When Refugee Warriors Become a Threat


By Howard Adelman1


Astri Suhrke coined the phrase “refugee warriors” in the now classic volume by Ari Zolberg, Astri Suhrke and Sergio Aguayo, Escape from Violence: Conflict and the Refugee Crisis in the Developing World.2  The authors attributed the deterioration of the nation state primarily to the marginal position of the specific nation state within the global economy.  Weak, or what are more frequently, if somewhat erroneously, now called “failed” states,3 emerged where national societies disintegrated into their component elements; localized and ethnically specific entities or micro states frequently emerged.  As well as these internal disaffected and disruptive populations,4 there were those who lived as refugees in neighbouring states who either chose not to be repatriated or were not permitted to be repatriated.  Some of them posed a military threat to the weakened sovereignty of the states from which they fled.  These are the refugee warriors.

This article focuses on refugee warriors rather than any internal group demanding self-determination, autonomy, or otherwise resisting from within the sovereign authority of the regime in power.  The focus is on the role of refugee warriors in the continuation of violence as a mode for settling conflicts in the states from which they fled and in destabilizing the neighboring states in which they found sanctuary.

Refugee warriors are usually the citizens (or the children and grandchildren) of one state who have crossed a border as a refugee and live in a neighboring state, often in camps on the borders of their native state.  But, as with the Palestinians, they may never have been citizens of a state, though the territory they left had been their homeland.  When refugees live in camps, these camps are the bases from which refugee warriors wage war against the regime in power.  Sometimes we may sympathize with their cause; in other cases we may be critical.  Whether we endorse or condemn what they do, they are refugee warriors if they have fled their homeland and live in neighboring states, most often in refugee communities, and  launch attacks against the regime in power in their homeland from bases in the neighboring states.5

Refugee warriors may be guerrillas launching liberation movements, but many, if not most, guerrillas are not refugee warriors.  Sometimes refugee warriors are the defeated remnants of a military force using refugee camps as sources of recruits and money to recover power, like the Khmer along the Thai border and the Hutu refugees in what was then called Zaire.  There are many resemblances between refugee communities and the internally displaced, and between refugee warriors and those fighting from within a country.  Nevertheless, the differentiation between these opposites, that is refugees and refugees warriors versus the internally displaced and internal rebels respectively, is made because of the role of international law and international agencies charged with responsibility for the safety and well-being of refugees.  They protect refugees and define refugees as those who do not resort to militancy, but there are no norms or mechanisms in place to deal with those who do become militants and use the refugees as sources of money and human power to advance their cause.
Refugees may become important military officers and supporters of the regimes in which they were given refuge;6 when they are merely soldiers or officers in a neighboring country, they are not considered to be refugee warriors, but legitimate members of an existing military establishment in the country in which they have gained refuge.  However, if these officers use their positions or their training against the regime in their country of origin without the overt sanction of the host state, they too become refugee warriors.  Of course, if they fight against their home states as surrogates of the host state, then we really have a state-to-state conflict.

The preconditions of being a member of a refugee warrior community are: first, the person is a refugee in the sense that the person, or that person s parents or even grandparents (the person who is a refugee warrior need not have been a citizen in the country against whose regime the war is waged), fled the geographical territory of a home land; second, that person uses violent means aimed at overthrowing the regime in power; third, the base for waging the violent conflict is normally located in refugee communities in a neighboring state; and, fourth, the refugees are not fighting on behalf of their host state as surrogates of that state.

It is also important to note that refugee warriors not only destabilize the regime in their home state, but are often sources for destabilization in their host state.  This does not entail making  an ethical judgement that refugee warriors are inherently bad.  They often liberate their own people from oppression.  Different warrior communities are evaluated in different ways by different groups.  But refugee warriors always come into conflict with those whose priority is the peaceful resolution of conflict, regional stability, and the provision of humanitarian aid exclusively to refugees.

Strictly speaking, the phrase “refugee warrior”  is a misnomer.  By international law and OAU law7, a refugee by definition cannot resort to violence.  If a refugee resorts to violence, then that person no longer qualifies for refugee status.  In law, a person may either be a refugee or a warrior, but he or she cannot be both.  But law is one thing and practice is another.  Laws excluding those who take up arms from being designated as refugees are virtually never enforced.  Further, the connotation of the phrase refugee warrior immediately informs an audience of the group being discussed.

Refugee warriors include the Tutsis who invaded Rwanda from Uganda on 1 October 1990, and eventually overthrew the Habyarimana regime in 1994; unfortunately, before they could consummate their victory, the successor extremist regime to the assassinated Habyarimana massacred over one million Tutsis within the country in the worst genocide since World War II.  Refugee warriors include the Afghan refugee warrior community that used the refugee camps in Pakistan, and the arms supplied by the USA, China, and Saudi Arabia, to wage an unrelenting war against the Soviet-backed communist regime; subsequently, the Islamic militants armed by both Pakistan and Saudi Arabia against the successor regime became the refugee warriors fighting a regime dominated by former refugee warriors.8  The Khmer in Thailand were refugee warriors who waged a determined war against the Vietnamese-backed government of Kampuchea9 which resulted in a peace agreement for shared power among the contending parties.  The Keren, now waging a war from their bases in Thai refugee camps against the military dictatorship of Myanmar, are also refugee warriors.  Ugandan refugees outside the country waged war against the Amin regime and subsequently against the Obote regime, although the October 1978 war that eventually led to the overthrow of Amin was an inter-state war between Tanzania and Uganda.  The Kurds based in Iraq and Iran waged, and continue to wage, a war against Turkey.  The Cuban exiles in the United States used Florida as a base to sting the Castro regime.  These are some prominent examples of political violence in which refugee warriors played a prominent part, but the list is far from exhaustive.

Prophetically, the first case of refugee warriors that Zolberg et al (henceforth Zolberg) took up in detail were the Tutsi refugees who fled Rwanda following the PARMEHUTU revolution in 1959 in Rwanda, and the subsequent flight of additional Tutsi following the massacres after the failed invasion by Tutsi refugee warriors in 1963.  The Tutsi refugee warriors also participated in the Mulelist uprisings in Zaire in the mid 1960s which failed, leading to the relocation of about half the refugees to Burundi and Uganda.

For Zolberg, though only examined in a cursory way, the archetypal refugee warriors of the post-World War II period were the Palestinian refugees whom Zolberg also refers to as a refugee nation.  For Zolberg, their “capacity for organized violence prefigured attempts by other refugees to take history into their own hands.” (p. 241) The Zolberg thesis emphasizes that the reasons individuals became refugees in the first place mostly explain why refugees turn into refugee warriors.10 (p. 229)

First, I agree that refugee warriors are, as the Zolberg thesis claimed, a distinct and relevant category for the consideration of international studies, to be differentiated both from intra-state insurrectional groups and legitimate refugees, though they may overlap with both.  Secondly, they constitute one of the key sources of international instability, particularly in emerging nation states, yet, they have been virtually ignored in the peacekeeping literature.11  Thirdly, I also agree that refugee warriors do indeed  attempt to take history in their own hands, and are not simply tools used by neighbouring states in their antagonistic relationship with the state from which the refugees fled.

