Ethnic Warfare in Sri Lanka and the UN Crisis

Ethnic Warfare in Sri Lanka and the UN Crisis

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'With UN reform still in the air, this is essential reading for everyone concerned with the still uncertain future facing refugees and all who are forced to flee.' Guy S. Goodwin-Gill, Professor of International Refugee Law, Senior Research Fellow, All Souls College, Oxford This book explains the complex origins and evolution of Sri Lanka's civil war and how it has created massive civilian displacement. Written by the former Colombo head of UNHCR, the refugee agency, it provides a unique account of frontline conditions during a critical period and an overview of the alternating warfare and ceasefires during the last fifteen years. Clarance analyses the scope for protecting civilians in a war zone and its implications for UN policy. He argues that Washington's bullying of the UN -- particularly over Iraq -- ironically proves the points it seeks to demolish: the indispensibility of UN legitimacy and the professionalism of its field agencies.
Clarance urges the need to adopt a more actively engaged role to protect civilians in intra-state conflict, the better to address global problems such as the outflow of refugees and asylum seekers it triggers and the seeds of international terrorism it sows. The book is ideal for anyone who wants an accessible account of the Sri Lankan conflict, as well as policy-makers, NGOs and students of international studies.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 328 pages
  • 134 x 214 x 22mm | 439.98g
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 17 b&w photos
  • 0745325254
  • 9780745325255
  • 1,561,738

Review quote

As conflicts mutate, so do the roles of the UN, States and humanitarian agencies in securing the protection of civilians. This book is an original blend of narrative from the field overlaid with the complexities of present day politics and diplomacy. It is a valuable addition to a growing body of work whose goal is more robust safeguards for those caught up in conflict. -- Simon Springett, Oxfam GB, Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Middle East, Eastern Europe, and the Commonwealth of Independent States Clarance's account of a turbulent period in Sri Lanka's recent past is highly valuable. I know of no other detailed account of the problems that arose over the re-settlement of internal refugees in the north and east of the country in 1989-1991. His [book] is relevant to all similar situations involving civil and military conflict in the third world and deserves a wide readership. -- David Gladstone, former British High Commissioner in Colombo The author explores UNHCR policies and practices during a critical period from the perspective of the then head of the Sri Lanka Office. This book boldly traces the efforts of a thoughtful, innovative and deeply committed decision maker to effect an essential extension of the UNHCR mandate. The key issues are relevant now as then, in Sri Lanka and elsewhere. -- Dr.Devanesan Nesiah, Former Government Agent and Permanent Secretary Hopefully, a book such as this will lead the way for more fieldworkers to share their experience of problems and concrete solutions. Such contributions will broaden the much needed debate on international protection in conflict. -- Anton Verwey, with UNHCR since 1976 in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and HQs in Geneva Providing not only assistance in civil conflicts, but also protection to those displaced, is one of the greatest challenges facing the United Nations and its member States. For much of the nineties, protection was sidelined by weak leadership and pragmatism without principle, while assistance was often undercut by inter-agency turf battles. Bill Clarance's book does what many others cannot do, or fail to do - it puts his own direct experience with those displaced in conflict front and centre in this comprehensive review of UN performance, and in his ideas for change. With UN reform still in the air, this is essential reading for everyone concerned with the still uncertain future facing refugees and all who are forced to flee. -- Guy S. Goodwin-Gill, Professor of International Refugee Law, Senior Research Fellow, All Souls College, Oxford
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About William Clarance

William Clarance was the Colombo head of UNHCR, the refugee agency, from 1988 to 1991, including the critical early period of Eelam War II, during which he initiated a radically innovative protection program.
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Table of contents

Preface I INTRODUCTION 1.UN Crisis, Dangers and Opportunity 2. Protection in a Civil War 3. Roots of Militancy, Seeds of Terrorism 4. Ironies of a Peacemaking Protectorate 5. UNRWA and UNHCR Protective Practice II BETWEEN WAR AND PEACE December 1989 - June 1990 6. Hopes for Peace, Fears of War 7. Flux in Geneva, Forebodings on the Ground III EELAM WAR II ERUPTS June - October1990 8. National Implosion : International Indifference 9. War Zone and the LTTE 10. Engagement in Mannar, Controversy in Geneva IV PROTECTIVE NEUTRAL ENGAGEMENT October 1990 - December 1991 11.Rising Tension on Mannar Island 12.Food is Neutral 13.Protection Crises 14. "Open Relief Centres are Working" V PROTECTION and the UN in 2006 15.In and Between Sri Lankan Warfare 16.Innovative Concepts 17.Controversial Questions 18. Improvisation-Intervention-Engagement Notes Index
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