Thanks in large part to the generosity of a Stassen grant, I spent the summer in Bogotá, Colombia doing research on the public policies of internal displacement. Due mostly to a decades-long civil conflict, Colombia has the largest number of internally displaced people in the world (in a strange twist of fate, outnumbering those in either Sudan or South Sudan after the split).
In addition to its unfortunate numerical supremacy, Colombia is also of interest because it's an anomaly in the world. Most refugee and IDP-producing nations are fragile or near-fragile states. Their governments have relatively little capacity and their home-grown non-profit sectors tend to be relatively weak. And, for better or for worse, because of this lack of government power the international community (both non-profits and quasi-governmental bodies alike) tends to barge in and do what they think needs to be done.
But that's just not the case in Colombia. Despite a long-lasting conflict and the inability of the central government to maintain territorial control over some of its peripheral regions, Colombia is a middle-income country with a democratically elected government that has a fair amount of capacity. Similarly, Colombia has a robust non-profit sector that seems committed (and rightly so) to Colombian, and not international, leadership. Encouragingly, it also has an incredible collection of forward-looking laws and policies regarding the rights of displaced persons and the ways in which the state should interact with them. Unfortunately, the implementation of those laws and policies is abysmal--in some cases with the very actors who created them standing in the way of their implementation.
Although I traveled to Colombia with many questions about the public policies of displacement, the interviews I conducted focused on trying to determine who is controlling (or at least influencing) the creation and implementation of IDP policy in Colombia and how they're doing it--something that is strangely absent from the literature so far.
Confidential interviews means no fun pictures, so this one of me on my computer in the Luis Ángel Arango library looking up yet another Spanish word I didn't know will have to do. I'd be happy to talk to anyone interested in forced migration, Colombia, or--in particular--any students thinking about designing and then conducting independent research during their time at the Humphrey (small134 at umn dot edu).