However, I dispute the thesis that the reasons for becoming refugees explains why the refugees become refugee warriors.  The reason for their emergence as refugee warriors and their continuation in that role is not to be explained primarily by how they came to be refugees in the first place.  Rather it is explained by how regional states and the international system treated these refugee warriors.  In other words, refugee warriors are not so much a product of “root causes” but of failures – sometimes deliberate –  in the management of conflicts and, more specifically, the management of the plight of  the refugees themselves, whatever the original causes.
This study will use four cases to illustrate my thesis: Jewish refugees who became warriors but were not refugee warriors; Palestinian refugee warriors; Indochinese refugees, who, with the exception of the Khmer Rouge and the Hmong, did not become refugee warriors; and the refugees from Rwanda, first the Tutsi refugees in Uganda and then subsequently the Hutu refugees in Zaire — both of these groups became refugee warriors.

Refugee warriors may be facilitated by the support and arms provided by other states and the international community to serve their own interests, but refugee warriors evolve into quasi-independent armed forces with national interests of their own and are not merely, or even primarily, the surrogates of the states who finance and arm them.  Refugee warriors also result from the failure of the international community either to take any effective action in finding a permanent solution to the refugee problem, or from stemming the ability of the refugees to take up arms and resort to violence to solve their problems.  Refugee warriors are more a product of international political and military relations, as well as the misuse of humanitarian aid, than the internal conflicts or the legitimacy crisis which produced the refugees in the first place.

In the aftermath of the World War II genocide carried out by Nazi Germany involving six million Jews, Jewish refugees remained in the camps of Europe.  They were a source of recruits for the Zionists prior to independence in fighting against the British, and a manpower resource in fighting the Arab states after independence.  These Jewish refugees from Europe and from Arab states first fought against Britain and then against the Arab states after the Zionists declared Israel to be an independent state.  These Jews might be considered to be the original refugee warriors who preceded the Palestinians, except they did not use the refugee camps, or even the territories of neighboring states, as bases from which to launch attacks against their former homeland.  They themselves, their parents and grandparents, had not fled Palestine.  Palestine was the homeland for the Jews in a very different sense than as a territory from which they had fled within living memory.  Nevertheless, some of the circumstances that gave rise to refugees who became warriors, even if these Jews were not refugee warriors precisely, are not dissimilar from those factors that produced refugee warriors.

In the immediate years after the end of  World War II,  the inter-war period definition of a refugee as a product of population exchanges persisted, and population redistribution and exchange continued at first as the method of handling the refugee problem.  Population exchange took place on a massive scale between the new states of India and Pakistan in 1948.  The pre-war method of dealing with refugees was exemplified in the postwar debate in the United Nations over whether the Jews of Europe were displaced persons or refugees.  If displaced persons, they would have to be returned to their countries of origin.  If refugees, they would be entitled to resettlement in other countries and territories.

In the constitution of the International Refugee Organization (IRO), a distinction was made between refugees   pre- or post-war victims of Nazi or fascist regimes or of racial, religious or political persecution   and displaced persons (DPs) who were displaced in the course of or after World War II.  As far as the DPs were concerned, the IRO was “to encourage and assist in every possible way the early return to their countries of origin.”12  If Jews were classified as DPs, that classification would direct the IRO to arrange for their repatriation.  If Jews were classified as refugees, then Palestine was the obvious place for them to be resettled, given the terms of the Mandate and the limitation of other options.  As the Report of the High Commissioner for Refugees submitted to the Twenty-First Ordinary Session of the League of Nations Assembly had noted, “Palestine alone has made a contribution of any size in reference to large-scale or group settlement of Jews.”13

Lest Palestine be used for resettlement, Great Britain and the Arab states opposed designating the remnant of Jews in the refugee camps of Europe as refugees.  The Arabs fought to make the objective of the IRO, in dealing with the Jews, repatriation and not resettlement.  To prevent resettlement in Palestine, they tried to introduce conditions to resettlement, namely the consent of neighboring countries and of the indigenous population.  They also wanted the IRO to have exclusive authority to settle European Jews, largely through repatriation.  They even suggested that all private organizations working for resettlement transfer their assets to the IRO for that purpose.

The Arab countries, led by Egypt, originally attempted to set repatriation as the goal of the IRO for all persons, whether refugees or DPs.  Mr. Kamel, the delegate of Egypt, proposed amending paragraph 2 of the Preamble of the Draft Constitution of the IRO to require serious reasons to justify resettlement.14  Though defeated, on 19 November 1946, Kamel tried again unsuccessfully by proposing the deletion of the phrase “concerning displaced persons” from Annex I section IB.  Passing the amendment would have meant repatriation was advisable for both refugees and displaced persons.

These attempts to dry up the source of Jewish immigration to Palestine were not restricted to the Arab countries.  The United Kingdom played a leading role.  The British delegate, supported by the Lebanese delegate, opposed the provision (which passed) defining German and Austrian residents of Jewish origin as “refugees.”   The opposition argued on what could be said to be very high moral principle   the ostensible high ground   that this was merely a backhanded attempt to clear Europe of its Jews; in other words to accomplish Hitler’s goal of making the German-speaking parts of Europe “Judenrein.”  Though the British acknowledged the difficulty Jews would have in living in places where they had been persecuted, they admitted their real motives when they declared their “fear that the new provision might well involve the new IRO in schemes for Jewish immigration into Palestine, a matter which is being separately dealt with by bodies specially concerned with that problem.”15  It was clear to all that these legal manoeuvres were aimed specifically at stopping Jewish migration to Palestine.

The reason for that fear was not so much rooted in the desires of the refugees.  For when the Anglo-American Committees of Inquiry went around the camps to ascertain the preferences of the Jews in the camps, it was only because of a very concerted campaign of propaganda and organization by Zionist emissaries that Earl Harrisson, President Truman s emissary, after his visits to the refugee camps in Europe, concluded that, “Palestine is definitely and pre-eminently their first choice.”16  “Most of those DPs who did not initially wish to go to Palestine were persuaded quite easily that for the sake of the majority they should present a united front to the committee.”17  The Anglo-American Committee in 1946 was convinced by the same method that this was the desire of the vast majority in the camps.  By the time the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP) visited the camps in 1947, the camp residents, after languishing in the camps for another year without any offers of resettlement, needed no such persuasion.

The clearest indication of support for the Jewish refugees going to Palestine emerged in the Committee on Finances of the IRO which, in its 1947 budget, provided for the use of German reparation funds to resettle 100,000 Jewish refugees, with the funds to be transferred to the JOINT and the Jewish Agency.  All attempts to inhibit resettlement of Jewish refugees in Palestine via the IRO constitution having failed,  the Arabs made a final attempt to keep the refugees in Europe in the first session of the United Nations General Assembly.  The Arabs, backed by the British, were defeated in the attempt to make repatriation the exclusive function of the IRO or to include Jews in those slated for repatriation.  Even when repatriation was argued on the highest moral grounds of equality, non-discrimination and the opposition to a Europe free of Jews, the Arabs and British were unable to succeed in targeting the Jews for repatriation.  The majority of states then in the United Nations thought otherwise, and voted to designate the Jews as refugees.

