of recruitment policy within the agency, however, reveals less a move towards innovative change than a straightforward strategy to preserve the status quo. Feminist, postcolonial, and organizational theory have been deployed to expose the masculinist asssumptions in UNHCR's organization of work, its Western bias in terms of education and cultural capital, and the fictions of perfect pluralism — in particular, the postmodernistically hip 'golden Mongolian'. 120 The final section of this chapter moves from personnel policies within the organization to a project in the camps aimed at addressing sexual violence towards women refugees. The project was chosen as a case study because it illustrates well some of the dilemmas of coordinating policy and practice. The Women Victims of Violence Project was also a subject of controversy, discussion, and assessment during the period of my field work. Women Victims of Violence (WW): Combatting Sexual Violence Sexual coercion, torture, and rape are relatively common occurrences among women in conflict zones. Despite being recognized places of asylum for people fleeing persecution, refugee camps can also be unstable environments where residents are susceptible to sexual and physical violence. In the Northeast Province of Kenya, where a history of systematic economic marginalization includes banditry, poor security has only been exacerbated by the arrival and temporary settlement of tens of thousands of refugees. Those who leave the camps for hours at a time in search of firewood with which to cook — predominantly women and girls — are vulnerable to bandit attacks. After nightfall, unarmed households — especially those known to be headed by women — have been the easy targets of bandits from within the camp itself. During my stay, several attacks of rape, defilement, and 'spouse assault' were reported and documented. From its inception, the Women Victims of Violence Project was an immensely 'fundable' contradiction in U N H C R policy. In October 1992, the U.S.-based human rights monitoring group, Africa Watch, documented sexual violence against Somali refugee women in the Dadaab camps. 2 1 7 Given that the safety of international staff, as compared to local staff or the refugees, is of the highest priority in the camps, this incident fuelled Interview, UNHCR junior staff member, Geneva, October 25, 1994. 121 concern about rape in the area. In the same month, U N H C R hired a consultant to investigate the allegations further. Seven months in the making, her report documented 192 specific cases of rape among Somali woman, noting that these were "only the tip of the iceberg." 2 1 8 She proposed a comprehensive response to this sexual violence which became the "Refugee Women Victims of Violence" special project. The project outlined four specific objectives, including 1) the provision of counselling, therapy, and medical services for those affected by sexual violence; 2) improved physical security in and around the refugee camps to prevent future violence; 3) material assistance and skills training to, enhance the livelihood of 'victims'; and 4) increased awareness of the problem among law enforcement personnel, as well as staff and the general public. Based on these objectives, W W was a special project. It focused initially on 'women' refugees rather than all refugees affected by physical assault and sexual violence in and near the camps, and it aimed to assist those affected by rape but not by other types of trauma. By focusing on vulnerable women, a senior manager in Geneva admitted that W W contravened UNHCR's own integrationist policy on refugee women. 2 1 9 The project fell prey to some of the same critiques made of development literature relating to women: Much of the WID [Women In Development] and Gender and Development (GAD) literature represents Third World women as benighted, overburdened beasts, helplessly entangled in the tentacles of regressive Third; World patriarchy.220 2 1 8 UNHCR, "Refugee Women Victims of Violence: A Special Project by UNHCR", a proposal, Nairobi, October 1993. 2 1 9 Interview, UNHCR senior staff member, October 25, 1994; UNHCR, 1990, op. cit. 2 2 0Jane Parpart, "Post-modernism, Gender and Development" in Power of Development, (ed.) J. Crush (London/NY: Routledge, 1995), pp. 253-265. p. 254. Parpart provides a fuller discussion of the meanings and application of these various appellations within the literature on development, distinguishing Women and Development (WAD) from WID and GAD because of its radical analyses of class and patriarchy. 122 In the case of W V V , the Western funders of the project could 'save', or at least redeem, vulnerable Somali women from the chaos and calamity of the camps. In terms of organization, the project was separate from general social services sector programming, with no accountability nor coordination required between the two. Both the head of social services and the W V V project coordinator reported separately to the same senior manager, creating a palpable tension between both sides, a veritable 'two solitudes' in the office where I squatted for several months. The W W project provided specified services and potential material assistance to those refugees who could demonstrate that they were raped, creating a dilemma for many women. The problematic denotation of women as 'victims' in the project's title was a minor issue next to the inscription of shame and of violence on the bodies of the Somali women who were 'found out' and often disowned by their family. 2 2 1 Nonetheless, naming practices matter, and the project's designation 'victims of violence' introduced yet another layer of problematic power relations to the incident of rape. Through travelling to other people's 'worlds' we discover that there are 'worlds' in which those who are the victims of arrogant perception are really subjects... even though in the mainstream construction they are animated only by the arrogant perceiver and are pliable, foldable, file-awayable, classifiable.222 2 2 1 I borrow here from Teresa de Lauretis' notion of the body as the site of material inscription of power. In the case of rape, a woman's body can be thought of as the site of a double inscription: of sexual violence, and of institutionalized therapies to treat the affected body. See Teresa de Lauretis, "Eccentric Subjects: Feminist Theory and Historical Consciousness" in Feminist Studies 16, 1, pp. 115-150. 222 Maria Lugones cited in Caren Kaplan, "The Politics of Location as Transnational Feminist Critical Practice", Scattered Hegemonies: Postmodernity and Transnational Feminist Practices. (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1994), p. 150. 123 The Women Victims of Violence Project posed a number of related problems from the start. On the one hand, if a refugee woman sought assistance through a W W counsellor, she could easily become stigmatized as a rape victim and ostracized by her family and/or community. On the other hand, if a woman could access the resources or opportunities available through the UNHCR-sponsored W W project — such as a transfer to one of the coastal refugee camps, or even a chance at resettlement abroad through the Canadian or Australian 'Women-at-Risk' programs — she might maintain family approval. Needless to say, this kind of speculation led to a number of what were thought to be false claims of rape on the part of Somali women refugees.223 In order to prosecute, incidents of rape in Kenya must be reported to police within twenty-four hours of their occurrence. A medical certificate, based on a physical examination conducted by a physician to verify clinically that rape occurred, is also required. These legal and medical procedures at once legitimize and invariably publicize acts of rape. They seek to institutionalize the women's assaulted bodies at a number of levels. Legal testimony, medical examinations, and the provision of therapy for 'women victims of violence' are all constitutive of power relations which tend to create institutionalized subjects. Whereas the rule of law and the enforcement of human rights are usually the articulated reasons for projects such as W W , the microphysics of power that manage the politics of the body occur on a more local scale. The legal, medical, and therapeutic practices which name, authorize, and organize the treatment of sexual violence are the transfer points of power in the camps. The stigma of rape for a women within Somali culture is extremely severe. A system of blood money — or diya — is often invoked when accepted codes of behavior among 2 2 3 Interview, UNHCR junior staff member, Geneva, October 25, 1994. 