LERRN Partners Megan Bradley and Laura Madokoro, together with PhD students Merve Erdilmen and Christopher Chanco, have published Whither the Refugees? International Organisations and “Solutions” to Displacement, 1921–1960 with the support of LERRN funding as the lead article in Refugee Survey Quarterly, Volume 41, Issue 2, June 2022. The full article is available for download here from Oxford University Press:
Achieving “durable solutions” is a central goal of the contemporary refugee regime. Durable solutions are often equated with three routes to resolving displacement—voluntary repatriation, local integration or resettlement—and the concept is closely tied to ideas about permanency, protection, and the rectification of refugees’ legal limbo. Despite its contemporary prominence, the genealogy of the concept of durable solutions has not been fully considered. Accordingly, this article traces the origins of the concept of durable solutions for refugees from 1921 to 1960, examining how such solutions have been framed in international law and through the work of a key set of international organisations: the League of Nations, the UN Relief and Rehabilitation Administration, the International Refugee Organization, the UN Conciliation Commission for Palestine, the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. By historicising durable solutions discourse as it evolved in the inter-war, immediate post-Second World War and early Cold War eras, and analysing how different international organisations have understood the “refugee problem” and solutions to it, this article promotes critical (re)engagement with the very notion of durable solutions, and demonstrates how the contemporary trinity of voluntary repatriation, local integration, and resettlement emerged from earlier approaches shaped by geo-political and legal considerations tied to particular groups of refugees.