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Unsettling Developments: Terrorism and the New Case for Enhancing Protection and Humanitarian Assistance for Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons, Including Victims of Natural Disasters


Michele R. Pistone


Villanova University School of Law

November 1, 2011

Columbia Human Rights Law Review, Vol. 42, p. 613, 2011
Villanova Law/Public Policy Research Paper No. 2011-19

Abstract:     
Terrorism significantly threatens the United States and other countries. The threat is new. We should not be surprised that a new threat of terrorism would arise at this time. Driven by the phenomenon of globalization, the dominant constitutional order of the society of states is currently undergoing a major change, as it has done about every century for the past 500 years. In every prior case, such a change was always accompanied by corresponding changes in the nature of terrorism. This time is no different, except that the threat is greater now, due to the growing accessibility of weapons of mass destruction. The greater peril that we now face can effectively be addressed only by policies rooted in a deep understanding of the newness of our age, and the terrible novelty of its terror threat. Al Qaeda is the first example of the new type of terror group that will prove endemic to the coming age, but those groups will not be limited to the adherents of any particular religion or ideology.

These ideas, which are controversial, have been developed at length over the last decade by Columbia University law professor Philip Bobbitt. Bobbitt’s theories about the changing nature of the state and the concomitant change in the nature of terrorism have profound implications for U.S. policy toward refugees and other displaced people. These implications are not yet appreciably understood.

This Article provides the first extended application of Bobbitt’s ideas to displaced people, a group of almost 80 million that we call “the global homeless.” A large part of the battle to establish the legitimacy of the new constitutional order will be waged among this group. If we proceed as if the status quo were an acceptable way forward, we will heighten the risk that we will suffer grave consequences. We accordingly propose the adoption of a number of new principles, programs and laws aimed at drawing the global homeless and their communities into the new constitutional order of states. Absent the rationale provided by Bobbitt’s theories, the policies we prescribe would have little hope of advancement; once grasped, however, that rationale makes action along the lines we advise imperative and urgent.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 84

Keywords: Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship

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Date posted: November 20, 2011 ; Last revised: January 15, 2012

Suggested Citation

Pistone, Michele R., Unsettling Developments: Terrorism and the New Case for Enhancing Protection and Humanitarian Assistance for Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons, Including Victims of Natural Disasters (November 1, 2011). Columbia Human Rights Law Review, Vol. 42, p. 613, 2011; Villanova Law/Public Policy Research Paper No. 2011-19. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1961789

Contact Information

Michele Pistone (Contact Author)
Villanova University School of Law ( email )
299 N. Spring Mill Road
Villanova, PA 19085
United States
619-519-5286 (Phone)
619-519-5672 (Fax)
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