This section of The Refugee Law Reader examines the legal norms of refugee protection that have developed in Africa, a continent that has produced millions of refugees and forced migrants that move within and beyond the African continent. The section contains two main subdivisions: the first focuses on the legal framework for refugee protection in Africa, and the second focuses on serious contemporary challenges to the protection of refugees in Africa.
This section begins with the 1969 OAU Convention Governing the Specific Aspects of Refugee Problems in Africa, the principal regional instrument relating to refugees. One of the fundamental innovations of the OAU Convention is its expansion of the refugee definition, and the materials highlight several elements that have had far-reaching effect. The section next turns to the sub-regional legal frameworks and concentrates on the Eastern Africa region. The references are both international (within the region) and national and in particular, the materials address the relevant legislation in Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania. The next edition of The Refugee Law Reader will expand this sub-regional focus to include parts on Southern, Northern and Western Africa. It is important to note that the growth and elaboration of regional and sub-regional legal frameworks co-exist with underdeveloped national legal structures in many countries that host sizeable refugee populations. Indeed, the absence of domestic legislation concerning refugees, which leads governments to characterize their refugee programs as a matter of state discretion rather than state obligation, remains a grave problem.
The second major subdivision of this section highlights the multiple challenges to refugee protection in Africa. It explores the interaction between the exclusion clause and the international criminal justice regime, a high profile issue at present. It also examines many facets of the relationship between refugees and the territories to which they flee. For example, it addresses the interface between refugee law and immigration law, the different situations of urban refugees and those who live in camps, the relations between refugees and their host populations, and the impact of resettlement and the problems that arise when it is not an available durable solution. This portion of the section also devotes attention to two especially vulnerable popula-tions, unaccompanied minors and those who are internally displaced. In its concluding entries, this section highlights the connection between governance and globalization and the continuing search for solutions to the refugee problems in Africa.