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Displacement, Protection and Responsibility: A Case for Safe Areas

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image of Global Responsibility to Protect

This article makes the normative case for safe areas as a strategy of civilian protection in forced displacement crises. We start from the idea that the displaced—especially those who remain within the borders of their home state—are in a particularly precarious situation which can, in some circumstances, activate a remedial responsibility to provide protection on the part of the international community. We then argue that this responsibility extends beyond the provision of asylum to include efforts both to prevent displacement and to facilitate the return of displaced persons, and that safe areas may be an important tool to achieve these goals. However, we also note two major risks associated with safe areas which must be considered and mitigated: that they increase rather than decrease overall displacement, and that they diminish rather than enhance protection. We conclude by suggesting why and how the shared responsibility to protect through safe areas should be fairly distributed within the international community.

Affiliations: 1: European University Institute, Italy, ; 2: European University Institute, Italy,


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