124 Somalis are violated, as in the case of rape. The family of a woman who is raped, for example, might seek compensation from the family of the culprit in the form of cash or other assets, such as livestock. Although such agreements are often negotiated in the camps, all efforts are made by UNHCR staff and the Kenyan legal counsel provided by the International Federation of Women Lawyers to utilize official channels so that prosecution in court remains possible. Universal codes of human rights and national provisions in criminal law come face to face with Somali codes of justice. Depending on the extent to which women refugees and their families perceive that they can gain material benefits from the project as compensation for being raped, they may approach UNHCR and report the crime. Conflicts between the human rights/international law approach of UNHCR and the socially accepted, culturally-based laws of the Somali refugees in the camps continues be a problem for the Women Victims of Violence Project. While the lawyers and medical staff working in the camps have the authority to define rape in official terms, Somali refugees often circumvent these legal and institutional circuits of power and invoke their own system of justice, including material exchange. Nancy Fraser's analysis of the politics of needs interpretation suggests that contests among discourses occur at the 'site of the social'; proponents of the UN, legal, medical, and Somali discourses seek discursive hegemony. International and Kenyan law indicates public punishment for rape. Evidence suggests, however, that many of the Somalis affected would prefer to settle these matters out of public purview, through more discreet agreements of compensation, usually and ironically between the men in the families affected by the woman's rape. 2 2 4 W V V staff publicize the laws against sexual violence and seek prosecution in cases of rape and related crimes. Interview, lawyer from FIDA (Federacion Internacional De Abogadas), Dadaab, November 22, 1994. 125 Employing Nancy Fraser's approach, UNHCR and the W V V project work together with the legal and medical authorities in place as oppositional and expert discourses in a struggle for rights-based relations of power and justice. For Fraser, oppositional discourses force relations of power that have been sequestered in the realm of the private to become public and, in turn, more politicized. While Fraser does not purport to analyze power relations among cultures and nations outside 'the West', her poststructuralist approach can be transposed to a transnational, intercultural scale. Her 'site of the social' — the public location for politics and contests among discourses — is also the site of a powerful lobby to 'reprivatize' notions of punishment and compensation back to the more private 'family' realm in this case. Expert discourses add weight to either side; in the context of UN-sponsored refugee camps, legal, medical, and other experts tend to back those who pay their salaries and whose culture they share. During my field work in the camps, the aftermath of sexual violence posed other questions of discursive politics imbued with conflicting markings of gender and culture. Genital mutilation, or female circumcision — depending on the discourse one employs — became the focus of complex cultural politics after a young refugee woman was raped in Dagahaley camp. While accompanying the W W counsellor during a follow-up visit, I met the girl who had been raped and her mother. Her mother wouldn't allow the girl to stay in the hospital after the attack. A local UNHCR employee, a Somali herself, explained the situation: "she has to be stitched up; the wound is healing. They will do it the traditional way; it is more dangerous."225 The act of rape tore the flesh sewn together during circumcision/genital mutilation. Her family and community discouraged her from becoming involved with UNHCR and other agencies unless she could get some personal, material benefit. Accordingly, the genital wound was to be treated by a woman trained in 2 2 5 This UNHCR employee added that "the world has changed so much.... it's because of the war". She was referring to the protection women used to get from their male family members... "now it's different." 126 circumcision, rather than an MSF doctor. While MSF flatly opposes the practice of genital mutilation — as does UNHCR — its staff are usually prepared to perform the surgery required for women who are raped. Nonetheless, the lines are fine between complicity in circumcision/genital mutilation, medical ethics, and human rights standards. One's choice of words is intensely political: a discourse of cultural difference or universal human rights? Is this decision a bid for justice or a morally coded cultural imperialism? In a Geneva interview, one senior UNHCR staff member noted that one of her colleagues "avoids issues like genital mutilation because they are too culturally sensitive." If UNHCR's position on genital mutilation lacks consensus within the organization, it is not surprising that any agreement on the issue across cultures in refugee camps is elusive. The tension between culture as universal and culture as particular is clear. The financing of the Women Victims of Violence Project raises other political questions. The initial estimated cost for W W as a three month project, was US$1,119,401, of which more than 50% was to be spent on improving the security of the camps through proposed police escorts during firewood collection and extensive fencing around residential sections of the camp to prevent bandit access, and on assisting the police by providing communication equipment and vehicle maintenance.226 The objectives were considered laudable and fundable, but by the time CIDA, a major funder of the project, issued a mission report assessing the project's achievements late in 1994, the W W budget had grown considerably.227 Canada alone had contributed $3.25 million which represented 36% of project funds. While the project was assessed as having "an important impact", the mission report observed that its funds were used to fill major gaps in general program budgets. The project, which was eminently popular with funders, was used to finance less 2 2 6 UNHCR, "Refugee Women Victims of Violence, A Special Project", October 1993. 2 2 7 CIDA, Mission Report on UNHCR Project WVV in Kenya, International Humanitarian Assistance Division, 28 August - 5 September, 1994. 127 attractive aspects of relief operations. Instead of paying for police vehicle maintenance, the W W budget was used to provide the actual vehicles and communication equipment. The CIDA report noted that major project expenditures did not appear to be specific to women, even though the organization of the project was inconsistent with the 'mainstreaming' principles of UNHCR's gender policy because of its specific focus on women. One of the main W V V budget items was the construction of 'live fencing'. Live fencing combines improved security with environmental sensitivity — a pet interest of the UNHCR officer in charge in the camps at the time. Live thorn bushes are transplanted around the perimeter of camp compounds as a means of keeping bandits and potential assailants out. 2 2 8 For refugees who are required by the Kenyan Government to stay in the unfenced camps through a "discipline without frontiers",229 the idea of refugees fencing themselves in seems most ironic. Yet, in interview after interview most agreed that live fencing improved security. Mike Davis' analysis of Fortress Los Angeles is a far cry from the refugee camps at the Kenya-Somalia border, yet residents in both places choose to erect walls between their homes and the outside world to increase their safety. Whereas the affluence of Los Angeles homeowners' puts them at risk, the conditions of political instability and relative poverty in Northeast Kenya shape motivation towards "enclosed communities."2 3 0 As of September 1994, forty-three kilometres of fencing had been completed while another fifty-four kilometres remained to be done.2 3 1 The construction of live fencing has also created a boom for refugees hired to work on the project and for local 2 2 8 Fences are constructed around compounds within the camp which are shared by a number of families. Compounds are usually defined by the sections of a grid planned and designated by UNHCR. There is usually a gate, also made of thorns, that is opened during the day. 2 2 9 Felix Driver, "Discipline Without Frontiers? Representations of the Mettray Reformatory Colony in Britain, 1840-1880", Journal of Historical Sociology. Vol. 3, No. 3, Sept. 1990, pp. 272-293. . 2 3 0 Mike Davis, "Fortress Los Angeles: the Militarization of Urban Space" in Variations on a Theme Park: the New American City and the End of Public Space, (ed.) M. Sorkin, (NY: The Noonday Press, 1992), pp. 154-180. p. 173. 2 3 1 Information Bulletin, "Kenya, Southern Somalia", UNHCR, Nairobi, September 1994. 