Theses Master's

An Exploration of Sedentarist Assumptions, the Refugee Experience in Cyprus, and Civil Society's Valuable Role as a de facto "Ombudsman" of Enabling Human Rights Legislation

Shenoi, Anita

The historical prevalence of sedentary cultures – those which inhabit the same locality throughout their lives – has inherently impacted how displacement is viewed beyond its literal definition. Through the theoretical framework of the territorialization of national identity, this thesis examines displacement in Cyprus as experienced by Greek Cypriot, Middle Eastern, and sub-Saharan African refugees. After addressing the ongoing tension between Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot ethnic groups over cultural, ideological, and geographical space, this paper outlines the geopolitical implications of the current refugee crisis in Cyprus. The absence of an effective national integration strategy and sufficient humanitarian support, consequences of which are seen through inadequate reception conditions and human rights violations including illegal pushbacks and refoulement, has delegated the responsibility of advocating for human rights and facilitating societal cohesion to civil society.

Following an in-depth analysis of the operating theories of change and advocacy strategies of Cypriot civil society organizations KISA, Caritas Cyprus, and Home for Cooperation, this paper contends that the criminalization of solidarity and tolerance of stigmatizing vernacular within social and political spheres set a dangerous precedent for the future of civic participation and the global response to refugees. In showing how civil society strives to create an improved international order that prioritizes humanity and adherence to agreed-upon human rights frameworks, this paper concludes with the recommendation that the global community mobilize to instill a protected space in which civil society is welcomed as a legitimate intermediary and granted respect as an unofficial “ombudsman” of enabling human rights legislation.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Institute for the Study of Human Rights
Thesis Advisors
Bickford, Louis N.
M.A., Columbia University
Published Here
March 29, 2023