The majority of Jewish refugees originally sought resettlement.  When most countries would not take them in or took in only token numbers, the vast majority of the Jewish refugees opted to go to Palestine.  In sum, when the refugees would not be repatriated to their countries of origin, and when most were not allowed to be resettled in Third Countries such as Canada, the United States and Australia, they were recruited by the Zionist Jews already in Israel to join them in the fight for an independent Jewish state.  They were refugees who became warriors, if not exactly refugee warriors.  They were not refugee warriors because they did not fight from bases in neighboring states where they had acquired asylum as refugees.  Their immediate parents and grandparents, let alone themselves, had not fled the territory over which they were fighting.

Four other factors allow these Jewish refugees to share a kinship with refugee warriors.  First, they were recruited as warriors from outside the country, many from refugee camps in Europe.  Second, they used violence to attempt to gain, and eventually actually to gain, control over what they regarded as their homeland.  Third, they became warriors, not because of the conditions that had made them refugees, but because of the failure of the international community to find a resolution to that status.  Fourth, they were not fighting as surrogates of another state, but, rather, to take history into their own hands.

In Palestine, extensive non-violent efforts were made to sort the Palestinians18 and Jews territorially and politically; they all failed.  The Jewish Palestine refugees forced to flee from the Arab controlled sector were absorbed into the new state of Israel.  With the exception of those Palestinians who had fled to what was then known as The Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan on the east bank of the Jordan River and the west bank of former Palestine that Transjordan occupied, the Palestinian refugees were not integrated into the polity of the states in which they achieved refuge – Lebanon, Syria and Egypt – even when they fled to Gaza, the Palestinian territory controlled by Egypt.  The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA)19 was created in 1950, not to provide legal protection for individuals suffering from persecution, but to integrate the Arab refugees who had fled from those portions of Palestine which were now controlled by the Jewish Zionists.

UNRWA was premised on ethnic sorting, using economic methods to integrate the Palestinian Arabs into Arab states.  Initially, temporary relief and works projects were initiated; subsequently, large-scale economic development projects were proposed  to integrate the refugees economically into the surrounding Arab states into which they had fled.20  All efforts at economic integration without resolving the political status of the refugees failed.  With the exception of Transjordan, the Arab states resisted integration, in part  because they identified the Jews, not as a local rival nation, but as the remnant of colonialism.  Ignoring the reality that the majority of Jews in Israel fled from Arab lands in good part from fear of persecution following the creation of Israel, the Arab states wanted the Jews to be pushed back to Europe which they perceived to be the source of the Zionist Jews.  The Palestinian refugees would constitute the human resource pool and the motivation to engage in that push.

The Jewish refugees from Europe and from Arab lands were refugees who became warriors in order to live in a state that would provide membership for themselves, and security for both themselves and for their nation.  Many Palestinian refugees were now in the same position.  They were not integrated in Lebanon.  Even Transjordan, where Palestinians were the majority, and where the West Bank, which was annexed by Transjordan, was virtually exclusively Palestinian, the identity of the state was not Palestinian.  Transjordan was a Hashemite Kingdom with a majority of Palestinian citizens, most of whom were still designated by the international community as refugees even though the Palestinians had been given citizenship by Transjordan.  Further, the refugees were allowed to languish in camps where they were instilled with an ideology of return and the eventual goal of  eliminating the Zionist entity, Israel.  This was most true in the refugee camps of Gaza, part of the original Palestinian territory now under Egyptian occupation; there, the refugees were kept in squalid conditions beside the stateless inhabitants.

Clearly, the refugees were not integrated.  With the exception of Transjordan, though even there most refugees were allowed to languish in refugee camps, the refugees were not provided with membership in a state that could provide for their protection.  Instead, they were imbued with an ideology of return.  When the Arab states were defeated by the Zionists of Israel in the Six Day War in 1967, and both the West Bank and Gaza were captured by Israel, the refugees recognized that they had to rely on themselves to recapture their lost lands.  They then became refugee warriors in the fullest sense of relying on themselves to recover their homeland.

However, defeated repeatedly, in Black September in Jordan in 1970, by the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982, the refugee warriors came to recognize that their dream of victorious return had grown even more remote.  The indigenous population of the West Bank and Gaza also came to recognize that they would not be rescued from Israeli rule by any outside force, even their own refugee warrior community based in Lebanon.  The initiative shifted from the refugee warriors to those living in the occupied territories.  They rose up in the Intifada against Israeli rule.  The Intifada, not refugee warriors, provided the catalyst that developed into the by now widespread acceptance (in spite of severe resistance by some on both sides) finally and effectively to divide the territory of Palestine between Jews and Palestinians.  The complex and very fragile peace agreement between the Palestinians and the Jews has been an effort to implement that territorial and ethnic division.
The Palestinians were the archetypal refugee warriors.  Palestinian refugees, or the immediate parents and grandparents of Palestinian refugees, had fled the territory over which they were fighting.  Until the Intifada, they fought from bases in neighbouring states where they had acquired asylum as refugees.  They were recruited as warriors from outside the country, the vast majority from refugee camps.  They used violence to attempt to gain control over what they regarded as their homeland.  Though initially they might have fought as surrogates of another state, by and large they fought to take history into their own hands.  But they became warriors, not because of the conditions that had made them refugees, but because of the failure of the international community to find a political resolution of their status.

Following the victory of North Vietnam over South Vietnam in 1975, a wave of refugees left Vietnam.21  There was a parallel war in Laos that produced both Lowland Lao and Hmong Hill Tribe refugees.  Finally, Khmer refugees fled into Thailand from the victory of the Khmer Rouge and then from the Vietnamese invasion and overthrow of the Khmer Rouge regime.

The Vietnamese refugees and Lowland Laotians never developed a warrior refugee culture.  In Laos, only the Hmong Hill tribes, who had been financed to fight the communists by the CIA before the communist quiet putsch of the coalition government in December of 1975, continued to resist the new communist government using the refugee camps in Northern Thailand as staging grounds for rest and recreation before reentering Laos.  Their insurgent war petered out in the eighties.  The major refugee warrior community continued to be the Khmer Rouge using their bases on both sides of the border with Thailand.

Why did most of the refugees from Indochina not become refugee warriors? The causes for all the wars in Indochina were similar   ideological struggles between communism and traditional societies undergoing a process of modernization, with the new urban and middle classes resisting the communists.  But the system that developed favored military dictatorships or despots; the institutional protections of democratic rule had not emerged.  If refugee warriors are the products of the causes that produced the refugees in the first place, why did only the Khmer develop into refugee warriors?

The explanations had some variations.  The Chinese in Vietnam no longer saw Vietnam as their home country given both the communist victory and the Vietnamese nationalism that had grown in strength, and the anti-Chinese feeling that had developed following the China-Vietnam border war.  The story was similar for the much smaller group of ethnic Chinese from Laos and Cambodia.  The ethnic Vietnamese who had fled   there were over 500,000   were mostly settled overseas.  Even those who wanted to continue the struggle were too distant to be effective.22  The Hmong did struggle on as refugee warriors, but gradually lost external supporters.  With the rapprochement of Thailand with Vietnam, any remnant of support evaporated.  That rapprochement accelerated when Vietnam followed the Chinese path of opening up its economy to foreign investment and capitalist experimentation.