128 entrepreneurs who sell materials to UNHCR at a healthy profit. Economically, the W V V project has had a number of positive 'spin off effects for construction workers, traders, and police officers. Findings suggest that some W V V funds have been misdirected and used to pay for items which are not part of the project's mandate.232 Based on the CIDA audit and its criticisms, it is unlikely that as many women as men have directly benefited from the Women Victims of Violence Project. Perfecting Practice Rather than condemn UNHCR's personnel policy aimed at gender equity and the Women Victims of Violence Project as imperfect approaches to solving the problems of unequal power relations, I have analyzed them as responses predicated upon certain assumptions and constructed within a framework of 'UN humanism'. U N humanism and its themes of multiculturalism and 'managing ethnic diversity' emphasize integration within a 'family of nations'. Violence against refugee women in and around the Dadaab camps has historical and political meanings which exceed the policies and practical efforts made to protect refugee women. The institutional containment of displaced people in remote camps also poses problems of security. UNHCR is a humanitarian organization which responds to the practical needs of displaced people. The theoretical problems of multiculturalism and U N humanism, I have argued, are relevant to these practical needs. Differences in culture and gender cannot simply be included in an overarching framework of humanitarian assistance. Axes of difference involve distinct locations of geography and subjectivity. The construction of 'others' in subordination — whether they be women, people from Third World locations, or refugees — is not simply 'corrected' by increasing their numbers, incorporating their differences 2 3 2 CIDA, 1994, op. cit.; interview, UNHCR junior staff, Geneva, October 25, 1994. 129 into existing structures, or introducing special frameworks which analyze their difference. Transnational practices refer to strategies which engage with people of different locations — social, sexual, cultural, or otherwise. Within UNHCR, such practices might include the recruitment of fewer statisticians to count the number of 'different' people, as well as a more critical analysis of job descriptions and prescriptions which categorically exclude women from professional ranks. In the camps, transnational practices involve discussions with refugees, not of them. A single policy or approach rarely produces identical outcomes for all those to whom it is applied. These uneven results point to unequal locations among people, cultures, and countries on a global scale. The politics of these locations constitutes an important debate for UNHCR whose mandate is to treat all people — regardless of colour, creed, sex, or nationality — in a fair and equitable manner. The next chapter adds another dimension to the politics of location by examining the geo-political landscape in which UNHCR operates at a global level. 130 Chapter 4 Displacement, Protection, & the International Refugee Regime This chapter addresses the respatialization of responses to crises of human displacement. Since the end of the Cold War, distinctive strategies of providing humanitarian assistance — including the use of 'safe spaces' — have emerged. The waning of superpower rivalry has changed the meaning and value of the term 'refugee'. The ideological conflicts between East and West have framed refugees both as political subjects and political statements. At the same time as the geo-political landscape and humanitarian responses to it are changing, so too are ways of conceiving 'the refugee problem.' U N interventions have begun to enter nations at war to protect and prevent endangered groups from becoming refugees. If certain human rights of a group of civilians within a country at war are being violated, is the transgression of sovereign borders by international humanitarian forces warranted? In the 1990s, the answer to the question has been yes. Borders are being renegotiated by the creation of international 'safe areas' within conflict zones. While refugee camps remain the standard 'safe spaces' for involuntary migrants, the conventional categories of 'border' and 'refugee' are being challenged in new ways. A senior UNHCR staff member suggests that a renegotiation of the fixed category 'refugee' is underway. He grounds displacement in a geographical context rather than in a legal or political definition. "[It is] not whether you are a refugee but where you are.... it's all a question of space and distance."233 2 3 3 Interview, senior UNHCR manager, October 18, 1994. 131 This approach aims to be more inclusive in terms of who UNHCR assists, but it also has strategic value for the organization which must justify expanded emergency operations and maintain unique competencies in a climate of U N cutbacks. Perhaps more importantly, U N H C R is responding to its donor governments who wish to maintain "space and distance" from the massive numbers of displaced persons. Since the end of the Cold War, governments have shown a preference for interventions which provide assistance to dislocated groups before they cross a border. In terms of human displacement, space is not empty and distance not simply linear; both are geo-politically and discursively strategic. Following Angelika Bammer, my aim in this chapter is to put the 'place' back into displacement but to do so without essentializing place nor reducing arguments about 'containment' to a purely geo-political context.234 Global trends towards managing displacement must be rooted in both the geo-political specificity of forced migration and the discursive strategies that often inform these politics. In the mid-1990s, displacement has become commonplace. With the melting of Cold War tensions, many countries are mired in civil conflicts, forcing segments of their population to move en masse to safer terrain, within or beyond national borders. In circles of cultural and feminist theory, the displacement of transnational diaspora, migrants, and exiles has generated significant interest in current debates.235 This chapter foregrounds the corporeal displacement of refugees and other displaced persons, while drawing from and making Angelika Bammer, "Introduction" in Displacements: Cultural Identities in Question, (ed.) A. Bammer, (Bloomington/Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1994), p. xiv. See Angelika Bammer, 1994, op. cit.; Rob Nixon, "Refugees and Homecomings: Bessie Head and the end of exile" in Travellers' Tales: Narratives of Home and Displacement, (eds.) G. Robertson, M. Mash, L. Tickner, J. Bird, B. Curtis & T. Putnam, (NY/London: Routledge, 1994), pp. 114-128; L. Basch, N. Glick Schiller & C. Szanton Blanc, Nations Unbound: Transnational Projects. Postcolonial Predicaments, and Deterritorialized Nation-States. (Langhorne, Perm.: Gordon and Breach, 1994); and Edward Said, Culture and Imperialism. (New York: Knopf, 1993). 132 connections with analyses in postcolonial, feminist, and cultural studies. I connect different scales of'ordering disorder' in the cultural contexts of nomadism and migrancy. Selected trends and strategies related to displacement in the post-Cold War context are identified, and shifts in specific U N operations since 1990 are examined. Managing Transnational Displacement: new directions Whereas the older paradigm can be described as reactive, exile-oriented and refugee-specific, the one which has started to emerge over the past few years can be characterized as pro-active, homeland-oriented and holistic... in contrast to the traditional paradigm, which placed primary emphasis on the right to leave one's own country and to seek asylum elsewhere, the newer perspective focuses equal attention on the right to return to one's homeland and on a notion which has become known as the 'right to remain'.... UNHCR has been transformed from a refugee organization into a more broadly-based humanitarian agency.236 The "older paradigm" of refugee assistance was embedded in the geo-politics of the Cold War. Astri Suhrke contends that refugee flows were linked to the Cold War in two major ways: first, superpower intervention increased violence and displacement in places, like Afghanistan and the Horn of Africa; and second, in providing support for refugees, it enabled them to move on a large scale.2 3 7 Refugees were both expressions of Cold War conflict and wards of the superpowers in a geo-political chess game. While the metanarratives of empire and communism dissolve, local narratives of internal strife, previously ordered and subordinated by Cold War interests, are amplified. Declining support for refugees, such as the Afghans in Pakistan, from communist-backed regimes is evident despite renewed fighting in Afghanistan. The right to leave one's country in the 2 3 6 UNHCR, The State of the World's Refugees: In Search of Solutions. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995), pp. 43-44, 48. 2 3 7 Astri Suhrke, "Towards a comprehensive refugee policy: Conflict and refugees in the post-Cold War world" in Aid in Place of Migration? (eds.) W.R. Bohning & M.-L. Schloeter-Paredes, (Geneva: ILO, ,: 1994), pp. 13-38. 133 face of danger may still exist, but funding for refugee support and repatriation activities has declined dramatically.238 Current geo-political disinterest in countries that were former proxies for rival superpowers, has changed the balance of power between 'the West' and 'the Rest'. Margaret Atwood's science fiction novel depicting the nightmarish, if unlikely, prospect of the extreme political right in the United States taking over Canada provides an apt analogy.239 Displaced by patriarchal structures in their society, infertile women — among others — are exiled to the colonies, environmental wastelands amassed through social and political mistakes. The colonies are unfit for normal human habitation just as their inhabitants are deemed unfit for and by the society from which they are banished. This feminist and arguably postcolonial sci-fi scenario of'colony' elucidates exclusivist gender divisions of power and corresponding marginal places. The reality of refugees in the 'Third World' raises related concerns about divisions of power in the post-Cold War period. Using the historical and contemporary frameworks developed in earlier chapters, I outline selected U N responses to displacement since the Cold War. This period is also characterized by the rise of fiscal austerity and social authoritarianism under the umbrella of New Right politics in many industrialized countries. Increasingly, the security of displaced persons is enforced by U N peacekeeping troops operating within sovereign countries. Potential refugees are protected by U N forces and assisted by UNHCR at home before they 238 Allan Findlay, "End of the Cold War: end of Afghan relief aid?" in Geography and Refugees: Patterns and processes of Change, (eds.) R. Black and V. Robinson. (London/NY: Belhaven Press, 1993). 