Moving Targets: An Analysis of Global Forced Migration

Glossary of Terms

Glossary of Terms

ASYLUM SEEKER Individual seeking international protection but whose claims for refugee status has not yet been determined.

CLIMATE CRISIS A term used to describe climate-induced abrupt environmental disasters and slowly occurring environmental changes, as well as the hardship faced by certain communities because of such changes. The climate crisis has disproportionately affected communities in the Global South.

CLIMATE REFUGEE Individual forcibly displaced people by natural disasters, such as typhoons, hurricanes, and tsunamis, as well as long-term environmental changes triggered by rising temperatures, rising sea levels, water shortages, deforestation, and desertification. 

COLONIALISM The deliberate extension of a nation’s power and influence over other peoples and lands, including the use of territorial seizure, legal justifications for occupation, regimes of racialization, labor exploitation, and forced assimilation. Such dynamics become the conditions from which more indirect forms of rule, military action, and economic control can be established.

ETHNOCIDE Refers to the erasure of culture, spatial segregations, and the reorganization of social space; and the legal formations that undergird such processes.

FOOD REFUGEE While difficult to separate from climate refugees, food refugees are those who have been forcibly displaced due to growing food insecurity caused by: foreign military intervention, armed conflict, political and civil unrest, and/or environmental challenges, as well as circumstances perpetuated by land grabs, seed monopolies, natural resource grabs, global warming, the increased commodification of food, and structures and arrangements of international free trade agreements.

FORCED MIGRATION The movement of people from their lands or places of origin due to conflict, natural or environmental disasters, famine, or development projects. Conflict-induced displacement occurs when people are forced to flee their homes as a result of armed conflict, generalized violence, and persecution on the grounds of nationality, race, religion, political affiliation, or social group. Development-induced displacement occurs when people are compelled to move as a result of projects implemented to advance development efforts, such as the building of a large-scale infrastructure project. Disaster induced displacement occurs when people are displaced due to natural disasters, environmental change, and human-made disasters. 

GLOBAL NORTH, GLOBAL SOUTH These terms do not describe a geographical divide but a social, political, and economic divide between formally colonial and colonized countries, while also accounting for ongoing indirect forms of rule, military measures and encampments, and global economies. The use of the term emphasizes the limitations of other terms such as first world vs. third world, or developed vs. developing countries. Global North comprises the countries of Australia, Europe, Japan, New Zealand, and North America (excluding Mexico). Global South describes the rest of the world and includes countries of Africa, Asia (excluding Japan), Latin America, and other island countries in the Indian and Pacific Ocean.

GLOBAL REFUGEE REGIME The set of norms that define who is a refugee, the rights to which that person is entitled, and the norms that define who is expected to support that person. Within this global refugee regime, refugees officially include individuals recognized under the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol, persons recognized under the 1969 Organization of African Unity (OAU) Convention Governing the Specific aspects of Refugee Problems in Africa, those recognized in accordance with the UNHCR Statute, individuals granted complementary forms of protection, and individuals granted temporary protection, and individuals in refugee-like situations.

INTERNALLY DISPLACED PERSONS (IDPs) Persons or groups forced to leave their home or place of habitual residence as a result of, or in order to avoid, the effects of armed conflict, situations of violence, violations of human rights, or natural or human-made disasters, yet who have not crossed an international border. 

LAND GRABS The acquisition of local, community, or communal land by foreign governments, foreign firms, or local entities, and also the displacement and expulsion of people living and working on that land.

MIGRANT UNESCO defines the term migrant as “any person who lives temporarily or permanently in a country where he or she was not born, and has acquired some significant social ties to this country.” The term migrant should be understood as “covering all cases where the decision to migrate is taken freely by the individual concerned, for reasons of ‘personal convenience’ and without intervention of an external compelling factor.” Although we argue in this report that most migration is forced, this definition indicates that the term migrant differs from refugees in that it does not refer to those forced or compelled to leave their homes. 

NEOLIBERALISM/NEOLIBERALIZATION This term refers to the late twentieth century, and still ongoing, reinterpretation and exercise of state and political power modeled on market economy values. Neoliberalism is the extension and dissemination of market economy values to all institutions, displacing or weakening the role of the government and state as the representation of the people. Neoliberalization is the strengthening of dynamics that expel and ecxclude many people from participating in the economy and society.

PALESTINIAN REFUGEES Individuals and their descendants whose residence was Palestine between June 1946 and May 1948, who lost their homes and means of livelihood as a result of the 1948 Arab-Israeli conflict. Following that war, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) was established by United Nations in 1949, and began operations in 1950, to carry out direct relief and work programs for Palestinian refugees. UNRWA is unique in terms of its long-standing commitment to one group of refugees, and in the absence of any international solution for Palestinian refugees, the General Assembly has repeatedly renewed UNRWA’s mandate, most recently extending it until 30 June 2017.

REFUGEE According to the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), a refugee is someone who has been forced to flee his or her country because of persecution, war, or violence. A refugee has a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group. Most likely, they cannot return home or are afraid to do so.

RETURNEE A returnee, also called voluntary repatriate, is a refugee who returns home. This can only happen when the factors that caused someone to flee are no longer an issue in the country of origin. Returning may take place over a period of time beginning with visits to the home country. Assistance may be needed for legal issues and for reunited returnees and family members.

SECURITIZATION Broadly refers to a state’s “condition of heightened security” and need to strategically manage expulsions,deportations, and resource and power conflicts. These security concerns have taken on a number of forms, such as the proliferation of surveillance technologies, increased military presence and activities on national borders. Securitization is exacerbated by and linked to rhetoric and policies that exacerbate anti-immigrant and anti-refugee sentiment, often leading to the conflation of migrants and those seeking refuge with supposed "terrorists" or those who pose threats to national security.

UNEVENNESS OF FORCED MIGRATION The longstanding and presently exacerbated mass displacement of people from the Global South in particular, the hosting of the vast majority of the forcibly displaced within countries in the Global South, and the reality of how some nations within the Global North have disregarded the terms and norms of international refugee conventions.