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JICA-RI Researchers Gave Presentation at Refugee Policy Conference in Oxford

December 12, 2012

On December 6 and 7, a conference entitled “Understanding of Global Refugee Policy” was convened to commemorate the 30th anniversary for the Refugee Studies Centre at the University of Oxford. The meeting aimed to examine and theorize the policy-making processes relating to refugees and forced migration such as internal displacement, the statelessness, human trafficking at the global level. It provided a forum for a critical discussion on the theme of this conference.


This event brought together a wide range of participants including Professor Guy Goodwin-Gill of All Souls College (Oxford), a leading expert on refugee law and asylum, as well as researchers on refugees from Europe, the US, Australia and other countries, UNHCR staff members and NGO activists. Two JICA-RI research fellows—Mari Katayanagi and Satoru Mikami—gave a presentation on JICA-RI’s research project entitled “Studies on Effective Assistance for Return of Refugees and Internal Displaced Peoples: A Case Study of Bosnia and Herzegovina.”


During the two-day meeting, a number of panels were held, a few of them simultaneously. In a panel titled “Return and Restitution” on December 7, Katayanagi and Mikami gave a presentation on an analysis of the correlation between property restitution and return‐revisiting the case of Bosnia and Herzegovina (Bosnia hereafter). This study uses a mixed method that combines both qualitative and quantitative approaches.


Their presentation explained that ethnic cleansing forced nearly half of the population to migrate and become refugees or internally displaced persons (IDPs) during the armed conflict in Bosnia. Housing problem was one of the main causes to prevent them from returning home; it had two types: The first type was a physical destruction of houses, while the second one was an occupation of houses by IDPs from other areas. Although the physically destroyed houses can be reconstructed with money, the latter needs to vacate those ‘occupants’ out of the houses. This research focusing on the latter, a more complicated circumstance, statistically verifies that the occupancy blocked the refugees and IDPs to return home, and also analyzes whether the international community’s intervention had a significant impact on enabling return.


In Bosnia, High Representative, who supervises the implementation of the civilian aspects of the peace accord, holds a strong authority to amend, repeal, and impose laws as well as to remove public officials who obstruct the implementation of the peace accords. In fact, the High Representative dismissed nearly 40 public officials by reason of obstructing property restitution and return of refugees and IDPs. This international community’s intervention actually increased the number of ‘return of minorities,’ resulting in the ethnic ratio of returnees closer to that of pre-conflict phase. The analysis also found that the people’s trust in the rule of law was redeemed, judging from the fact that the number of returnees rose not only in the municipalities where intervention of ‘removal’ was enforced but also throughout Bosnia.


After the presentation, the audience asked a number of questions including: whether this successful example of an international community’s intervention in Bosnia could be utilized for the cases in Palestine and other regions. In response to this inquiry, the two JICA-RI research fellows answered that it was difficult to apply the uniform principles—the properties should be restituted to the former owners—for the Palestine case because the refuge has been over a prolonged period. This research on Bosnia and Herzegovina received a good review among audience as an exceptional study that carried out a full-scale quantitative analysis.



DayDecember 06, 2012(Thu) - December 07, 2012(Fri)
PlaceUniversity of Oxford, England

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