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Ideas and Identities

A Festschrift for Andre Liebich

Edited By Jaci Eisenberg and Davide Rodogno

This volume gathers contributions at the intersection of history and politics. The essays, covering such topics as diverse as Italian identity in the Tientsin concession, international refugee policies in the interwar period and after, and the myths and realities of the Ukrainian-Russian encounter in independent Ukraine, show that history provides better grounding as well as a more suitable paradigm for the study of politics than economics or other hard sciences. All of the contributors have a common link – doctoral work supervised and shaped by Professor Andre Liebich – but have since expanded widely in the world. Hence, the authors of this work at once share a common base and yet benefit from diverse viewpoints.
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Two Eras of Refugee Policy: Legacies of the League of Nations in the 1940s: Francesca Piana

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Two Eras of Refugee Policy: Legacies of the League of Nations in the 1940s1

FRANCESCA PIANA

Introduction

Adopting patterns of permanence and change between the League of Nations and the United Nations as an analytical angle contributes to deepening the historical understanding of ideas, practices, and policies lying behind the current international refugee regime. The 20th century saw unprecedented growth in the number of persons crossing national boundaries in search of asylum. However, until the mid-1940s, refugees were mainly a European phenomenon; “the consequences of the two world wars, regional conflicts, civil wars, state-organised deportations, ← 83 | 84 → acts of ethnic cleansing, and ethnic engineering resulted in the uprooting of millions of people.”2 The magnitude of refugees’ flows, as well as the impossibility and the unwillingness of dealing with the needs of refugees locally, nationally, or regionally pushed for the internationalization and institutionalization of responses on their behalf.

Together with total wars, genocides, Fascism in Europe and Asia, the Russian Revolution, the Cold War, and decolonization, international organisations represented the most visible innovations of the 20th century.3 Among them, the main distinction lay between inter-governmental organisations, such as the League of Nations and the United Nations, and non-governmental organisations. As Akira Iriye writes, intergovernmental organizations “come into existence through formal agreement among nations,”4 whereas the latter – according to the definition of the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations – are “any international organisation which is not established by intergovernmental agreement...

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