Dating catch lines

2 July 2014 According to its publishers, “Governing Refugees: Justice, Order and Legal Pluralism” is a book that “will appeal to anyone with relevant interests in law, anthropology, and criminology, as well as those working in the area of Refugee Studies.” That makes it sound as if it is mostly of academic interest, but in fact, it is much more than that.It should be a must-read for Burma watchers, for all who have been engaged in the 30-year saga of refugees on the Thai-Burmese border, and especially for those involved in refugee policymaking, including state agencies, the UN and donors.With over 102 million inhabitants, Ethiopia is the most populous landlocked country in the world and the second-most populous nation on the African continent.It occupies a total area of 1,100,000 square kilometres (420,000 sq mi), and its capital and largest city is Addis Ababa.This was a joint exercise with the refugee and camp committees and, from TBC’s perspective, their understanding and industrious response once again vindicated the model and confirmed that trust had always been well placed.“Governing Refugees” includes insightful information about the KNU and their relationship with the refugees and a fascinating and sensitive study of Karen moral standards and their traditional justice system.A key concern was the perceived level of involvement of the Karen National Union (KNU)—the principal Karen non-state armed group resisting Burmese military assimilation of their homelands—in camp affairs.Some portrayed this as “naïve, even negligent, for enabling refugee militarization,” helping to “consolidate the power of a KNU elite,” and contributing “to prolonging the conflict.” When the refugee story began 30 years ago, there was little international understanding of or sympathy for the ethnic struggle in Burma.

Mc Connachie sympathetically explores the conflicts that arose with the international community when attempting to harmonize camp rules with Thai law and offers a challenging personal “tentative counter-critique,” one of the focuses of her work.She realized she was witnessing something very special that challenged the common perception of refugees as powerless victims and of refugee camps as dangerous places lacking normal social structures.Noting that “Despite the limited opportunities available in the camp, daily life is structured and industrious” and that “refugee camps in Thailand have remained relatively stable and secure throughout tremendous political and demographic flux,” Mc Connachie set out to study why.It is presumably targeted at university libraries, but hopefully its ambiguous title, relatively high price and unhelpful back-cover academic jargon will not deter a wider audience.Kirsten Mc Connachie is a compelling and objective writer, and although there are forays into academia, her book is very readable and offers important insights, including many that challenge conventional wisdom.

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During the late 19th-century Scramble for Africa, Ethiopia was one of the nations to retain its sovereignty from long-term colonialism by a European colonial power.

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