Deadline for submission of articles: 7th January 2013
The combination of conflict and what is known as 'state fragility' has been a major driver of forced displacement in many parts of the world. The international system gives the state primary responsibility for the well-being and rights of its citizens and others present within its borders. Yet when the state itself is caught up in internal conflict, or lacking in authority, stability, capacity and governance systems or legitimacy, or any combination of these, the welfare and rights of displaced people can be severely compromised. Little of what is written about 'fragile states', however, deals explicitly with forced migration.
One definition of state fragility highlights ‘susceptibility to crisis’ often attributed to poor governance and/or prolonged violence that weakens state functions. The negative connotations associated with the term ‘fragile state’ are rejected by some states, while others enthusiastically embrace the term if it attracts additional resources. Indeed increasing percentages of aid from major donors are being earmarked for conflict-affected ‘fragile’ states, either because of the perception that they can provide cover for religious fundamentalist or criminal elements, or because of the fear of regional contamination from the conflicts, and the displacement that ensues, that fragile states cannot extricate themselves from.
Conflict as a cause of displacement often correlates with state fragility, whether as a symptom or a cause of fragility, for example where failures of authority or legitimacy lead to the emergence of significant organised violence, which can then be compounded by the failure of the state to protect its citizens. These factors, or the response they trigger from other states, often precipitate large-scale forced migration, of both IDPs and refugees seeking protection from persecution.
State fragility may also play a significant role in the production of forced migration relating to natural disasters or environmental crises, in that failures in governance affect the vulnerabilities of populations and their ability to adapt and be resilient.
The response to ‘fragility’ has become an increasingly important element in international political and humanitarian interventions, as well as in development planning. In particular, global economic and political institutions have identified fragile states as critical targets for the mobilisation of particular types of assistance – assistance that seeks to ‘build’ states – in order to address the issues of their legitimacy alongside that of the services they provide, including to displaced people.
The FMR editors are looking for practice-oriented submissions, reflecting a diverse range of opinions but focusing on situations of forced displacement, which address questions such as the following:
- What is the relationship between state fragility and displacement?
- To what extent does forced migration contribute to state fragility, within particular states, or across regions?
- What is it about state fragility that is most likely to result in forced displacement?
- How useful are emerging concepts like survival migration and crisis migration for thinking about flight from fragile states?
- To what extent is weak governance a significant factor in environmental displacement?
- What special challenges does forced migration pose for processes of ‘state building’ and post-conflict reconstruction?
- Does ‘state building’ or the attempt to reduce state fragility produce improved protection for displaced people? Is it possible to build state capacity to address displacement issues?
- As regards fragile states, what assistance strategies are effective or ineffective in addressing the needs of displaced people or contributing to the achievement of durable solutions for refugees and IDPs?
- Can fragile states be held to account for their obligations in respect of displaced people?
- How do displaced people claim their rights when the state from which they should be able to claim them is 'fragile'? And what role does the international community have in this respect?
- How does originating from fragile states affect refugees' chances of obtaining asylum or achieving a durable solution for their displacement?
- Are people fleeing fragile states adequately covered by the existing refugee definition and existing normative frameworks?
- How should the international community adjust its attitudes or practices in respect of people displaced within or from fragile states?
- Are there particular issues and strategies to be considered in relation to gender and age when responding to people displaced within or from fragile states ?
- What roles can and do IDPs and refugees play in improving the lot of their compatriots in fragile states?
We are particularly keen to reflect the experiences and knowledge of communities and individuals directly affected by these questions.
Maximum length: 2,500 words.
Please note that space is always at a premium in FMR and that published articles are usually shorter than this maximum length. Your article, if accepted for publication, may well be shortened but you will of course be consulted about any editing changes.
Please email the Editors at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in contributing or have suggestions of colleagues or community representatives who may wish to contribute. If you can put us in touch with young displaced people who might be interested in writing, please do email us; we are happy to work with individuals to help them develop an article.
If you are planning to write, we would be grateful if you would take note of our Guidelines for authors at: www.fmreview.org/writing-fmr.