239 Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid's Tale. (Toronto: Seal Books, 1985). Atwood creates a particular space 'over there' for people who don't subscribe to or fit in Gilead society. Prescribed spaces and surveillance in her patriarchal 'First World' society are contrasted with the disorder of people (women) and the residue of social mistakes found in the apocalyptic colonies. The chaotic colonies which host the displaced outcasts is the 'Third World' connotation I refer to here. 134 become wards of the international refugee regime and its sponsors. Since 1991, the Kurds in Iraq, Tamils in Sri Lanka, Bosnian Muslims in the Former Yugoslavia, and Somalis in Somalia and Kenya have all fallen under the rubric of 'preventive protection.' Geographically speaking, this shift is significant because it signals a strategy which maintains displaced persons at a physical distance and employs a particular set of discursive practices which legitimize these efforts. Interventions which cross international borders to protect human rights and assist displaced people are not inherently problematic. However, if the strategy is not employed consistently across all countries, it risks deepening divides between the West and the rest. The discourse of 'preventive protection' combined with the provision of humanitarian assistance to displaced people within countries at war produces perceived and actual distance between the donor countries and the forced migrants they assist. The Predicament of Protection at UNHCR "What's happening, and it is an interesting question, there's two camps... two angles of thinking. On the one hand there are people who feel that the definition of refugee contained in the 1951 Convention/1967 Protocol is sufficient and is a strong instrument as a basis for deciding who is or is not a refugee. On the other hand, there are others who feel that UNHCR is now in the field dealing with, in many cases, internally displaced people, that perhaps the mandate should now be broadened so that UNHCR would have a mandate also automatically to deal with those people. And for the moment, it's certainly moving towards more flexibility, shall we say.... Our position is... that first of all UNHCR doesn't have the resources to possibly... I mean they can hardly deal with, they can't deal with all the problems that are taking place already with refugees who fall under the Convention definition. If they had an automatic mandate to cover all internally displaced people, for example,... you would not only run into the problem of resources which are already inadequate, you would also run into all kinds of very difficult questions of national sovereignty, when do you intervene... danger for your personnel... It's a real can of worms."240 2 4 0 Interview, consulate staff member, Permanent Mission of Canada to Office of the UN, Geneva, October 27, 1994. 135 The refugee definition outlined in the 1951 Convention remains the central tool of status determination employed by states. Donor governments that fund displaced persons have increasingly sponsored efforts by United Nations and other international bodies to assist them 'at home' or in a first country of asylum nearby. Strategies such as 'preventive protection' and the use of 'safe havens' have been added to the menu of temporary solutions to displacement — a menu which has traditionally included refugee camps. This strategic shift points to changing geo-politics and to different kinds of conflict which generate displacement. The global geo-political landscape of today differs from that of the immediate post-World War II period in a multitude of ways, but in particular it can be distinguished by the nature of conflict. There has been a marked shift from wars between or among nations to fighting within single states.241 In 1995 virtually all refugee-producing conflicts were internal.242 As illustrated in chapter one, international law pertaining to internally displaced people "does not cover inter-communal violence or other cases of internal disturbances that create internal displacement."243 If almost all human displacement is being generated by internal conflicts which often involve inter-communal violence, as appears to be the case, there is a major lacuna in international law with respect to the protection of internally displaced persons. 2 4 4 At the same time as conflict has become increasingly bound by national borders, the economies of nations have become more globally integrated and interdependent. Assistance to displaced persons in countries at war is usually a matter of 2 4 1 The Gulf War serves as a reminder that international conflict is not a relic of the modern past. Nonetheless, the basis of that war was arguably economic in nature, underscoring the globalization of trade and its attendant politics. 2 4 2 UNHCR, 1995, op. cit. 2 4 3 Francis M. Deng, "The International Protection of the Internally Displaced", International Journal of Refugee Law. Special Issue Summer 1995, pp. 74-86. p. 82. 2 4 4 A new UN Declaration on the Rights of Internally Displaced Persons was being discussed by various parties, with no published results, during the period of this research. 136 international politics and interventions within a sizeable global economy of humanitarian assistance. International responses to displacement have been political as well as humanitarian: "[i]t has proven much easier to prevent the flow of refugees than to prevent the abuses, violence, and social inequities that cause them to flee."245 UNHCR acknowledges that refugee assistance and 'preventive protection' often serve to contain the problems of developing countries in the interest of developed ones.2 4 6 In general, the concern today is less with the refugee community, or for that matter with the host countries, which in the case of 90% of the world's refugees is the developing world, but with the need to ensure that refugees do not disturb the peace of the developed world, or invite financial allocations which, we are told, they can ill afford.2 4 7 "With an economic recession in the West, there is xenophobia towards refugees and immigrants."248 In the absence of international law to protect people at home displaced by internal conflict, political expediency does shape humanitarian assistance and interventions. Peacekeeping in the 1990s has taken place in failed or failing states where conflict creates human displacement usually within the borders of nation-states and public pressure to act is great. In addition to peacekeeping in the strictest sense — as the monitoring of peace agreements — peacekeeping missions are now charged with additional responsibilities such as the safe delivery of humanitarian relief supplies, the protection of refugees and internally 2 4 ~ > Bill Frelick, "Preventing Refugee Flows: Protection or Peril" in World Refugee Survey 1993. (Washington, D.C.: US Committee for Refugees, 1993), p. 6. 2 4 6 UNHCR, 1995, op. cit. 2 4 7 B. S. Chimni, "The Meaning of Words and the Role of UNHCR in Voluntary Repatriation", International Journal of Refugee Law, vol. 5, no. 3, 1993, pp. 442-459. p. 459. 2 4 8 Interview, UNHCR senior manager, Geneva, October 25, 1994. 137 displaced persons, the disarmament of local militias, and sometimes nation-building in the absence of a government.249 But more important than the extended duties of peacekeepers is the change in kind and frequency of intervention — especially in relation to their roles in assisting displaced persons — since the Cold War. In the first four decades of its operations, the United Nations launched thirteen peacekeeping missions; since 1988 it has authorized twenty-five. From 1945 to 1989, US$3.6 billion was spent on U N peacekeeping operations; between 1990 and 1995 the cost was US$12 billion. 