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Innovations in Refugee Protection

A Compendium of UNHCR’s 60 Years- Including Case Studies on IT Communities, Vietnamese Boatpeople, Chilean Exile and Namibian Repatriation

Luise Druke

This compendium synthesizes innovations of the UN High Commissioners for Refugees (UNHCR) since 1951. The book bridges the gap between academic and field work and uses Joseph Nye’s concept of «soft power» as a methodological approach for understanding and solving political and ethical refugee protection dilemmas. Extending the refugee legal framework (1951 Refugee Convention and 1967 Protocol), UNHCR has increasingly used international human rights law, innovative technologies and new partners. Refugee protection is a responsibility primarily of states. Challenges are: considering increasing power diffusion (Nye) from states to non-state actors and balancing IT potentials with security risks.
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Writing this book has been both challenging and heartening. I have treasured the experience of working with people who had suffered and managed to make meaningful new lives for themselves, and have tried to write case studies that, through their teaching, would speak to generations of today and tomorrow.

I came to human rights and refugee work for a reason. The heavy legacy of WWII atrocities, the humanitarian engagement of my mother as the local President of the Red Cross, and my early exposure to political issues during the British occupation in Northern Germany all influenced my early childhood and youth. Aware that it does not take much to write or change laws from permitting the burning of synagogues to justifying persecuting “enemies” and burning human bodies, I engaged in over forty years of human rights work and refugee protection trying to do my part to make this world a better place for those who are persecuted, starting in the early 1970s volunteering in a section of Amnesty International Hannover writing letters to political prisoners in the apartheid regime of South Africa.

Then, as a student of political science, I spent a year (1972-73) at the Sorbonne and the University of Paris VIII (Vincennes), and took the summer of 1973 to travel to Peru. There, I visited friends and then travelled to Chile to work as a translator from late July to early September 1973. The general strike against the Allende Government was in...

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