The Refugee-Security Dilemma in Europe


  • Joanne van Selm-Thorburn Vrije Universiteit



refugee protection, refugees, minorities, security, conflict, international relations, Western Europe, OSCE, UNHCR


Focusing on two of the institutions involved in the range of European activities on conflict prevention and displacement in the wake of the Yugoslav crisis, this article seeks to address the complex interplay of refugee protection and security enhancing strategies. The conclusion to an analysis of the mandates and expectations placed upon the OSCE's High Commissioner on National Minorities and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees is that the latter is at risk of abrogating its responsibilities towards refugees and potentially misinterpreting the motives of other (actual conflict prevention) organs in the international security arena and their impact (or not) on displacement. The article places this institutional and conceptual dilemma of refugee protection and security in the context of International Relations theories, and stands squarely against the view that refugees are themselves a threat to west European security.


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How to Cite

van Selm-Thorburn, J. (1997). The Refugee-Security Dilemma in Europe. Refuge: Canada’s Journal on Refugees, 16(6), 9–15.

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