2 5 0 Late in 1995 the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) began sending the 60,000 troops its members pledged to replace U N peacekeepers in Bosnia-Herzegovina and to oversee the peace accord signed in Paris in December 1995. The multilateral contributions to such operations by member states are far greater than ever before and are matched by exponential growth in the budget of UNHCR. From an annual expenditure of US$8 million in 1970, UNHCR has grown rapidly over the past two decades; in 1984 the organization spent US$444.2 million, and in 1994 US$1,166.8 million to assist refugees and others 'persons of concern'. A startling statistic is the number of people who are neither refugees nor internally displaced persons, but are considered 'persons of concern' to UNHCR. In 1995 this number was greater than 3.5 million, the vast majority of whom were assisted in Europe. Together, these trends point to an expansion of both UNHCR's mandate and the responsibilities of U N peacekeepers. These expansions are related: increasingly UNHCR works together with peacekeepers in various locations. "The humanitarian, political, and military elements of the U N system have been brought into a new and very intensive relationship."251 A new and proximate relationship between soldiers and humanitarian workers has been forged in the post-Cold War period. 2 4 9 UNHCR, 1995, op. cit. 2 5 0 Ibid. Money stated in constant dollars. 2 5 1 Ibid., p. 117. 138 Preventing protection, negotiating borders The word 'protection' has become something of a term of art.... The word 'refugee' is also a term of art in international law.... 2 5 2 Just as conflict occurs increasingly within individual states, UNHCR has recently become involved in operations within countries in which people are displaced, often working in conflict zones. 'Preventive protection' is part of a shift in refugee policy which occurred in the early 1990s.253 It belongs to a language that emphasizes the 'right to remain' in one's home country over the former dominant discourse of the 'right to leave'. The 'right to remain' was endorsed by the U N High Commissioner, Sadako Ogata, in speeches made in the early 1990s: today displacement is as much a problem within borders as across them.... the political and strategic value of granting asylum diminishes.... The cost of processing asylum applications has skyrocketed, while public acceptance of refugees has plummeted.... At the heart of ... a preventive and solution-oriented strategy must be the clear recognition of the right of people to remain in safety in their homes.... 'the right to remain'... the basic right of the individual not to be forced into exile.... I am convinced that preventive activities can help to contain the dimensions of human catastrophe by creating time and space for the political process.254 James Hathaway, a professor of refugee law has called the 'right to remain' "the right to be toast."255 Nonetheless, UNHCR has fully endorsed this approach. Bill Frelick, a refugee advocate and policy critic, adds that this shift in managing displacement may curb forced migration, but its solutions are more likely suited to the needs of governments than to the 2 5 2 Guy S. Goodwin-Gill, "The Language of Protection," International Journal of Refugee Law, vol. 1, no. 1, 1989,6-19. pp. 6 & 17. 2 5 3 Bill Frelick, 1993, op. cit. 2 5 4 Excerpts from a statement by High Commissioner Sadako Ogata, UNHCR, at the Roundtable on "Refugees: Challenge to Solidarity", New York, 9 March 1993. 2 5 5 James Hathaway, "Introduction to the Law of Refugee Status", lecture presented at Centre for Refugee Studies, York University, June 23, 1994. 139 protection of displaced people.2 5 6 He notes that concept of 'preventive assistance' — also used by UNHCR and donor governments — is even more minimalist than 'preventive protection'. The establishment of 'safe corridors' in the case of Bosnia is an example of this strategy: We must also funnel humanitarian assistance to hundreds of thousands more who are besieged inside Bosnia, so that they do not become the next wave of refugees. It will require the opening of safe corridors to accomplish this goal. — U.S. Secretary of State, Lawrence Eagleburger, August 26, 19922 5 7 The virtues and vices of preventive protection provide the basis of a political debate which elides the more geo-political and cultural machinations of power. Which groups are being protected by peacekeepers and assisted by UNHCR 'at home'? Which groups have developed the language and funded the interventions of preventive protection? In more recent statements, the High Commissioner has spoken less of the right to remain and has focused instead on inclusive approaches to displacement which blur the concept of sovereign borders.2 5 8 Following the lead of the U N Secretary-General who asserts that "the time of absolute and exclusive sovereignty" has passed, humanitarian interventions which assist potential refugees 'at home' have both strategic value and local effect. Preventive protection as a concept is now defunct in the Protection Division of UNHCR, though it is still deployed under a different guise. The agency originally defined 'preventive protection' as 2 5 6 Bill Frelick, 1993, op. cit., p. 7. 2 5 7 Cited in Frelick, ibid., p. 9. 2^8 Sadako Ogata, UNHCR High Commissioner for Refugees, speech to the Centre for the Study of Global Governance, London School of Economics, May 1993; speech to the New School of Social Research, New York, November 1992. It is worth reiterating that in the case of Africa many borders were imposed by colonial administrations, establishing sovereignty that in many cases became unstable after independence. 140 the establishment or undertaking of specific activities inside the country of origin so that people no longer feel compelled to cross borders in search of protection and assistance. In this sense, for instance, action on behalf of the internally displaced can be defined as preventive protection, although the primary motive may be to address a genuine gap in protection rather than to avert outflow. Preventive protection in this sense may also include the establishment of 'safety zones' or 'safe areas' inside the country of origin where protection may be sought. It relates therefore to the protection of nationals in their own country. This subject is of such importance today to UNHCR that we have decided to devote an entire, separate chapter to i t . 2 5 9 By the end of 1994, the Division of International Protection at UNHCR had changed its stance. During an interview with a senior staff member, I was told that the term preventive protection is no longer used and was "an abuse of the language" in the first place. He noted that prevention is an antecedent action whereas protection comes into play after a crisis exists. UNHCR had created a teleological term difficult to defend in the face of criticism from refugee advocates and policy analysts.260 Moving from the more abstract concept of protection to its more material subject, the term 'refugee' at UNHCR has come to mean all those under UNHCR's care, whether or not they cross an international border. This, of course, presents another teleology: who is a refugee is determined de facto on the basis of whether UNHCR assists them. A politicized discourse of safe areas has replaced the term 'preventive protection' but not the basic concept. Discussion of blurred borders and safety zones is accompanied by other expressions such as 'in-country assistance', 'country-of-origin responsibility', monitoring, 'early warning systems', and 'preventive development' — all of which are designed to prevent or reverse refugee flows and to assist and protect displaced people within their own countries. This discourse effaces the dangers of proposed safe spaces. It is interesting 2 5 9 UNHCR, "Report of the UNHCR Working Group on International Protection", UNHCR, Geneva, 6 July, 1992. 2 6 0 Interview, UNHCR, Geneva, October 18, 1994. 141 because it gives rise to a new set of political spaces and management practices for forcibly displaced people.2 6 1 'Safe havens' for Iraqi Kurds, 'zones of tranquillity' for returning Afghan refugees, 'open relief centres' for would-be Sri Lankan refugees, and 'safe corridors' to Muslim enclaves in Bosnia are all examples of this current trend as well as expressions of a post-Cold War rhetoric. One distinctive feature of operations in locations such as Bosnia and Somalia is the contemporaneous deployment of humanitarian staff and peacekeeping forces in the same place. This debut of U N refugee staff and military forces working together is another part of the transformation at UNHCR that coincides with the demise of Cold War tensions. A more startling aspect of this transformation is the significant amount of money targeted for military peacekeeping operations compared to the relatively paltry funds for humanitarian assistance or social and economic development.262 In 1991, the Kurds in Northern Iraq would not formally have been UNHCR's responsibility, but the agency was called upon because of its 'response ability': "The Iraqi Kurds were internally displaced but not refugees; UNHCR could do the job so we were given the go ahead." 2 6 3 Many consider this intervention the turning point in the management of displaced persons. This new development has continued within UNHCR with respect to its role in the Former Yugoslavia: "look at the mix of people... nobody really sat down to say 'refugees', 'displaced persons', 'war victims'; it doesn't matter... •^&1 At the other end of the geographical spectrum, 'stateless' spaces of in-betweenness have been created in Western countries that are increasingly hostile towards asylum seekers. Airports in France, Spain, and Switzerland have all established 'international zones' where people wait in limbo while government officials determine the status of their claims. During the recent Rwandan crisis, the Kenyan Government demonstrated its own hostility towards Rwandan asylum seekers who landed at a Nairobi airport. They were denied status determination and access to the country, forcing UNHCR to set up tents at the airstrip until a suitable plan for their transport elsewhere could be arranged (telephone conversation with senior manager at UNHCR in Nairobi, May 16, 1994). 