Sangokoya, Developing Out of Displacement (2010)

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Stanford honors thesis 2010

Developing Out of Displacement: Exploring Variation in Economic Recovery of Northern Uganda and Other Countries Following Displacement-Inducing Conflict

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  • Ultimately, all migrants are motivated by a mixture of economic and political factors, and therefore the definition of forced migration rests not on a unique quality of the experiences of “forced” migrants, but rather on an external determination and acknowledgment of rights originating from the collection of humanitarian state and international non-state actors (or the international humanitarian system). The distinction between voluntary and involuntary migrants reflects categories of people whose basic rights states or non-state actors are either willing or unwilling to provide; in a struggling developing economy, the proliferation of migrants threatened by structural constraints and in search of a more secure future may prove either too much for actors to respond to or too excessive for public actors such as NGOs to support “private ventures” and continue to receive funding from their donors. External actors in the international humanitarian system therefore determine and define their constituency in accordance to their individual mandates, despite the “problematic nature of the distinction” created. These definitions may not be reflective of their actual experiences or identities, and may limit our understanding of actual dynamics of displacement and its effects.
  • Another issue involving definitions: conflict vs. post-conflict in econometric studies on civil war and other studiesUltimately, post-conflict economic recovery can be more accurately regarded as complete “when the main features of an economy no longer stem from the war but from the normal conditions of the economy,” which includes both phases of recession and expansion. As an international organization, UNHCR largely observes forced migration as a "macro-structural" issue, as opposed to "one highlighting the micro-foundations of the individual decisions that produced refugees [and other displaced persons]." At the macro-level, displaced persons are essentially "stimulus-responded mechanisms"; at the micro-level, these persons retain a choice to stay and understanding micro-foundations are important in understanding both displacement and its effects. While the latter is often invisible in the literature's descriptions of "flows" and "streams" of displaced persons and, argued by Davenport et al. (2003), should complement macro-level definitions and research. While Davenport et. al (2003) do not contend that all scholarship "embrace methodological individualism," they argue that "developing a theory with micro-foundations is important in this area of inquiry." This study attempts to incorporate both macro- and micro-foundations, utilizing a macro-level analysis related to displacement and growth recovery across country cases, as well as incorporating micro-level analysis that produces “hypotheses about macro-level observables.”Davenport et al, "Sometimes You Just Have to Leave: Domestic Threats and Forced Migration, 1964-1989," p30.
  • Land as an asset; displacement caused a combination of natural, physical, human, and social capital loss
  • From the previous points above, it would seem probable that countries with high stock numbers of displaced persons would be strongly correlated with low growth, with relatively little variation across countries; in addition to human rights abuses, civil war, and other displacement-inducing factors from Shellman’s analysis, the displacement of refugees into and out of a country has been strongly evidenced to correlate with low growth, and these countries often do not recover to pre-conflict levels. Sierra Leone and Burundi: most similar casesAfrican continent continues to be the main theater for displacement in the 21st century. Similar range of conflict, extent of human rights abuses (child soldiers, mutilation, etc.), and threshold of displacement
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