Only the Khmer Rouge had the ideology and the discipline to continue their struggle for a lengthy period.  But as external support withered, even their cadres began to desert to the new coalition government after the election victory supervised by the United Nations, and in spite of, or perhaps because of the payoffs from the old Vietnamese supported politicos who had snatched political and bureaucratic victory from the jaws of democratic defeat.  This suggests that it was not the original conditions that produced the refugees that provide the explanation for the creation of refugee warriors.  Nor does ideology, though an ideology of return through the use of militance is a critical ingredient.  The necessary cause for the creation and perpetuation of a refugee warrior community is negative – the failure of the international community to provide an alternative political status for the refugees – and positive – the economic and military support available to those refugees.

In sum, refugee warriors continue to fight and develop if they have population bases, generally supported by the international humanitarian community, if they have discipline and a reason to fight (ethnic in the case of the Hmong and ideological in the case of the Khmer Rouge), and if they do not become exhausted because the rationale for fighting is taken away when the regime ends its persecution of their fellows.  Most importantly, if the international community fails to find a solution for their in-limbo political status, and if there are sources of financial and military support, they become refugee warriors.  It is not the original causal factors which made them refugees, but the continuing determinants that maintain them as refugees that are the critical factors explaining their activities as refugee warriors.


The approximately eight million population of Rwanda in 1989 were Banyarwanda.  But the Banyarwanda are not confined to living in Rwanda.  The Banyarwanda consist of a population of over seventeen million people who constitute not only the populations of Rwanda and Burundi, but make up sizeable minorities in Zaire, Uganda and Tanzania.  Before the recent huge exodus of Hutus from Rwanda following the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) victory over the extremist forces in Rwanda in July 1994, there were already over two million Banyarwanda in the surrounding states of Uganda, Zaire, and Tanzania.

Even though they have a common culture, speak the same language, share the same religions in roughly the same proportions, there are divisions among the Banyarwanda, specifically between the Tutsis and the Hutus.23  These identities were then made into an even deeper part of each group s history when, approaching independence, the Hutus overthrew the Tutsi ruling class in 1959 in Rwanda, killing an estimated 10,000 and producing the first of several exoduses following successive large massacres.  The Tutsi refugees24 formed themselves into Inyenzi, literally cockroaches, guerrilla bands who attacked from Burundi, Zaire, Tanzania and Uganda.  The Tutsis became refugee warriors.  On 21 December 1963, 30 years before another turning point in Rwandan history, following an Inyenzi attack from Burundi, another 10,000 Tutsi were killed in popular slaughters, with an additional 20,000 executed by the government as traitors.  Another orgy of violence occurred in 1973 in an effort to ethnically cleanse the Catholic seminaries of the Tutsi dominated clergy and educational establishment until Habyarimana (from Gisenyi in the north) pulled off his coup d’etat.
Then Hutu-Tutsi relations seemed to calm down.  After their defeat, the Tutsi refugees gradually seemed to merge into the surrounding states.  Nevertheless, by the end of the 1980s, the refugee population, almost 30 years after the first flows, stood at 550,000 according to UNHCR figures, and almost one million according to Tutsis, with 350,000 in Uganda alone.25  They would resume their refugee warrior status when they became convinced that they could not achieve political status in the surrounding states.

In addition to the identity divide between the Hutus and the Tutsis, and the existential divide between the Tutsi refugees and those Tutsis who remained in Rwanda, there are many other divisions among the Banyarwanda, such as regional rivalries between the groups and clans located in the north and those in the south-central area of Rwanda.  Habyarimana was from the north; his 1973 coup was  a victory for those from the north-west over the previous Hutu rulers who came from the central region of the country.  Since the Hutus and Tutsis are divided into clans, and the clans are regionally based, the regional and clan rivalries overlap.

The most important division in recent Rwandan (and Burundi) history is none of the above.  It is a trifold division between: first, extremists (whether Hutu or Tutsi)26 who root their actions in an ideology of ethnic homogeneity to the exclusion of the other; second, those who base their ideology on a pluralist system in which all citizens of Rwanda (or Burundi or Zaire or Uganda) can be equal citizens while retaining and taking pride in their Hutu, Tutsi, or Twa identity; and third, a third group who believe that the only way to overcome conflict in the area is to subsume Hutu, Tutsi, and Twa identity into a “larger” national identity, as Rwandese for example.

It was under the banner of the last ideology that Tutsi refugees in Uganda in 1988 determined to return to Rwanda using force if necessary.27  They decided to return because, even though many had achieved high office in Uganda, decisions of parliament and developing anti-Rwandese hostile attitudes made it clear that they would not be treated as equal citizens in Uganda.  They formed the Rwandese Patriotic Army (RPA) to invade Rwanda by force.

The refugees in Uganda had helped Museveni overthrow Obote in 1986.  Key senior officers in the Ugandan army were Tutsis.  But the Tutsi refugees from Rwanda had never been given citizenship.  In the Ugandan 1962 constitution, only individuals born in Uganda prior to 9 October 1962, if one of his/her parents had been born in Uganda, could become a citizen.  Though a provision of the constitution allowed application for citizenship for such persons within two years, the Banyarwanda of Uganda were not informed of the provision.  Thus, the constitution effectively barred from citizenship, not only the Tutsi refugees who had fled Rwanda, but many Banyarwanda who had migrated to Uganda after 1926.28

A new decree under Museveni permitted the Banyarwanda migrants and the Tutsi refugees to become citizens.  But the citizenship law did nothing to pierce the armor of prejudice directed at the Banyarwanda in Uganda ever since independence.  Public opposition against both the new provisions as well as the new status of the Tutsis within Uganda rose.  Laws were passed in parliament which again discriminated against Tutsis.  Most Tutsis of Rwandese origin became convinced that there was no secure future for them in Uganda.  The Rwandese refugees in Uganda determined to return to Rwanda by force if necessary.29

Actions in the late eighties in Uganda precipitated this development.  Enormous power had been given to the Rwandese refugees in the National Resistance Army (NRA), Internal Security Organization (ISO), External Security Organization (ESO) and government.  Baganda officers in the NRA persistently complained of discrimination, promoting resentment against the Rwandese.  The rapid accumulation of land by the refugees also contributed to anti-refugee sentiments.  Anti- Rwandese sentiment in the countryside was a result of a protracted struggle over land, jobs, social services, and for political power.30  “(F)or example, during the August 1990 debate in the National Resistance Council (NRC), Ugandans of competing political persuasions blamed the government for giving land to the refugees and encouraging the refugees to ‘terrorize’  Ugandans.”31  Museveni tried to control the growing anti-Rwandese sentiments, but it was counter-productive as  leading politicians accused Museveni of being a Tutsi refugee, and condemned him for permitting the Tutsi domination of the country.

Faced with the growing opposition to its own legitimacy, Museveni removed the most visible Rwandese refugees from the NRA (for example, Major General Rwegyema) and government.  The publicized removal of Tutsis to reduce the regime’s crisis of legitimacy, especially in Buganda, Kigezi and Ankole, was counter-productive, both for the Tutsis as well as for those leading the anti-Tutsi sentiment in the country.  The action sent an unintended message to some members of the R.A. in the NRA that the opposition was capable of forcing Museveni to remove them from the army and government, generating more pressure to embark on the armed struggle before the R.A. became a spent force.  If the Tutsis could not obtain equal rights under President Museveni, who promoted the Tutsis within Uganda, what hope could they have in the long run.  At the same time, Museveni s political opponents took the actions as proof  that both the government and the army were, and continued to be, controlled by Rwandese refugees.  Once again, the Tutsis in a neighboring state were embarking on becoming refugee warriors.

