Steven Feldstein, “Rethinking The Impact of War: Elevating Protections for the Displaced ” Panel 43

Broader conflict trends indicate that casualties from war are declining. Despite a recent upsurge in fatalities stemming from the Syria conflict, aggregate battlefield fatalities, civilian casualties and casualties from one-sided violence have all registered significant declines, particularly in relation to major wars of the twentieth century. Global displacement trends are the exception. Cumulative displacement and annual displacement flows stand at record highs – the latest figures indicate over 71 million persons displaced with 16.2 million new displacements in 2017. This challenges conventional understanding of civilian protection trends. This paper presents an empirical analysis of recent conflict trends, focusing on global displacement compared
to civilian fatality figures. It discusses the implications of these findings and offer explanations for why global displacement is increasing so rapidly. It examines the relative success of the international community in reducing civilian fatalities in war and offers explanations for why the international community has contrastingly failed to reduce rates of displacement. Finally, it offers suggestions for strengthening the norm against forced displacement to alleviate the crisis in displacement.

Steven Feldstein is an Associate Professor and holder of the Frank and Bethine Church Chair of Public Affairs at Boise State University. He is also a non-resident fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace’s Democracy and Rule of Law Program. Previously, he served as a Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labour at the US Department of State, and the Director of the Office of Policy at the US Agency for International Development. He has also served as Counsel on the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee under Chairmen Joseph Biden and John Kerry. He earned a JD from UC Berkeley School of Law and a BA from Princeton University. His research interests include US foreign policy, international security, democracy and human rights. His articles and commentary have appeared in Foreign Affairs, The National Interest, Newsweek, US News & World Report, World Politics Review, The Hill, and The Conversation.

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