Refugees in the Context of Globalization

“People on the Move, Refugees in the
Context of Globalization”
Second Annual Emma
Lazarus Lecture , March 27th 2006

Key note speech by

George Rupp, President
of the International Rescue Committee and Former President of
Columbia University.

George Rupp became president of the International Rescue
Committee (IRC) on July 1, 2002. For the previous nine years,
Dr. Rupp was president of Columbia University. Prior to his
time at Columbia, Dr. Rupp served as president of Rice University.
Before going to Rice, Dr. Rupp was the John Lord O’Brian
Professor of Divinity and dean of the Harvard Divinity School.

Comments by

Nicholas Kristof, New
York Times Columnist and Pulitzer Prize Winner

Nicholas D. Kristof is an op-ed columnist for The New York Times.
His columns appear each Wednesday and Saturday. Previously,
he was associate managing editor of The Times, responsible
for Sunday editions. In 1990 Mr. Kristof and his wife,
Sheryl WuDunn, also a New York Times journalist, won a
Pulitzer Prize for their coverage of China’s Tiananmen
Square democracy movement. They were the first
married couple to win a Pulitzer for journalism. Mr. Kristof
has won other prizes including the George Polk Award and
the Overseas Press Club awards. Mr. Kristof and Ms. WuDunn
are authors of “ChinaWakes: The Struggle for the Soul of a
Rising Power” and “Thunder from the East: Portrait of a
Rising Asia.”


Samantha Power, Pulitzer Prize Winner for “A Problem From Hell:
America and the Age of Genocide.”

Samantha Power is a Professor of Practice in Public Policy
at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.
Her book, “A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of
Genocide,” was awarded the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for
general nonfiction and the 2003 National Book Critics Circle
Award for general nonfiction. Power was the founding executive
director of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at
Harvard (1998-2002).

Emma Lazarus Lecture

The Emma Lazarus Lecture on the International Flow of
Humanity was established under the Program on International
Migration: Economics, Ethics and Law at the Columbia
Law School. Professor Jagdish Bhagwati is the Director of the Program. The first lecture took place last year and was given
by Kofi Annan, Secretary General of the United Nations.

George Rupp

33 million displaced peoples in the world – global dislocation
Migration gives us, the US, an advantage over other countries with more homogeneous populations

2000: Bush committed to increase the number of refugees attended to by the US
2001: 9/11 changes all that; overall numbers have dropped to 1/3 the earlier number of about 70,000 refugees a year
The 70,000 refugees per year in the US = about 0.2% of uprooted people all over the world

IRC founded in 1933 (Einstein’s suggestion!)
• Rescues European refugees (from Nazi Germany, etc, using forged documents and whatever else it takes) to resettle them in US
• “Tough love” agenda
• Located in 24 countries internationally
• A “representative of the international community”

Case study: IRC in Afghanistan
• Over 25 years of presence and involvement there
• Worked with Afghan refugees in Pakistan, too
• Helped resettle over 7000 refugees in the US over the past 2 decades
• The US “abandoned” Afghanistan once before, after they Soviet Union defeat…”we must keep our promises the second time around”

International aid and development (health care, education, etc) assistance
• Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Luxembourg, Netherlands have surpassed the 0.7% GDP mark
• USA and Italy tie for the least generous countries
• Bush says we’ll increase foreign assistance by 50% over the next 3 years – even then, that’s only HALF the average foreign aid of the 22 most developed countries
• There is enormous self-deception among Americans with regard to their duties to the rest of the world
• 1948: Foreign aid = 4.2% GDP
• 1960’s: Foreign aid = 0.6%
• Today: Foreign aid = 0.17%

3 lessons:

I. We must move from encouraging dependency to building new capacity
• We must resist fostering dependency of the country we are helping, on US
• People cannot be resettled / relocated / rehabilitated until the region is stable:
o basic infrastructure (wells, latrines, roads) exists
o agriculture is functioning
o disease is in check
o aid money is productive
o employment exists
o etc

II. A sound government is crucial.
• Take the example of the very unstable Democratic Republic of Congo
• IRC study of excess mortality rates (2000 – 2001) established that 1.2 – 3.2 million deaths in DRC were above the 1 million expected under stable circumstances
• Excess mortality rate has increased to about 3.3 million and is now the HIGHEST toll of any war in Africa, ever, and any war since 2002
• With the introduction of UN peace-keeping forces, mortality rates appear to have been reduced
• Morality is INVERSELY PROPORTIONAL to Peace!
• Governments play a crucial role in maintaining that peace, as evidenced by DRC, and more generally, too.
• US cotton subsidies are unforgivable and generally egregious. Trade negotiations persist in failing to satisfactorily address trade inequity.

III. Catastrophe prevention is preferable to emergency intervention.
• Example: deployment of 7000 Africa Union troops with insufficient logistical support has failed spectacularly to secure Darfur region

Nicholas Kristof

Why distinguish refugees from internally displaced peoples (IDCs), based on border “transgressions”? There’s too much legalese, not enough pragmatism! We need to create security! Create order! Stop the killing! (Story of visiting people under the trees in Darfur)

We need a considerable degree of humility when working with refugees
We must translate our knowledge into local needs → UN subcontracts NGOs who work at the local level
Eg: women in a certain region of Afghanistan were given soap, since the NGOs in the area stressed hygiene. These women associate soap with post-coital activity, so they were gravely offended. (Soap = boning!)

Can the political and financial capital needed to absorb the 70,000 immigrants that Bush is pushing for, be used in better ways? Perhaps we should be better ALLOCATING our aid, not necessarily DEFINING our aid targets…

The lack of response from the international community continues
There are media failures – a traditional blind spot for newspapers to deal with real-time, real need issues:
CBS spent 2 minutes, over a year, on the Darfur genocide, and 28 minutes on the Michael Jackson trial

We should all be “deeply shamed” by this!

Samantha Powers

The key is to have a strong constituency to support and promote the needs of refugees – or any group of people bound together by ethnicity, religion, politics, etc.

Protest signs at DC: “Being a human is not illegal” ; “We are workers, not criminals”

We need to seriously examine and scrutinize present policies like the Patriot Act, and Immigration Legislation: refugees – remember, UPROOTED peoples! – are jailed for 15 years and then sent back to their home countries if they arrive on US soil without proper paperwork?!
We need an ADULT conversation about why we SHOULD INVEST in other countries, urgently!
We SHOULD meet aid targets since they are set internationally and in complying with them we are keeping our allies close and demonstrating our ability and willingness to cooperate on global issues of such grave and serious nature.

I hoped for the end of isolationism after 9/11. Instead, there’s been a retreat of development of society from foreign engagement – “the gradient of retreat of foreign engagement” is worrying.
Since 9/11, there’s been a drop from 43 – 29% acceptance rate in the US to those who seek asylum
45% of Americans think the US should stop “meddling” abroad, basing their opinions on Iraq. But what about the successes – East Timor, Afghanistan, Liberia?


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