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The Price of Indifference: Refugees and Humanitarian Action in the New Century (Council on Foreign Relations Book) Paperback – May 16, 2002

ISBN-13: 000-0199250316 ISBN-10: 0199250316

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Product Details

  • Series: Council on Foreign Relations Book
  • Paperback: 328 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (May 16, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199250316
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199250318
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 0.7 x 6.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #702,994 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"This new and highly original book examines one of the most pressing issues facing the international community today - the issue of refugees. The author provides a very clear review of humanitarian action over the past decade, focusing his analysis on forced displacement and on the role of the United Nations. Mr. Helton not only asks important questions, but also makes ambitious policy recommendations. His book is a welcome contribution to the debate on humanitarian action, and will undoubtedly help us to manage humanitarian challenges better in the future."--Kofi Annan, United Nations Secretary-General

"This book is required reading for anybody who worries about making our world more stable and secure by addressing the plight of 35 million refugees and diplaced people. Arthur Helton makes a compelling case that the world can - and must - do a better job of dealing with displaced populations."-- Kenneth H. Bacon, President, Refugees International, and Former Pentagon Spokesman

"This is an important book which shows how critical the refugee issue is in the conduct of foreign policy. The refugee problem is often ignored by decision makers. But, as this book shows, most recent international crises have featured refugees. Policy makers should heed Arthur Helton's recommendations and address refugee issues, if they are serious about peacemaking."--Richard C. Holbrooke, Vice Chairman, Perseus, LLC, Former U.S. Representative to the United Nations

"Forced displacement has figured prominently in world politics during the last decase and has been one of the triggers for interventions by the UN Security Council, NATO and other regional organizations, and individual states. The Price of Indifference examines the lessons learned from these events with a view towards improving the operational effectiveness of future responses to forcible displacements. Arthur Helton not only provides a detailed analysis of past poliy approaches but also offers a range of policy recommendations for the future with an emphasis on preventive comprehensive measures. This book is invaluable for scholars, policymakers and practitioners alike." --Professor Gil Loescher, Author, The UNHCR and World Politics: A Perilous Path

"This is a monumental work which provides an extraordinary amount of information on refugees, conflict prevention, humanitarian policy, international law, and international organizations. The historical and analytical material, interspersed with first hand observations, makes for lively and engaging reading. The number of policy recommendations is staggering. It is a policy-oriented text which deserves careful reading and re-reading, and one of the best I have ever read."-- Priceton N. Lyman, Executive Director, Global Interdependence Initiative, The Aspen Institute, and Former Director, Bureau for Refugee Programs, U.S. Department of State

"Arthur Helton has completed a monumental task of compiling information on and describing the major refugee and internally displaced problems of the past decade. Standing alone, this research would be very useful background for academics and policy makers. However, Arthur has gone further to examine how conflict prevention or resolution, are linked to refugees and IDP's. Moreover, he has come up with some interesting ideas on how one can better deal with refugee problems and related issues of conflict prevention/resolution."-- Robert B. Oakley, Distinguished Visiting Fellow and Director, Peacekeeping Operations, Institute for National Strategic Studies, National Defence University, and Former U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan, Somalia and Zaire

"Masterfully written and innovative, Arthur Helton's book offers a most comprehensive and insightful treatment of refugee issues. This work is a splendid combination of the author's solid academic judgement and his practical familiarity with the subject."-- Sadako Ogata, Resident Scholar, Ford Foundation, Co-Chair, International Human Security Commission, and Former United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

" [A] fascinating book ... [which] relates also to the future ....I will profit from this book in preparing for 2004, ... [when] the General Assembly of the United Nations has to decide how to go on with UNHCR, with what mandate, with what funding."-- Ruud Lubbers, the current United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

"Helton's accessible writing style, his colorful anecdotes, and the extensive scope of his work have the potential to reach diverse audiences that are typically less familiar with international refugee policy. The Price of Indifference is a must-read not only for refugee scholars and activists, but also military personnel, politicians, and diplomats who are involved in international humanitarian operations and who are less knowledgeable of the plight of forced migration."--SAIS Review

