Issue 14

L'action du Haut Commissariat aux Réfugiés au Sénégal: entre souveraineté transnationale et souverainetés locales

Page 17
Marion Fresia

Beyond the depoliticizing rhetoric on which they are based, humanitarian spaces constitute ideal places to question notions of power and sovereignty and to observe their informal and fragmented dimensions. Through an empirical account of UNHCR's programme in Senegal, the author explores how humanitarian action is based on contradictory dynamics that both reinforce and contest the sovereignty of the nation-state. In this article humanitarian spaces are not described as spaces of control and confinement nor as extra-territorial spaces but rather as new political arenas within which different powers and institutions attempt to reaffirm their authority by drawing on different sources of legitimacy (local, national or international). The observation of such dynamics leads the author to highlight how sovereignty as a stable and unique power remains a profoundly social construction and how processes of domination over displaced populations are not only driven by state interests and logics of containment.