Habyarimana responded to this militant threat by setting up a commission to look into the refugee issue on 15 January 1989, but, in advance, ruled out massive repatriation as a solution.  Habyarimana envisioned some cases of repatriation through family reunification with the remaining refugees permanently settled where they had received asylum.

Coincidentally, Habyarimana was in serious trouble domestically for the first time.  The prices for coffee, the major foreign exchange earner for Rwanda, had crashed on the international market, impoverishing many of the peasants.  The World Bank responded by ordering a severe structural adjustment program.32  In order to strengthen his government, Habyarimana had committed himself to multi-party democratization in July 1990.
To some interpreters, this economic and political weakness precipitated the war as the Tutsis tried to take advantage of Habyarimana s weakness.  For others, Habyarimana s rhetorical opening toward democracy was interpreted as an incentive to invasion since the Tutsis in Uganda were afraid that Habyarimana would regain the high moral ground now held by the Tutsis in exile with their platform of national reconciliation and democratization.33  Whatever the mixture of causes, the result was a civil war that began on 1 October 1990.  Once again refugee warriors instigated a violent solution to a problem which had been left unresolved by regional states and the international community.  Only this time, the militant refugees were deserters from the regular Ugandan army, including some of its most senior officers.

By summer 1994, the RPF, the Tutsi-led invasion force had won.34  But not before over one million Tutsis within Rwanda had been slaughtered in a genocide.35  The leadership of the ex-FAR (the Rwandese army) and the Interhamwe (the militias who largely took responsibility for carrying out the genocide) fled into the surrounding countries, primarily Zaire, along with approximately two million Hutu refugees (allegedly, 1,200,000 fleeing into Zaire alone), most of whom had not been part of the genocidal killing, but who had been instilled with the fear that they would be murdered in turn by the Tutsi-led victorious army.36

In Zaire, the population of the refugee camps set up along the western border with Zaire was said to be about 1,200,000.  In fact, there were probably only 800,000 to 900,000.37  The international support for the phantom refugees as well as taxes on the legitimate refugees were used as a major source of financial support for the refugee warriors.  The camps were effectively controlled by the Interahamwe and ex-FAR in spite of the efforts of the UNHCR to separate the militants from the rest of refugee population, including the hiring of Zairean soldiers to police the camps.  Efforts were made to repatriate the refugees to Rwanda, but with little success.  Volunteer returnees (selected by the UNHCR to visit Rwanda and report back on the conditions for return) were, in fact, hand picked by the militants; they returned with stories of atrocities, human rights violations, but accurate depictions of the atrocious conditions in the jails for those accused of genocide.  There were very few returnees.

The refugee warriors were launching excursions into Rwanda which led to the deaths of hundreds of civilians, although Amnesty International blamed those civilian deaths primarily on the army of the Rwandese regime.  States largely avoided dealing with the universal predictions of disaster in Zaire.  If the situation of the refugee warriors from the Interhamwe and ex-FAR army, who indoctrinated and intimidated the refugees against returning to Rwanda, were not addressed, an explosion could be expected.38  Though Brian Atkins from USAID tried to make intervention a central goal of US policy in the June 1996 Rwanda Roundtable in Geneva, his initiative was undermined from three sources:  lack of ardent support by other states; professional analysts who pointed out all the hazards, difficulties and risks of intervention; and by his own Èrealist  colleagues, especially from the State and Defence Departments.39

The eruption in Zaire itself began when the Interhamwe and ex-FAR combined with Zairean army units to undertake ethnic cleansing of the Banyawelenge in the Masisi region of Zaire in the spring of 1996.  But by the time those efforts were extended to the Bukavu and Uvira areas in the south, the Banyawelenge, whose citizenship had been taken away by the Zairean government in 1981, had allies and even “volunteers” from Rwanda.40  They defeated the militant Hutu attacks and began the violent overthrow of the Zairean regime and the elimination of the refugee warrior threat from Zaire.

However, as usual, sentiment overruled the various instrumental rationalists as the media covered the plight of the refugees extensively and in detail after the rebellious Zaireans, supported presumably by Rwanda, defeated the militants controlling the refugee camps.  The international media were once again focussed on the plight of the Hutu refugees in Zaire who were cut off from food and medical supplies by the fighting, and who fled the camps en masse.  An international interventionist force was organized under the leadership of Canada to ensure humanitarian aid for the refugees.  Because of the conflicting actors in the interventionist initiative and their failure to follow the parameters set out by the African states in the Nairobi summit of 5 November, in particular the obligation to free the refugee camps from the control of the militants and allow the refugees to return to Rwanda, the rebels initiated a preemptive attack against the Interhamwe and ex-FAR.  Suddenly over 500,000 refugees were moving back from Zaire to Rwanda.  Paradoxically, when the interventionists determined to be strictly humanitarian, the African states in Nairobi believed that the inclusion of France meant that the intervention was certain to be political and one-sided.  The camps would be reinforced and the Interhamwe strengthened.  As a further paradox, the interventionist objective was achieved for most of the refugees without any intervention; the non-militant refugees were freed from their Interhamwe controllers by the rebel forces, and they headed back to Rwanda.41

With the dramatic decline in the sentiment for intervention as a result, and with the political obstacles arising against intervention, the rationale for intervention dissolved even though there were still up to 750,000 internally displaced Zaireans and 200,000 Rwandese refugees on the move westward in Zaire.  The rebel army advanced westward and freed the remainder of the refugees from their militant controllers at Kingi Kingi, just east of Kinsangani.  The camp basis for the Hutu refugee warriors in Zaire had been destroyed; the Hutus refugee regime in Zaire was over, whatever the outcome of the Zairean civil war.

But the cost was great.  For refugee warriors had returned to Rwanda with the returning refugees.  The result was a new insurrection within the western areas of the country where former Hutu refugee warriors now instigated a civil war within the country, a war that escalates daily.

The tale of Jewish refugees who became warriors but were not exactly refugee warriors points to the role of international actors to their refugee situation, and the inability to do anything about their lack of political status, as the major factor in their becoming warriors.  This was explicitly the case with the Palestinian refugees.  In the case of the Indochinese refugees, the Vietnamese and Laotian refugees who were resettled did not become refugee warriors, while the Khmer who lived in refugee camps in Thailand along the borders of Kampuchea became a resource for recruiting and indoctrinating refugee warriors.  The role of the neighboring states, the international community, and the refusal of the home state to allow the refugees to return are the most important factors in the creation and maintenance of refugee warriors.