About the Author

Arthur C. Helton is a Senior Fellow for Refugee Studies and Preventive Action, Council on Foreign Relations, New York.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Terry Eder-Kaufman on June 13, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Every notable disaster of the past century -- war, famine, civil unrest, earthquake and ecological catastrophe -- has resulted in the massive displacement of people within and across borders of their home countries. The June 7, 2002 New York Times reported that 14.9 million civilians were driven from their countries by war alone last year, and an additional 22 million people uprooted within their countries. It is a natural phenomenon in its own right, yet there has never been a systematic or comprehensive approach to anticipate, gather resources (both financial and intellectual) and make available workable solutions to this devastating predicament. This universal lack of foresight has taken its toll on untold numbers of refugees; some of whom waste years of their lives in flight or languish in refugee camps fearing for their safety, struggling for mere survival; while others achieve the relative fortune of starting their lives over in a new environment.
Now, the reader with even a passing interest in the plight of these unfortunate wanderers, and the expert alike, can explore an extraordinary trove of information on refugee policy and a startling new solution to this monumental problem. THE PRICE OF INDIFFERENCE: Refugees and Humanitarian Action in the New Century, by Arthur C. Helton, sets forth a concise modern history of refugee crises and the structural mechanisms and varied policies that have emerged for dealing with them. Helton depicts numerous strategies such as temporary protection, safe havens, asylum, evacuation, humanitarian corridors, resettlement, internal protection and repatriation, explaining why States have chosen some "solutions" over others as well as revealing the lapsed policy of states that have chosen to remain uninvolved.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By D. Gilman on February 24, 2003
Format: Paperback
As noted by Arthur Helton, refugees matter. However, they matter not only for humanitarian reasons but also because they are intimately tied to questions of national and strategic interest. By extending the argument beyond the realm of humanitarian charity, Helton effectively makes the case for state intervention in the field and elevates scholarship in the realm of refugee studies.
Moreover, the perspective of The Price of Indifference is a fresh one. Addressing crises from Africa to Afghanistan, Turkey to East Timor and Haiti to the former USSR, his work constitutes a comprehensive account of a decade that was perhaps the most dynamic one in recent memory. And from a discussion of the Cold War models of humanitarian action to the "Mogadishu syndrome" and the CNN effect, Helton covers the prevailing dynamics of all periods. What is more, the book goes so far as to model potential futures depending on which prevailing ideology is adopted (e.g., cooperation or containment).
Not only does the book discuss shortfalls in the national system of humanitarian action (calling for a new separate civilian agency, the Agency for Humanitarian Action), but it also entails a discussion of the international system and its inability to effectively mediate refugee-related crises. In doing so, Helton makes the case for new institutional structures (e.g., the Strategic Humanitarian and Research Entity, or SHARE) which effectively consolidate the fragmented humanitarian components in the UN system.
As we know, the Cold war changed responses to refugee and migration emergencies in fundamental ways. Yet, for all we do know, there is no single answer. Rather, a more varied and comprehensive "policy toolbox" is required.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Anita C. Butera on January 6, 2003
Format: Paperback
The collapse of the Berlin Wall and the symbolic moral victory of American capitalism has been viewed by the US mainstream literature as the onset of a new era; one of global prosperity and peace. Although the end of state socialism has led to the spread of liberal democracy in Eastern Europe, it has also marked the beginning of numerous political and social crises that have precipitated an unprecedented growth of refugees and internally displaced peoples.
Arthur Helton's THE PRICE OF INDIFFERENCE astutely analyzes the emergence of the past decade's refugee crisis and the inability of the international political and legal framework to adequately address it. Using what sociologists call the "extensive field work methodology," Helton not only presents a succinct history of the recent refugee crisis; but also the "refugees' experience" through personal accounts and in-depth interviews with important policy-makers of the international refugee community. The result is an instructive analysis of "what went wrong" and what can be learned from the past, all presented in a style that captivates the interested reader.
As a scholar, legal practitioner and one of the international authorities in the field of migration and refugees, Helton's unique insights and inside resources illuminate the roots of the current crisis. By showing that prior policy responses were the outcome of emergency situations that lacked a systematic understanding of the diverse origins of the contemporary crisis, Helton proposes the creation of two institutions-one inside the US government and the other within international institutions-to anticipate and proactively respond to future refugee emergencies.
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