Sign up for our Email Newsletter Berghahn Books Logo

berghahn New York · Oxford

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Youtube
  • Instagram
Rights in Exile: Janus-Faced Humanitarianism
Volume 17

Forced Migration

Email Newsletters

Sign up for our email newsletters to get customized updates on new Berghahn publications.

Click here to select your preferences

Rights in Exile

Janus-Faced Humanitarianism

Guglielmo Verdirame and Barbara Harrell-Bond† with Zachary Lomo and Hannah Garry
With a Foreword by Justice Albie Sachs

416 pages, bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-57181-526-2 $135.00/£99.00 Hb Published (April 2005)

ISBN  978-1-84545-103-5 $39.95/£31.95 Pb Published (April 2005)

eISBN 978-1-78238-726-8 eBook

Hb Pb View cartYour country: United States - Click here to remove geolocation   Buy the eBook from these vendors Request a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format) Recommend to your Library Available in GOBI®


“[the authors] are refreshingly open about their lack of objectivity and bias towards the interests of the refugees, and Rights in Exile is stronger as a result, their clear identification with their subjects having produced some fascinating interview material, which forms the bulk of the book.” • Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute

“The greatest strength of Rights in Exile is clearly its combination of hard data accompanied by stinging critique… Rights in Exile should be read by scholars, advocates and policy analysts for its revealing look at the unsettling shortcomings of refugee protection services and the real-life consequences of encampment in two African states.” • Journal of Refugee Law

“This book has a… disregard for orthodoxies and sacred cows. It is harsh, for example, on the role of many NGOs in delivering assistance - and failing to protect the rights of refugees… More obviously, the UNHCR's reinterpretation of its own mandate - away from refugee protection, towards "humanitarian assistance" - is exposed as a betrayal of the whole purpose of the international refugee regime.” • Richard Carver, Pambazuka News

“Detailed, direct and at times passionate, this book should be required reading for anyone who wants to know what is really happening to refugee protection. It should also require a response.” • Journal of Refugee Studies

“Brace yourself. This is a painful book. Not only is the information in it extremely distressing, the main targets of its critique are the 'good guys.' The central argument is that the international and humanitarian organisations that are in charge of looking after refugees are responsible for extensive and avoidable violations of the rights of those dependent upon them.” • From the Foreword


Of the estimated 12 million refugees in the world, more than 7 million have been confined to camps, effectively "warehoused," in some cases, for 10 years or more. Holding refugees in camps was anathema to the founders of the refugee protection regime. Today, with most refugees encamped in the less developed parts of the world, the humanitarian apparatus has been transformed into a custodial regime for innocent people. Based on rich ethnographic data, Rights in Exile exposes the gap between human rights norms and the mandates of international organisations, on the one hand, and the reality on the ground, on the other. It will be of wide interest to social scientists, and to human rights and international law scholars. Policy makers, donor governments and humanitarian organizations, especially those adopting a "rights-based" approach, will also find it an invaluable resource. But it is the refugees themselves who could benefit the most if these actors absorb its lessons and apply them.

Guglielmo Verdirame is a Lecturer in Law at the University of Cambridge and a Fellow of Corpus Christi College. He is also the author of a forthcoming book on the accountability of the United Nations.

Barbara Harrell-Bond†, Founding director of the Refugee Studies Centre, University of Oxford, has, after retirement, been Visiting Professor at Makerere University and at the American University in Cairo. In 1996, she received the Distinguished Service Award of the American Anthropological Association. She is the author of Imposing Aid (Oxford, 1986).

Subject: Refugee and Migration Studies Development Studies Anthropology (General)


Justice Albie Sachs

List of Abbreviations


  • The setting
  • Main movements of refugees into Kenya and Uganda
  • Aims and objectives of the research
  • Assumptions underlying the research
  • Research methods
  • Main findings
  • A research and advocacy agenda for the future

Chapter 1. Refugee Law and Policy in Kenya and Uganda

  • Introduction
  • The Legal Framework in Kenya
  • The Legal Framework in Uganda
  • Refugee policy in Kenya
  • Refugee policy in Uganda
  • Refugee law-making in fits and starts
  • Conclusion

Chapter 2. Getting In

  • Introduction
  • The influence of donor countries
  • The OAU Convention and group recognition
  • Admission: standards and procedures
  • Legal hurdles to admission
  • Ordeals of arrival
  • New arrivals and local people
  • Conclusion

Chapter 3. Status-Determination Procedures: ‘… and when you go to UNHCR, pray’

  • Introduction
  • Procedural standards in status determination
  • Who is in charge?
  • The role of NGOs
  • Confidentiality
  • Interpreters
  • Advocacy
  • Standards of evidence
  • Decisions
  • Exclusion
  • Cessation
  • Conclusion

Chapter 4. Civil and Political Rights

  • Introduction
  • Non-discrimination
  • Right to Life
  • Freedom from torture and from cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment
  • Freedom from slavery and forced labour
  • Liberty and security of the person
  • Freedom of movement
  • Access to courts and right to fair trial
  • Privacy and family life
  • Freedom of expression, thought, conscience and religion, and freedom of assembly and association
  • Conclusion

Chapter 5. Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights

  • Introduction
  • Employment
  • An adequate standard of living
  • The highest attainable standard of physical and mental health
  • Education
  • Cultural rights
  • Conclusion

Chapter 6. Refugee Protection: What Is Going Wrong?

  • Introduction
  • Host countries
  • Donor countries
  • Resettlement
  • NGOs
  • Conclusion



Back to Top