This conclusion emerges in the clearest way in the analysis of the Rwandese refugees.  The Tutsi refugees became refugee warriors upon their initial flight, but as they seemed to be absorbed into the surrounding states, and as the home country turned away from persecuting their ethnic relations in the home country, the militancy of the refugees declined, particularly with the absence of refugee camps in the host countries where a refugee warrior ideology could be consolidated.  However, after the idea of integration into their host countries suffered a serious psychological blow in the very country where they seemed most successful, and as the discrimination against their relatives again increased in their home country, once again the refugees became warriors.
Like the Tutsi refugees when they originally left Rwanda, the Hutu refugees who fled in 1994 immediately became militants.  Only they had refugee camps supported by the international community to consolidate their militancy.  Further, since the extreme militant leadership of the Hutus had embraced a genocidal ideology, they turned their militancy initially against the Tutsis in Zaire.  And when the refugees were finally repatriated with great speed, the refugee warriors returned with them to provide a base for continuing their struggle from within.  It is too early to say whether local Hutu ethnics will be as valuable a resource for their militancy as the refugee camps in Zaire had been.  What seems clear is that the failure of neighboring states and the international community to deal with refugee warriors creates the foundation for long-term destabilization in both the home and host countries.

More systematic intellectual attention needs to be paid to the role of refugee warriors by the intellectual community, in particular, focusing on the role of peacekeeping and humanitarian aid in dealing with these sources of instability.  Refugee warriors are a critical source of violence and instability in a region, in the countries in which they find refuge, and for the countries from which they have fled.  There are no norms for international peacekeeping in dealing with refugee warriors.42  Without norms, refugee warriors are created, flourish and exacerbate conflicts.  It may be that these refugee warriors should be supported.  Or perhaps they should be disarmed.  But at least their critical role and the role of international agencies and other countries in fostering their activities needs to be examined.  Further research is needed to understand why states and humanitarian agencies overtly support or discreetly ignore militant refugees, including those in camps kept in existence through humanitarian aid.

In contrast to the Zolberg thesis, I contend that the refugee warriors are not the product of the original situation which resulted in their refugee status.  Their activities are primarily the result of the failure of the refugees to receive an alternative political status in another or other countries.  Further, the activities of the refugee warriors are reinforced in humanitarian refugee camps near the borders of the countries from which they came.  These camps provide a source for recruits, an indoctrination centre to use militancy, and a source of material support from the “rake-off” from surplus humanitarian aid.  In addition, or alternatively, refugee warriors are made possible by the support, covert or overt, of the government of the state in which they have found refuge or other governments.  Their character and their operations have little to do with the original cause of instability that made them flee, but almost everything to do with the failure to find a solution for their lack of political status, reinforced by their own ideological beliefs and the support they receive or take from the local society and state as well as from the international community.

