Research and Orientation Workshop and International Conference
'The State of the Global Protection System for Refugees and Migrants'

Calcutta Research Group, (25-30 November 2018)

Module C


Module C. Power and Responsibility in the Global Protection System in the Context of Mixed and Massive Population Flows; The Need to redefine the Responsibility to Protect

Coordinator: Professor Shibashis Chatterjee




This study is an effort to advance three interrelated arguments. First, global refugee flows have manifestly worsened in the last five years and the crisis appears deeper and expansive than ever. All the continents are infested with massive displacement and the international efforts at all levels remain paltry and inconsistent. I have argued that the modality is not more critical than summoning global actors to prioritize their duty to humanitarian assistance. For most major powers, humanitarian assistance remains a sad footnote to their international efforts. Realist geopolitics and neoliberal policies combine to make great powers increasingly hostile to shoulder refugee costs. Global civil society initiatives cannot compensate for the colossal neglect of responsibility by the developed and the developing world. Second, this article has brought together the many theoretical ways of locating the refugee. I have reflected selectively on the liberal, communitarian, postcolonial and radical tracts to make sense of why the refugee remains a marginal category despite years of efforts to reverse this marginalization. I largely agree with the positions taken by scholars who draw attention to the nameless naming of the category as a perennial becoming that strangely absolves the existing powers of their responsibility to name and transform this category. For what cannot be named, cannot be changed. Thirdly, and as a matter of continuity, this is also a study of the concept of the Responsibility to Protect [R2P] from its spectacular arrival to an equally striking but inglorious unravelling. Liberal peace projects have met with a similar fate before. In a world premised on the arrogance of sovereignty, responsibility is also a function of power. Bereft of any account of what political economy can sustain humanitarian operations across the world, the liberal imagination fails to authorize humanitarian missions to conflict-ridden societies and cannot make states recognize their commitment to uphold the rights of its people in all dimensions of life. Until the refugee, as a category, is humanized and we are able to find a process of normalizing the displaced, experiments like the R2P will fall short of their original promise. The very category of the refugee is a dehumanisation that disturbs us intermittently. Unless we find a way to transcend our reasonable differences over selective admission and closure, we will continue to elude international efforts to restore them to a life of dignity, capacity and rights befitting a genuine human existence.


Draft of Full Paper: CLICK HERE



Sl.No. Name & Details of the Participants Country Photo Research Articles Comments by Coordinator

Aditi Mukhjerjee, Calcutta Research Group || Email:
Aditi Mukherjee is a Research and Programme Associate at the Calcutta Research Group (CRG). She holds a BA and MA in History from the Presidency College and the University of Calcutta respectively. She has also completed her MPhil in Foreign Policy Studies from the University of Calcutta. ...continue



Reining in the trickle and the floods? Migration, governance and evolving regime of shelter in late colonial Calcutta, 1939-1947

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Mausumi Chetia, International Institute Of Social Studies, Hague           

Bionote: Mausumi Chetia is a PhD Researcher with the Governance, Law and Social Justice research group of the International Institute of Social Studies [ISS], The Hague. Her research looks at Disaster related Internal Displacement and Urban Governance Issues; under the Flagship Programme of Vital Cities and Citizens [VCC] of ISS - part of Erasmus University Rotterdam. Mausumi has professional work experience of over 6 years around issues of disaster risk reduction and humanitarian response, livelihood and climate change advocacy issues at local, national and regional NGOs and higher educational institutions. Mausumi is also a Certified Arts-Based Therapy [ABT] Practitioner, focused on using ABT with children vulnerable to everyday risks and disasters. She is an alumnus of TISS, Mumbai and Indraprastha College for Women, University of Delhi.


The State’s Role vis-à-vis the Responsibility to Protect: The Case of Internally Displaced People due to Riverbank Erosion, Assam (India)


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Swatilekha Bhattacharya, Vidyasagar University, Midnapore
Swatilekha Bhattacharya is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science with Rural Administration, Vidyasagar University. Having studied Political Science in Presidency College, Kolkata, she received her MA in International Relations from School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. She received her MPhil and PhD from the Centre for International Politics, Organisation and Disarmament, School of International Studies, JNU. Her areas of interest are Security Studies, Critical Security Studies, International Relations Theories and Indian Politics. She has written papers focussing on security, foreign policy, exclusion and gender.

India Accepting the Responsibility to Protect as an International Norm: The Structure and Implementation

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