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Diasporas and Conflict Resolution: Part of the Problem or Part of the Solution

by Eva Østergaard-Nielsen

Mar 1, 2006
Diaspora and exile groups may play an important, but sometimes also controversial role in conflicts and political unrest in their countries of origin. This is by no means a new phenomenon. Yet, the growing number of intra-state conflicts, the enhanced possibilities for transnational communication, mobilization and action as well as the upsurge in domestic and international security concerns after 9/11, have heightened attention to the role of diasporas. This brief discusses a number of issues surrounding the complex and sometimes ambiguous role of diasporas and exiles in conflicts in their country of origin. These include: the issue of how diaspora and exile politics is grounded in the local context of the everyday problems that the diasporas face in their countries of residence; how diaspora political transnational means of intervention in conflicts in their countries of origin is constrained or facilitated by other political actors and power relations; and the tricky issue of the accountability and transparency of diaspora political networks and campaigns vis-à-vis the wider collective of migrants and refugees or the population in the country of origin. The paper mainly draws on the case of Kurdish diaspora political networks in Europe, supplemented with examples from other diaspora and refugee collectives.

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