2 6 2 By January of 1994, Canada had spent nearly $1 billion on military operations in the Former Yugoslavia alone. This amounted to twenty times the funds allocated for humanitarian assistance. See Paul Koring, "Price of Peacekeeping dwarfs aid", The Globe and Mail. January 4, 1994. In September 1993, Harper's Index reported that the ratio of UN monies spend in 1992 on peacekeeping as compared to economic development was 5:2. 263 Senior manager, UNHCR, Geneva, interview, October 24, 1994. 142 they need protection and assistance. UNHCR is there; they're equipped to do it." 2 6 4 The definition of refugee at UNHCR is no longer predicated on the crossing of an international border. Increasingly, it's job has become to assist people in order to avoid such crossings. To justify its involvement in war zones, U N H C R has adopted a seemingly practical approach which emphasizes action and downplays the importance of its formal mandate as well as the political meaning of borders. In reference to the Former Yugoslavia, one senior staff member at U N H C R commented on Croatian borders and the confusion that recognition of such borders bred: "there were a lot of people displaced within these borders, and then persons displaced across borders that nobody recognized; and then you had persons displaced within borders that nobody recognized; and then you had persons who weren't displaced at all, but were sitting being shelled to death in Sarajevo, and all of these people fell under the action of UNHCR, and nobody really cared. It's a big change from these years of the 1980s."265 Thus, one rationale — albeit functionalist — which justifies UNHCR's role in assisting during emergency situations is that it is able to do so. 2 6 6 A more cynical rationale is that UNHCR responds if donor governments are willing to pay. Most of UNHCR's budget is generated through voluntary contributions on a project-by-project, or crisis-by-crisis, basis. As chapter two illustrated, donor hegemony occurs when funds are earmarked for particular refugee relief efforts. UNHCR has extended its scope to operate within countries at war because flinders are willing to pay the organization ready to do the work. In the face of cuts and calls for rationalization within all United 264 Senior manager, UNHCR, Geneva, interview, October 24, 1994. 265 Senior manager, UNHCR, Geneva, interview, October 24, 1994. 266 This presents a third teleology; UNHCR assists because it can; it can because it's an assistance organization. 143 Nations agencies, UNHCR has so far been successful in customizing its competencies — emergency and protection roles in particular—to ensure continued financial viability. The legitimacy of international borders is a related and current question among organizations managing displacement. In the foreword to a recent UNHCR document addressing the plight of internally displaced persons, the former Director of International Protection notes that people who are internally displaced on the 'other' side of the border have been called 'refugees in all but name'.... Because they have not crossed an international boundary, the internally displaced have no access to the international protection mechanisms designed for refugees.... UNHCR finds it operationally untenable — as well as morally objectionable — to consider only the more visible facet of a situation of coerced displacement.... No two humanitarian crises are ever the same, and a global approach to such complex situations requires, if anything, finer tools of analysis and a larger arsenal of flexible responses.267 This is a compelling, sympathetic plea for inclusion on the part of the former head of the protection division. Senior legal staff at UNHCR's protection division retain the legitimacy of the international border, yet challenge it at the same time: "The concept of the border is important.... We are a borderline agency.... The border is still a valid concept.... the space of humanitarian intervention or operation sits on the border."268 The post-Cold War. displacement of bodies within and across borders in concert with international humanitarian responses to the displacement has begun to transform the meaning and matter of these borders. 2 0 ' Leonardo Franco cited in UNHCR, UNHCR's Operational Experience with Internally Displaced Persons. Geneva, September 1994. Senior manager, UNHCR, Geneva, interview, October 24, 1994. With respect to the last phrase, the UNHCR senior staff member added that the best example of this border space is the Cross-Border Operation in Somalia which is discussed later in this chapter and in chapter 5. 144 UNHCR has admitted that crossing an international border to assist displaced people in their own country repeatedly — for instance in Iraq — may have unintended political and human consequences. Such a strategy may undermine the concept of the state, its authority, and most alarmingly, the obligation of the state itself to provide protection if an international agency will do it instead. Providing protection and assistance in safe spaces may also prove ineffective, as fatal attacks on U N protected areas in Bosnia-Herzegovina during the summer months of 1995 illustrated. Thousands of defenceless civilians lost their lives while U N peacekeepers helplessly looked on. While UNHCR recognizes these risks, it continues to expand its definition of 'refugee' to include internally displaced people in selected cases. While space, distance, and context may be increasingly important to UNHCR interventions, they are also part of discourse which legitimizes strategies which are flexible, financially viable, and politically popular with donors. Interventions dependent on the popularity of the cause and are predicated on the humanitarian interest of donors risk politicizing need. This kind of assistance is based less on consensual humanitarian principles than on the politics of neo-humanism, as described in chapter two. Human displacement does not occur in neutral spaces, reducible to particular places and void of these political considerations.269 Histories of conflict and antagonistic but spatially contingent relations of power are often what force people to move from their homes in the first place. Equally, histories of domination and uneven geographies of power and influence shape the directions in which displaced people move. The example of Iraq after its defeat in the Gulf War provides a telling example: the U N was in an advantageous 269 N e i i Smith & Cindy Katz "Grounding Metaphor: Towards a Spatialized Politics" in Place and Politics of Identity, (eds.) M. Keith and S.Pile, (London: Routledge, 1993), p. 75. 145 position to demand from President Hussein's government the required 'consent' to intervene in order to assist the Kurds. By framing human displacement within specific geographical contexts, however, UNHCR does question the utility of its own abstract, admittedly outdated operational definitions and proposes a potentially more situated and inclusive approach. It views displacement as an expression of a political relationship:270 coerced displacement, whether within or across national borders, should be seen as the consequence and symptom of a broader problem involving the absence or failure of national protection, a problem which should be addressed globally rather than piecemeal.... Where called upon to provide assistance and protection to groups... it accordingly seeks to respond to the relevant needs of all members of the community, making distinctions, where appropriate, on the basis of actual need rather than status.271 The preference to employ need rather than status as the basis for protection echoes the functionalism alluded to earlier with respect to who is a refugee. Nonetheless, it suggests that status is less important than the entitlement to protection it normally invokes. For an organization steeped in liberal humanism and rights-based discourse, this is a progressive step in at least one sense. A human right has little value if the delivery of its entitlements is ^ I n the late 1980s, the legitimacy of changes proposed in UNHCR's mandate was challenged by donor governments. Jean-Pierre Hocke became High Commissioner for Refugees in January 1986; during his tenure he repositioned the agency to exploit the end of the Cold War and openly challenged the conventional approach to protection. Hocke argued that the 1951 mandate was outdated and that the vast majority of contemporary refugees do not correspond to the Convention definition. Instead, he maintained that these displaced persons were 'victims of violence', belonging to wider categories of people affected by armed conflict or other more generalized forms of violence or danger. Hocke contended that protection was not a "legalistic, doctrinaire or static approach", that it required comprehensive approaches and solutions to refugee crises, the best of which was voluntary repatriation. In making this claim, he was accused of 'downgrading' protection and gambling with the protection of refugees: "It was definitely not a gamble with the protection function of the UNHCR. I can understand, even if I disagree, that some feel that way — those who look statically at the mandate, convention and definition. I came in and said that, if we do that, we become a museum. There were risks in moving people back, but those risks were carefully identified and taken into account." Hocke was forced to resign in 1989. See Lawyers Committee for Human Rights, The UNHCR at 40: Refugee Protection at the Crossroads. (New York, Lawyers Committee for Human Rights, 1991), pp. 90, 54. 