Refugees, Forced Migration, And Conflict: Introduction to the e Special Issue

Alex Braithwaite, Idean Salehyan, Burcu Savun

Journal of Peace Research, Volume 56, Issue 1 (2019)


This article introduces a special issue on refugees, forced migration, and conflict. It describes the evolution of the international refugee regime and identifies theoretical and methodological advances in the relevant literature. The authors argue that the current refugee crisis, and responses to it, threaten to place the international refugee regime at risk. They note that during the Cold War, refugees—particularly from communist-controlled nations—were often welcomed as a way to discredit the Soviet bloc and promote the formation of opposition groups in exile. However, after the Cold War, and especially after the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001, refugees were often viewed with suspicion, particularly those from Muslim nations. They argue that populism, immigration restrictions, and border fortifications reflect a new narrative in which refugees and migrants in general are viewed as a challenge, if not a threat, to the way of life of Western nations. Recognizing this backsliding, efforts have been made since 2016 to craft a new Global Compact on Migration that outlines a framework for response by member-states, as well as a program of action to ensure implementation by governments and relevant stakeholders. Nevertheless, they suggest that we are likely moving into an era of additional restrictions on refugee entries and increasing efforts to force the return of refugees. They argue that academic research can shed light, through systematic analysis, on the causes and consequences of refugee flows. The article concludes with a discussion of the individual articles in the issue, which seek to address gaps in the literature with respect to explaining motivations for refugee departures, understanding the relationship between refugee populations and political instability in host countries, and tracking public attitudes towards hosting refugee populations.