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The Ethnic Conflict Research Digest

1998, Vol. 1 No. 2 .

Mass Expulsion in Modern International Law and Practice
Jean-Marie Henckaerts

(The Hague: Kluwer International Law, 1995)
257pp, index, bib, ISBN 90-411-0072-5.

This book discusses the subject of transfrontier mass expulsion in the post World War Two era. Dr. Henckaerts starts by offering a brief outline of the legal framework concerning the prohibition of mass expulsion of aliens in general, relying mainly on the regional human rights conventions that are applicable in various countries throughout the world. The author concludes this part by stating that - although these conventions have a regional character - all states are bound to this prohibition, at least as far as mass expulsions violate the non-discrimination principle. For, the latter is prohibited by widely accepted international conventions embodying a fundamental prohibition of discrimination that has acquired the status of customary international law. The prohibition of racial discrimination is even a peremptory norm in international law (jus cogens). Therefore, such prohibition must be observed at all times by all states. The subsequent chapters 2 and 3 deal with particular applications regarding the prohibition of mass expulsion. In this respect the author pays attention to the expulsion of nationals, migrant workers, permanent resident aliens, stateless persons as well as refugees. By considering each of these categories Henckaerts mainly elaborates upon the legal instruments, but he also illustrates the issue by providing a range of (recent) examples in this field. The next chapter considers the so called 'indirect' mass expulsion, where the involuntary departure of collectivities is not caused by a formal expulsion as such but when the same result is achieved by imposing such conditions of life on a group of people that they cannot reasonably be expected to stay any longer in the territory. In addition, this part also deals with the subject of (compulsory) population exchange. Chapter 5 and 6 discuss mass expulsion during or after a time of war and mass expulsion by an occupying power, with an emphasis on the rules of humanitarian law in this respect. The seventh chapter, finally, briefly considers the measures of emergency relief, the remedies, the enforcement mechanisms and the methods of prevention concerning the practice of mass expulsion. The author expresses the view that those measures are the same as those for other large scale human rights violations, where he briefly outlines this range.

In general, this book is an excellent piece of work on the somehow problematic subject of mass expulsion. It even has to be recommended to non-jurists too, since the author provides a huge range of practical examples and concludes his book with a very useful and to the point 'summary of findings'. The more committed in the field can also consult the representative list of treaty provisions and declarations affecting mass expulsions. In short: an exhaustive and at the same time concrete study.

Gunter Lauwers, Free University of Brussels

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