Around the world today, there are more than 15.5 million refugees and over 28.8 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) uprooted by conflict, in addition to some 32.4 million displaced in 2012 from their homes due to natural disasters. These displacement crises are not simply humanitarian concerns, but fundamental development challenges. Forced migration flows are rooted in development failures, and can undermine the pursuit of development goals at local, national and regional levels.
Linking humanitarian responses to displacement with longer-term development support and planning is not a new concern. Beginning in 1999, for example, the “Brookings Process” – under the leadership of Sadako Ogata and James Wolfensohn – sought to bridge humanitarian relief and development assistance in post-conflict situations. But the challenge remains unresolved, and has acquired new urgency as displacement situations are becoming more protracted, and situations such as the Syrian crisis show no signs of resolution.
The Brookings Global Economy and Development Program and the Brookings-LSE Project on Internal Displacement held a roundtable on these issues on May 14, 2013 with Sadako Ogata, former UN High Commissioner for Refugees, former Director of the Japanese International Cooperation Agency, and Distinguished Fellow at the Brookings Institution. Megan Bradley, Fellow with the Brookings-LSE Project on Internal Displacement, facilitated the roundtable, which followed Chatham House rules.
The roundtable addressed several key topics including:
- The relevance of the concept of human security to addressing displacement and development challenges
- Displacement as a development challenge in fragile states
- Protracted displacement
- Contrasts in the approaches and processes adopted by humanitarian and development actors
The event report provides a brief overview of the discussion.
On May 14, 2013, Sadako Ogata, Megan Bradley and representatives from humanitarian and development agencies addressed the intersection of displacement and development, including the speed of crisis response, protracted displacement, fragile states and environmental degradation.
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President López Obrador's extension of the term of Supreme Court chief Arturo Zaldívar is part of his strong effort to recentralize power in the Mexican presidency and hollow out the independence and power of other Mexican institutions. His other moves to bend the justice system to his will include a reform that lowered the salary of judges but did not improve the quality of prosecutors and his unwillingness to allow an independent selection of the attorney general, with López Obrador himself retaining the power of appointment. His latest move with the two-year extension of Zaldívar’s term is especially worrisome. Zaldívar is also the president of the powerful Federal Judiciary Council. The council appoints and dismisses judges, sets career advancement rules and disciplines judges. Zaldívar will be setting the council’s and, thus, the whole judiciary’s, agenda and priorities for two years. This allows López Obrador to influence how courts will rule in cases regarding the executive branch, what cases they take up and the legality of new policies. These moves are taking place when the effectiveness of the judiciary in Mexico remains limited and deeply concerning. The attorney general’s office has proven weak, unwilling to take up key cases such as against the suspects in the brazen attack on Mexico City’s security minister, Omar García Harfuch—an event that symbolized the impunity with which Mexican criminal groups operate. Mexico’s justice system showed itself equally meek and disappointing in inadequately investigating the alleged complicity of former Mexican Defense Minister Salvador Cienfuegos and dismissing the case, potentially the most significant case of corruption and criminal collusion charges against a high-ranking Mexican official in two decades. A decade and a half after Mexico initiated its justice system reforms, 95 percent of federal cases still go unpunished. President López Obrador has scored some points, but the already precariously weak rule of law in Mexico, and thus the Mexican people, will suffer.