Howard Adelman is a Professor of Philososphy at York University


Why Refugee Warriors are Threats

1. This article was initially prepared for the International Studies Association Convention, Coping with Insecurity: Threat more than Enemies, Toronto, 19 March 1997, for the session “Refugees as Threat to State and Regional Stability in the Developing World.” Based on comments received, the article was revised for publication.  I am grateful for the comments of Professors Barry Stein, Daniel Warner, Rex Brynan and Jonathan Fox.  I also wish to thank the referees for their comments, virtually all of which I found helpful.
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2. Aristide Zolberg, Astri Suhrke and Sergio Aguayo, Escape from Violence: Conflict and the Refugee Crisis in the Developing World (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1989).
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3. Zartman called them “collapsed states.”  See William I. Zartman, ed., Collapsed States: The Disintegration and Restoration of Legitimate Authority (Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 1995).  Robert H. Jackson called them quasi-states inQuasi-states, sovereignty, international relations and the Third World (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990).  Quasi-states were defined as negative sovereignty regimes resulting from adverse civic and socio-economic conditions.  Weak, failed, collapsing, or quasi-states must not be confused with “virtual states” that occupy the very opposite end of the political spectrum.  Virtual states are solid states that no longer depend on resources or the manufacturing capacity of their populations to be strong, but are centres of capital and investment outside their jurisdictions and, thereby, control increasing proportions of world economic activity.  See Richard Rosecrance, “The Virtual State,” Foreign Affairs, 75, no. 4 (July/August 1996), pp. 45-61.  For a more detailed discussion of failed states, see Howard Adelman, “Responding to State Failure,”Canadian Foreign Policy, (Spring 1997), special issue on Peace-Building and Democratic Development: Examining Canada s Policy Options.
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4. See Donald M. Snow, Uncivil Wars: International Security and the New Internal Conflicts (Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 1996).
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5. According to Organization of African Unity (OAU) law, states are not permitted to allow their territory to be used as a base for launching military action against a neighboring state. These laws disallow refugees exercising their “right of return” through armed force. The African refugee convention differs somewhat from other instruments of international refugee law which merely generally exclude those who take up arms from being classified as refugees. The preamble to the 1969 Convention on the Refugee Problems in Africa affirms that the signatories are “determined to discourage” refugees from using their status for subversive activities (paras. 4 and 5). Article III deals in its entirety with “Prohibition of Subversive Activities,” prohibiting refugees from engaging in subversive activities against any member state of the OAU. Host states must “prohibit refugees residing in their respective territories from attacking any State Member . . . by use of arms, through the press, or by radio.” (III, 2) To further ensure that these conditions are met, Art. II (6) advises that, “for reasons of security,” refugees shall settle “at a reasonable distance from the frontier of their country of origin.” These provisions are unique to African regional instruments of international refugee law. More generally, the Charter of the Organization of African Unity expresses “unreserved condemnation” for subversive activities on the part of neighboring states or any other state (Art.III(5). The African Charter for Human and People s Rights states unequivocally as well that territories [of signatories states] shall not be used as bases for subversive or terrorist activities against another party. (Art. 23, 2:b) Yet in the comprehensive survey, International Dimensions of Humanitarian Law (Geneva, Switzerland, Henry Dunant Institute: UNESCO, 1988), there is no reference to international law applying to prevent refugees from resorting to force.
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6. See Ogenga Otunnu, “Refugee Movements from the Sudan,” Refuge, 13, no. 8 (1994), pp. 3-14. The Amin regime also included Rwandese Tutsi as well as Sudanese refugees. The Rwandese Tutsi subsequently became an important part of the Museveni military overthrow of Obote. See A. Omara-Otunnu, Politics and the Military in Uganda, 1890-1985 (New York: St. Martin s, 1987).
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7. See endnote 5.
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8. See Rubin and Jeri Laber, A Nation is Dying (Chicago, IL: Northwestern University Press, 1988); Olivier Roy, Islam and Resistance in Afghanistan (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1985); Grant M. Farr and John G. Merriman, Afghan Resistance (Boulder, CO: Westview, 1987).
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9. The Khmer Rouge insurgents were not strictly refugee warriors because they largely operated from bases insideKampuchea along the Thai border, but since refugee camps controlled by the Khmer were also on the Thai side, and the Khmer Rouge used that control to recruit soldiers and siphon off “surpluses” from humanitarian aid, the term ‘refugee warriors’  may be applied appropriately to the Khmer Rouge. “In the field, semi-permanent village settlements of about 250,000 people were strung out in the Thai-Kampuchean border region on both sides of the boundary line. From settlements on the Khmer side, well-equipped units consisting mainly of Khmer Rouge soldiers made forays into government controlled areas.” Zolberg, et al., Escape from Violence, p. 172.
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10. In fact, much of the detail and analysis contradicts this general thesis. For example, Zolberg et al assert: “Outrage among peasants was undoubtedly the fuel (to the uprising against the Soviet backed regime in Afghanistan), but it was massive assistance from the United States and the collaboration of Pakistan that determined the transformation of rebellious peasants into the world s most effective refugee-warrior community. Because the Soviet intervention has been almost universally condemned, the resistance has been legitimized, and the UNHCR tolerates the ambiguous character of the camps.” Ibid., p. 254, italics added.
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11. Loris Fisler Damrosch and David J. Scheffer, eds., Law and Force in the International Order (Boulder, CO: Westview, 1991) ignore an issue central to the concern of the text even though there is a whole section on terrorism and criminal activity. In the excellent recent comprehensive survey of peacekeeping, Peter Schraeder s otherwise superbly edited volume, Intervention in the 1990s: US Foreign Policy in the Third World (Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 1992), also ignores the issue of refugee warriors. A. B. Fetherston, Towards a Theory of United Nations Peacekeeping (London: St. Martin s, 1994), has no discussion of the need to use peacekeeping to deal with refugee warriors.  John Harriss  edited collection, The Politics of Humanitarian Intervention (London: Pinter, 1995) does consider refugees and humanitarian aid, but not the need to deal with refugee warriors. In Dorinda G. Dallmeyer s chapter, “National Perspectives on International Intervention: From the Outside Looking In,” in Donald C.F. Daniel and Bradd C. Hayes, eds. Beyond Traditional Peacekeeping (London: St. Martin s, 1995), pp. 20-39, in the long list of the new triggers instigating the prospect of humanitarian intervention (p. 23), the activities of refugee warriors are not included in the list, though stemming the flow of refugees outward (as it is in Edward C. Luck s chapter, “The Case for Engagement: American Interests in UN Peacekeeping Operations,” p. 82) is noted as a reason for intervention, as is feeding and protection for the refugees. (p. 27) Stephen Stedman’s essay in the same volume also mentions refugee feeding and protection as a motivation for intervention, but ignores refugee warriors. (p. 47) Bo Huldt s survey of the proposals for extending the notion of peacekeeping (“Working Multilaterally: The Old Peacekeepers  Viewpoint,” 101-19) notes the Canadian suggestion that peacekeeping can be used to assist refugee repatriation (p. 111), but says nothing about controlling the activities of refugee warriors. When James Schear (“Beyond Traditional Peacekeeping: The Case of Cambodia,” pp. 248-66) examines UNTAC, he noted that it was used for the “largest peacetime transfer of a civilian population” (p. 252) in Indochina since 1975, but it was used cooperatively and not to deal with refugee warriors. Similarly when Thomas Weiss takes up the issue of refugees related to peacekeeping, including Central American, Cambodian, Somalia, Rwandese and former Yugoslavian, in his edited book, The United Nations and Civil Wars (Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 1995), there is no focus on the role of refugee warriors. This is also true of the essays in the otherwise superb collection edited by Edmond J. Keller and Donald Rothchild, Africa in the New International Order: Rethinking State Sovereignty and Regional Security (Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 1996); given its later focus precisely on the issues raised by refugee warriors, the omission is surprising. Robert Johansen in “The Future of United Nations Peacekeeping and Enforcement: Framework for Policymaking,” Global Governance, 2, no. 3 (September-December 1996), pp. 299-333, consists of a shopping list of both problems and reforms, but no attention is paid to the problem of refugee warriors or the inapplicability of virtually all those proposals to deal with the problem. In contrast, the refugee literature has paid attention to this issue, but not within the context of international relations and peacekeeping analysis.  Thus, Rachel Van Der Meeren provides an analysis of the situation of Rwandese refugees over three decades, “Three Decades in Exile: Rwandan Refugees 1960-1990,” Journal of Refugee Studies, 9, no. 3 (September 1996), pp. 252-67, and suggests that it is primarily the way the refugees were dealt with by their respective host communities that determined whether they adopted the role of “refugee warriors,” though she does not use the phrase. For a critical perspective on utopian schemes, but his own vague, groping effort linking security theory to the problem of refugees, see Odhiambo Rutinwa, “Beyond Durable Solutions: An Appraisal of the New Proposals for Prevention and Solution of Refugee Crises in the Great Lakes Region,”  Journal of Refugee Studies, 9, no. 3 (September 1996), pp. 312-25.
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12.  For a more detailed account of the Arab efforts to keep the Jews from moving to Palestine via the debates over the IRO constitution and in the United Nations, see Jacob Robinson, Palestine and the United Nations (Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1947), chapt. 2.
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13. Records, the Twenty-First Ordinary Session of the League of Nations, p. 232.
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14. Twenty-First meeting of the Third Committee of the United Nations General Assembly of the United Nations on 12 November 1946.
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15. E/REF/87, 30 May 1946.
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16. Abba Eban, An Autobiography (New York: Random House, 1977), p. 59.
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17. Michael J. Cohen, Palestine and the Great Powers: 1945-1948 (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1982), p. 102.
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18. See Howard Adelman, “Palestine Refugees: Defining the Humanitarianism Problem,” World Refugee Survey (Washington, DC: US Committee for Refugees, 1983), pp. 20-27; Howard Adelman, Middle East Focus, Guest Editor, Palestinian Refugees, 9, no. 2 (1986); J.L. Abu- Lughod, “Palestinians: Exiles at Home and Abroad,” Current Sociology, 36, no. 2 (1988), pp. 61-70. See also Howard Adelman, “Refugees: The Right of Return” in Judith Baker, ed.,  Group Rights (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1994), pp. 164-85; Howard Adelman, “The Palestinian Diaspora,” in Robin Cohen, ed., Cambridge Survey of World Migration (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995), pp. 414-17; and Howard Adelman, “Palestinian Refugees,” in L.Y. Luciuk and M.S. Kenzer, eds., Under Threat: Essays on the Refugee Experience (Lanham, MD: Rowan & Littlefield, 1998, forthcoming).
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19. Howard Adelman, “On UNRWA,” Review Article of Milton Viorst, Reaching for the Olive Branch: UNRWA and Peace in the Middle East, in Middle East Focus, 14, no. 2 (1992), pp. 11-15; Howard Adelman, “UNRWA: An International Anomaly,” Middle East Focus, (1994). See also Benjamin N. Schiff, Refugees Unto the Third Generation: UN Aid to Palestinians (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 1995) for the most recent and most thorough account of UNRWA.
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20. Howard Adelman, “Palestine Refugees, Economic Integration and Durable Solutions,” in Anna Bramwell, ed.,  Refugees in the Age of Total War (London: Unwin Hyman, 1988), pp. 295-311.
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21. See Valerie OConnor Sutter, The Indo-Chinese Refugee Dilemma (Baton Rouge, LA: Louisiana State University Press, 1990).
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22. Howard Adelman, Canada and the Indochinese Refugees (Regina, SK: Weigl Educational Publishers, 1982).
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23. The terms ‘Hutu’  and ‘Tutsi’  designate peoples descended from cultivators and pastoralists respectively, the latter possibly arriving at a later date into Rwanda than the former. But even if the divisions were once rooted in different economic, temporal and spatial origins, that was many centuries ago. The real division that entitles them to be designated as ethnic groups is that in their minds and memories they are either Hutus or Tutsis, and it is this ethnic division that is used by political manipulators to create conflict. The political source of the division lies in the historical fact that the Tutsis used to rule over the Hutus. In Rwanda, one Tutsi clan, the Nyiginya, achieved predominance in central Rwanda and, in a few generations, expanded their rule to cover the territory of what is now Rwanda. The rulers (both soldiers and administrators) as well as cattle-herders were predominantly Tutsi; the Hutus were predominantly farmers. The divisions were reified under first the German and then the Belgian colonial masters. The latter actually gave out identity documents that stipulated that a person was either a Hutu or a Tutsi, thus destroying with one administrative move much of the flexibility that had previously existed with respect to the two designations. In both Rwanda and Burundi, registered Hutus constitute about 85 percent of the population and Tutsis 14 percent, though these percentages vary dramatically, most recently because of refugee flows. But the registration percentages are also totally misleading since many Tutsi were registered as Hutu because, at the time of the Belgian initial registration in the thirties, their parents owned too few cattle to qualify for registration as Tutsi.
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24. Howard Adelman, “Rwandan Refugees,” in Luciuk and Kenzer, eds., Under Threat.
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25. See Van Der Meeren “Three Decades”; and Odhiambo Anacleti, “The Regional Response to the Rwandan Emergency,”Journal of Refugee Studies, 9, no. 3 (September 1996), pp. 303-11.
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26. The genocide of Tutsis in Rwanda were committed by Hutu extremists; in Burundi, Tutsi extremists have predominated, though that assessment may have to be altered following the recent spate of slaughters instigated by rebels.
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27. Edward Khiddu-Makubuya, “Voluntary Repatriation by Force: The Case of the Rwandese Refugees in Uganda,” in Howard Adelman and John Sorenson, eds., African Refugees (Boulder, CO: Westview, 1994), pp. 143-58.
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28. A law passed in Zaire in 1981 stripped the Zairean Banyarwanda Tutsi (the Banyawelenge) of citizenship, and many of them had been resident in Zaire for up to two centuries.
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29. Howard Adelman, “The Right of Repatriation   Canadian Refugee Policy: The Case of Rwanda,” International Migration Review, Special issue, Ethics, Migration, and Global Stewardship, 30 (Spring 1996), pp. 289-309.  The African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights (1986), Art. 12(2) provides for a right of return, but it is qualified by the law for the protection of national security, law and order, public health and morality. The right to return is unqualified in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948).
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30. See, for example, “Rwandese Refugee Army overruns Garrisons,” Weekly Topic, (Kampala), 12 October 1990; Karrim Essack, Civil War in Rwanda (Dar es Salaam: Forem Litho Printers, 1993), p. 6; the Monitor, Wednesday, 28-30 June 1995, pp. 1-9. These sources, and the general explanation for the anti-Rwandese attitudes in Uganda, are taken from chapter 2, “An Historical Analysis of the Invasion by the Rwanda Patriotic Army (RPA)” by Ogenga Ottunu in Howard Adelman and Astri Suhrke, eds., The Path of Genocide: the Rwandese Crisis from Uganda to Zaire (New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction, forthcoming, Fall 1998).
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31. Otunnu, “Historical Analysis.”
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32. Structural adjustment programs, which were endorsed by most countries offering development assistance in the late eighties, are designed to improve the balance of payments of a country by integrating that country into the international market economy by more extensive reliance on market forces and decreasing the role of the state in the economy, including the reduction of government subsidies and expenditures. “By 1989, support for the IMF/World Bank structural adjustment policies had become a central preoccupation of the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).” Marcia M. Burdette, “Structural Adjustment and Canadian Policy,” in Cranford Pratt, ed., Canadian International Development Assistance Policies: An Appraisal (Kingston-Montreal: McGill-Queens University Press, 1994), p. 211.
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33. Howard Adelman and Astri Suhrke, “Early Warning and Response: Why the International Community Failed to Prevent the Genocide,” Disasters: The Journal of Disaster Studies and Management, 20, no. 4 (December 1996).
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34. Gerard Prunier, The Rwandese Crisis: History of a Genocide (New York: Columbia University Press, 1996).
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35. See Adelman and Suhrke, “Early Warning.”
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36. See also Anacleti, “Regional Response,” p. 310.