2 7 1 Note on International Protection, EXCOM 45th session, A/AC.96/830, 1994, para. 64, p. 29. Emphasis in original. 146 not forthcoming. Perhaps the best summary of UNHCR's involvement with displaced persons — refugees or otherwise — is this: "you cannot make a blanket statement (with respect to emergency responses).... Realpolitik dictates the art of the possible."272 A final example, the case of Somalia, illustrates the idea of 'preventive protection' in Africa. In Southern Somalia, UNHCR created a safe space which it called a 'preventive zone' along the Kenyan border in order to slow the flow of potential refugees into Kenya and to encourage Somali refugees in Kenyan camps to return home. The Cross-Border Operation, as the initiative was called, was also a strategy to empty the Kenyan camps after the Government of Kenya issued an ultimatum in January 1993 that all Somali refugees would be forcibly sent home. At the time, U.S. forces were in selected parts of Somalia as part of the Operation Restore Hope mission to assist the starving civilian population. It was thought that the presence of these forces would also represent security to refugees living in Kenya and attract them back to Somalia. Some refugees did return home, but other Somali nationals left their war-torn country for Kenya during the same period. In the end, the Cross-Border Operation did not meet its objectives, despite generous initial funding from donors. UNHCR designated the preventive zone as a safe space, but the people and politics on the ground imagined something else. 'Safe havens' and 'preventive zones' are expressions of an emerging post-Cold War discourse and are used as strategic safe spaces to both protect and contain would-be refugees in their home countries. This strategy is endorsed by Western governments which fund UNHCR to execute the necessary emergency relief operations. UNHCR is revising its own traditional category of 'refugee', recasting its protection mandate, and extending its reach inside the borders of countries at war where displaced people require assistance and 2 7 2 Interview, UNHCR senior staff, October 18, 1994. 147 safe-keeping. In so doing, they prevent, preclude, or at least decrease the likelihood of refugees entering nearby safe countries. The purpose of a preventive zone in Somalia is not much different from that of a buffer zone. Both aim to prevent influxes of refugees across political borders. While I have argued that an emerging discourse of displacement points to strategies of humanitarian assistance 'at home' within countries of conflict, buffer zones which exclude displaced persons also have considerable geo-political value. The U.S. has recently spent a great deal of time and resources focusing on its border with Mexico, one made particularly problematic by the fact that Mexico is not a signatory to the 1951 Convention nor to the 1967 Protocol. If Mexico were to sign these instruments of international law, the U.S. would have the right to return asylum seekers, including bona fide refugees, to Mexico because Mexico would be the first safe country of asylum. In this scenario, Mexico would, in effect, act as a buffer zone against asylum seekers trying to get to the U.S. or, in some cases, to Canada. Political borders can generate marginalization, racism, and other unequal relations of power. Borderlands and boundaries have been widely discussed by geographers, feminists, and cultural theorists in many contexts.273 While a number of these authors draw on autobiographical experiences and politically-motivated movements across borders as the basis of analysis, most do not examine the geographical dimension of displacement. In this chapter, I have tried to illustrate how the hegemony of Western political culture has 2 7 3 Gloria Anzaldua, Borderlands: The New Mestiza. (San Francisco: Spinster/Aunt Lute Press, 1987); Angelika Bammer, 1994, op. cit.; Caren Kaplan, "The Politics of Location" in Scattered Hegemonies: Postmodernity and Transnational Feminist Practices, (eds.) I. Grewal and C. Kaplan, (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1994), pp. 137-152; Trinh T. Minh-ha, "Other than myself/my other self in Travellers' Tales: Narratives of Home and Displacement, (eds.) G. Robertson, M. Mash, L. Tickner, J. Bird, B. Curtis & T. Putnam, (NY/London: Routledge, 1994), pp. 9-26. 148 repositioned the geographical locations and political positions of displaced persons on a global scale. The movement of displaced people, whether they are in 'safe havens' or refugee camps, is highly restricted and their safety spatially circumscribed. The 'placement' in displacement matters. Mobility is political. For more than forty years the Cold War shaped political conflict in much of the world. In the mid-1980s, five explosive areas were generating refugees based on East-West conflict: the Horn of Africa, Southern Africa, Indo-China, Afghanistan, and Central America. 2 7 4 By the mid-1990s, at least five interventions to assist internally displaced persons had been initiated in Europe, Africa, South, Central, and West Asia. As a response to the demise of the Cold War and the concurrent rise in human displacement, U N H C R crossed international borders and began operating in war zones for the first time. Increasingly, refugee crises are being averted through preventive measures and 'safe havens' in situ. This pattern suggests a shift in responsibility for displaced people from individual states to international organizations such as the UN. It also points to a major gap in contemporary international law pertaining to internally displaced people. Conceived after World War II, existing humanitarian law applies only to persons displaced because of armed war and not those displaced by inter-communal and internal conflict. Most displacement is caused by internal conflict, and strategic safe spaces are being used as stopgap measure in the absence of legal codes. There is surprisingly little public discussion about the efficacy of these 'safe haven' measures. Individual states have gone global in their management of forced migrants, while the displaced subjects of these strategies are increasingly encouraged to remain at home by providing protection to them there. Astri Suhrke, 1994, op. cit., p. 17. 149 P A R T T W O In part two, a case study of human displacement in the Horn of Africa is presented. Historical and contemporary geographies of conflict, displacement, and foreign interventions in the Horn contextualize the study. In Somalia, sustained civil conflict forced several million people to evacuate their homes in 1992-93. Several hundred thousand of those who fled the country sought refuge in Kenya. Part two analyzes the application of selected UNHCR policies and the implications of the agency's role by focusing on Somali refugee camps in Kenya. Analysis of camp operations, in turn, provides a basis for theoretical discusssions of gender, culture, and other power relations pertinent to geographies of displacement in the region. 150 Chapter 5 Border Crossings Theorizing mobility begins with people's stories and histories of migration. In this chapter, I begin to theorize mobility by examining two kinds of 'border crossings' in the Horn of Africa. In the first case, the Horn has been a strategic space subject to foreign influence during colonial, Cold War, and postcolonial periods. European powers staked their claims in the Horn of Africa beginning in the latter part of the nineteenth century. They have not only crossed borders to enter African territory, but have had a hand in the very creation of modern state boundaries. In the second case, members of different cultural groups in the Horn have been dislocated and forced across borders in the region. The ways in which certain borders were drawn have, in some instances, been the cause of human displacement. I introduce the notion of a 'geo-politics of mobility' to argue that international borders are more porous to external influence and capital than to displaced bodies. Individual states have increasingly opted for multilateral solutions to human dislocation. Displaced subjects of international interventions are increasingly encouraged to remain at home by providing 'safe spaces' for them there. The mobility of international humanitarian aid is juxtaposed here with the relative immobility of involuntary migrants, generating two distinct but related geographies. The significantly large global economy in refugee relief activities and humanitarian interventions tends to operate in a localized manner, usually in close proximity to sources of human displacement and crisis. This economy, I maintain, is also tied to historical investments of colonial power and Cold War interests. 