Peace, Preference, and Property

Return Migration after Violent Conflict

Subjects: Law, International Law, Political Science, Human Rights, African Studies
Paperback : 9780472039104, 192 pages, 3 charts, 4 maps, 5 tables, 6 x 9, November 2022
Hardcover : 9780472133260, 192 pages, 3 charts, 4 maps, 5 tables, 6 x 9, November 2022
Ebook : 9780472220731, 192 pages, 3 charts, 4 maps, 5 tables, 6 x 9, November 2022
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A bottom-up analysis of what displaced people need rather than what states want

Table of contents

List of Illustrations
Preface and acknowledgements
Chapter 1: Forced Migration and its Troublesome Solutions
Chapter 2: International Law on Return
Chapter 3: Challenges to Return: Preferences of Displaced People
Chapter 4: Children Displaced by Violence
Chapter 5: Property and Return
Chapter 6: Global Governance and the International Migration Regime


Growing numbers of people are displaced by war and violent conflict. In Ukraine, Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Myanmar, Syria, and elsewhere violence pushes civilian populations from their homes and sometimes from their countries, making them refugees. In previous decades, millions of refugees and displaced people returned to their place of origin after conflict or were resettled in countries in the Global North. Now displacements last longer, the number of people returning home is lower, and opportunities for resettlement are shrinking. More and more people spend decades in refugee camps or displaced within their own countries, raising their children away from their home communities and cultures. In this context, international policies encourage return to place of origin.

Using case studies and first-person accounts from interviews and fieldwork in post-conflict settings such as Uganda, Liberia, and Kosovo, Sandra F. Joireman highlights the divergence between these policies and the preferences of conflict-displaced people. Rather than looking from the top down, at the rights that people have in international and domestic law, the perspective of this text is from the ground up—examining individual and household choices after conflict. Some refugees want to go home, some do not want to return, some want to return to their countries of origin but live in a different place, and others are repatriated against their will when they have no other options. Peace, Preference, and Property suggests alternative policies that would provide greater choice for displaced people in terms of property restitution and solutions to displacement.

Sandra F. Joireman is Weinstein Chair of International Studies and Professor of Political Science at the University of Richmond.

“So far, few books have paid attention to the historical patterns of displacement, legal solutions, and IDP/refugee attitudes. Joireman successfully breaks the pattern of single-case studies in this area by providing an array of comparative empirical evidence and first-hand policy experience to demonstrate the misalignment of international law and preferences of victims of displacement. An excellent contribution to the field, re-orienting our understandings of durable solutions to displacement.”
—Neophytos Loizides, University of Kent

- Neophytos Loizides

“A crucially important and much needed book addressing the perplexing disconnect between the rights of displaced persons to return home, versus their preferences (and then decisions) for a variety of other remedies. Understanding this disconnect will become the priority in national and international approaches to managing forced migration and its repercussions.”
—Jon D. Unruh, McGill University

- Jon D. Unruh

“It is often assumed that when armed conflicts come to an end, people who have been displaced by the violence will simply go back to their homes and resume their former lives. But as explained in this stimulating and highly original analysis, refugees are actually confronted with many difficult choices when they embark upon the process of return and reintegration.”
—Jeff Crisp, Refugee Studies Centre, University of Oxford

- Jeff Crisp

"All in all, this is a very worthwhile volume. Joireman familiarizes the reader with a wide range of cases in an erudite and accessible style. She combines a range of different methodological approaches, with a series of different cases, drawn from across the globe. . . By way of conclusion, I should like to commend Professor Joireman for her sympathetic approach to a particularly sensitive subject."
The Developing Economies

- Karl Cordell

". . . the book’s concise nature, as well as its simple but fundamental argument, make it an important contribution to the literature."
International Affairs

- James Denselow, University of St Andrews, UK

"[A] valuable contribution to the growing body of work emerging over the past decades, contributing to improve our understanding of the conditions under which return to areas of origin in the past has or has not occurred, and under which types of conditions different patterns of return emerge."
Ethnic and Racial Studies

- Marta Bivand Erdal

Read: Author post on The London School of Economics Africa blog | March 3, 2023 | Link