Protecting Civilians in Refugee Camps: Unable and Unwilling States, UNHCR and International Responsibility

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Rather than serving as civilian and humanitarian safe havens, refugee camps are notorious for their insecurity. Due to the host state's inability or unwillingness to provide protection, camps are often administered by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and its implementing partners. When a violation occurs in these situations, to which actors shall responsibility be allocated? Through an analysis of the International Law Commission's work on international responsibility, Maja Janmyr argues that the `primary' responsibility of states does not exclude the responsibilities of other actors. Using the example of Uganda, Janmyr questions the general assumption that `unable and unwilling' is the same as `unable or unwilling', and argues for the necessity of distinguishing between these two scenarios. Doing so leads to different conclusions in terms of responsibility for the state, and therefore for UNHCR and its implementing partners.