151 Locator map F i g u r e 5 . 1 Horn of Africa Djibouti J GulfofAden ^Djibouti Somalia . Addis Ababa Ethiopia Indian Ocean Tanzania. L e g e n d Political Border Limits of Somalian state National Capitals Source: National Geographic Atlas of the World, 1981; John Barthclomew & Sons Ltd., 1986. credit: Nadine Schuurman Contested border area Approximate scale: 1 to 10,000,000 152 Lila Abu-Lughod makes the case for 'studying up', for analyzing networks and brokers of power rather than the powerless.275 She argues that local conditions are expressions of global relations of power and to ignore the organizations that embody this power is to mistake the object of inquiry. This chapter draws attention to the work of UNHCR which makes the status of 'refugee' practically possible; it makes the argument that the tensions which humanitarian assistance aims to ease are historically and spatially specific.276 As illustrated in chapter two, Switzerland hosts international centres for banks and humanitarian organizations operating at a global scale. Geneva is a major site of funding and administration for humanitarian operations. In the following section, I discuss selected postmodern theories of mobility and identity and argue that most of these inadequately address the politics of mobility outlined above. While theories of migrant subjectivity and cultural politics are important, they are not sufficient in accounting for the global movements of money and migrants. The hegemony of certain countries in circles of humanitarian service delivery and the hypermobility of capital in relation to the markedly restricted movement of displaced persons are important considerations. Theoretical approaches attentive to these relationships pose a stark materialist challenge to some poststructuralist, cultural analyses. The mobility of forced migrants from 'Third World' countries is juxtaposed with that of 'First World' sponsors of colonial, Cold War, and now humanitarian projects. Some of the positions cultural theorists have taken and issues raised with respect to mobility and displacement are critically surveyed. In the remainder of the chapter, I then introduce a historical and contemporary case study from the Horn of Africa to illustrate this juxtaposition. 2 7 5 Lila Abu-Lughod, "Writing Against Culture" in Recapturing Anthropology, (ed.) R.G. Fox (Sante Fe: School for American Research, 1991). pp. 137-162. See also A. Pred & M. Watts, Reworking Modernity. (New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 1992). 2 7 6 Katharyne Mitchell, "Multiculturalism, or the United Colors of Capitalism?", Antipode. vol. 25, 1993. pp. 263-294. 153 The Politics of mobility We can redraw borders; we recognize that different types of boundaries operate at different scales.277 — G. Pratt How human displacement is defined and managed depends on historically-specific configurations of geo-politics, as well as cultural and economic relations. The 'politics of mobility' is a useful tool for analyzing migration, specifically because it recognizes the variable movement of refugees and other disenfranchised groups. With reference to the relations of power and resources which bear on people's movement, Doreen Massey has raised the idea of a 'politics of mobility and access', arguing that different groups of people have distinct relationships to mobility: some are more in charge of it than others; some initiate flows and movement, others don't; some are more on the receiving end of it than others; some are effectively imprisoned by i t . 2 7 8 While Massey's 'power geometry' notes differential mobility among distinct groups of people, she does not delve far enough into the economies of power which regulate and facilitate their movement. In the case of refugees and other displaced persons, the "geo-politics of money" is as important as the geo-politics of the crisis which precipitates forced migration. 2 7 9 In humanitarian circles, Geneva is a key site of both financial and geo-political power. Without international funding, few refugee camps would exist, expensive international interventions in Somalia and the Former Yugoslavia would not take place, nor would adjacent countries host as many asylum seekers as they currently do. I maintain that a transnational geo-politics of mobility attentive to money, power, and space which incorporates elements of cultural criticism provides a more effective tool for analyzing migration and the historical sites of struggle it involves. Just as "feminists need detailed, 2 7 7 Gerry Pratt, "Commentary" in Environment & Planning D: Society & Space. 1992, vol. 10, pp. 241-244. p. 241. 2 7 8 Doreen Massey, "Power-geometry and a progressive sense of place" in Mapping the Futures: local cultures, global change, (eds.) J. Bird, B. Curtis, T. Putnam, G. Robertson, & L. Tickner, (New York: Routledge, 1993). pp. 59-69. p. 61. 2 7 9 Stuart Corbridge & Nigel Thrift, "Money, Power and Space: Introduction and Overview", Money. Power. Space, (eds.) S. Corbridge, R. Martin, & N. Thrift, (Oxford/Cambridge, Basil Blackwell, 1994), pp. 1-26. 154 historicized maps of the circuits of power,"280 geographers require better analytical tools to examine critically relations among geo-politics, economic need and resources, and their combined human impact across space and culture. In the case of refugees and other displaced peoples, the 'geo-politics of mobility' is informed not only by global geo-politics and economic power, but also by more local and social conditions of wealth and opportunity. Forced migration today constitutes a significant force as part of transnational movements. In 1995, over 27 million refugees and other 'persons of concern' were counted by the Office of U N H C R . 2 8 1 Diasporic distributions are not, however, based on an equality of mobility and access among all groups. Opportunities to cross borders and move within a country, whether voluntary or involuntary, depend on economic resources, gendered access to jobs, and other key resources. At one level, the 'geo-politics of mobility' serves as a materialist corrective to the unimpeded 'travelling cultures' and diasporic populations heralded by some theorists.282 Arjun Appadurai introduces the idea of 'ethnoscape' as a "landscape of persons who make up the shifting world in which we live." 2 8 3 These include tourists, business executives, exiles, immigrants, guest workers, refugees and other mobile groups. He argues that any analysis of 'ethno' without a spatial referent, or 'scape', is aspatial. While 'ethnoscape' 2 8 0 Caren Kaplan, "The Politics of Location" in Scattered Hegemonies: Postmodernity and Transnational Feminist Practices, (eds.) I. Grewal and C. Kaplan, (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1994), pp. 137-152. p. 148. 2 8 1 UNHCR, The State of the World's Refugees: In Search of Solutions. (Oxford/NY: Oxford University Press, 1995). 2 8 2 Arjun Appadurai, "Global Ethnoscapes" in Recapturing Anthropology, (ed.) R.G. Fox, (Sante Fe: School for American Research, 1991), pp. 191-211; James Clifford, "Travelling Cultures" in Cultural Studies, (eds.) L. Grossberg & C. Nelson, and P. Treichler, (New York: Routledge, 1992), pp. 96-116; and "Partial Truths" in Writing Culture: The Poetics and Politics of Ethnography, (eds.) J. Clifford & G.E. Marcus, (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1986). 2 8 3 Arjun Appadurai, 1991, op. cit., p. 192. 155 may spatialize the cultural relations and ethnicity of migrant subjects, the concept does not account for the differential power and resources which enable or force migration. It also excludes an examination of politics based on location or ethno-nationalism for people who do not move. Economies of money, space, and power shape the movement of people unevenly, migrant possibilities being expressions of the geo-politics of mobility. In calling for reflexive ethnographic practices, ostensibly in Third World locations, James Clifford maintains that "(t)here is no longer any place of overview (mountain top) from which to map human ways of life, no Archimedian point from which to represent the world." Rather, "(h)uman ways of life increasingly influence, dominate, parody, translate, and subvert one another."284 While the end of the omniscient universal subject or narrator has no doubt given way to partial truths and more limited ways of seeing and, at the same time, interconnections among cultures have multiplied, the relations of domination hinted at by Clifford remain undeveloped. By textualizing the ethnographic experience, 'culture' is constructively problematized, but the cultural encounter nonetheless appears to occur in a vacuum with respect to the political economy which enables 'travelling culture' to occur. The appeal of 'travelling theorists' may be seen as part of the seductive postmodern celebration of diaspora and hypermobility, or as a vision of more equitable relations. What many of these theorists do not register is that the accelerated movement of people across th