37. Howard Adelman, “The Cold War and Risk Aversion   Rwanda and Zaire,” York Centre for International and Security Studies, York University, Occasional Paper, 1998, forthcoming.
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38. Howard Adelman, “The Concept of Early Warning: The Practice of International Organizations,” in Alfred van Staden and Klaas van Walgraven, eds., Early Warning and Conflict Prevention: Limitations and Opportunities (The Hague: Clingendael, forthcoming 1998).
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39. See Howard Adelman, “The Ethics of Intervention – Rwanda,” in Michael Keren and Christian Tomuschat, eds., Local Sovereignty and International Responsibility (Berlin: Humboldt University, 1997).
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40. For a succinct background of the situation in Zaire in the context of the refugee influx, see Herbert Weiss, “Zaire: Collapsed Society, Surviving State, Future Polity,” in Zartman, ed., Collapsed States, pp. 157-70.
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41. Howard Adelman, “Indifference versus Sentiment: Humanitarian Intervention in Zaire,” New Routes: A Journal of Peace Research and Action, I, no. 4 (1996).
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42. Thus, David Held, Democracy and the Global Order (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1995), in his Grotian idealist argument for a cosmopolitan model of democracy, advocates a legal regime to delimit the form and scope of individual and collective action related to self-determination, but nowhere discusses the critical role of refugee warriors as a significant factor that would need to be regulated by norms. Similarly, in Lynn H. Miller s brilliant exposition of the role of intervention since the Westphalian sytem of nation states was created (Global Order: Values and Power in International Politics, Boulder, CO: Westview, 1994), she argues that, “we need to start with a depiction of a security goal or ideal for the people of the earth. That goal should be in harmony with certain universally valid normative generalizations of the sort generally understood to be what justifies and restrains the use of force in civilized societies.” (p. 232) This concluding idealistic moralistic universalism stands in sharp contrast to her focus on the practice of states with respect to intervention over the ages and the corresponding historical shifts in the meaning of sovereignty. Though I do not investigate this idealistic thesis for the globe, the implication of my analysis suggests that we learn to walk before we take a rocket ship, and spend time investigating actual and possible norms for governing situations which are complex and involve humanitarian concerns as well as threats to security, political issues of self-determination and the integrity of sovereign authority, regional interests and global power politics. Refugee warrior communities are one very important and neglected area where we should start. Miller never mentions them, let alone the problem of refugees. The suggestion is that more attention be paid to concrete problems of security and managing those problems, rather than putting all the intellectual effort into general schemes for managing the globe. This does not mean getting bogged down in empiricism and forgetting about norms and historical processes. Rather it entails critical self-reflection both on why we ignore such desatbilizing factors, and attending empirically to what actually happens in what Hayward Alker refers to as “emancipatory empiricism.” (Rediscoveries and Reformulations: Humanistic Methodologies for International Studies, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996). For an interesting theoretical framework for examining the evolution of international norms that could be applied to the problem of refugee warriors, see Ann Florini, “The Evolution of International Norms,” International Studies Quarterly, 40, no. 3 (September 1996), pp. 363-89.
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